If you’re among the 15 or so in this country that believe this White House job summit will actually end up creating policies that produce jobs, I think Evan Newmark’s WSJ piece might dissuade you from that belief:
Now, I’ve never been to a White House summit, so I can’t say exactly what will happen on Thursday. But as a past Davos World Economic Forum participant, I’m pretty familiar with these kinds of VIP schmooze and snoozefests.
And here’s how it will likely play out. A senior White House official — perhaps the president — will give a welcome pep talk to the 130 gathered “summiteers.” He’ll ply them with thanks and stirring patriotic words.
But then he’ll urge them to not waste the day in conference fuzzy talk. Instead, the summiteers should turn words into actions and actions into jobs. After all, it is a “jobs” summit.
And then the summiteers will shuffle off to one of six working groups — where of course they’ll end up wasting the day in conference fuzzy talk.
It’s inevitable. Prepared remarks, banal anecdotes and empty debates are the stuff of these mushy forums. I can count on one hand the number of memorable moments from the dozens of my Davos sessions on technology super-revolutions, entrepreneurial innovation and world peace.
That’s because the VIPs at these things aren’t there to say or do anything unexpected.
Do you think that FedEx CEO Fred Smith and United Steelworkers President Leo Girard will somehow reach agreement that the best way to create jobs is to kill the union-card check?
Do you think that Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, will suddenly serve up innovative ideas for trade unions to assist small businesses?
It seems unlikely.
And so the jobs summit will fail for the same reason Obamanomics is failing: The White House mistakenly believes economic growth and new jobs are created by society’s stakeholders — business, labor and government — cooperatively working together.
Like most of these events, this is a political stage show. It is a visual representation meant to convey the idea that a) the government is interested in your problems and, most importantly, b) it is here to help.
But the key to the failure of this summit, even if they were serious about creating jobs, is found in Newmark’s last sentence. The key to economic growth and new jobs aren’t the product of summits among “society’s stakeholders”. They never have been.
In fact, it’s pretty simple as he notes:
But that’s not the way capitalism works. It doesn’t take a village to create a new job. It takes a businessman trying to make another buck.
So why aren’t the businessmen out there trying to “make another buck”? While business is all about risk, the risks they take are rational. Businessmen aren’t at all inclined to take risks that can ruin them, especially in unsettled markets. Right now economy is very unsettled and government has huge tax laden legislative bills pending which will directly effect these businesses in a very negative way. And of course, there’s new and increased financial regulation pending which may effect their ability to get funds to expand their businesses and hire new workers. Thus they’ve concluded it would be entirely irrational to expand their business or hire in such an atmosphere.
Instead, they’ll hold off on hiring or expanding until the economy and markets are much more settled and they’ve had the opportunity to gauge the cost to them of all of this new legislation and regulation.
That said, the simple answer on how ease economic uncertainty and thereby create more jobs is kill health care, kill cap-and-trade and back off the increased regulation. Additionally, a corporate tax cut might help as well. All of that would certainly settle market down and give businesses an incentive to both expand and hire. But this job summit? Newmark nails it. Fuzzy talk aimed at the wrong solution. The best thing the government can do is back off and let the market get back to work. Unfortunately, that won’t be the solution the “summit” proposes nor will it be the policy the White House will adopt.
David Freddoso catches Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) in an unscripted moment of truth:
“Health care reform, whether you use a ten-year number or when you start in 2010 or start in 2014, wherever you start at, so it is still either $1 trillion or it’s $2.5 Trillion, depending on where you start…”
Of course, regardless of where you start, it won’t cost just the 894 billion that has been claimed. Again, for those who’ve missed it the numerous times I’ve mentioned it, CBO can only score a 10 year window. So, knowing that Democrats used a bit of trickery to make the bill in the Senate seem to cost less than it really does. They front-loaded the taxes (they begin immediately upon passage) and they delayed the major programs (they begin in 2014 – those are the two dates Baucus cites) so that the cost is spread over 10 years (although they only take place in 6) as is the revenue. You figure it out – 10 years of revenue and 6 years of spending – would that drive the supposed 10 year cost down?
Of course it would. Is that the true cost of the program? Of course it isn’t. And, if you look at the second 10 year window, costs explode (into the 2.5 trillion range).
Also, the claim is cuts in Medicare will help pay for this. Yet they’re about to pass the “doc fix” bill which will prevent 250 billion (a quarter of a trillion) in reduced payments to doctors. Does this indicate a willingness to do what is necessary to pay for this health care monstrosity? Of course it doesn’t. It again indicates that Congress enjoys the roll of Santa Claus much more than that of being fiscally responsible.
Anyone who actually believes these numbers from Congress is either naive, purposely blind to the truth, inexperienced with their ways or just doesn’t care. This is a bank breaker and will eventually have to be reckoned with. Don’t forget that those who said Medicare would be a low cost program when it was first implemented (and now has 35 trillion dollars in future obligations) are now making the claim that spending 894 billion (or 1 trillion or 2.5 trillion) will actually save us money. Yes, for those who believe in flying unicorns, it will be the first entitlement ever to turn a profit.
The Honduran Congress voted overwhelmingly yesterday not to reinstate ousted President Manuel Zelaya and allow him to finish his term. The vote saw 111 of the 128 member body reject reinstatement. That includes no votes from Zelaya’s own Liberal party which holds a majority of seats in the Congress. There is apparently a deep divide within that party concerning the swing to the left which they see as being influenced by Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
This also ends the US brokered deal which would have seen Zelaya return to finish out his term. The vote, as I see it, should put an end to outside attempts to reinstate Zelaya. When only 14 out of a body of 128 vote for such a reinstatementj (3 were absent) – especially when his own party holds a majority- I think it is fair to conclude that such a return is not considered to be in the best interest of the country.
It comes from Nile Gardiner at the Telegraph:
As Commander in Chief President Obama has to project leadership, strength and determination before his country and his foes, as well as offer reassurance to Washington’s international allies. All were in short supply in front of the assembled cadets .The speech was less a rallying cry for victory over barbarism, than a dull professorial-style lecture that sought to justify his confused approach to the US mission in a cold and clinical fashion that simply failed to convince or inspire.
He said, in 4,579 words what probably could have been said in 500 or so. The 40 minutes were mostly used to justify to the left his decision to send 30,000 additional troops to A’stan.
On the plus side, he made a decision. It took much longer than it should have, and, as I’ll cover further on, it isn’t a great decision by any means, but he did finally decide to do something.
Using the cadets at West Point as a backdrop (they seemed as enthusiastic about the plan as I am) he told the military that the reason this decision had taken so long is he owed them a clear mission before he sent them into battle. Yet reading through his speech, I’m still not clear as to what the military’s mission is.
Certainly at the level of Commander in Chief, you speak in much broader terms when describing a mission, than would a platoon leader getting ready to attack an insurgent stronghold. But there’s a point where “broad” is sort of meaningless. The three broad missions I heard enunciated that I assume comprise the Obama strategy are:
1. Deny al Qaeda safe haven.
2. Reverse the momentum of the Taliban
3. Safeguard the Afghan people
The first is counter-terrorism. Joe Biden’s ninja and drone strategy. It is, I assume, the reason Obama decided to commit fewer troops than Gen. McChrystal asked for. The second and third are elements of counter-insurgency.
For numbers 2 and 3, we remain – even with the 30,000 new troops – woefully undermanned. Gen. McChrystal will attempt to make the best of his assets, but attempting to reverse the momentum the taliban and safeguard the Afghans are two labor intensive (boots on the ground) roles. Also included in the 3rd mission is the training of a competent Afghan security force.
Obama says these troops will deploy by fastest means possible. Additonally he said:
Let me be clear: there has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010, so there has been no delay or denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war.
Well let me be clear – deploying troops to a theater of war takes a long lead time. Preparation and training are key. While it is probably true that there were no calls for deployments before 2010, a 3 month delay means 3 months in which the alerted units are shorted vital training time. And now the deployment cycle is going to be speeded up because he’s trying to cover his tail? Guess who suffers to make him look better?
To this point, I’ve laid out a plausible but complex military mission. But it moves from “plausible and complex” to impossible with this line:
After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.
Even getting the deployment cycle initiated as quickly as possible, the troops (most likely 3 BCTs, a Marine MEU, 4,000 trainers and a command and control element of 7,000) will take 12 to 18 months to complete their deployment. So how is this a surge if as the last unit arrives in country as the first leaves?
In fact, that line alone initiates all sorts of questions.
What if the Afghan forces aren’t ready? What if the government isn’t yet prepared to fulfill its role. What if the Taliban still have “momentum”? He promised a civilian surge as well – concentrating on agriculture. Who will protect them or are they leaving as well?
Afghan Security Forces (ASF) are not going to be ready in 18 months. Certainly we can train the grunts in that period of time to some level of competence. But it is the leadership that is key. You don’t develop an NCO corps or an officer corps in that period of time. And it appeared the key to this strategy is standing up a competent ASF capable of defending itself and the country against the Taliban.
Obama claims we’ll embed with the Afghan units and fight along side them. But, given that we’ve announced that we’re leaving in 18 months, what if the Taliban decide to sit it out and not engage in battle? They’ve been fighting since the ’80s – what’s 18 months to them? Why not wait until we withdraw and then take on a green ASF with its seasoned fighters?
Obama does leave himself a fall-back position later in the speech when he says:
Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, <em>taking into account conditions on the ground</em>.
If I’m a Taliban commander, I take this as a gift from God. He has not only announced the US’s strategy for the next 18 months, he’s determined mine. The Taliban knows, just as we should, that 18 months is not enough time to train up the ASF into a competent fighting force. The Taliban knows that any COIN strategy is just marking time given this announcement. The people of Afghanistan now know that we will not be there to protect them in 18 months so there is absolutely no incentive to cooperate with us (or the Kabul government) and a huge incentive not too. They certainly know who will be there after our withdrawal and they’ll do their level best to reach accommodation with them.
This isn’t a plan for success. This is a plan for withdrawal and a strong signal to our enemy that if they play the game for 18 months, they can have Afghanistan. Ironically, while taking on his detractors Obama claims he’s not doing precisely what his plan is doing:
[T]here are those who acknowledge that we cannot leave Afghanistan in its current state, but suggest that we go forward with the troops that we have. But this would simply maintain a status quo in which we muddle through, and permit a slow deterioration of conditions there. It would ultimately prove more costly and prolong our stay in Afghanistan, because we would never be able to generate the conditions needed to train Afghan Security Forces and give them the space to take over.
This plan is all about the maintenance of the status quo while attempting to give the appearance of decisive action. It is certainly not about that. We can argue until the cows come home about the numbers necessary to conduct successful COIN in Afghanistan, but I can assure you no expert would tell you 30,000 are enough. We can give all the lip service we want to saying we’re going to train up the ASF to a level they can take over their own defense, but no expert is going to agree that 18 months is enough. Gen. McChrystal can smile and claim he’s very pleased with the resources he’s been given, but anyone who does an analysis of the missions outlined in the speech know he’s been badly short-changed. If we could beam in the 30,000 troops tomorrow along with 10,000 more NATO troops, it still wouldn’t be enough to do more than “maintain the status quo” – at least for 18 months.
On the other hand, if I’m the Taliban I’m absolutely exultant about what I’ve heard. And I’m immediately into planning a disinformation campaign that will paint the rosiest possible picture in 18 months time. Meanwhile, my forces are basically on R&R for duration (or concentrating in Pakistan) while I sit back and wait out the withdrawal. And when that last C-17 is wheels up out of Bagram, I’m headed into Afghanistan in force. Given that speech last night, they must finally believe that Allah truly is on their side now.
I‘ve been trying to publish my analysis of Obama’s Afghan speech for 3 hours now, and WP has decided not to allow that for whatever reason. I’ve rewritten parts, tried to put it up in pieces, whatever – but no go. But it will allow this – go figure. Anyway, that’s where I am at the moment – pissed off, frustrated and unable to find the magic key to getting it published.
UPDATE: Still no joy, but you can read my analysis at Blackfive where Typepad had absolutely not problem publishing it.
UPDATE II: Finally pushed it through by using MS Word’s blog feature which does an automatic upload. I was then able to edit it one piece at a time. It still won’t let me edit out some hmtl stuff. Weird day.
Usually, the kind of story that’s roiling around Tiger Woods right now is not the kind of thing we comment on. But it is instructive in some ways.
This is Tiger Woods’ wife.
The lesson is this: As hard as it may be to believe, there is one unchangeable truth about relationships. No matter how hot the girl is, no matter who she is…there’s a guy out there who’s tired of her sh*t.
So, the CBO today, in surveying the success of the American Recovery and Re-investment Act (ARRA,. or as we call it, “the stimulus”, makes the following claim:
Economic output and employment in the spring and summer of 2009 were lower than CBO had projected at the beginning of the year. But in CBO’s judgment, that outcome reflects greater-than-projected weakness in the underlying economy rather than lower-than-expected effects of the ARRA.
It’s kind of hard to argue with that kind of “judgment”. Your “judgment” may vary, of course.
Not that it matters, because neither you, nor the CBO, have the math to back it up.
I guess we’re fresh out of unicorns and rainbows and claims to have improved America’s standing in the world today. As you recall, while in China and during an interview there, Obama made the claim that he had changed the world’s attitude about the US. And his claim was based on some poll which apparently reflected that.
Well given that the poll he cited was good enough for him to make the assertion then, I’d be interested in how he’d describe this poll’s results (Pew Global Attitudes survey) in probably the most important region to the US right now (remember this is a survey the left loved to deploy annually telling everyone how detrimental GW Bush was to our “image” abroad):
Now those surveys of 2009 bring findings from the world of Islam that confirm that the animus toward America has not been radically changed by the ascendancy of Mr. Obama. In the Palestinian territories, 15% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 82% have an unfavorable view. The Obama speech in Ankara didn’t seem to help in Turkey, where the favorables are 14% and those unreconciled, 69%. In Egypt, a country that’s reaped nearly 40 years of American aid, things stayed roughly the same: 27% have a favorable view of the U.S. while 70% do not. In Pakistan, a place of great consequence for American power, our standing has deteriorated: The unfavorables rose from 63% in 2008 to 68% this year.
Eventually the left is going to learn that anti-Americanism isn’t a function of who is in the White House or what party is in power. It is a deep seated resentment in which whoever is in the White House or whichever party is in power is irrelevant. They simply become the new face of the same nation the world despises. The reasons are varied and mostly irrational. The sentiment is fed by powerful internal political forces who have a vested interest in the continuation of anti-Americanism as one tool for maintaining power in their country. Such sentiment ranges from blatant anti-Americanism (Venzuela and Iran) to more subtle forms (France and Germany) but it persists whether a Republican or a Democrat is in office.
Obama’s return to reality (and hopefully the left’s) – given these numbers – should see him take a more pragmatic and nationalistic view of foreign policy than he has to this point. Words, as those numbers reflect, have failed him – and they were his greatest strength. Despite the favorable press he received as he made his world apology tour, the numbers have pretty well remained unchanged. A smart man would understand that lesson and learn from it. A leader would reorient his foreign policy when it becomes clear his first policy hasn’t achieved its goal (as if a reasonable foreign policy goal should ever be “to make others like us more”). Obviously putting the rest of the world before the US – while fine with the rest of the world – doesn’t change their perception of the US, but instead simply feeds their anti-Americanism. They do like a weaker US. But that still doesn’t mean they like the US any better.
Obama’s job -should he ever decide to take it- is to put America first in everything he does in the foreign policy arena. He’s not done that and it has not paid off for either him or the US. As I’ve said any number of times, in the anarchy that is international politics, it is much more useful to be feared and respected than to be liked. It’s time the US got back to “feared and respected”. “Liked”, as always, is a bust.
One of the persistent memes with this current round of health care reform is the counter-intuitive belief that adding 30+ million to the health care insurance roles and subsidizing them is going to save money. Another is that there won’t be more bureaucracy – that, in fact, this reform will streamline health care and again “save money”. Just as we’re supposed to “trust” the climate scientists who’re apparently not trustworthy, we’re supposed to believe a Congress which cranks out 2,000 page bills when they say it won’t be a bureaucratic nightmare.
“The legislation lists 1,697 times where the secretary of health and humans services is given the authority to create, determine or define things in the bill,” said Devon Herrick, a health care expert at the National Center for Policy Analysis.
For instance, on Page 122 of the 2,079-page bill, the secretary is given the power to establish “the basic per enrollee, per month cost, determined on average actuarial basis, for including coverage under a qualified health care plan.”
The HHS secretary would also have the power to decide where abortion is allowed under a government-run plan, which has drawn opposition from Republicans and some moderate Democrats.
And the bill even empowers the department to establish a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation that would have the authority to make cost-saving cuts without having to get the approval of Congress first.
That’s right – we’re supposed to believe that this huge shift in power and authority to the HHS will be done without adding a single worker, panel, council, department, “task forces” or agencies. There will be no new commissioners, advisors, council, staffers or contract employees. None.
Haislmaier said one the greatest powers HHS would gain from the bill is the authority to regulate insurance. States currently hold this power, and under the Senate bill, the federal government would usurp it from them. This could lead to the federal government putting restrictions and changes in place that destabilize the private insurance market by forcing companies to lower premiums and other charges, he said.
“Health and Human Services … doesn’t have any experience with this,” Haislmaier said. “I’m looking at the potential for this whole thing to just blow up on people because they have no idea what they are doing. Who in the federal government regulates insurance today? Nobody.”
The health care reform legislation would rely on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for recommendations as to what kind of screening and preventive care should be covered.
By the way, the U.S Preventive Services Task Force is the one which recently told women under 50 they really don’t need mamograms. Yeah – preventive services. They’ll try to prevent you from taking advantage of such services it seems.
And then there’s this:
Critics of the bill said this was an example of how the new bill could empower HHS to alter health care delivery, but Democrats argue they would rather have the government making these decisions.
“There’s an insurance company bureaucrat in between the patient and her doctor right now,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Yes, because everyone knows that government bureaucrats are so much more efficient and caring than insurance bureacrats – which explains the reason Medicare denials are much higher than insurance company denials.
If you want the equivalent of the Post Office or DMV running your health care in the future, support the Democrats and this bill. Because if you are satisfied with what they’re trying to pass, you’ve already bought into the idea that spending a trillion dollars will save money and lower the deficit and that government is always more efficient than the market in delivering anything.