Free Markets, Free People
It has been fairly well established that unless something that happens on his watch reflects well on him, President Obama is in the habit of trying to pass off all bad things to someone or something else.
In the case of our economic woes, the latest pass off target is Europe. But the Wall Street Journal does a pretty darn good job of taking that argument apart. First with history:
In 1997 Asia’s economy imploded. Currencies collapsed, countries had their ratings downgraded to junk, millions of people lost their jobs, governments were replaced, regimes fell. In October a jittery Dow, fearing the effects of "Asian contagion," lost 7.2% of its value in a single day. Trading had to be halted twice.
And yet the American economy was unscathed. In 1997 GDP grew by 4.5%. In 1998 it grew again by 4.5%, this time despite the Russian ruble crisis. In 1999, annual growth reached 4.9%, a pace it hasn’t exceeded since. Unemployment fell to 4.2%. The government ran a surplus.
Obama claims that Europe is our “largest trading partner”. Well, they’re not:
Europe is not our largest trading partner. Canada is. Followed by China. Followed by Mexico. Followed by Japan. "Europe" only counts as America’s largest trading partner in an aggregate sense. An honest apples-to-apples comparison would find that U.S. trade with North America or East Asia dwarfs trade across the Atlantic.
And, tossing his blatantly false claim aside, is trade where our problem really lies?
Now take the question of how much trade matters to America. In 2009, foreign trade accounted for 24.3% of the U.S. economy. By contrast, the foreign-trade-to-GDP ratio was 51.9% for China, 71.1% for Canada and 89.2% for Germany. When it comes to foreign trade, the U.S. is the world’s least dependent major economy.
That’s right, it isn’t Europe and it isn’t trade that’s the problem. It is economic policy. Domestic economic policy and a rudderless ship of state, the captain more interested in fund raising and re-election than doing the hard work of trying to turn the situation around.
Which brings us to another excuse – Congressional Republicans:
Again, a little history is in order. The Bush tax cuts of 2001 passed the Senate 58-33 in an evenly split chamber. Bill Clinton managed to do business with a GOP that controlled both houses of Congress for six of his eight years in office. Ronald Reagan passed all of his economic agenda through a House that was under constant Democratic control.
Somehow it is only Barack Obama—whose party, in an inconvenient truth for his campaign, still runs the Senate—who seems incapable of working with any Congress not under full partisan control. (And even then he had trouble.) Americans expect their presidents to be able to assemble coalitions of the politically willing in order to achieve pragmatic and relatively popular results. The Obama administration method, by contrast, has been to shove what it can down the public throat, then act surprised when the public gags, or throws up.
Leadership, of course, makes a difference – Clinton, Reagan and Bush were able to exert the sort of leadership necessary to work with Congress to get what they wanted. Obama seems to think “working with” means he dictates and Congress passes what he dictates. And when that doesn’t happen, well, it’s off to another fund raiser.
Peggy Noonan talked about politicians “laying down lines” before an event so they can spin what happens in a positive way even if what happens isn’t at all positive. That’s what you see here – the President of the United States laying down a line of BS about Europe and trade so, if and when Europe collapses he can point his finger across the Atlantic and blame that continent for the problems here.
For the record, it isn’t the first or last time:
As president, Mr. Obama has attempted to make scapegoats of bankers, bondholders, private-equity firms, insurance companies, energy companies, ATMs, the Chamber of Commerce, the Catholic Church, opponents of illegal immigration, European politicians, Supreme Court justices and even Japanese tsunamis.
But he got bin Laden, didn’t he?
However, the 14.3% unemployed are not particularly impressed.
This guy is so obvious it amazes even me at times.
He loses 41% of the Democratic vote in the West Virginia primary to a Texas jailbird and suddenly he’s all for “clean coal.” Does he really, honestly believe that now West Virginia will rally to his cause because he put “clean coal” on his campaign web site where it has been conspicuously absent prior to the primary? This is “smartest guy in the room” stuff?
After coming under fire for its consistent hostility to the coal industry, the Obama campaign quietly adjusted its energy policy website to include “clean coal” among the president’s energy initiatives.
The energy policy page of BarackObama.com now includes a section for “clean coal,” claiming the stimulus package “invested substantially in carbon capture and sequestration research.”
But until recently, that page made no mention of coal. Its Google cache shows a section for “energy efficiency” where “clean coal” now appears.
The change comes mere days after Obama lost 41% of the vote in the Democratic primary in West Virginia – a state heavily reliant on the coal industry – to a convicted felon and current federal inmate.
The chairman of the WV Democratic Party blamed Obama’s poor showing on his stance on coal energy. “A lot of folks here have real frustration with this administration’s stance on coal and energy,” said state Democratic chairman Larry Puccio. “They are frustrated and they are upset, and they wanted to send Obama a message.”
Of course everyone who has followed how Obama operates knows very well he’ll say anything. It is what he does (or doesn’t do) that matters. Just like being “for” gay marriage. That doesn’t mean he’ll do anything to make it happen. It is about how he calculates being “for” something will benefit him politically. The same holds true for “clean coal”.
Should he win re-election, “clean coal” will be removed as quietly as it was inserted onto the campaign web page.
Ever have one of those days? My DSL has been down for 2 days, and I’m currently sitting in a public library trying to get some work done and sending out this post.
And I was actually going to concentrate on work until I saw this article about something Obama said about the Buffett Rule:
President Barack Obama argued Sunday that his calls for wealthier Americans to pay a greater share of taxes aren’t about sharing the wealth, but about getting the American economy on a path for solid growth.
“That is not an argument about redistribution. That is an argument about growth,” Obama said in response to a reporter’s question at a news conference in Colombia. “In the history of the United States, we grow best when our growth is broad based.”
Broad based growth is not driven by heavily taxing one income class, Mr. Obama. Nor is broad based growth driven by government spending (i.e. “redistribution” or “sharing the wealth”).
The “Buffet Rule” doesn’t do anything to provide those incentives or inspire that confidence. In fact, it seems to be mostly a tax of desperation. The numbers just don’t support the supposition that it will drive anything but more government spending, and, frankly, not much of that.
This is class warfare plain and simple. It is also an attempt to offer up the rich as a panacea to the revenue problem blamed as the reason we’ve seen government borrow multi-trillions of dollars.
There is no revenue problem. There is a spending problem. And taxing billionaires won’t solve that problem. In fact it will likely exacerbate it.
More importantly, the words Obama has spoken speak to two things: a) a deep seated ignorance of economics and b) a deep seated belief that government is the answer to all ills.
Both are dangerous and promise even more economic woes in our future.
We can’t afford that.
And from none other than Mr. Etch-A-Sketch:
“Apparently, the slipping poll numbers have convinced him [Obama] to announce the lower half of that pipeline,” Romney said. “If we can get his poll numbers just a little lower, we may be able to get the other side, too. So let’s get that job done.”
A reminder, one more time with feeling – the portion that Obama is now for doesn’t need his permission or approval to be built.
Just to be clear.
This is a blatant and obvious political attempt to pretend he’s behind something that was going happen anyway. But, of course, we knew that, didn’t we?
This week, Michael, and Dale talk about the Dharun Ravi conviction and President Obama.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
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If it’s not painfully obvious by now, the Obama campaign is banking on women voters being the key to re-election. Running on “Hope and Change” isn’t going to work this time around, and the specter of George Bush will only get about as many miles as a Chevy Volt on a full charge. The usually reliable grievance groups, identity cohorts and college students are not as enthused this time around, and the Obama campaign is apparently worried about that $1,000,000,000 in cash won’t be enough to get it past the finish line. So, naturally, some voting bloc must be pandered to and manipulated in order to secure a second term.
Enter the Contraception Wars (a major battle of the General War on Women). Relying on the various Democratic identity politics to get your voter base out is tedious, time consuming, and requires a lot more vote-buying to pay off the different interest groups. Seeing as how they may not be a reliable base anyway, then why not go for the largest voting bloc out there: women!
In recent elections, voter turnout rates for women have equaled or exceeded voter turnout rates for men. Women, who constitute more than half the population, have cast between four and seven million more votes than men in recent elections. In every presidential election since 1980, the proportion [of] female adults who voted has exceeded the proportion of made adults who voted.
The one thing that all women have in common is that they alone have the necessary biological equipment for having babies. If they were made to feel that their equipment was under attack (“Republicans are coming to steal your ladyparts!“), and that only Obamamagne can defend their honor, then perhaps they will race to the polls in support of their hero. Of course, there will have to be some “free” stuff thrown in to sweeten the pot and make women feel as if they are losing something unless Obama is re-elected. Accordingly, what follows is the multi-step process for ensuring the women vote goes solidly for Obama in November:
1. Raise awareness: Subtly introduce the subject of contraception from out of left field at a Republican debate. This will get the tongues wagging and foreshadow who the villains are.
2. Free Stuff: Using your arrogated powers, mandate that all employers who provide insurance must include contraception (including abortifacients and sterilization) in their plans, regardless of conscientious objection, the First Amendment or, y’know, any of that freedom nonsense. By giving women “free” contraception, etc., you necessarily pit them against those who would deny them their grant. Executing this step is vitally important to framing the villains and carrying out Step 3.
3. Create the wedge issue: Because certain quarters will predictably howl at the intrusion upon their liberties, this Step is almost self-executing. Once the villainous voices are set to wailing, pretend to show concern for their plaints and then offer an “accommodation” that changes nothing but highlights your Solomonic wisdom (aided, of course, by a compliant media). The results of this Step are two-fold — (a) it politicizes the issue so that people will have to choose sides, and (b) it creates the illusion that you are fair and just, while your opponents are rigid and uncaring.
4. Flip the issue: Up to this point, the issue has been “I want to give you free stuff, but the greedy bastards don’t want to pay for it.” That may raise legitimate concerns among a sizable portion of the voting bloc you are courting. So, instead, change the narrative to “I want to protect your ability to get the free stuff, but they don’t want you to have it at all!” In flipping the issue from “don’t want to pay for” to “want to ban” you have neatly cleaved your intended voting bloc from your political enemies. Under this telling of the story, the villains are out to get women and only you will stand up to protect them.
5. Generate sound bytes: This Step is a bit tricky and must be followed carefully. The basis for any campaign is a good PR strategy. There will be plenty of older sound bytes out there already, but those will be generally stale and unhelpful. What you need to properly execute this Step is a current controversy. In order to do that you will need a public forum (such as Congressional hearing) in which to force the issue. Start by finding someone to represent your voting bloc and push her presence at the forum in a way that is sure to keep her from actually appearing. (As an added bonus, falsely claim that no representative of the voting bloc was allowed to appear.) Be sure that this speaker will be a sympathetic victim such as a lowly “college student” (regardless of whether she is or not). Now, and this part is very important, have your willing victim draw enemy fire by testifying about activities that perfectly fit the definition of “slut”, all but openly daring your opponents to use the word. Don’t worry about someone taking the bait — someone always rises to occasion.
6. Profit: Now that you have created a wedge issue, identified victim and villain, and staked out your claim to your voter bloc, all you have to do is pound the wedge home. Using your newly generated sound byte(s), you are firmly on the path to political nirvana. Your friends and allies will eagerly disseminate, distort and decry the outrageous outrageousness of your political opponents, firmly ensconcing your coveted voter bloc on your side. It will be the talk of the town for quite some time, ready to be refreshed at the right moments. In addition, it will provide a welcome distraction to your pathetic record, a flailing economy, and impending dangers that show you unequal to the task.
Or maybe, just maybe, women aren’t as manipulable as you believe, and they actually care about their families, their jobs, their home budgets, and their liberties. If that’s the case, then you might just be screwed no matter what you do.
As I’ve said repeatedly over the years, candidate vs. candidate polls are virtually useless this far out from an election (9 months).
There’s little reason to pay attention to them. So when you see these:
Obama 48.6 %
[I]n January 1980, the Gallup Poll showed:
And, of course, there are plenty of other examples of those sorts of polls to be found if you look.
That said, there are polls that are indicators because they provide a history that lends itself to identifying whether or not an incumbent is actually in trouble or not. The candidate v. candidate polls above really don’t. We’re still in the early stages of nominating a candidate for one party and the focus has yet to really turn on the incumbent. Numbers will change, I suspect fairly dramatically, when that happens. And, to this point, I’d suggest that most of the country isn’t yet engaged in the presidential race. That will happen 6 months from now when you can begin to pay attention to those polls pitting candidate against candidate.
But to those polls that matter, or at least point to historical trends, etc. Here’s one:
It’s February, nine months before a presidential election, and only 22 percent of Americans say they are satisfied with the way things are going. Voters haven’t been this unhappy with the country since George H.W. Bush’s presidency, when only 21 percent of Americans reported being happy with the country’s direction. And before that, the lowest approval rating was 19 percent during Jimmy Carter’s first term.
What do the two presidencies have in common? Neither of them won re-election. And, if the trends holds true, Obama looks to be in an equally precarious situation.
The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research released its 2012 campaign outlook, and it’s clear Obama’s sitting in the same position George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter were in during the February before their election losses—voters don’t feel good about the country.
So when I hear Democratic strategists like James Carville saying things like this …
The only way the president will lose according to Carville is if some event takes place and changes things. He maintained it wouldn’t be the result of the GOP nominee outshining Obama.
“Right now, things are starting to perk up a little bit,” he said. “Who knows? This is the — no Republican can beat Obama. Events can beat Obama. He’s not going to get beat by a Republican. Now events could come in and cause him to lose the election. But that’s it right now. That was not the case three months ago.”
… I laugh. This is pure “whistling past the graveyard” and political spin. Carville is engaged in psychological warfare here. He wants everyone to believe the worm has turned and it is all sunlight and roses for his candidate.
If dissatisfaction can be called an “event”, then that’s the event which should put Obama exactly where he belongs in November – planning for his presidential library in 2013.
Carville knows as well as anyone that at this point in the process, his choice for re-election has gone almost unscathed and his record mostly unscrutinized. But that will change and it will change dramatically in a few months. And about that time, the focus of the nation will begin to turn to national politics.
The fact remains that the American public is not happy and when it is not happy it tends to not reelect its president. That is the “event” this president faces. And my guess is, when the GOP finally settles on its candidate, OMG (Obama Must Go) will be the driving “event” which determines the election.
Carville says “no Republican” can beat Obama? I disagree. In the end, any Republican can beat Obama. Some by larger margins than others, certainly. But that’s my prediction. The Democrats really haven’t a clue about the level of dissatisfaction that exists with this president.
Even the president most demonized by the left had better numbers than Obama does. At the January SOTU prior to his 2004 re-election run, George W. Bush enjoyed a 41% satisfaction rate (as did Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton). As noted, Obama is at 22%, 3 points above the president almost universally identified as our worst modern president.
Let’s see if James Carville is still laughing after the “event” it November. My guess would be “no”.