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ROBB AUSTIN'S TURN

President Obama - Taking us Back to Beatlemania

June 15, 2009

John Lennon once described the scene inside the Beatles during the heyday of the fan frenzy of Beatlemania in the 1960s as similar to being inside the eye of a hurricane. "We always called it the eye of the hurricane - it was calmer right in the middle," Lennon said.

This might be the case inside the White House these days as President Barrack Obama sends the country into a tizzy with weekly announcements of new domestic and foreign policy initiatives that are drastically changing the political landscape.

These policies are so different that critics are arguing he’s ruining the country while the President’s supporters say his programs are just the right ones to get the country back on track.

With so many pundits and politicians commenting on President Obama’s every move, it’s reminiscent of the crazy chaos that surrounded the Fab Four in the early days of the British invasion. "Everybody got into the mania," Beatle George Harrison once said.

As an example, in the brief five months since President Obama has taken office, the country has digested an $800 billion economic stimulus package - with little or no debate; the bailing out of our national banks and two major automobile companies; an increased military effort in Afghanistan; potential trouble in Pakistan; nuclear weapons issues in North Korea and Iran; a soaring unemployment rate at home; a worldwide swine flu medical emergency; a Supreme Court appointment featuring the first Hispanic woman; enhanced interrogation issues involving both the former administration and the current Speaker of the House; massive spending deficits; the appointments of several new "czars," including an executive compensation czar; and now imminent - the launching of a national health insurance program.

This is but a partial list of the issues and activities the new administration has thrust upon the country. So it’s little wonder that national opinion polls are mixed on the President’s personal approval ratings versus those for his programs.

No doubt there is a simmering anxiety about his policies, and this can be summed up in one word: spending. The economy is not out of the woods, and there is a justifiable fear that the massive deficit spending as proposed by the President will thwart the economic recovery.

Republicans are almost gleeful over the prospects that the Democrats have overreached on spending - asking the country to borrow upwards of $9 trillion over the next 10 years. The GOP is already anticipating big gains in 2010 congressional elections.

The single biggest worry among some is inflation - the inevitable result of the vast amount of money that is now being printed in Washington - but a return to the Jimmy Carter years of stagflation is also a dreaded possibility.

Stagflation is defined as a period of slow economic growth and high unemployment (stagflation) with rising prices (inflation) and the result is a knockout punch that will set the economy back for years.

The current economic calamity has brought one thing into focus for the American people - they cannot be addicted to the free spending and vast consumption mentality of the past.

Surveys are showing that consumers are reining in their spending and starting to save more in the process - a pattern that might continue for years to come.

Republicans further argue that the Obama plan cannot work because federal spending can only create jobs temporary in nature and add to the growth of the government - not the growth of the economy.

Democrats are countering that something different had to be done and jump starting the economy required more federal investment, taxes, and spending.

It will be another year or so before we have the answers to whether the Obama plan has worked. But one thing can be said - President Obama has remained calm and convinced that his ideas will get the country back on track.

As the political whirlwind continues, President Obama can take refuge in how four boys from Liverpool handled a mania of a different sort some 45 years ago - as Lennon said, "It was calmer right in the middle."

Let’s hope the country has the same success as the Beatles once did.