Is it just me or do you get the sense that President Obama, deep down inside, doesn't really like or respect the private sector of the economy? In tonight's press conference, he said he'd like to see those in the financial industry feel "remorse" and "shame" and "not give million dollar bonuses." He said a public option was needed for health insurance to "help keep the insurance companies honest," in addition to more regulations on the insurers. (Why not a public option for department stores to keep the retailers honest? Or a public option for amusement parks to keep Disney World honest?) He noted that there had been recent reports of "insurance companies making record profits" and asked plaintively, "what's the constraint on that?" He even accused pediatricians of being motivated by greed, conjuring up a tale of one pediatrician who, confronted with a child with a sore throat, reacted by thinking "You know, I'll make a lot more money if I take the kid's tonsils out." The president accused Americans of being cynical about government, but Mr. Obama himself sounded pretty cynical about those Americans who don't work in government. For all Mr. Obama's good humor, as when he joked about what might happened if the police caught him trying to break in to the White House a la the Henry Louis Gates event in Cambridge, there's a dark view underneath there about capitalism and human motivations that is at odds with some of Mr. Obama's more inspired statements about the prosperity and innovation spawned by capitalism.
The President and the Private Sector