Bring on the leeches
On “Meet the Press” yesterday
, Florida governor Charlie Crist defended the Obama stimulus plan with the rationale that we can’t do nothing and we’ve got to do something:
MR. GREGORY: Do you think the president has the right prescription to ease this recession?
GOV. CRIST: I think he's on the right track. I don't think anybody says this is a perfect bill. I don't. I don't think even President Obama says that. But we've got to do something
. We are at a time of need, and to do nothing certainly is not acceptable
. This is not perfect, but we've got to do something
to try to get our country back on track for the benefit of our people.
MR. GREGORY: I want to talk a couple of minutes about housing. Florida, of course, second highest rate of foreclosures in the country in 2008. You also benefited from an incredible housing boom and a speculative boom that preceded the fall of the housing market. Now, the Obama administration's plan essentially boils down to this: more available refinancing for about five million homeowners, and help with payments--modification of payments, reduction in payments--for three to four million homeowners. Is this the right plan?
GOV. CRIST: It may be a good start. I think some of the details still have to be rolled out in early March, as I understand it, and we're going to watch it very closely. But we need to do something
to help the housing market. Certainly it's huge in Florida, as you know and you, and you alluded to. One thing that's happening in Florida that's encouraging, in December of '08 we had a 27 percent increase in housing sales over December of '07. I think that's mostly a matter of people getting reasonable about the prices they expect for the value of their home.
MR. GREGORY: But this housing plan, can you describe how it will stop the slide of housing prices?
GOV. CRIST: Well, I'm not sure that it will. I don't think we know that yet. I think it's too early to tell.
MR. GREGORY: Can it be called a success if it doesn't do that?
GOV. CRIST: Well, probably not. But you know, none of us have a crystal ball.
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
GOV. CRIST: So we have to try something
, we have to do something
to make this economy move forward. I think it was Warren Buffett who said--and maybe it was quoted earlier--that this is like the Pearl Harbor of the economy. I mean, we are in a crisis. I think everybody understands that and appreciates it, whether it's housing or whatever sector.
MR. GREGORY: Right.
GOV. CRIST: We've got to do something
to get it going again.
Maybe we should have taken that $800 billion dollars and built that machine that sees into the future from the movie “Paycheck
.” Then we would
have a crystal ball – that
would be something. Maybe we should have dropped the cash from helicopters, because that would also be “something.” But the one thing we should not
do is “nothing” because “something” is always preferable to “nothing.”
Like when George Washington caught a cold, well, the doctors couldn’t do “nothing”:
Modern doctors believe that Washington died largely because of his treatment, which included calomel [mercury chloride] and bloodletting, resulting in a combination of shock from the loss of five pints of blood, as well as asphyxia and dehydration.
Yet to a doctor: good intentions!Related
– Robert Samuelson: “Obama's Stimulus: A Colossal Waste?”