Bizarro America: The First Hundred Days
WASHINGTON (April 30, 2009) — President Barack Obama and Congress today continued their bold lockstep program to revive America’s staggering economy, even as Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush faced intensifying scrutiny over misdeeds allegedly carried out by his administration.
Buoyed by the success of his programs to strengthen the social safety net and head off a second Great Depression, Obama directed the SEC, Treasury Department and Justice Department in a coordinated effort to “get to the heart of the credit crisis and determine whether criminal misconduct helped bring about our current troubles.”
These initiatives and more promised to make Obama’s first 100 days among the most significant of any presidency. Seldom has a chief executive inspired such uniform cooperation from the notoriously fractious Congress. Representatives agreed early on that the economic, social and international crises afflicting the country were too important for partisan squabbling.
“It’s true I might have once had questions about whether President Obama was a secret Marxist, and whether he would remove references to God from our currency,” said Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn. “But then after I touched the hem of his suit, I was suddenly able to comprehend language and use tools, so I read The Communist Manifesto. Do you know he isn’t mentioned in there anywhere?”
A plan vindicated
The Obama team was vilified early on for ignoring the short-term health of Wall Street in favor of ground-up programs. The Treasury Department refused calls from banks and brokerage houses to absorb private-sector losses on toxic assets.
Instead, the department quickly developed a program for direct mortgage aid to homeowners in danger of losing their homes. Also key were tax-code revisions that abolished the payroll tax, making up the difference through new taxes on industrial pollutants, greenhouse gases, and douchebags who drive Hummer H2s.
Most of these measures originated with Obama’s “Dream Team” of economic analysts, headed by Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz. Their concepts quickly found support in the House and Senate, where traditional GOP reliance on tax cuts to spur economic growth didn’t pan out.
House Republican John Boehner of Ohio blamed math. “Every dollar of tax cuts creates an additional $1.03 in gross domestic product,” said Boehner. “Meanwhile, every dollar of new spending on infrastructure adds $1.59 in GDP, and every new dollar on food stamps adds $1.73. If you can take care of people’s basic needs, they can get to work and be the motors of the overall economy again, and that’s what we really want.
“Fuck tax cuts,” Boehner concluded. “And especially fuck tax cuts for the rich. Fuck ’em sideways, no lube.”
A ‘mirror’ universe
What new tax incentives did appear went to clean energy industries. With tax credits on the horizon, groundbreaking is scheduled for May on the public-private Arizona Sunpower Initiative, a program to blanket that state with solar collectors.
Power generation from that effort could approach Hoover Dam levels by 2012. However, Obama promised regulation of the nascent clean energy industry will be as stringent as that recently imposed on hydrocarbon emissions, communications monopolies, stock trading and food safety.
One footnote to Obama’s investment in alternative energy came with the relaunch of the Texas supercollider project, abandoned in 1993. Early experiments with the huge array opened a window into what appeared to be a parallel universe. Dubbed Earth-F, this foreign dimension is ruled by a Science-Tyrant Obama, who wears a goatee and hunts the freedom fighter Bill O’Reilly and his army of saboteurs, the Loofah Crew.
“That really makes you think, man. That’s wild,” the president said of the discovery, while lighting a blunt in a Rose Garden ceremony with Bono, Edward James Olmos and Iain M. Banks. “But frankly, my head’s gotta stay in the here and now.”
While Congress and the president wrestled with the economy, the American Truth and Reconciliation Commission continued its hearings for a third week, issuing subpoenas for former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former CIA director George Tenet and ex-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
All four men were summoned to testify, publicly and under oath, about Bush Administration programs ranging from CIA “enhanced interrogation” techniques; to Iraq War intelligence; to the awarding of no-bid contracts to Halliburton and other firms in which executives held a financial interest.
The commission is both a justice-seeking body and one of the federal government’s most successful new employment programs. Hordes of jobless journalists were hired last year and released into the field as deputized investigators. Based on evidence gathered by those teams under Investigator General Seymour Hersh, the commission expects to issue further subpoenas by June, and perhaps send cases for grand jury indictment by late summer.
It was not immediately clear whether Bush himself would be subpoenaed.
“From what I understand, it’s been very hard to communicate with the former president since the Inauguration,” said commission chairman Sean Penn. “He’s way down in Crawford, he’s got this really fortified panic room, and it’s apparently stocked with enough Boone’s Farm and Wild Turkey to blot out his conscience for the next 30 years.
“Not to worry, though,” Penn promised. “We’ll smoke ’im out.”