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Democrats to run against Bush – again – in November

As I pointed out yesterday, for the first time the latest poll shows more blame Obama for the economy than Bush.

However, as someone pointed out, if they’ve blamed Bush this long, the attempt must have met with a measure of success. And that’s probably true.

But, as mentioned in the post, blaming someone else for current problems is only effective if it is clear that person is directly responsible for the situation today.  18 months after taking office and with more than enough time to enact one’s own economic policies makes that former connection iffy at best.  Bottom line – blaming someone else for today’s problems has a shelf life, and in this case it seems it is expiring.

While it may be silly in some respects to blame (or credit) the president in power for the economy, it is the way politics in this country work.  So, given that and the length of time Barack Obama has been in office, people are coming to consider this the Obama economy.  And, as you might imagine, they’re not pleased.

So blaming Bush now, as the new poll demonstrates, is loosing whatever steam it once had.  Common Sense 101 says you abandon that political card in favor of another one then.

But as I’ve pointed out so many times in the past, politicians and common sense seem only to meet by coincidence and not on purpose.  Enter Congressional Democrats.

They’ve decided their best strategy for this November is to dust off the “blame Bush” mantra and have another go at running against the former president.

As they brace for a difficult fall election, dispirited Democrats hoping to get back some of that 2008 magic are turning to the president for inspiration.

President Bush, that is.

Grainy images of the former president flashed across the screen in a recent ad by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) is attacking his GOP rival in a Senate race for his "advancement of the Bush agenda."

Even President Obama has begun taking direct shots at his predecessor, something he had been careful to avoid in recent months. "They don’t have a single idea that’s different from George Bush’s ideas — not one," Obama said during a speeches this week at fundraisers in Atlanta and Chicago.

Such a strategy smacks not only of desperation but of an attempt to divert attention.  If, as Democrats like to claim, they’ve “accomplished more” during this presidency and this Congress than any previous Democratic administration, why aren’t they running proudly on their record?

My goodness, they passed health care and financial regulation. They saved the car companies.  They “saved or created” 3 million jobs via the trillion dollar “stimulus”.  And they’ve got a 1.4 trillion dollar debt heavy budget in the wings waiting to be passed after the election.   What’s not to be proud of?

Well, those polls they pay attention too and they know as well as anyone that running on their “accomplishments” is a sure-fire way to defeat. 

So they will attempt to nationalize the mid-terms on the back of a former president thinking it will rescue them by repeating history.

"God bless America that he’s back in the conversation," a senior Democratic official on Capitol Hill said. "It’s a blessing from the heavens. If this becomes a referendum on George Bush, we are in a much better spot than anyone could imagine."

You have to chuckle at the inanity of such a statement, the pure stupidity that would allow someone to imagine that given their performance in these past 18 months and the visceral voter reaction to that performance, that trying to play the “blame Bush” card will do anything but worsen their defeat.

But most of us have always at least secretly wondered how those that reside within that fantasy land called “inside the beltway” become so disconnected from reality.  Well, here’s a perfect example of exactly that.  It must be something in the water.

~McQ

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Unemployment Rises

Today’s news of 131,000 jobs lost last month comes as no great surprise. What should also come as no great surprise is that the official unemployment rate of 9.5% continues to seriously underestimate the actual rate of unemployment.

Civilian population: 237,890,000
Historical Average Labor Force Participation Rate: 66.2%
Proper Labor Force Size: 157,483 000
Actually Employed: 138,960,000
Real Unemployment Rate: 13.3%

Using the same method of calculation, the unemployment rate in June 09 was 11.4%. Over the past six months, the rate had varied as follows:

Feb: 13.2%
Mar: 13%
Apr: 12.7%
May: 12.8%
Jun: 13.1%
Jul: 13.3%

Since April, 495,000 payroll jobs have been lost.

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Arab opinion poll – not good news for the Obama administration

A very interesting poll is out which measures Arab public opinion on a number of questions. Two of them give a damning review of the results of the Obama initiatives in the area.

One question asks: “How would you describe your views of President Barack Obama and the United States”. In 2009, soon after Obama took office among all his promises and in the wake of the Cairo speech, Arab public opinion, as measured by this poll, found 45% to be positive about him and the US, 28% neutral and only 23% negative.

Oh what a difference a year and actually having to do something makes. Now 62% have a negative view, 16% are neutral and only 20% are positive.

On the question of, “How would you describe your attitudes toward the Obama Administration policy in the Middle East?”, a majority of 51% said they were “hopeful” in 2009, while 28% were neither encouraged or discouraged and only 15% were discouraged. Now? 63% say they’re discouraged while only 16% say they’re hopeful.

In 2008, when the evil Bush regime was still in power, 83% of those polled said their general attitude toward the US was somewhat unfavorable or very unfavorable. That number is now 85%.

Probably the most telling of all as to the effectiveness of the administration’s foreign policy in the area is the change in attitude about a nuclear armed Iran.

In 2008, most Arabs believed that Iran was pursuing nuclear power for peaceful purposes. Now most believe it is pursuing it for nuclear weapons. When asked in 2008, “If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, which of the following is the likely outcome for the Middle East region?”, those polled replied 44% “more positive”, 12% “wouldn’t matter” and 29% “more negative”. After a year of Obama’s policies toward Iran, Arab public opinion has shifted. Now 57% say it would be “more positive”, 20% “wouldn’t matter” and a mere 21% say “more negative”.

Viewing the results, given the trumpeting by the incoming administration as to how their new approach would improve our image in the area and yield results with Iran, one would have to objectively say it’s been an utter failure.

~McQ

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I have little sympathy for the Japanese on this subject (update)

It is the annual Hiroshima remembrance in Japan and the usual cries of "outrage" and demands for an “apology” fill the air.

My father fought against the Japanese in WWII on Saipan, Leyte and Okinawa. I have studied the war in detail. I’ve been particularly interested in the planned invasion of Japan.

Okinawa was the first indicator of what that would have been like – it was and is considered a Japanese “home island”. My father was slated to be with the first wave of divisons landing on Kyushu. The technical description of their anticipated condition after a day or so was “combat ineffective”. That means those initial divisions would have been destroyed and unable to continue to fight.

The assumed number of casualties for that first big fight – and it wasn’t even on the main island – was about a million men on both sides. Don’t forget that they had a regular army home defense force of well over a million men and a home defense militia of 14 million. They had with held thousands of kamakazi aircraft and boats back for the expected invasion. And they planned to make a last stand and take as many invaders as possible with them.

Remember also how the territories the Japanese conquered were treated. Korean women forced into prostitution as “comfort women”. The rape of Nanking. Babies tossed around on bayonets.

So when I read things like this –

Moments before the atomic bomb was dropped, my mother’s friend happened to seek shelter from the bright summer sunlight in the shadow of a sturdy brick wall, and she watched from there as two children who had been playing out in the open were vaporized in the blink of an eye. “I just felt outraged,” she told my mother, weeping.

– I had difficulty summoning any outrage myself. The Japanese people supported the war, cheered the victories and reveled in the spoils it brought. They were brutal and murderous conquerers. And they refused to surrender.

After the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, the Japanese war cabinet of 6 split in their vote, refusing to surrender. After Nagasaki, they still refused to surrender until, in an unprecedented move, the Emperor intervened and essentially ordered them to do so.

If those who survived the atomic bombings at Hiroshima feel “outrage”, they should look in the mirror. They enabled and supported a regime that “outraged” the world. They cheered and shared in the spoils of a war they started which devastated much of Asia. They supported a brutal, murderous and criminal militaristic war machine that raped and murdered at will. If anyone should be “outraged”, it is those who suffered under the horrific but thankfully short Japanese rule of that time. If anyone should be apologizing yearly, it is the Japanese.

UPDATE: Richard Fernandez also discusses the subject.

~McQ

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Dale’s Observations For 2010-08-05

The number of Americans who are receiving food stamps rose to a record 40.8 million in May. http://bit.ly/aWauTW #RecoverySummer #

Economy concerns send US mortgage rates to the lowest ever recorded in the Freddie Mac Survey. http://bit.ly/cGYoKW #RecoverySummer #

Jobless claims in U.S. climb unexpectedly–there's that word again–to three-month high of 479,000. http://bit.ly/98GQpV #RecoverySummer #

Best. Gubernatorial. Candidate. Ever. http://bit.ly/9XrZRX #

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Jobless claims “unexpectedly” rise

Yup, as Tim Geithner would say – “welcome to the recovery”.  And, given the trends, I would guess this isn’t the last of the “unexpectedly” high unemployment report we’ll see.  Again, ad nauseam, there’s been no incentive provided by government, but plenty of disincentives that are keeping businesses on the sidelines and consumers from spending:

Initial jobless claims climbed by 19,000 to 479,000 in the week ended July 31, the most since April and exceeding the highest estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The number of people receiving unemployment benefits dropped, while those getting extended payments rose.

A cooling economy means employers will resist taking on more staff in coming months, raising the risk consumer spending will weaken further. The jobless rate rose last month as payroll increases weren’t large enough to keep up with gains in the labor force, economists forecast a government report tomorrow will show.

As if anyone has to be told, this is not good.  And it wouldn’t surprise me to see the U6 unemployment rate tick up over 10% again in the next few months:

“There really is no upside momentum in the labor market, and that’s a critical long-term determinant of where the economy is going,” said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities USA Inc. in New York. “People just aren’t getting jobs.”

That’s because jobs aren’t being created and offered.  Name the incentive, at this point, to do so?  Tax increases are in the offing, health care laws, 1099 requirements, Democrats still pushing for cap-and-trade, new financial regulations that impact the market and economic policies which give the impression the administration is at war with business.

Why would any sane business owner invest in his business in times as unsettled as these?

Answer: he or she wouldn’t.  And that’s the biggest reason unemployment continues to “unexpectedly” rise.  Headcount is the easiest thing to add when times are good.  It’s also the easiest thing to reduce when times are bad.  And if they stay bad – as we’re seeing now – few if any are going to be adding jobs.

Economics 101 – provide incentives to get the behavior you want.  Provide disincentives to discourage the behavior you don’t want.  The administration’s economic policies have, to this point, provided business with all manner of disincentives to hiring.  And then the “experts” are surprised when jobless rates are “unexpectedly” higher than estimated.

Go figure.

~McQ

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Majority no longer blame Bush for economic woes

That’s primarily because the current administration has been in power 18 months, it has spent like there’s no tomorrow with borrowed funds and the economy is still in the tank. Most adults consider that more than enough time to do address the "inherited" problems and if not fix them, be on the road to doing so. But blaming the previous administration is no longer a viable option.

Forty-eight percent of likely voters blame Obama’s policies for the nation’s economic condition, compared to 47 percent who fault former President George W. Bush, according to Rasmussen Reports.

Although the difference is small and within the margin of error, the poll marks the first time in Obama’s presidency that more people blame him than Bush for the economy.

Obama’s 48 percent also shows a three percentage point increase over the past month, according to Rasmussen. As noted, the margin is small and within the margin of error but is, for the first time, against the Obama administration. More importantly, that’s the way it has been trending in past polls.

So essentially what you should expect to see, as the months pass and the unemployment rate remains high, GDP growth sluggish, consumer confidence down and businesses sitting on the side lines is more and more Americans coming to consider this mess the "Obama economy".

The White House has repeatedly tried to inoculate the president from economic blame with the message that Obama inherited a bad economy from Bush, and has made difficult, unpopular decisions to turn it around.

In a speech to the AFL-CIO, Obama made the case that the problems he faces are the result of Bush economic policies.

"We’re not going to go back to digging the hole," he said. "We’re not going to go back to the policies that took Bill Clinton’s surplus and in eight years turned it into record deficits."

Really?

That’s obviously not how the American people are seeing those policies and their effect.  There’s nothing in the Bush years that even approach the record deficits being piled (and projected) by this administration.

So that old song and dance seem to finally be getting old.  And it is surprising the White House is still trying to push it.  You’d think they’d understand that it was a perishable excuse and it has long since passed its expiration date.  And, as the poll indicates, people have grown tired of it and just don’t accept it as a reasonable excuse anymore.

Not that it will stop the "Blameshifter-in-Chief” and his henchmen from continuing to trot it out there at every opportunity.  Their problem is it just isn’t viable anymore.

~McQ

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Will a desperate Obama administration spring an "August surprise" for political gain?

James Pethokoukis is hearing the rumors of something which might put a number of you in the situation where you’re paying down your neighbor’s mortgage – all in the name of politics. I’ll let him explain:

Main Street may be about to get its own gigantic bailout. Rumors are running wild from Washington to Wall Street that the Obama administration is about to order government-controlled lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to forgive a portion of the mortgage debt of millions of Americans who owe more than what their homes are worth. An estimated 15 million U.S. mortgages – one in five – are underwater with negative equity of some $800 billion. Recall that on Christmas Eve 2009, the Treasury Department waived a $400 billion limit on financial assistance to Fannie and Freddie, pledging unlimited help. The actual vehicle for the bailout could be the Bush-era Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, a sister program to Obama’s loan modification effort. HARP was just extended through June 30, 2011.

Essentially Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be the vehicles for this $800 billion bailout.  As mentioned above, the “$400 billion limit” for financial assistance to the two institutions was waived by Congress.  And, HARP has been extended.  The ability to do what Pethokoukis is hearing certainly exists.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the election this November isn’t shaping up well for Democrats.  And the administration knows that without the majority in the House and Senate, its agenda is dead.  As Pethokoukis points out, the midterms are expected to be a blood bath for Democrats and this sort of a move may be seen as a last hour way to change that outcome.  The GSEs (Freddie and Fannie) are about the only “levers” left for the White House to pull. And with the economy slowing and the President’s approval ratings tanking, those levers are looking mighty tempting:

The mortgage Hail Mary would be a last-gasp effort to prevent this [loss of House and working majority in Senate] from happening and to save the Obama agenda. The political calculation is that the number of grateful Americans would be greater than those offended that they — and their children and their grandchildren — would be paying for someone else’s mortgage woes.

And, of course, it would be a backdoor “stimulus” that many on the left think is needed.

It may not happen, but as pointed out, the rumors are pretty darn strong with Wall Street firms privately warning their clients it is a distinct possibility.  It would be an incredible move that, given the mood of the country, could backfire spectacularly if done.  But the political calculation may be that if Democrats are supposed to lose badly in November anyway, why not try.

The financial consequence?  Bah … we’re talking politics here, the “religion of the left”.  They’re likely to do whatever they think is necessary, consequences be damned.  And we’ll be left, as usual, holding the bag.

~McQ

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