Situational Assessment: An Overview of the Obama Administration's Triage Approach

The following is derived from a comment I posted as part of an ongoing conversation in a DailyKos diary.* It's essentially my take on what the Obama Administration inherited from its predecessors, and how President Obama has had to take a triage approach in order to get a handle on the myriad of emergency situations left at his doorstep by the rapidly retreating Bush Administration.

Get some coffee, and then please add your thoughts -- I'd appreciate any feedback.

You're presuming "reckless spending" given type and consistency.

Under Bush/Cheney and the GOP majorities, "reckless spending" gutted national infrastructure and effectively pissed away money like a firehose streaming water into a hurricane.  The spending worked hand-in-glove with multiple policies and deregulations that caused much more problems, including increasing the wealth disparity and eliminating a large swath of the middle class.

The GOP and BushCo knew that the economy was going to tank by the end of Bush's term, but they miscalculated: they thought they could prevent it from showing ~before~ Bush got out of office so they could place the blame on the incoming Democratic Administration (by 2004, the GOP realized that they wouldn't likely retain the WH after Bush's term).

When Obama came into office, he was faced with what was essentially a no-brainer: either hunker down and work within the severely limited confines of financial collapse that BushCo left him, which would mean do literally nothing that cost any additional money and follow the rough rut that the BushCo debacle had effectively carved, or start spending the stimulus and redirecting it, adding and adjusting to it with additional programs and increasing debt temporarily in order to create "working capital"...

He chose the latter.  He didn't have to try hard to make that choice, either, as the economy was on a downward spiral that required at least some degree of action along the lines he took to avoid complete global collapse.

That also means, unfortunately, spending some money in ways and amounts that he didn't necessarily want to, but had to in order to quell certain potential panic reactions.

Now he's working to walk back the cat, instituting or announcing more financial regulation and program reform while working to implement a healthcare plan that extends coverage to more Americans while also BRINGING DOWN the deficit -- a twofer in terms of fiscal and social responsibility.

He's already working to get control of what was "reckless" under Bush and what he was forced into padding, and that's far more than BushCo ever did...and they left one helluva mess.  They did a lot of it on purpose, to ensure that the incoming Administration would have so much to repair, that they wouldn't likely be able to accomplish much.  And the GOP knew that it could screech that the new President was taking on too much too fast, when in reality I think Obama took on the top 3 to 5 items and is concentrating on the top 3 after triaging the wide-ranging debacle that was his predecessor's legacy.

As Obama progresses, he's also adjusting / correcting / redirecting funds, programs and policies to rebuild and support our national infrastructure -- necessary for effective progress in a variety of areas, and likely to also help increase/improve economic and job issues at the same time.

I concluded by mentioning that the habit of teabaggers and GOP shills to lump all spending together as "reckless" and ignoring the particulars of what was left to this administration and what it has to deal with to simply stabilize the situation was effective just an exercise in intellectually dishonesty.

...what do you think? Accurate or fair assessment of what was left by BushCo, initially addressed by the Obama Administration and depicting roughly where we're at now?

Let's get a discussion going in comments: is the assessment over-simplified, or could it explain some of the actions taken and backtracking now in process? What other factors do you see affecting the capacity of this Administration to make headway? What are the top ten major issues left for the incoming Administration? Inquiring minds want to know. :)

Economic Triage: Euthanizing Hope and Promise in the U.S.

Our nation's forefathers started us off with good intentions.


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

            -- Preamble of the United States' Constitution


Emphasis mine.

That's not to say that they envisioned a "welfare state" -- an accusation oft tossed into the mix by radical right-wing conservatives. The line "promote the general welfare" does, however, denote the support and importance of the "health, happiness, or prosperity; well-being"1 of the people, the states and the nation itself. The mythos that later came to embody the "domestic Tranquility" and principles of liberty and justice in a free democratic Republic was bolstered with the words from a plaque at the base of one of our most notable national symbols, the Statue of Liberty:


"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

            -- Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, 1883


What a grand dream of freedom, of democracy, of goodwill and equal opportunity...

How horrified our founding fathers might be now, to read of the way our system has been twisted and corrupted so that the poor and the sick are effectively shut-out from the benefits that modern-day medicine can provide, like the child who was taken off a liver doner list through an example of the cold, hard nature of economic triage2 as reported recently in the Miami Herald: