Monday, January 26, 2015

DOMESTIC SURVEILLANCE — WE NEED IT NOW MORE THAN EVER


In his observations on terrorism in Belgium, John writes that electronic surveillance of some sort very likely played a role in enabling the authorities to strike before the terrorists could carry out their planned attack. John is right. But we don’t need to look to Belgium to see the critical role such surveillance plays in protecting against terrorism.
Recently, authorities here in the U.S. were able to prevent an attack on the Capitol building. According to John Boehner, electronic surveillance was instrumental in the discovery learning of the planned attack:
[Boehner] said law enforcement officials “would have never known” about the Capitol Hill threat without the program, in which U.S. intelligence officials collect information under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The law lets investigators eavesdrop on Americans under certain conditions.
Boehner’s comment reflects a renewed respect for our surveillance programs on Capitol Hill:
While steady leaks about the scope of the NSA program — which collects data on Americans’ Internet and cell phone use — have resulted in a national debate over the balance between privacy and security, recent developments have shifted the tone in Washington.
The political class, it seems, has been mugged by reality.
But how is it that so many in the political class began blocking out the reality of the terrorist threat within a half dozen or so years after 9/11? The answer, I suppose, is a double dose of wishful thinking. Everyone wishes (1) that the threat of domestic terrorism were de minimis and (2) that this threat, at whatever level it may rise to, could be effectively countered with no infringement on privacy.
The first wish is unrealistic and clearly has been since 2001. The second wish, in the terms stated above, is also patently unrealistic.
But the threat of domestic terrorism can be countered to an appreciable degree with no undue infringement on privacy through the very surveillance policies we have used since 9/11, but which have come under attack from both the left and the right. Boehner exaggerated only slightly when he said, “our government doesn’t spy on Americans unless they are Americans who are doing things that tip off law enforcement about an imminent threat.”
Where is the concrete evidence that surveillance programs have meaningfully infringed on the privacy of Americans who don’t associate with terrorists? As John says, the privacy concerns expressed by the likes of Rand Paul are almost entirely hypothetical.
This question of concrete harm has been overlooked by those who have succumbed to the privacy hysteria. Maybe now it won’t be.
And maybe now we will restore proper funding for surveillance programs that keep us safe. The overall federal budget for intelligence activities (including military intelligence and the rest of the intelligence community) has fallen dramatically since 2010, according to Fox News. In 2010, it peaked at $80 billion. For fiscal 2015, it is $66 billion.
Events not only in Belgium, but right here in the U.S., demonstrate that it’s past time to reverse this trend.

DOES THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY HAVE A FUTURE? (PART 2)


John introduced this subject a few items below, and it deserves not just a hopeful “NO!” in response, but additional analysis.  The Washington Post yesterday put together a nice littlescoreboard of Democratic losses during the Obama years (displayed below), and it is stunning to realize how disastrous Obama has been for Democrats not named Obama.
Obama Coattails copy
Obama has seen the worst party erosion ever, more than Republicans during the Watergate disaster. The other notable party wipeout occurred under Eisenhower, and this comparison deserves a little more thought. The Democratic surge under Eisenhower reflects the still rising tide of the New Deal coalition, which Michael Barone argues was actually stronger politically in the late 1950s than earlier. In fact Michael has argued that the high water mark for New Deal liberal Democrats (as opposed to southern moderate and conservative Democrats filling out the ranks) was the 1958 election. Republicans, meanwhile, were still trying to find their way in the new world of the New Deal coalition; keep in mind that for all of his virtues, on domestic policy Eisenhower was really a “me, too” Republican.
The point is, the Democratic strength banked in the 1950s paid lasting electoral dividends well into the 1970s. Democrats were able to hold off political oblivion as their policy failures mounted in the 1960s and 1970s because of the deep bench they had built. The reverse is now likely going to be the case for Republicans, even allowing for some demographic challenges posed by growing Democratic-leaning groups.
The WaPo’s Chris Cilizza comments:
It’s downballot (way downballot) where the depth of the Republican victories over the past three elections truly reveal themselves — and where the impact will be felt over the long term.
http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/01/does-the-democratic-party-have-a-future-part-2.php 

OBAMA’S “MEASURED APPROACH” TO RACE

President Obama is taking a “measured approach” to issues of race, according to Steven Mufson of the Washington Post. Mufson is right only in this limited sense: Obama is measuring just how much money he can transfer from white Americans to black Americans.
Income redistribution is the unifying theme of Obama’s domestic agenda (the unifying theme of his overseas agenda is American retreat with major concessions to our enemies). Obamacare is basically an income redistribution program. The Medicaid expansion provides free health care to non-poor, relatively low-income Americans, a disproportionately large share of whom are black.
Those a bit higher up the income scale, another disproportionately black cohort, are granted subsidized health care. Funds for the subsidies are obtained by forcing more prosperous Americans, a disproportionately white population, to buy insurance plans that are more expensive than what they require.
As Mufson reminds us, Obama himself once touted health care reform as redistributionist. In The Audacity of Hope, he wrote that health-care reform “would do more to eliminate health disparities between whites and minorities than any race-specific programs we might design.”
We’ll see whether “health disparities” — i.e., differences in outcomes — are reduced appreciably by Obamacare. But there’s no doubt that resources are being redistributed from whites to blacks.
Before Obamacare, there was the Stimulus. Michelle Obama has conceded its redistributionist nature. Jonathan Alter wrote in The Promise:
A congressman approached the first lady at a White House reception after the [stimulus] bill’s passage and told her the stimulus was the best anti-poverty bill in a generation. Her reaction was “Shhhh!” The White House didn’t want the public thinking that Obama had achieved long-sought public policy objectives under the guise of merely stimulating the economy, even though that’s exactly what had happened.
Since 2011, Obama hasn’t been in a position to pass redistributionist legislation. But he still can write redistributionist regulations. For years, his administration has been planning to redistribute resources from suburbs — disproportionately white — to cities and inner suburbs — disproportionately lack. Stanley Kurtz has described how Obama would like to accomplish this.
The fruit of this audacious agenda item will be a proposed rule on “affirmatively furthering fair housing” (AFFH), which is expected to issue within the next few months. I’ve written about this rule here.
It’s not surprising that transferring money from whites to blacks is at the core of Obama’s agenda. This was, after all, Martin Luther King’s final mission, as Mufson points out. And, as with any good socialist, it has been Obama’s mission since his days as a left-wing “community organizer” and before.
But there is nothing truly “measured” about robbing Peter to pay Paul, even if Peter is white and Paul is black.

Jindal’s Brilliant Take on Radical Islam

Jindal’s Brilliant Take on Radical Islam 
The problem and solution reside with the people of the Islamic religion themselves. 
(Alex Wong/Getty)



Larry Kudlow 
‘Let’s be honest here. Islam has a problem.”
Those are key sentences in an incredibly hard-hitting speech that Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal will give in London on Monday. It is the toughest speech I have read on the whole issue of Islamic radicalism and its destructive, murdering, barbarous ways which are upsetting the entire world.
Early in the speech Jindal says he’s not going to be politically correct. And he uses the term “radical Islamists” without hesitation, placing much of the blame for the Paris murders and all radical Islamist terrorism on a refusal of Muslim leaders to denounce these acts.
Jindal says, “Muslim leaders must make clear that anyone who commits acts of terror in the name of Islam is in fact not practicing Islam at all. If they refuse to say this, then they are condoning these acts of barbarism. There is no middle ground.”
Then he adds, specifically, “Muslim leaders need to condemn anyone who commits these acts of violence and clearly state that these people are evil and are enemies of Islam. It’s not enough to simply condemn violence, they must stand up and loudly proclaim that these people are not martyrs who will receive a reward in the afterlife, and rather they are murderers who are going to hell. If they refuse to do that, then they’re part of the problem. There is no middle ground here.”
I want to know who in the Muslim community in the United States has said this. Which leaders? I don’t normally cover this beat, so I may well have missed it. Hence I ask readers to tell me if so-called American Muslim leaders have said what Governor Jindal is saying.
And by the way, what Bobby Jindal is saying is very similar to what Egyptian president al-Sisi said earlier in the year to a group of Muslim imams.
Said al-Sisi, “It’s inconceivable that the thinking we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.”
He then asks, “How is it possible that 1.6 billion Muslims should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants — that is 7 billion — so that they themselves may live?” He concludes, if this is not changed, “it may eventually lead to the religion’s self destruction.”
That’s President al-Sisi of Egypt, which I believe has the largest Muslim population in the world.
And what Jindal and al-Sisi are saying is not so different from the thinking of French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, he calls the Charlie Hebdo murders “the Churchillian moment of France’s Fifth Republic.” He essentially says France and the world must slam “the useful idiots of a radical Islam immersed in the sociology of poverty and frustration.” He adds, “Those whose faith is Islam must proclaim very loudly, very often, and in great numbers their rejection of this corrupt and abject form of theocratic passion. . . . Islam must be freed from radical Islam.”
So three very different people — a young southern governor who may run for president, the political leader of the largest Muslim population in the world, and a prominent Western European intellectual — are saying that most of the problem and most of the solution rests with the people of the Islamic religion themselves. If they fail to take action, the radicals will swallow up the whole religion and cause the destruction of the entire Middle East and possibly large swaths of the rest of the world.
Lévy called this a Churchillian moment. And London mayor Boris Johnson argues in his book The Churchill Factor that Winston Churchill was the most important 20th century figure because his bravery in 1940 stopped the triumph of totalitarianism. So today’s battle with the Islamic radicals is akin to the Cold War battle of freedom vs. totalitarianism.
But returning to Governor Jindal, the U.S. is not helpless. Jindal argues that America must restore its proper leadership role in international affairs. (Of course, Obama has taken us in the opposite direction, and won’t even use the phrase “Islamic radicals.”) And Jindal invokes Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher by saying, “The tried and true prescription must be employed again: a strong economy, a strong military, and leaders willing and able to assert moral, economic, and military leadership in the cause of freedom.”
Reagan always argued that weakness at home leads to weakness abroad. A strong growing economy provides the resources for military and national security. Right now we’re uncomfortably close to having neither.
This is the great challenge of our time. In the early years of the 21st century, it appears the great goal of our age is the defeat of radical Islam.
Jindal gets it.
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/396584/jindals-brilliant-take-radical-islam-larry-kudlow

Sunday, January 25, 2015

HOUSE IMMIGRATION BILL FALLS FAR SHORT [UPDATED]

Tomorrow the House Homeland Security Committee will take up H.R.399, the Secure Our Border First Act of 2015, which I take it has the support of House GOP leadership. Sadly, the bill will do little to solve our illegal immigration crisis. The Center for Immigration Studies points out some of the bill’s many defects. Here are a few of the highlights:
* The bill mandates just 27 miles of fencing, which may or may not ever be funded. If you think a fence is important, this is a risibly small effort.
* The act dictates more manpower, drones, etc. with a view toward apprehending more illegals. The problem is that the bill includes no requirements as to what will be done with the illegals when they are apprehended.
* The bill says that apprehended illegals must face “consequences,” but no such consequences are specified. Currently, the Obama administration puts apprehended illegals into “proceedings,” which virtually all of them ignore. That practice apparently will continue.
CIS quotes several retired border agents and officials who have read the bill. Here is one:
Wrote Zack Taylor, chairman of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers, in a press release yesterday: “As long as Sanctuary cities, welfare, education, and jobs and principally lack of enforcement and enabling by the federal government, are made available to the undocumented alien, we will not be able to secure the physical border.”
I think that is correct. CIS concludes:
And consider the title: “Secure Our Border First”. First, before what? Before we abandon our half-hearted attempt to block the president’s executive actions? Before we tackle interior enforcement needs? Or before we move on to the amnesty and expansion of guest worker programs that appears to be the real priority for top congressional Republican leaders?
Immigration is a winning issue for Republicans, but only if they do what the voters want: stop illegal immigration and reduce legal immigration. So far, there is no convincing sign that this is what Republican Congressional leaders have in mind. This graphic illustrates the results of a recent Kellyanne Conway poll. Click to enlarge:
image014
Immigration is the issue on which our political class is most out of touch.
UPDATE: Senator Jeff Sessions released a statement on the House bill that includes the following:
The Chairman McCaul proposal does not include the following reforms needed to achieve a sound immigration system: it does not end catch-and-release; it does not require mandatory detention and return; it does not include worksite enforcement; it does not close dangerous asylum and national security loopholes; it does not cut-off access to federal welfare; and it does not require completion of the border fence. Surprisingly, it delays and weakens the longstanding unfulfilled statutory requirement for a biometric entry-exit visa tracking system.
If Congress learned anything from last year’s ongoing border disaster, it should be that border security cannot be achieved unless immigration agents are permitted to do their jobs and our laws are actually being enforced. A nation cannot control its borders if being caught violating those borders does not result in one’s swift return home.
As it stands now, Congress provides billions of dollars every year to the Department of Homeland Security for border security and immigration enforcement and yet DHS uses those resources to flout the laws Congress has passed, rather than to enforce them. Without ending catch-and-release, any additional funds for DHS will simply be used to facilitate the transfer of more illegal immigrants into U.S communities. Border security must be approached differently in a time when we have a President who makes up his own laws, and where illegal immigrants actually hope they will be apprehended so they can be released into an American city or town. We live in a new reality.

 http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/01/house-immigration-bill-falls-far-short.php

The Conversation Obama Doesn’t Want to Have

The Conversation Obama Doesn’t Want to Have
The White House seems to think its denial of radical Islam will stop people from believing the obvious.
By Jonah Goldberg

Open-Borders Mau-Mauers

Open-Borders Mau-Mauers 
The Santa Barbara News-Press is under attack from the militants of MEChA. 
 

Michelle Malkin 
I stand with the Santa Barbara News-Press. How about you?
The newspaper is under fire for refusing to kowtow to left-wing word police and militant propagandists who demand unfettered illegal immigration. Last week, in the wake of angry protests against the publication, vandals threw paint bombs and spray-painted graffiti on the walls of its building.
So, what exactly is the News-Press’s unforgivable crime? Calling illegal aliens “illegals” in a headline for a story about illegal aliens descending on California DMVs. A new law went into effect last Friday allowing illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses without proof of lawful residence. The article featured interviews with ecstatic illegal aliens, including one who has been in the country illegally for 22 years.
Advertisement
Latina magazine called the News-Press headline — “Illegals line up for driver’s licenses” — the “most offensive headline against undocumented immigrants ever.” Hyperbole much? Ethnic agitators from a group called People Organized for the Defense and Equal Rights of Santa Barbara Youth (PODER) condemned the paper as “blatantly racist,” demanding that the News-Press adhere to the slanted guidelines of the Associated Press or face a boycott.
The blatantly biased AP rules advise journalists to abandon the concise terms “illegal,” “illegal alien,” and “illegal immigrant” in favor of the wordy, whitewashed “‘living in’ or ‘entering a country illegally’ or ‘without legal permission.’” Illegal aliens with Obama amnesty cards are now people with “temporary resident status” — blatantly blurring the distinction between legal foreign visitors who legally applied for and received legal temporary status and illegal border-crossers, illegal deportation-evaders, and illegal visa-overstayers who won the illegal-alien amnesty lottery by playing the waiting game.
Because references to the rule of law are considered oppressively racist/colonialist/imperialist, social-justice mobsters are pushing the term “undocumented” on media coddlers. But it is patently absurd to force a newspaper in the name of “accuracy” and “objectivity” to call illegal aliens queuing up for government-issued documents “undocumented.”
These “undocumented” aliens, now eligible for state driver’s licenses, federal work-authorization permits, in-state college discounts, bank accounts, taxpayer identification numbers, and birth certificates issued by Mexican consular offices on government soil, are the most documented aliens in American history.
News-Press publisher Wendy McCaw told me this week that the speech-stifling thugs “have threatened to return on January 19 to deliver a petition and stage another protest against us if we do not offer a retraction by 3 p.m. that day.” McCaw vows she will not bend to that ultimatum or any other — and she has a track record to prove her toughness.
She has been defying the progressive forces of political correctness for years in First Amendment battles over whom she should hire and how she should run her newspaper. Radical elements in her community and her industry have long held a grudge against her and her paper for resisting union pressure and refusing to conform to left-wing orthodoxy.
And boy, do these people know how to hold grudges.
In addition to the paint bombs, unhinged Mau-Mauers spray-painted a radical Reconquista slogan on the News-Press building: “The border is illegal, not the people who cross it.”
Yes, they’re still trying to refight the Mexican-American War of 1848 and relitigate the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. No surprise. Santa Barbara has been a longstanding hotbed of tribal grievance politics. In the late 1960s, liberal Latinos at the University of California at Santa Barbara unveiled El Plan de Aztlán, which states: “We do not recognize capricious frontiers on the bronze continent. Brotherhood unites us, and love for our brothers makes us a people whose time has come and who struggles against the foreigner ‘gabacho’ who exploits our riches and destroys our culture. With our heart in our hands and our hands in the soil, we declare the independence of our mestizo nation. We are a bronze people with a bronze culture.”
The Aztlán plan birthed Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) — an identity-politics indoctrination machine on publicly subsidized college and high-school campuses nationwide, whose members have rioted in Los Angeles and editorialized that federal immigration “pigs should be killed, every single one,” in San Diego.
As I’ve reported previously, the MEChA Constitution calls on members to “promote Chicanismo within the community, politicizing our Raza [race] with an emphasis on indigenous consciousness to continue the struggle for the self-determination of the Chicano people for the purpose of liberating Aztlán.” “Aztlán” is the group’s term for the vast southwestern expanse of the United States — from parts of Washington and Oregon down to California, Arizona, and New Mexico, and over to Texas — which MEChA claims to be a mythical homeland and seeks to reconquer for Mexico.
MEChA’s symbol is an eagle clutching a dynamite stick and a machete-like weapon in its claws; its motto is “Por La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada.” Translation: “For the Race, everything. For those outside the Race, nothing.”
Tell me again who the racists are.
— Michelle Malkin is the author of Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks & Cronies (Regnery, 2010). Her e-mail address ismalkinblog@gmail.com. Copyright © 2015 Creators.Com.
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/396561/open-borders-mau-mauers-michelle-malkin

Three Strikes Against the Fed


Image credit: 
Barbara Kelley

The Obama Administration, the Federal Reserve, and independent economists have to answer the central question about this recovery. Why did the enormous, sustained monetary stimulus have so little effect on real output, employment, and prices?
My answer is in two parts. First, the Federal Reserve’s policy is based on major economic errors. It tried to resolve real economic problems by printing money. They should know that is not possible. Second, the real problems were created by the Obama administration. Its insistence on imposing costly regulations on firms and industries, its support for stronger labor unions, its opposition to tax reduction, and its other policies based on what the Economist magazine called “the Criminalization of American Business” have hampered the economic recovery.
The principal result was slow investment and increased pessimism about the state of the economy. Evidence of the latter are the decisions by many major companies, like Halliburton, Time Warner, Merck, Apple, and Walmart, to repurchase their shares at the very high prevailing stock prices instead of investing in new capital.
Six years into the recovery, median income remains much below the pre-recession peak. The unemployment rate has fallen, but that’s mainly because of decisions by prime age workers to leave the labor force. And much of the increased employment is part-time work. An administration that declares its support for the poor and minorities has done far less to help them than the Reagan administration did over twenty years ago. Shouldn’t the administration wonder why its policies have had such abysmal results?
Federal Reserve Errors       
The Federal Reserve made three major errors. After responding appropriately to the 2008 financial crisis, it continued the policy of massive expansion of bank reserves long after such expansion was required. Surely by 2009, the Fed could have seen that most of the reserves that it supplied ended as idle reserves held by banks. With low investment in new capital and housing, the financial system had little demand for additional reserves. How did the Federal Reserve explain the sluggish growth of bank lending? Long before idle reserves reached $ 2.7 trillion, the Fed should have asked: What can we achieve by adding more reserves that the financial firms do not use that commercial banks cannot achieve by using some of the idle reserves they hold? Apparently that question was not asked.
The accumulation of idle reserves was not the only sign that monetary policy had little impact on the real economy. I have often written that the transmission of monetary policy to the real economy occurs, first, by raising the price of existing assets. Stock prices and the prices of existing homes are examples. And that happened. Asset prices increased substantially.
The next step followed weakly, or not at all. In the recovery from a monetary recession, the rise in stock market prices and the prices of existing houses makes the prices of new capital and new homes relatively cheap. That’s the main channel through which money growth affects real economic activity. Relatively cheap new capital induces new investment by business and the production of new housing. This time the percentage of home ownership is at 64, well below the earlier peak of 70 before the recession. The failure of business investment to expand and the weak increase in new housing was a message to the Fed. It read: The main problems of this economy are real not monetary.
In 2010, Harvard Business School’s Professor Michael Porter and a colleague asked 10,000 business school alums why they were not investing. The respondents were involved in investing decisions at major U.S. corporations. Their answers cited real problems, not monetary or financial problems, as the reason for sluggish investment. Since the problems businessmen see are not monetary, the Fed cannot eliminate them.
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) encourages employers to prefer part-time workers to escape expensive healthcare costs. Fed principals point to the rise in part-time employment as a reason for continuing to keep interest rates near zero. Are they so confused that they think that financial policy can counteract costly real government rules?
A second major Fed error is the excessive attention the Fed gives to very noisy monthly and quarterly data. An example was the emphasis for years on the monthly report on job growth. It soon became clear that a big increase encouraged beliefs that the recovery was gaining momentum. The next month the number was revised, often reduced considerably. Discouraging monthly reports were often followed by positive revisions. By relying on a very noisy indicator, the Fed increased uncertainty. More importantly, it showed that it over-reacted to current events and did not have a coherent strategy.
It still doesn’t. Reducing $2.7 trillion of excess reserves requires a long-range plan conditional on events. Eliminating the excess reserves without causing inflation, recession, or both is a major problem for the future. The Fed cites overnight purchases of reserves from the financial market as a way of controlling reserve growth. That’s not a credible strategy for reducing more than $2 trillion dollars of reserves.
The two best periods in the Fed’s first 100 years are 1923-28 when the Fed followed a rule called the gold exchange standard and 1986-2003 when the Fed more or less followed a Taylor rule. Economists call the latter period, the Great Moderation. Inflation was low, recessions were infrequent, and when they did occur, they were mild and short. Instead of responding to noisy monthly and quarterly announcements, the Fed followed a medium-term strategy. It should do so again by announcing and following a Taylor rule.
The Fed’s third major error is inattention to growth of monetary and credit aggregates. This decision is baffling. Central banks supply the raw material on which financial markets build the credit and money magnitudes. The reason given for neglecting these aggregates is usually a claim that they are unstable. That is true only, if at all, of quarterly values. It is not true of medium- and longer-term values as many researchers have shown.
Our Major Economic Problems Are Not Monetary
Obama administration policies are the principal reason that unprecedented monetary expansion was followed by the slowest growth of any recovery since World War II. Soon after taking office, the Obama administration adopted a huge program of government spending, worth almost $ 1 trillion. Much of the spending went for redistribution. Very little encouraged increased productivity, the main source of better jobs and higher living standards. The program accomplished little.
After this initial effort, the Obama administration has given most of its attention to increasing costly regulations, bringing often vague criminal charges against corporations, criminalizing businesses, and redistributing income. Its major effort to redistribute income failed to achieve its end. These programs discourage new investment, so business investment remained low and will not increase if these policies continue.
To restore investment and growth, the government should deregulate, stop criminalizing corporations, and reduce tax rates. The shift in political power after the 2014 election gives reason to hope that better policies will encourage more investment.
A New Error?           
Currently, some Fed principals express concern about deflation. Their error is to mistake a large decline in the oil price—a relative price change—with a decline in the general price level. This is the same mistake the Fed made in the 1970s when oil price increases became the reason for anti-inflation action. By the early 2000, the Fed recognized its error and allowed the oil price to pass through the economy.
That’s the correct policy response to the sharp decline in oil prices: Do nothing, even if the reported index becomes negative for a few months. The Fed has many competent spokesmen who can explain to the public why it is wrong to treat the decline in oil prices as deflation. They can explain that deflation occurs when enough different prices decline that broad based price measures fall. The Fed has the authority to explain the reasons for inaction and why it is appropriate to permit the fall in oil prices to work its way through the economy.
***
Inappropriate administration and Fed policies are the reason why weak recovery followed the enormous monetary stimulus. After preventing a major financial crisis in 2008, the Fed has pushed discretionary policy in an extraordinary effort to restore full employment. The effort failed to achieve its goals. It continued long after the Fed should have recognized that monetary policy could do little because the problems were not monetary. They were real.
The Obama administration was the principal source of the economy’s real problems. Costly regulations, relatively high tax rates, and redistributive spending added to the neglect of the long-term implications of unsustainable budget and off-budget deficits.
Finally, the Fed’s recent expansion raises an issue about the power of the Fed to quadruple the size of its balance sheet without any effective Congressional oversight. In a federal republic such as ours, no government agency should be able to take such action on its own initiative.
This essay is adapted from a paper presented at the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank that the Bank declined to publish in its conference volume