Monday, September 19, 2011

Republicans blame Obama for the sky being blue...

There is no doubt that certainty is generally preferable to uncertainty, in the economy as in most aspects of life. A stable currency, for example, makes it easier for businesses to plan ahead, and encourages new investment. But there is no evidence that uncertainty has increased during the Obama presidency, or that, if it has, the president’s policies are responsible for it. Plenty of mystery remains about how health-care reform will turn out, for example, but having a plan -- whether it’s a good one or not -- surely creates less uncertainty than the intolerable situation employers faced beforehand: a broken system and no plan to fix it.

The charge of “creating uncertainty” is a way to blame Obama for the U.S.’s economic trials without having to explain the connection. In fact, if anyone in the political world is responsible for creating uncertainty, it is the Republicans. Look at last month’s debt-ceiling imbroglio, which left the world wondering whether the United States would even honor its debts -- something that was never uncertain before. The decision to turn a routine vote to raise the debt ceiling into a high- stakes game of chicken was made by the Republican House leadership.

Now, you may feel that irresponsible government spending has imperiled the country’s future to the extent that radical confrontation was a reasonable or even a wise policy. (We don’t feel that way, but you might.) Even so, the Republicans’ debt- ceiling gambit hardly reflected any great fear of “uncertainty.” Indeed, the unsurprising result was increased volatility in global markets and a lower investment grade for U.S. bonds -- the result of increased uncertainty about those bonds being paid off.

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