Cristina Fernandez, president of Argentina, believes President Obama is inspired by Argentina’s example. He may well be,
Less than one month into Barack Obama’s presidency, Argentine president and hardcore Peronist Cristina Kirchner gave this assessment of his government: “I don’t know if Obama has read Perón, but let me tell you, it sure seems like it.”
Mrs. Kirchner was speaking to union members of the newly nationalized Aerolineas Argentinas, and she confessed she felt “contenta.” All around the world governments were intervening in their economies as if to “copy” the model that Argentina had been using since 2003, when her husband Néstor first became president. Her reasons for linking Mr. Obama with one of the most notorious corporatists of the 20th century went like this: “The other day I heard the president of the most powerful country on earth say that, in technical and financial terms, the unions are not part of the problem, but rather, part of the solution, and that he wants large prosperous unions together with large, prosperous businesses.”
I have in the past warned of the similarities between Obama’s current populist politics and those of Argentina’s, past and present.
Some readers of this blog would assume the current disastrous economic conditions in the US preclude the re-election of the current president. In Argentina, however, Cristina’s re-election is nearly a sure thing,
Argentines will re-elect her and not without reason. Labor has always been the stronghold of Peronism and that loyalty continues. Local producers may dream of ridding themselves of “voluntary” price controls imposed by the government, but the depreciating currency has kept them competitive abroad, and they like their government subsidies. Farmers have been riding a boom in dollar-priced exports. Even the famous “piqueteros,” bands of left-wing activists who block roadways and paralyze cities to demand social justice, have a symbiotic relationship with this government: Satisfying their “moral outrage” requires greater government intervention, so they are a useful tool for Mrs. Kirchner. Think about that the next time someone tells you that Occupy Wall Street is a liability for Mr. Obama.
Protectionism, inflation, and unemployment won’t prevent anyone’s re-election. Just keep that in mind.