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Conservative Blog Buzz: Back on track

From NBC's Kelly Paice
After President Obama's speech today on getting the U.S. economy back on track, conservative bloggers hit back on how the president is handling the way forward, particularly regarding the jobs front.

National Review Online's John Hood writes, "There are plenty of reasons for skepticism about President Obama's latest round of stimulus ideas. Unveiled at a Brookings Institution speech today, they include some tax-credit gimmicks likely to do as much harm as good."

Hood hones in on one "major component of the new plan, increasing federal aid for state and local infrastructure projects." He argues, "States and localities have produced more government than taxpayers are willing or able to finance on the books. The solution is to eliminate low-priority programs and focus scarce tax dollars on core functions. ... The solution is not for Washington to take the expense off the books of states and localities. All state taxpayers are also federal taxpayers. You're just increasing their debtload in a sneaky way."

President Obama, per NRO's Stephen Spruiell, "might have chosen a better opener for his speech today: 'Almost exactly one year ago, on a cold winter's day, I met with my new economic team at the headquarters of my presidential transition offices in Chicago. Over the course of four hours, my advisors presented an analysis of where the economy stood, accompanied by a chilling set of charts and graphs, predicting where we might end up. It was an unforgettable series of presentations.'"

Spruiell recalls, "Obama's economic team predicted in January that without the stimulus plan, unemployment would rise to 9 percent." However, he points out that unemployment instead "rose to 10.2 percent before leveling off last month. Yet, in his speech today, Obama said that thanks to the stimulus, we've avoided those terrible scenarios his economic team predicted in that series of 'unforgettable' presentations. If that's what he thinks, those presentations must have been quite forgettable. The jobs picture is currently worse than his team predicted it would be."

Spruiell further argues against what he calls the backwards logic of the president's proposals to spur the economy. He asks, "Most liberals mock the supply-side idea that, in certain cases, tax cuts can actually increase revenue by spurring economic growth. So what to make of the Democrats' sudden embrace of the inverse of that argument?" He points to a statement made by the president during a speech today, in which the president said, "'Ensuring that economic growth and job creation are strong and sustained is critical to ensuring that we are increasing revenues and decreasing spending on things like unemployment so that our deficits will start coming down.'" Spruiell continues to counter the president and argues that, in fact, "[r]educing the size of the government's footprint in the economy would be conducive to growth."

And Tevi Troy on NRO today refers to President Obama's remarks as a "finger-pointing jobs speech" in which the president plays the "blame game."

NRO's Robert Costa spotlights what Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has to say about the president's plan to push for job creation legislation: "'Government intervention and takeover is creating a climate where job creators and investors are sitting on the sidelines rather than risk guessing wrong about which direction the federal government intends to go.'"

Furthermore, Matthew Continetti of Weekly Standard recognizes that as "Democrats want to use 'leftover' TARP money to pay for a 'second stimulus'...[t]here will be a debate over the merits and demerits of the president's various policy preferences. But it looks like there will be debate over the legality of spending TARP money on non-TARP-related projects, as well." Continetti points to what Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) had to say today: "'The legislation specifically says that any leftover TARP money goes to deficit reduction. ... To use money from the TARP fund in the manner that is being discussed by the White House and Congressional Democrats would be a violation of the law, and it would betray the trust of the American people.'" Continetti adds, "For the president to repurpose the legislation once more, in the service of a partisan domestic agenda, would open up a major legal and policy debate. A debate that he may not win."

And conservative Hugh Hewitt gives his take on the EPA's CO2 announcement yesterday: "The EPA's 'Congress-and-people-be-damned' declaration on the regulation of greenhouse gases announces the arrival of another power grab by the president's appointees and the agencies they control. ... The takeover of American industry like the takeover of American healthcare by the government will be reversed only when large majorities of free market proponents replace the Obama-Pelosi-Reid majorities which are presently in the saddle and riding the American economy into the ground."