Doubling DownNov 2nd, 2011 | By Submitted | Category: Editorials, Sports
By Joe Boyles
I want to be clear about something from the onset – I’m not a gambler. While I have no problem with a friendly wager over a golf match, I don’t frequent casinos; I’ve never bet on a horse race; you’ll never find me at JCKC; and I never, never, never waste my time or money on the lottery. I don’t believe in those things. It’s not in my blood.
Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I do know what “doubling down” means. That’s what happens when a gambler goes on a losing streak and finds himself in the hole with no money left. He might continue the wager by doubling down or betting double-or-nothing. In other words, however much I owe, I’ll double the loss on the next hand against evening my loss should I win. Example: I’m $100 in the hole with nothing left in my pocket: doubling down means that if I lose, I now owe $200 but if I win, we’re even. The house will never take a double-down unless the gambler has already proven that he can pay the bet.
Doubling-down may be the sign of a desperation bet, but politicians do it all the time. For example, take the failed $787 billion economic stimulus that went into effect in February 2009. This was supposed to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and keep unemployment below 8 percent; today we’re at 9.1 percent and we haven’t been below the 8 percent bogey in over two years. The stimulus failed … miserably.
Practically every day, we hear of another stimulus project that has crashed and burned. The latest is Beacon Power that just declared bankruptcy taking $39 million in government loans down the drain. That’s a bargain compared to Solyndra that ate $538 million in taxpayer money before closing its doors, laying off 1100 workers. This is only the tip of the iceberg; more will follow.
A big component of the 2009 Stimulus was relief for government workers at state and local level. This enabled cash-strapped states to prevent layoffs … but only for a short while. This “solution” was at best a band-aid, temporarily papering over a budget shortfall that is systemic. Never forget that governments get in trouble, not during bad economic times, but rather, in good times when they create programs that cannot be sustained during inevitable downturns. Businessmen understand this but politicians, who are always spending other people’s money rather than their own, never get it.
So now, it is 2011 and the president is making the case for his reelection next year … by doubling down with another stimulus. This one is valued at $447 billion and of course, isn’t called “stimulus” because that word has been sullied. Instead, he calls it his jobs bill or the American Jobs Act, but if you look at its elements – public works, aid to the states, unemployment insurance, etc. – it contains exactly the same package that failed two years ago. Why would you remotely think that it could succeed this go round?
Rather than be sincere and go to Congress to get their input on what would pass, he put this together on his own. Not surprisingly, the bill failed to pass either house of Congress. It would appear that he is more interested in an issue to beat Republicans with than anything that might be enacted to actually improve the economy. How cynical.
Now he’s issuing executive orders to forestall home mortgage foreclosures and student loans. These have all been tried before earlier in the Obama years with poor results. I don’t think these executive orders will help much.
I mentioned that doubling down is a desperation move, and so it is with Obama. It’s all he has. He could offer to unleash the oil and gas industry, but he can’t because such a move would be at odds with his ideology. He could offer a tax reform bill that would include a reduction in corporate taxes, but he won’t. And he could suspend all regulatory matters and launch a serious, business-oriented review of what is already on the books – no chance. He’s a big government guy. The stimulus is all he’s got. A tiger is a tiger; don’t expect him to be something that is not his nature.
As informed voters, we should always be on the lookout for old political tricks. Beware of the double-down. It’s been tried before, and you’ll see it again.