Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Time to Boil Political Frogs

united states currency seal - IMG_7366_web

united states currency seal – IMG_7366_web (Photo credit: kevindean)

It must be an election year!  How do I know, because politicians of both parties are spouting talking points about the need for fiscal responsibility even while they do the opposite.  These same politicians have set up themselves and the rest of us for what is being called the ‘fiscal cliff’ at the beginning of 2013.

The fiscal cliff is the consequence political evasion, ill-considered gimmicks and cynicism.  Because the cost of enacting the ‘Bush tax cuts’ on a permanent basis was seen as politically unacceptable without also cutting spending by like amounts—also seen as unacceptable, Congress did neither.  Instead Congress jumped into the pot of cold water and turned on the heat by adopting the Bush tax cuts, giving them an expiration date, never expecting the water to boil on their watch thus engaging in the age old sport of driving up the deficit while complaining about all the spending.  This was not the finest hour for Republican leadership not because they got the policy wrong but because they bungled the execution and accountability. Had Republicans made the Bush tax permanent there would be no tax cliff.  Had they adjusted spending to match revenue the deficit would be substantially smaller today even counting the first round of stimulus spending. And ten year later Republicans in Congress are still on shaky grounds preaching about fiscal responsibility.

The other part of the fiscal cliff is made possible by another politically correct but imminently silly gimmick called sequestration.  This scheme allowed for the extension of the Nation’s debt ceiling sufficient to pay the bills but ordered automatic cuts in spending divided equally between defense and non-defense programs.  The Democrats agreed to this because they had no choice if they wanted to get the President’s debt ceiling measure approved in a divided Congress.  The Republicans agreed to it because it exacted a pound of flesh from the President’s backside because he needed something and decided to take the beating to get it.  Longer term, the Republicans believed they would win the next election and (avoid having their frog boil) by undoing sequestration for at least defense programs to avoid the cliff even if they sacrificed a few nondefense programs to claim they were cutting the fat out of the budget.

President Obama and the Congressional Democrats made the consequences of the tax cliff manifestly worse than the Republicans by driving up government spending, programs, staffing levels and industrial policy grants to favored players.  In typical Washington fashion any discussion of slowing down the INCREASE in Federal spending as a percentage of GDP is labeled as a ‘cut’ and YouTube videos of Paul Ryan pushing grandma over the cliff in her wheelchair suddenly appear.

“A Pox on Both Your Houses!”

That is the American public’s reaction to these stunts.  But here we are—careening down the 2012 election highway way above the speed limit heading toward the cliff.

In 2008, we voted for Barack Obama because we wanted to believe in his message of hope and change.  We wanted to be part of a historic presidency that celebrated to the world everything we cherished in the American dream.   We wanted to demonstrate that America was still the world’s leader and superpower.  We wanted to again reinvent America to face our economic problems squarely and to be that beacon of hope and change that a desperate world in 2008 desperately needed.

But President Obama has disappointed us instead by playing bait and switch, divided us by endless class warfare, apologized abroad for America’s vision of freedom and world leadership, and undermined our sense of optimism and American exceptionalism that drives Americans to confront challenges with a ‘yes we can’ spirit.  The challenge for President Obama in the 2012 election is America still longs for the 2008 hope and change historic Presidency he promised.  But President Obama abandoned hope and change—and us—after the 2008 election.  We do not like this ‘new normal’ and we don’t want four more years of what he’s given us.  The President has lost the benefit of our doubt and he has very little time left to try to change our minds.

The Republicans are set to nominate Mitt Romney.  He has the business experience a recovering America desperately needs.  He has the executive management and leadership experience the President lacked and we’re now paying for our ‘hiring mistake.  We are persuaded that Mitt Romney will be a good manager of America’s programs, services and finances.  The problem for Mitt Romney is so far he has been unable to ‘close the sale’ with us because while we need a good manager for America’s economic recovery—we still want a hope and change leader to restore America’s potential, self-confidence and global leadership.

Having been baited and switched once before on hope and change we are reluctant to sign up for another ‘squishy promise’ even one of competence and business savvy.  To close the sale Mitt must be more than the un-Obama.  He must inspire us more.  He must reveal his strategy in more detail so we can KNOW this time what is in the bill before we vote for it.

We want to hold our President accountable to deliver what he promises to deliver.

There are worse fates than a competent, but boring President.  But we have waited so long for hope and change and we don’t want to settle for less.

The polls tell us the campaign is a dead heat.  I believe the polls are REALLY telling us that Americans still want to believe in the 2008 hope and change Obama.  But Obama must persuade us that he still believes in hope and change.  We’re listening!  But if the 2012 Obama keeps giving us more of the same class warfare, hyper partisan, left of center rhetoric with continuing bad performance results, Americans are more likely than not to vote for competent but boring Mitt than take a chance of four more years of Obama under-performance.

The heat has been turned up under the Congressional frog with the tax cliff.  But like it or not the President and now Mitt Romney are also in the same pot as the Congressional frog.  Whoever proposes the most rational and achievable political strategy to avoid the fiscal cliff, rescue the nation and jump start our economic recovery will win our votes. A deal that avoids the tax cliff BEFORE the election is what we expect, but if we don’t get one there will be plenty of frog legs on the menu.

Give the President What He Wants—-and Give It To Him Hard!

English: The United States Supreme Court, the ...

English: The United States Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States, in 2010. Top row (left to right): Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. Bottom row (left to right): Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The decision by the US Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act mandate as a tax was a stunning surprise to many.  Probably no one was more surprised that President Obama.  He has seemed apprehensive that his signature legislative accomplishment was about to be thrown out.

What was also surprising was that the swing vote in the 5-4 decision was Chief Justice John Roberts.  Most speculation had focused on Justice Anthony Kennedy.  And equally surprising was the realization that Roberts could have taken then entire health care act down 5-4 had he sided with the conservatives who, in their dissents, said flatly that the mandate was unconstitutional and the rest of the act had to fall with it as an unconstitutionally broad overreach in the commerce clause.

But why did Chief Justice Roberts side with the President in this case?

And did the Chief Justice just pin the target on the President’s chest instead of having it pinned to his own back?

The beauty of this decision is the ruthless efficiency with which the Chief Justice has made the Affordable Care Act the central political issues in the November 2012 election instead of taking the burden on the back of the Court for undermining the President and Congress.  The decision protects the Supreme Court from being dragged into the political debate over the wisdom of the law while forcing the proponents of the law to defend it all over again in the court of public opinion.

The decision of the Chief Justice seems to follow the advice from two of the three Appeals Court decisions that were taken on review.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati and the D.C. circuit Court of Appeals said in their decisions that while the law is intrusive it is within Congress’s power to enact.  The Washington Post quoted from the opinion of Senior Judge Laurence Silberman, a Ronald Reagan appointee, who said:

“It certainly is an encroachment on individual liberty, but it is no more so than a command that restaurants or hotels are obliged to serve all customers regardless of race, that gravely ill individuals cannot use a substance their doctors described as the only effective palliative for excruciating pain, or that a farmer cannot grow enough wheat to support his own family.”

In deciding the case by upholding the law as a tax and limiting Congress’ power under the commerce clause, Chief Justice Roberts has sidestepped the political debate that will rage and fixed the accountability for the political wisdom of the act where it belongs—on the President and Congress.

It is Still the Economy Stupid

English: President Obama had called on the two...

English: President Obama had called on the two former Presidents to help. During their public remarks in the Rose Garden, President Clinton had said about President Bush, ‘I’ve already figured out how I can get him to do some things that he didn’t sign on for.’ Later, back in the Oval, President Bush is jokingly asking President Clinton what were those things he had in mind. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The phrase made famous by Bill Clinton’s political campaign has a habit of creeping back into the conversation.  It happened again when the former President made two statements to the press that appeared to undermine the sitting President.  Clinton first said that he thought the US was now back in recession given the falling economic data.  And then to add injury to the insult, they said he thought the ‘Bush era tax cuts’ should all be extended ‘for a little while’.

The views are contrary to President Obama’s so they seem almost deliberately off-message if the goal is to help the president in his struggle to be re-elected.  Yet, just as the phrase rang true in the 1992 campaign against George Bush the elder, they have the added advantage of being the truth twenty years later in this 2012 campaign.

To be fair to the President’s lament too often repeated—-‘we inherited this mess’ we will all concede that digging out of the hole created by the great recession has not been easy.  But the President’s policies and the hard left partisan way he won them and is implementing them have not helped make things better faster.  So now he is being tormented and the gum of a gummed up economy is sticking to his shoes.

There are many ironies in this evolution of events:

  • How’s that Hopey Changey Thing Working out? The President we voted for in 2008 because as historic a figure as he was, we also wanted to believe badly in the ‘Hope and Change’ he championed.  It was the right message at the right time from the right person.  But after the election hope and change turned into a nasty ‘I won’ persona that was NOT what we voted for.
  • The World Still Wants the US to Lead.  The world’s leaders may not have liked George W Bush but they did not doubt his resolve.  Four years later America’s resolve seems in retreat conveniently responding to our war weariness.  But we have watched this movie before and it didn’t turn out well.  A weaker America makes for a more dangerous world where the bad boys in every neighborhood take advantage of the vacuum to occupy the turf.  The same is true in global economics, a weak America can lead to pneumonia elsewhere.  It is tough to lead from the bottom of the debt hole we have dug for ourselves, but lead we must especially if first Europe, now China and maybe America is slipping back into recession.
  • We Still Want Hope and Change! Having put away his hope and change super-cape, it is tough for the president to argue now he had it on all the time.  We are not THAT stupid.  So while we once believed, and we still want to believe—-we no longer truly believe that the guy who brought us to the hope and change dance will dance with us if we renew his lease for another four years.  The President has squandered his best opportunity.

And then there is this irony.

George W. Bush whom the president has spent the last four years blaming and vilifying has kept his mouth shut and taken the President’s abuse true to his word not to speak ill of his successor.  Meanwhile the former President of the president’s own party appears by his side, expresses support for him even while periodically stabbing him in the back with his statements to remind him who the big dog in the Democrat party is.

Playing Politics with National Security

The New York Times

The New York Times (Photo credit: niallkennedy)

How is it that the New York Times is able to write elaborately detailed stories about the cyber-attacks on Iran from Stuxnet and Olympic Games, the code names for the computer viruses allegedly used to infect Iran’s nuclear enrichment program?  The NYT even is able to produce a graphic that shows the detailed business process used to produce these virus attacks.

We’ve also been treated to detailed information about drone strikes on terrorists, on the campaign for targeting specific people, and even the president’s fingerprints on the “kill list”.

The answer to the question seems both obvious and disgusting.

The information is apparently being deliberately fed to favored reporters in order to bolster the President’s ‘war on terror’ credential in national defense.  That seems to be the logical conclusion of analysts and journalists either amazed or drooling over the prospects that they would be leaked information for the next juicy story.  There seems to be very little attempt by “administration officials” to hide what they are doing.

I thought national defense and security intelligence was supposed to be secret.  Why would we tell Iran these things?  Is this some giant ‘head fake’ to persuade Iran to give up their program and cut a deal before the worms start taking aim at other stuff in the Islamic Republic?  Is this a reminder that Iran cannot procrastinate forever, that there are consequences short of air strikes, that there really isn’t that much distance between Israel and the US?

Is this a trial balloon to judge public reaction to war played by alternative means than sending in the Marines?  Because cyber-attacks are, in fact, an act of war, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said so himself recently when discussing the issue of Chinese espionage.

If the president thinks that he is going to get ‘macho man’ credit for spamming Iran with computer viruses to make their centrifuges spin out of control, or deliberating targeting the terrorists of the world to demonstrate that there is no place the hide from American justice and self-defense—he will.

Until we realize that he put at risk the very successful tactics, intel and people in America’s defense forces by leaking it to the press for partisan political purposes without regard to the collateral damage it might do.  And worse, the President risks an even more precipitous loss of public confidence as we realize his actions undermine the nation security he is sworn to uphold.

Disgusting!

October Surprise

While most of the speculation about an October surprise has revolved around the probability of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear capability, or a financial collapse in Spain or Italy that drags the Eurozone to the depths, it could be that we already know the October surprise but are either ignoring it or hoping, against hope, that it is not true.

We got a surprise this week with the announcement that JPMorgan Chase lost $ 2 billion in a risk management strategy gone bad.  We saw oil prices decline on news of lower than expected economic growth in China, the defeat of President Sarkozy in French elections, and similar results in Greek elections further undermining confidence in the Eurozone.  But this is May not October.

What is our October Surprise?  

The realization that the US is back in recession.  That now seems the most likely scenario for the US economy given the anemic pace of US GDP growth, persistently high unemployment, a declining work force shrinking because more people quit looking for work and thus are no longer counted and continued polls telling us Americans think the country is going in the wrong direction.

But don’t take my word for it.  The Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) a New York City-based independent economic research think tank said May 9, 2012 that year-over-year growth in US real personal income has been lower for the last three months than it was at the beginning of each of the last ten recessions. The ECRI has correctly predicted three of the last three recessions.  In September 2011 the ECRI said it saw this pattern emerging and now it is reaffirming its analysis telling us that “this is what personal income growth typically looks like early in a recession”.

Some would argue the US feels like we have been in recession or worse since 2008, but data tells us we came out of recession in mid-2009 but our deficit spending levels, fiscal and monetary policy has not produced the kind of robust recovery previously seen.  So it is tough to see how digging our fiscal hole deeper with more deficit spending will change things now.

We could tax the rich—if we can find them.  California is the poster child —or basket case for that strategy with a deficit now looming to $16 billion from $9 billion at the beginning of the year.  California is not only bleeding red ink, it is bleeding people.  From 2000 to 2009 California lost a net 1.5 million resident to other states. Only New York lost more—1.6 million residents. Think about that— 1.5 million people is a city the size of San Diego voting with their feet. Yet,  on the June primary ballot is a new tax increase on cigarettes and on the November ballot we face the prospect of two dueling income and sales tax increase measures.

So the October surprise is that it may all hit the fan starting in October as voters realize not only is our economy back in recession but that we are staring in the face the prospects of a tsunami of new taxes at the beginning of 2013 from the end of the Bush tax cuts, the end of the payroll tax cuts,  the prospects of higher taxes on both the Federal and State levels.  Meanwhile it will be obvious to every voter that our current policies are not working.

This is not what President Obama and Governor Jerry Brown want to hear, but it is the reality we all face.  The challenge for the President and Governor of California is to define a message and a policy that is something other than more of the same—because that is going to be a tough sell.

The challenge for Republicans now is to present the country with a policy vision they think will work better.  Being opposed to everything President Obama is doing is not sufficient and will not overcome our belief that both parties are guilt of the same sins.

They both spend too much of other people’s money and pander to the pet causes of their base.  They all lack ‘day jobs’ that force them to live with the laws, policies and regulations they impose on the rest of us.  They forget whom they were elected to serve and the longer they are in Washington the more disconnected they become from Main Street.  These are the manifest symptoms of confidence lost.

Senator Richard Lugar lost his first primary election challenge in more than 36 years in the US Senate from Indiana to a Tea Party activist this past week.  The Democrats said this was the ugliness of the Tea Party cleansing the GOP of moderates. But one of the reasons Lugar was defeated was the realization by Indiana voters that Senator Lugar sold his house in Indiana years ago taking up permanent residence in Washington DC and has not truly been a Hoosier for quite some time.

Watching a Train Wreck

BARACK OBAMA SHOWS HIS TRUE SELF MORE EACH AND...

Image by SS&SS via Flickr

One of the great ironies of the early 21st century will be how our soaring national pride in the election of Barack Obama as America’s first black president and our hopes for his success turned into buyers’ remorse as the President abandoned his inspiring, positive message of audacious hope that got him elected in favor of policies of profligate spending, over-reaching government intrusion, and crushing waves of new regulation as if they were the rightful spoils of his election success.  This was decidedly not the change we hoped for.

America did not change or “get soft” as the President recently put it, the President’s own policies have failed him and failed us—and now he projects his own failure on us.  We’re not buying it any more.

Whether we agreed with all the President’s political views we gave him the benefit of the doubt but time has shown us what we feared most—this is not working.  But as the 2012 election approaches and the President’s popularity sinks steadily in the opinion polls he seems unwilling or unable to moderate his policies.

Why would an obviously smart guy like Barack Obama crash and burn like this?

And don’t play the ‘race card’ on us, as Bill Clinton would say.  The President’s failure has nothing to do with race and neither does our criticism of failed policies, worsening conditions and lost confidence. As Americans we want—and need our president to succeed.  A large share of our current economic problem results from falling confidence in our national ability to dig out of this hole.  But the President keeps digging our economic hole deeper.

The reality of a failed Presidency is slowing sinking in.  The problem now is all the Republican candidates are so busy trashing each other that they are missing their best opportunity to be “the one” who will inspire us anew.  We don’t need for any of them to run “against the President” and spend their time criticizing him—he is self destructing on his own.  We need them to tell us what they plan to do to dig us out of this hole!  They need to persuade us they won’t bait and switch us like President Obama did.  We’re looking for a new President who can actually be an effective President.

Super Committee Target #2: Want Jobs? Go for Growth

And I do not mean growth in the Federal spending.

But Bloomberg reports that President Obama’s address to Congress will call for about $300 billion in additional spending for extending the payroll tax cuts, aid to local government to reduce layoffs of teachers and first responders, and some more of those shovel ready infrastructure projects. The President’s plan will pay for this $300 billion in short term stimulus with “revenue increases” long term.  Translation: higher taxes. The White House signaled that the President will make longer term recommendations to the super committee next week probably in another speech.

The problem the President faces is the $300 billion supplemental stimulus proposed is mostly a continuation of current policies and thus is unlikely to create many jobs, encourage much growth or raise confidence enough to unleash hoarded cash. With the combination of the high unemployment, the horrible zero net jobs report for August, and the political sparing, we are losing sight of the real problem and instead are focused on symptoms and gimmicks.  The result is we risk a long stay at in the ditch before the tow truck arrives to pull us out.

The President must give one ‘hellava’ speech September 8th to persuade a skeptical public he ‘gets it’. But his words will be compared with substantive proposals by other candidates.  Jon Huntsman released his last week.  This week Mitt Romney laid out a 59-point plan to get growing again.  The President is late to the jobs plan party so his plan must measure up to some of the good ideas of his competitors’.

So here is my check list to compare President Obama’s speech with Jon and Mitt’s plan.   √=me too.

Proposal

Jon Huntsman

Mitt Romney

President Obama

 

 

Tax Reform

Revenue-neutral personal income tax simplification with 8%, 14%, 23% rates.No deductions/creditsNo Alt Min Tax

No Cap Gains Tax

Cut Corp Tax from 35% to 25%

No Tax on Cap Gain, Div., Interest < $200k income

No Estate Tax

Extend:payroll tax holiday
unemployment ins.both expiring Dec. 31.

Reform?

 

Regulatory Reform

Repeal ObamaCareRepeal Dodd-FrankRein-in EPA

Curb NLRB labor regs

Reform FDA permits

Patent Reform

Privatize Fan & Fred

 

Postpone ozone and other EPA rules to 2013

?

 

Energy Independence

Grow USOil & Gas Production.End energy subsidies

?

 

Free Trade

OK trade deals: South Korea, Panama, ColumbiaNew Free trade deals: India, Taiwan, Japan

China trade sanctions as currency manipulator

Will send trade deals to Congress when they agree with labor conditions

 

Spending Reduction

5% spend cut =$20 BlnCap spend @20% of GDPRestructure Fed Gov’t Balc’d Budget Amend.

?

 

 

Workers & Immigration

Retrain workersRetain H1b foreign skills

Green card with diploma

Immigration reform

Let unemployed retrain as unpaid interns and still draw unemployment.

 

Job creation is important, but the unemployment rate is a lagging indicator.  It is our report card on our performance addressing the real problems with our economy—lack of GDP growth and uncertainty.  Unemployment is still high because US GDP growth is weak and uncertainty is paralyzing us.  Fix those two things and unemployment rates will drop as business spends its hoarded cash to create jobs to produce products and services to satisfy growing demand.

There are many good ideas on these lists from the candidates for President Obama to applaud and adopt, but most of them will take time and bipartisan cooperation to achieve.  That’s the problem.  The next President is not going to be chosen for fourteen months, then add three more until January 20, 2013, then time to get the new administration officials confirmed and on the job.

The bottom line is we can’t wait that long for real action focused on getting growth going again. So the supercommittee has an opportunity to bring us together around a bold plan to jump start GDP growth, restore confidence, reduce uncertainty and create jobs.

Mr. President: Prepare Three Envelopes!

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...

Image via Wikipedia

The Hits Just Keep Coming for President Obama.

There must be times when President Obama must wonder “what was I thinking”!  The piling on of bad news just keeps digging the economic hole President Obama must climb out of before it is time for voters to mark that ballot in November 2012.

Even God seems a little grumpy these days sending an earthquake and then a hurricane through Washington DC .  Who could blame him after this list of body blows:

Holy Gallup Polls!

  • Net Zero Jobs ‘Created or Saved’ in August. There were zero net nonfarm payroll jobs created in August with 58,000 fewer net jobs created during July and June.
  • Solyndra Goes Dark.  Solar energy darling Solyndra visited by the president last year and granted a $535 million US DOE loan guarantee filed for bankruptcy, shut down its Fremont, California plant visited by the President and laid off its 1, 100 workers.
  • Emissions reporting—Not on My Watch! In addition on August 19 US EPA postponed for four years the controversial greenhouse gas emissions reporting rules that require emitters to release internal data about their operations to the public. Industry groups squealed loudly about the costs and opposed sensitive information to competitors.
  • The Tea Party Strikes Back—Well in the House at Least. In an Aug. 30 letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, President Barack Obama said his administration is considering seven proposed regulations that would have an estimated cost to the nation’s economy in excess of $1 billion each.  In response, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., proposed a legislative agenda to repeal the 10 “most harmful job-destroying regulations” includes several proposals affecting coal-fired power plants the Administration is trying to save for the next term by withdrawing them.
  • Show Me the Money!!! September 30 is the end of the Federal fiscal Year and while the House passed its budget the Senate has not so a new spending battle looms over appropriations or continuing resolutions for the Transportation Department, FAA extension and other spending.
  • Consumer Spending Increased but Only Because We ate Savings. Personal spending increased 0.8% in July from June but annualized 3-month moving average of real consumer spending held at July’s low 0.4 percent pace as energy prices rebounded. But to get even this small increase in real spending, consumers had to eat savings since personal savings rates fell to 5.0 percent from 5.5 percent, as real disposable income fell 0.1 percent from July.
  • Consumer Confidence Tanks.  Consumer confidence plunged 14.7 points in August to 44.5. The drop in the index was the largest since October 2008 in the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers collapse and the main wave of the financial crisis. Uncertainty surrounding the debt-ceiling agreement, S&P downgrade and volatile stock market performance caused consumer confidence to fall.

Prepare Three Envelopes

You remember that old joke, don’t you?  The new guy finds three envelopes in his desk the day he starts his new job.  The instructions say: open them in the number ordered when you get in trouble.

Envelop # 1: Blame your predecessor!  Ok that didn’t work and after three years no one believes it any more!

Envelope #2:  Re-organize.  OK, Mr President you had a chance with the Deficit Reduction Commission report prescribing all manner of bad medicine.  It seemed awful at the time so you rejected its recommendations.  Maybe it’s time to call them back for a do-over.  Your economics team except for Treasury Secretary Geithner are all gone but it didn’t help.  Defense Secretary Gates “retired” but everyone thought he did a great job so leaving does not help you, Mr. Obama.  EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s proposed regulations are hammering you and you keep withdrawing them but your base still likes them so firing her is only half a loaf.  If you fire Hilary Clinton she might run against you again.

There is only one thing left to do Mr President.

Envelope # 3: Prepare Three Envelopes and leave them in the top drawer of the desk!  Besides retiring now will get you lifetime health care with no death panel and a nice pension.

Then you can tell your critics to sit on it and twirl!  The Republicans will be nonplussed since none of their candidates have a chance unless they can run against you.  Your party will have a food fight over replacing you—it is such poetic justice!

A Funny Thing Happens in the Midst of Panic

The Europeans wake up and realize that Italy and Spain REALLY are PIIGS and while the Italian Prime Minister says things are fine, the bankers know otherwise.  European stocks tank as confidence falls on this ugly epiphany.  There are not enough Euros to bail our Italy or Spain.

On our side of the pond, the TEA party’s loud lament that the debt deal was not a good deal sinks in and confidence on Wall Street falls 513 points convinced that the day of reckoning is near for the US economy stalling out and facing the feared double dip recession. Moody’s and Fitch Ratings breathe a sigh of relief that they had reaffirmed the AAA US credit ratings the day before fearing they would have been blamed for the cratering stock markets.

To say that we are again in an economic funk is an understatement.  But, never fear, our President is there to reassure us aren’t you Barak.  Barack?  Where is Barak when we need him?  He is out fund raising for his re-election, of course.  This seems frighteningly like Nero planning his next saturnalia while the fires creep up on Rome.

Our revelation draws near and we all see it plainly.  The politicians of the world have run out of other people’s money to spend, and thus do not know what to do next.

The historians tell us panics are caused by lack of confidence driven by fear.  But while yesterday’s stock market plunge may be scary it is useful to remember a few other facts from the experience:

  1. Flight to Safety to America.  As the world worried about PIIGS and about whether America would ever get its economic act together and grow again, they did not run into the arms of Chinese bankers searching for safety.  The nexus of choice yesterday was US Treasuries.  Beaten up as the American dollar is today it remains the world’s reserve currency for a reason, because the world believes in the fundamental strengths of the American economy, the rule of law, and the ability of Americans to adapt and change.  Millions took it to the bank yesterday and confidence in America won!
  2. America is Not Europe.  Watching the PIIGS try to fly was only the latest reason Americans are realizing that our government is disserving us by trying to create a European style welfare state on our side of the pond.  We don’t want that.  We can’t afford that—and even the Europeans are realizing they cannot sustain it.  The rest of the world lacks confidence that the fragmented and fractious Europeans will ever get their Euro house in order.
  3. YES WE CAN Take Back Our Government and our Future.  Like Adam and Eve recognizing they were naked after eating the apple, Americans recognize that we have been stripped naked by wasteful spending, political correctness and unreasonable growth and overreach by our Federal Government.  The TEA party movement started our reawakening and grew to change the balance of power in the people’s house in the 2010 elections.  Americans realize that the TEA party are not ‘terrorists’ as Vice President Biden and some others called them this week because the resisted the debt deal and pushed the government to the brink of shutdown.  Our revelation is that the TEA party members were correct—this is a bad debt deal.  That we have been mislead and taken for granted once again by our politicians.

The conflict and yesterday’s panic also makes us realize that we have power in our voice and we have strength in our numbers and thus we no longer fear the uncertain future.  The people see the way out!

Yes we can, turn around our stumbling economy by getting the government off of our backs and out of our pocket.

Yes we can, rebuild jobs and our strategic industries by changes in tax laws and regulation to get America growing, producing and working again.

Yes we can, resolve our health, education and retirement problems with market solutions; competition between vendors and choice for American consumers’ not big government mandates and rules telling us how to live.

Yes we can restore our confidence by rolling up our sleeves and taking back control over our lives and our government.  Is it 2012 yet?

Now you know why President Obama is out fundraising.  He will need every dollar he can raise to try to keep his job.

Debt Crisis Politics and Realities

The soap opera playing out over raising the US debt ceiling is more politics than reality.  Neither political party wants to go into the 2012 elections with responsibility for more red ink on their shoes.  The United States is not going to default in our payments of principal and interest on our debt and everyone knows this.  That is why the markets have watched this debate with relative calm and baked into the numbers a presumption that some last minute face-saving deal will be done once enough mud had been slung on the face of the opposing party.

But while this may be politics as usual there are instructive lessons about new realities resulting:

  1. Our Negative view of our Elected Leaders is confirmed As voters we have tolerated the slovenly behavior of our elected officials and the way they spend our money.  The debt ceiling has been raised scores of times in the past without much debate.  This time it has become a big deal because while Democrats and Republicans are using it to score points, the rest of us are using it to measure the people we elected by their approval ratings in the polls.  Congress scores worse than the President, but his ratings are racing to the bottom to match them.
  2. It’s the Debt, Stupid.  The debate in Washington may be about raising the debt ceiling.  The debate on Main Street is about the enormous size of the accumulated debt and the reckless willingness to keep spending. We’ve lost confidence in our leaders because we see them weakening our country, undermining our values, and stealing from our children to play politics.
  3. President Obama is a Disappointment.  We elected Barack Obama because he inspired us to live into our aspirations as a great nation.  We demonstrated once again de Toquiville’s 200 year old observation that America has the capacity to reinvent ourselves for the challenges we face. We hoped that the change the President spoke of would lead us there. But he baited and switched us reverting to the most corrosive form of class warfare, entitlement expansion and free-spending liberal instead of the centrist we thought we were choosing.  We needed the president to help fix our broken economy but his policies have made it worse. So “Yes We Can” is turning into “Oh, No We Won’t” as the president misread his mandate and no longer seems a good fit for our needs, as the voters might say as we hand him his pink slip.
  4. Democrats and Republicans are both the same, but the TEA Party member have scruples.  This is the ‘pox on both your houses’ lesson we seem to keep relearning.  The partisan differences are real and debating them is good but we’re losing confidence in both parties because we have come to believe their debates have more to do with scoring points than principles.  While the President and Democrats have trashed the TEA party candidates and tried to discredit those who were elected a funny thing has emerged.  The TEA party members are the only group that has remained true to the principles they told us about as candidates.  TEA party members in the House have given speaker Boehner fits with their unwillingness to cave into demands for compromise over spending cuts.  While their resistance has delayed a settlement of the debt ceiling issue, it fundamentally frames the 2012 election debate around the core issue of spending, overspending and more spending that got us into the debt overhang we face.  Thank you!!!!!
  5. Whose Country is this Anyway!  This debate has been a constant reminder of our core values and the choices we face as a nation.  We’ve been slackers as citizens coasting along letting our elected representatives get away with bloat, blather, and balderdash on our behalf and with our checkbook.  It is like groundhog day only we are watching the movie Network and the line keeps being repeated over and over again:

“We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take this anymore.”  

The 2012 election is a referendum not only on President Obama and our overspending ways.  It is also a referendum on incumbents and most will be found wanting.  It won’t be a good year for candidates,  we’ve been tricked before with uplifting speeches.  We’re looking for real people who share our values and will do what they promise once elected.