Outside View: Standing strong for America in 2014

By PETER MORICI, UPI Outside View Commentator

COLLEGE PARK, Md., Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. economy is gaining strength but the Obamacare train wreck, festering problems in far away China and uncertain leadership at the Federal Reserve could derail the recovery.

No small courage will be required for good sense to restore American prosperity.




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U.S. President Barack Obama is imposing the Affordable Care Act on a justifiably unwilling citizenry. The botched rollout is laying bare the absolute incompetence of the Washington bureaucracy but that isn't the worst of it.

Many young Americans have decided that Obamacare health insurance is too expensive for their needs and insurers face financial ruin paying claims to a less healthy population of policyholders than anticipated. They will charge higher rates in 2015 and may require a bailout.

Don't count on Republicans winning the Senate and putting Obamacare out of its misery -- the electorate may prove too cynical.


In the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election, voters, angry about Obamacare, blamed Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Yet, he managed a narrow victory by promising free healthcare to 300,000 citizens by expanding Medicaid.

Lest jobs creation and growth be handicapped by an excessively expensive and bureaucratic healthcare system, "makers" may simply have to tell the "takers" enough is enough, march on Washington and demand radical changes.

Don't productive Americans deserve a civil rights movement, too?

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China's banking mess

China's economic miracle may prove a bigger fraud than the American pre-crisis prosperity built on shabby lending and consumer spending on steroids.

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Many Chinese businesses that stock Walmart with unimaginably inexpensive gadgets were built on loans they can't repay. Similarly, banks have financed provincial governments to build cities occupied by displaced farmers that have no jobs.

Beijing has raised interest rates to gradually deflate bubbles in stock and land prices but borrowers cannot pay those rates and banks and private lenders could face ruin.

A financial crisis won't end the rise of China but it would expose a great fraud: the superiority of state-directed capitalism over Western democracy and free markets.

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No one would be more disappointed than the collectivists at National Public Radio and other liberal media, who celebrate each Chinese achievement with the enthusiasm the French cheered Gen. George Washington's victories over the British.


The simultaneous debunking of the ACA and Chinese miracle offer conservatives the opportunity to refocus the debate in the United States from the shortcomings of free markets and private enterprise to helping those thrive and contribute to middle-class prosperity as they did in the 1980s and 1990s.


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Federal Reserve

During the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve balked at bailing out GM. The Fed could have bought the automaker's bad debt, just as it took bad mortgages off banks' books. Ben Bernanke pronounced assisting GM would be "industrial policy" and limited the Fed to extraordinary measures to stabilize banks and credit markets.

Obama used the Troubled Asset Relief Program -- the Treasury fund established by President George W. Bush and Congress -- to rescue both GM and American International Group, an insurance company.

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The next financial crisis well could be defined by the coincident plights of health insurance companies under Obamacare and the sagging fortunes of U.S. companies who invested in China's "recession-proof" economy.

New Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen is well known for her very liberal political views, which not so incidentally color her economics. In a crisis, she could see the limits of Fed policy discretion very differently than Bernanke.


Using the Fed's money-printing machinery to bail out health insurance companies and Obamacare could put the United States on a path to inflation and corruption similar to Latin American countries during the 1970s and '80s.

It would be up to Republicans in the Senate to shut down the chamber if necessary to force hearings and compel Yellen to defend the dollar, not debase the currency.

Standing up to the failures of liberalism, when it counts, has never been politically easy -- and Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are rightly the targets of Tea Party criticism.

All along, at crisis moments like these, they have capitulated. Now standing strong for America is even more difficult but if not now then when?


(Peter Morici, an economist and professor at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, is a widely published columnist.)


(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)


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