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Thursday, March 26, 2009
Amateur Hour

I've kind of been ignoring the initial fumbles of the Obama Administration, but it is getting to the point that you gotta wonder if these guys are ever going to get their act together. USA Today lays out the stark reality of the budgets:

This brings us to Wednesday's start of budget season on Capitol Hill, which featured an underwhelming display of short-term tinkering to whittle down the cost of President Obama's $3.7 trillion spending plan for 2010, coupled with some of the same old backsliding on the long-term problem.

Among other things, the Senate Budget Committee abandoned the useful discipline of laying out budget numbers for the next 10 years, opting instead for a five-year display that conveniently masks the fact that deficits are projected to rise after 2013.

There are limits to how much the government can borrow without consequence — a fact underscored Wednesday when the Treasury had unexpected trouble selling five-year notes to cover Washington's enormous borrowing. It might have been a hiccup, but it roiled the stock market and sent a worrying signal that Treasury might have to offer higher interest rates, which could throw a wrench into the recovery.

That's bad enough without the spectacle of the Secretary of the Treasury talking down the US dollar:

As if the dollar didn't have enough problems, Timothy Geithner took China's bait yesterday and said he was "quite open" to its suggestion this week to displace the greenback with an "international reserve currency." The dollar promptly fell and stocks followed, before the Treasury Secretary re-emerged to say "the dollar remains the world's dominant reserve currency. I think that's likely to continue for a long time."

This of course has led to a round of conspiracy theorizing about the Amero, or even the Eartho replacing the dollar.

Although Title 31, Sec. 5103 USC prohibits foreign currency from being recognized in the U.S., the President has the power to engage foreign governments in treaties, and the President is principally responsible for the interpretations and implementation of those treaties according to the Constitution. As a result, legislation prohibiting the President and Treasury from issuing or agreeing that the U.S. will adopt an international currency would need to come in the form of a Constitutional Amendment differentiating a treaty used to implement an international currency in the U.S. from other types of treaty agreements.

Of course Geithner was not talking about replacing the dollar, he was talking about changing the dollar's status as the reserve currency. It was a boneheaded mistake, but Bachmann's now trying to conflate that with replacing the greenback inside the United States.

And there are other problems at Treasury:

The administration is in a fully fledged staffing crisis: having lost a record ten high-profile picks, it has scores of senior executive jobs unfilled—including every single treasury position below the department’s top job. The head of Britain’s civil service, Gus O’Donnell, has complained about the trouble he’s had finding key administration personnel ahead of the G20 conference in April. “There is nobody there,” he said. “You cannot believe how difficult it is.” Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner looks terrified before executives and television cameras alike. Five months after the election he has yet to deliver a plan for the banking system, much less restructure a single financial asset.

Update: Here's more of Bachmann's finest:

She's looking for constitutional provisions from Geithner? Look, Geithner's an amateur as has become clear to everybody. But Bachmann's grandstanding with her "where in the Constitution" nonsense and she deserves to be called out on it. And her performance with Bernanke is absolute conspiracy nuttery and I'm not going to apologize for slamming her for it.

Update II: No kidding, these are defenses of Bachmann from purportedly responsible conservative blogs:

American Power:

However, Greg Sargent spoke with Debbee Keller, Bachmann's spokesperson, and she said that the resolution only applied to the introduction of a foreign currency unit inside the United States. The proposal has no implications for limiting the introduction of a new international reserve currency to replace the dollar as the premiere unit of global finance.

Oh, okay. Glad we've banned the use of Pesos or Ameros or Whateveros in America, but we're happy to have it as the reserve currency for the world? Remember, this is another conservative blog supporting Bachmann.

Poligazette reads it the way I do:

Yeah. It must be that old conspiracy theory that Mexico is going to take over the United States using NAFTA and impose the “Amero” as a currency replacement while also (gasp!) constructing roads!!!!

It appears Ron Paul finally has a fellow traveler in the loony wing of the U.S. Congress.

Right Pundits supports Bachmann badly:

Michele Bachmann is the Republican Representative of Minnesota’s 6th congressional district. She really dislikes the ideal of a global currency! You can read her biography below, see photos and watch a video.

The point is that we should be fighting Obama about the obvious, which is the insane spending he's proposing, the carbon taxes, the universal health insurance. Idiots like Bachmann fighting Obama over a global currency are just diverting attention from the real battle, and making us look like idiots precisely at a time when we need to be disciplined.

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