Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Left/Nice vs. Right/Wrong

I'm guardedly supportive of the Obama stimulus law as well as the idea that we need some tax increases to deal with the budget crisis in California. But my moderate's heart is offended by the drumbeat of media and Democratic criticism of Republican obstructionists for being ideological. Insisting on tax cuts and holding the line on taxes are indeed ideological positions; but so is insisting on tax increases and on stimulus spending for health care and clean energy. And so were the easy-credit policies of the Carter and Clinton administrations of which we are once again reminded by Thomas Sowell:

The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 directed federal regulatory agencies to "encourage" banks and other lending institutions "to help meet the credit needs of the local communities in which they are chartered consistent with the safe and sound operation of such institutions."

That sounds pretty innocent and, in fact, it had little effect for more than a decade. However, its premise was that bureaucrats and politicians know where loans should go, better than people who are in the business of making loans.

This big-hearted initiative was as much to blame for the condition of the financial and banking sectors as any anti-regulatory move under Presidents Reagan or George W. Bush. Just because it sounds nice doesn't mean it's not ideological (or wrong).

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