Monday, March 23, 2009

Chavez and Obama Trade Barbs

(Caracas, Venezuela) After years of record public spending by President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela now has a 29.5 percent inflation rate. The massive government outlay garnered support from the country's poor but there just wasn't enough tax revenue and oil export funds to pay for all the social programs.

In response to a sad spread of budget numbers, Chavez now will raise taxes on goods and services by 33 percent and vows to cut spending by 6.7 percent. Also, economists are predicting a devaluation of Venezuelan currency.

In related power grab news, Chavez sent the army to seize Venezuela's airports and maritime ports which were previously managed at the state level. Also planned is the government takeover of Venezuela's leading beer maker, Empresas Polar, which also supplies corn flour used in the country's traditional griddle cakes. Chavez has accused the company of selling products above his state-mandated maximum prices.

By the way, how does one get the taste of the DMV out of government-brewed beer?

Meanwhile, President Chavez called President Obama a "poor ignorant person" who should "read a little bit." Chavez was irked by an Obama comment that the socialist dictator exported terrorism. Oddly, Obama's comment comes concurrent with administration dictates to not use the words "terrorist," "terrorism" or even "enemy-combatant."

In any event, it's strange that Obama and Chavez would be trading barbs. From nationalizing industries to massively spending on social programs to increasing taxes to imposing wage and price controls, the two seem to have so much in common -- brothers on a mission. The only difference is that Chavez is ahead of Obama on the socialist utopian timeline.

Companion post at The Jawa Report.

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