Conservatives fall into a trap by blaming Obama for the bad economy

Rob Bennett Contributor
Font Size:

I am a conservative. I don’t support President Obama’s economic policies.

But I don’t like hearing conservatives blame Obama for all that ails us.

He hasn’t helped. It’s fair to say that much.

But I see a danger in suggesting that it is politicians who we should be turning to get our economy moving again. That’s the liberal line. Conservatives believe in free markets. We should have enough confidence in the free market to believe that it can overcome all the taxes and red tape holding it back.

If we don’t, what’s the public going to believe if the economy continues to falter? The most powerful messages are those that are delivered implicitly. When we blame Obama for our troubles, we plant the idea in people’s mind that it is government policies that matter most. If things continue to go downhill, we shouldn’t be surprised if voters conclude that we need government to turn things around.

They don’t believe that today. But wait. If things continue to go downhill, people will get desperate. All sorts of crazy ideas will begin to win supporters. We are planting the seed in people’s minds that economic recovery can only come from government decisions. It’s a strategic mistake.

We need to come up with non-government solutions to our economic problems. I’ll tell you the one that is first on my list.

I believe that the primary cause of the economic collapse was the insane bull market of the 1990s. Stocks were overvalued by $12 trillion in 2000. As prices began their inevitable march back to fair value, that amount of wealth disappeared from the economy. No one should be surprised that this caused the economy to crater.

We can change that! And we don’t need to ask permission from the White House!

We can get the word out that not everyone believes in Buy-and-Hold Investing, that many smart people believe that investors should lower their stock allocations when prices get too high. Doing that would win the confidence of voters. It’s a commonsense, non-government solution to our troubles. It’s an idea that appeals to the public’s belief that a return to principles of financial responsibility is needed for us to enter a new period of strong economic growth.

We haven’t been honest about the true cause of the economic crisis. We are all ashamed that we were taken in by what can fairly be called a Get Rich Quick approach to investing. Did anyone ever really believe that stock prices could go up as fast as they did in the late 1990s without there being a price to be paid somewhere down the road?

It’s time to come clean. The alternative is to go along with the liberal mindset that says that only government matters. That will help conservatives do well at the polls in November. But it won’t overcome the economic crisis. And the way to win the voters’ hearts for good is to achieve results. Beginning a national debate on more effective ways to invest is the conservative and fiscally responsible way to turn things around.

Rob Bennett developed a simple retirement calculator that contains a valuations adjustment. His bio is here.