Brown in USA


Gordon Brown is smug to be the first European leader to meet the new American President. And no doubt he'll be telling Mr Obama how the special 'partnership' can save the world.

He's still jumping the gun a bit, since Obama's economic team is far from being in place. That's because of all the FBI checks, the Congressional hearings, the Trial by Newspaper as the press trawls through the tax returns of potential Cabinet members. It can take six months to find a set of Cabinet appointees who've actually paid their taxes, not hired illegal nannies, not taken free trips from lobbyists, and all the rest. And in a US administration, there are 2,000 or more political appointments to be made. You have to get the Cabinet selected first before you can then move down to the others. So we haven't the faintest clue as to what Obama's Treasury team will look like. Mr Brown will be speaking into a void.

You don't know what a US administration's policies will be until everyone's appointed. Which might not be before the summer. It's a feeble way to run a country.

Not that any of them have any idea what to do anyway. Obama has never run any organization, except possibly a campaign team. His refloat package, like the $750 billion put up to solve the financial crisis last year, was a figure plucked out of the air. I guess that $500 billion sounded not quite enough to convince people it would work, and $1,000 sounded too frighteningly large. The politicians and officials just felt they had to do something, but they still don't know quite what. Nor do they know who's going to pay back all this debt they're clocking up. You can't rely on China - its fate so largely depends on its trade with the US, so you're in a spiral there. Ah well. Good luck, Gordon, save a bit of the world for me.

The Rotten State Of Britain by Eamonn Butler (Gibson Square Books) is now available to buy here.