Obama's Economic Policies Moving Country in "Dangerous" Direction, Says ASU Business School

 A national health-care system won't work and will break the country's bank. The government is whittling away at free-market economics and over-regulating industries. Bailouts and stimulus packages will only prolong Americans' pain. Overspending must stop. Obama is taking us down the wrong path.

An afternoon on right-wing radio? Nope -- these are the urgent messages from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. And "absolutely," says the school's dean, Robert Mittelstaedt (pictured), the mainstream media are not delivering these messages enough to the American people.

Mittelstaedt argues he's not being political. Most of his ideas are nothing more than "pure economics," he says.

He says he likes Obama in one way: He admires the guy's leadership abilities and the way he gets people fired up. Just one problem: He's getting them fired up about the wrong things.

C'mon, has anyone got another cup of Kool-Aid for this guy? Just economics? Why, if that were true, you'd think this dire economic advice would be making headlines in mainstream newspapers. Well, either that or the media still hasn't gotten over its Obama lovefest and begun to scrutinize his policies. Mittelstaedt would claim it's the latter.

We phoned Mittelstaedt after we first learned of his viewpoints in an article on page six of ASU's State Press newspaper on Monday. What caught our attention was its refreshing criticism: This is not the kind of viewpoint being widely written about in mainstream publications.

The article by Rheyanne Weaver also quotes William Boyes, an ASU economics professor at the biz school. He says the United States is moving faster from a free-market economy than ever before, and the result could be another depression.

Both Boyes and Mittelstaedt are really down on universal health care. But it's not because they don't like helping kids with cancer. It's the economy, stupid.

"The numbers simply don't work," Mittelstaedt tells us. "This country cannot afford a national health-insurance system that gives everyone equal access."

Mittelstaedt points to one indicator he thinks means the economy will be very slow to recover, no matter how much money Obama and Congress throw at it: The national savings rate.

In a few short months, Americans have gone from saving almost nothing to an average of 6.9 percent in May. It was 5 percent in April.

What this looks like is a "permanent reduction in consumption." In other words, Americans are learning to live with less -- and that's not good for rapid economic growth.

Mittelstaedt points out that Arizona's budget problems would be far worse if not for $1 billion in stimulus money from the feds. But how many more stimulus packages can the country issue? Not too many, he says, before "global confidence in the dollar is lost."

"I'm generally a middle-of-the-roader," the dean confesses. "But, economically, I've become more conservative as the government does more dangerous things."

Last question: If people want to fight the momentum toward this economic black hole, what should they do? They "need to get off their behinds," Mittelstaedt says. "I've written to our congressmen and senators more in the last year than I have in my entire life."

Trouble is, they aren't getting the message.



UPDATE July 2: We received an e-mail today from the business school's spokesperson with the following "clarification:"

Ray, We read your article about Dean Mittelstaedt's views on the economy, and there was one point that wasn't fully explained. Mittelstaedt is actually in favor of Americans getting basic health care access, such as the United Kingdom has. However, he believes the United States can't afford a health care system that covers everyone "without rationing." This means factors like urgency, age and severity of the case would need to be taken into account.

Thanks for allowing for clarification.

Debbie Freeman Communications Manager W. P. Carey School of Business

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.