Obama: quick to promise, slow to deliver

The National Journal website shows the foreclosure moratorium promise and a graph of the foreclosures since.

President Obama botched the first rule of political survival in several ways, but particularly on an issue of importance to Nevada residents.

He violated a rule that haunts many politicians because they make promises ad nauseum. The rule? Under-promise and over-deliver, rather than doing the opposite. The National Journal says Obama has changed course on seven promises, stalled on 24, made progress on 140 and kept just 18—which includes bringing a dog to the White House.

At least one of importance in Nevada, a state riddled by foreclosures, involves Obama’s pledge more than a year ago to impose a three-month moratorium on foreclosures. His election victory brought no such moratorium as yet.

Don’t take this as a criticism on governing. As a free market advocate, your scrivener often rants about prospective government oversight and market meddling but really balks long and loudly regarding post-contractual market interventions.

No fan of market meddling writes these words. Yet such meddling is what Feds did big time in this economic crisis, and even earlier when there was no crisis to use as an excuse. I know government intervention after signals is inevitable, though spotty stewardship at best.

This columnist decries foot-in-door stuff like a public option in health care policy hoopla (touted as reform), but at least folks will know the new rules going in. Conservatives are forced to live grudgingly with such tomfoolery after these liberal decisions of dubious value.

A moratorium on foreclosures, however, is akin to the referee choosing sides after the game started. It is outright coercion and usurpation of private property contracts.

I have no respect for predatory lenders or even bankers who purveyed ARMs (adjusted rate mortgages) with onerous terms that followed initial teaser rates. But neither do I sympathize with dupes who jumped at such deals. A fool who thinks any asset always increases in value may say adios to his money, and periodically does.

To be sure, fallout from stupidity in the marketplace (befouled by government-backed entities like Fannie Mae) backed others into corners. Jobs were lost, stocks swooned, malls emptied out, businesses failed, the economy stalled. It still sputters as de-leveraging continues apace because staggering debt loads are unwinding.

But that doesn’t justify voiding private contracts, even for the short term.

The president’s foreclosure moratorium promise of October 2008 went the way of many another dotty political pledge. The notion would have proven little more than kick-the-can-down-the-road-to-hell BS anyway.

But now the president must deal with false hopes he instilled in some, and this example is a microcosm of his over-promise/under-perform problem. Politicians who promise the moon but cut green cheese don’t always suffer if markets right themselves. But markets sometimes don’t do so for some time.

Already it appears Obama’s estimated 8 percent top rate for unemployment, which instead zoomed to double digits, will haunt congressional Democrats in 2010.

In addition, Republicans will remind voters in 2012 of the president reneging on promises. That could include his foreclosure moratorium pledge. This foreclosure mess was so painful for so many, reminders of his unkept pledge are unnecessary.

Obama gets no conservative GOP votes in a 2012 re-election bid for passing acquaintance with free market principles on foreclosures, but left-leaning Democrats and Independents who liked the moratorium idea won’t forget.

They’ll especially remember in residential hot-then-cold states, which include(d) Nevada, Arizona, Florida and California. Obama last year won three of those four; the fourth was the home state of his 2008 opponent.

For a conservative, it’s a win-win in government/politics—right on the decision, wrong on the message left.