Views on the News – 2/11/2012
By: David Coughlin
The United States is a nation whose national character has been shaped by the perception that there is limitless economic abundance, and Americans believed it was possible, with the right combination of intelligence, hard work, a little luck and good timing, to become a millionaire, but Europeans held no such illusions. Two of the iconic phrases that best describe the American experience are “nation of immigrants” and “land of opportunity.” For over 300 years people from around the world have flocked to these shores. They came in search of the American Dream, liberty and prosperity, and for the most part they found it. America’s free enterprise system led to enormous inequalities in wealth, but it also created the world’s largest and most prosperous middle class, and it enabled the United States to become an economic superpower. Obama claims that he is not attempting to reshape capitalism, but instead is trying to keep alive the basic American promise “that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.” The President may not think he is a socialist or that he even has socialist leanings. He fails to see how the policies that he has implemented through legislation and regulation have hamstrung our economy and prevented it from bouncing back the way it has after every other recession. He may believe he is simply trying to insure that going forward the American free enterprise system will have a kinder, more equitable face, but he doesn’t understand the genius inherent in America’s unique brand of capitalism, or how that rough and tumble genius has produced the richest nation on earth.
(“Obama’s Attempt to Reshape Capitalism” by Al Kaltman dated February 3, 2012 published by Canada Free Press at http://www.canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/44398 )
Barack Obama loves to blame the previous administration for the bad shape of the economy when trying to excuse his abysmal economic record, but the economy began to deteriorate when Democrats gained control of the Congress, and all hell broke loose after Democrats won the Presidency and their anti-business policies started kicking in. When Obama came into office, the Democrats concluded two years of controlling both the House and Senate for the first time in over a decade. It is important to remember accurately what Obama accomplished after assuming office:
· When Obama came into office, the economy had just concluded a year of 0.0% growth, but in Obama’s first year the economy shrank by 3.5%.
· When Obama came into office, we inherited a declining housing market, but the worst year for new home sales in U.S. history took place in Obama’s third year, not Bush’s last.
· When Obama came into office, we concluded Bush’s worst year of banks closings with 25 banks shuttered in 2008 due to insolvency, but Obama’s best year of bank closings (2011) saw 97 banks go under.
· When Obama came into office, the economy had just concluded a year that lost 1.4 million fewer jobs than what the economy lost in Obama’s first year.
· When Obama came into office, we had concluded a year (2008) where the unemployment rate was on average 5.8% for the year, but best month on Obama’s watch is still eight percent.
· When Obama came into office, 144 million people were employed, but after three years under Obama only 141.6 million people are employed.
A rule in modern economics suggests that the steeper the downturn, the faster the comeback, but the job gains are less than what President Ford, with an economy and population 35 years smaller than now, delivered at this time following the steep downturn of the mid-1970s, and it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what Reagan gave us after the steep 1981 downturn. Finally, when Republican President Warren Harding came into office in early 1921, the economy was in a depression, with GDP being down almost four times more than the recent downturn. However, when Harding concluded his third year in office after pushing through steep tax cuts, the unemployment rate was lower than the pre-depression levels despite the fact that more people came into the workforce. Now, by contrast, despite millions giving up on looking for jobs, the unemployment rate is still higher than “when Obama came into office.” Things might not have been exactly hunky-dory when we got Obama, but they’re a heck of a lot worse now that we got him, and things will only get worse the longer he remains in office.
(“When Obama Came Into Office…” by Yossi Gerstetner dated February 4, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/02/when_obama_came_into_office.html )
This November, voters will finally have a chance to end President Obama’s assault on our free-enterprise system and send him packing from the White House. Of course this President inherited a significant national debt, but over the last three years he’s made it worse by almost 50% For the first time since World War II, our debt is larger than our economy. Of course this President inherited an economy where unemployment was too high, but over the last three years he’s made it worse. Today our unemployment rate is higher than the day he took office, and since he took over, he’s made it worse stuck at over 8% each month. While today he bemoans and blames Congress, Republicans and successful people for everything that’s wrong, the reality is that he and his party controlled the White House, Senate and House for his first two years in office. In that time, he got virtually everything he asked for, including a fiasco of a stimulus and ObamaCare. The result is that he’s made it worse with a debt-fueled over-expansion of government, unconstitutional and job-killing mandates, failed economic policies, broken promises and no plan to tackle our long-term challenges. With this abysmal record, he will do whatever it takes to make this election about anything but his failed leadership. He is betting on a strategy that divides the American people into haves and have-nots, and uses class-warfare politics to prey on people’s uncertainty about the future. The President desperately wants this Presidential campaign to be a public spectacle of punishing and shaming success, with him as the ring leader. In reality, it will be a referendum on our economic heritage. It will be a choice between having a government that reaches deep into our economy and lives, or a limited government that trusts the free enterprise system to turn good ideas, risk-taking and hard work into jobs and prosperity. We have never been a nation of haves and have-nots. We are a nation of haves and soon-to-haves—of people who have made it and people who will make it because they’re willing to work hard, play by the rules and have the ability to do so. For conservatives, this is our chance to once again lead the charge that began with historic victories in 2009 and 2010. Now, it’s our chance to ensure that 2012 is remembered as the year when we stopped President Obama’s “become like everyone else” agenda, and began doing what’s necessary to make this century another American Century.
(“We have never been a nation of haves and have-nots” by Marco Rubio dated February 6, 2012 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=49334 )
The political strategy behind Obamanomics was always simple: Call for “stimulus” to rescue the economy, run up the debt with the biggest spending blitz in 60 years, and then when the deficit explodes call for higher taxes. The Congressional Budget Office annual review shows this is all on track. CBO reports that annual spending over the Obama era has climbed to a projected $3.6 trillion this fiscal year from $2.98 trillion in fiscal 2008, or more than 20%. The government spending burden has averaged 24% of GDP, up from an average of about 20%. This doesn’t include the $2 trillion tab for ObamaCare. All of this has increased the federal debt by about $5 trillion in a mere four years. Thanks to higher revenues, the federal deficit will decline to $1.08 trillion in 2012, or 7% of GDP, but that is still the highest deficit since 1946, except for the previous three years. In other words, the four years of the Obama’s Presidency will mark the four highest years in spending and deficits as a share of the economy since Harry Truman sat in the Oval Office. And don’t forget the national debt held by the public, the kind we have to pay back. On President Obama’s watch, CBO says public debt will climb this year to 72.5% of the economy from 40.3% in 2008. This isn’t as high as Italy or Greece, but its rising fast toward the 90% level that begins to debilitate an economy. The other part of the fiscal story is that revenues have been in the tank for five years. In 2012 revenues will hit $2.52 trillion down from $2.57 trillion in 2007. Revenues are still only 16.3% of GDP, about two percentage points below the norm. The drought has two main causes:
· First, the anemic recovery in jobs and investment isn’t spinning off enough new output (1.7% growth last year) to boost tax receipts anywhere near their historic level.
· Second, a series of non-stimulative tax cuts, tax rebates in 2008 and 2009, and payroll tax holidays in 2011 and this year, have depleted the Treasury with little economic benefit.
These tax cuts don’t change the incentive at the margin to work or invest, and they thus have little feedback effect in revenues from faster growth. Even the Keynesians who run CBO concede that the 2013 tax hike, on capital gains, dividends, estates and small business, would knock economic growth down to 1% next year and raise unemployment to 9.1% (from 8.5%). That means about 750,000 more jobless Americans. You can’t have such a lousy economy and cut the deficit in half. To sum it all up, CBO’s facts plainly show that Obama has the worst fiscal record of any President in modern times, and no one else is even close.
(“$5 Trillion and Change” dated February 2, 2012 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204740904577195352148844134.html )
Despite all-around giddiness by the stock market investors and speculators, and the lemmings in the media January’s unemployment numbers are artificially manipulated and much worse than reported. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which ought to be referred to as the Ministry of Propaganda, said that non-farm payrolls added 243,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped from 8.5% to 8.3%. Those 243,000 jobs are the total after seasonal adjustments, so the question that must be answered is, what’s the un-tampered-with number before the adjustment? For the past 31 months, discouraged workers have been dropping out of the labor force in unprecedented numbers. The Labor Department actually reported a net loss of 2,689,000 jobs in January. This comes as no surprise as we are in an election year and the incumbent needs good economic news to increase his likelihood of re-election. Obama likes to blame his predecessor for this since 4.4 million jobs disappeared during the 2007-08 panic. Obama conveniently forgets to mention that after he took office, an additional 4.3 million jobs disappeared. When Obama says “we’ve added 3.7 million new jobs,” he’s also not giving you the full story. We are still 5.6 million jobs below where we were at the peak in 2007, and add to that the 4.9 million new jobs that would have had to be created just to soak up new entrants into the workforce, and all told we have a jobs deficit of 10.5 million. From December to January, the BLS decided to assume 1.2 million people just disappeared from the labor force, since they no longer were looking for work. That has dropped the participation rate from 65.7% to 63.7%, a new thirty year low. Look even further and the numbers get worse because the part-time workforce increased by 699,000 jobs while full time jobs increased by 80,000. Ninety percent of all “new” jobs came from part-time work. If you add back in the 5 million people who have permanently dropped out the labor force, as reflected in the historical average workforce participations rates, the “implied” unemployment rate is 11.5 percent and rising, not falling and it also means that the spread between the reported and implied unemployment rate just soared to a fresh 30 year high of 3.2%,
(“January Unemployment Report: The Devil is in the Details” by Scott Strzelczyk dated February 3, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/02/january_unemployment_report_the_devil_is_in_the_details.html “New BS BLS Report Shows Obama Costs US $20 Trillion” by John Ransom dated February 4, 2012 published by Town Hall at http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/johnransom/2012/02/04/new_bs_bls_report_shows_obama_costs_us_20_trillion
“The Very Most Complete Story on Unemployment and Obamanomics” by Mike Shedlock dated February 7, 2012 published by Town Hall at http://finance.townhall.com/columnists/mikeshedlock/2012/02/07/the_very_most_complete_story_on_unemployment_and_obamanomics )
The only time Barack Obama has been a good counter-terrorist President is when he continued programs developed and deployed by President George W. Bush. Obama has maintained, sometimes amplified, the programs that really keep us safe (predator drones, expansive use of domestic intercepts, unsavory intelligence liaison relationships, and rendition). Since September 11, 2001, Washington has been enamored of the idea that the principal terrorist threat to the United States comes from “independent” actors like al Qaeda. Whereas George W. Bush at least combined this analysis with his recognition of an “Axis of Evil” (Iraq, Iran, and North Korea were highlighted for their support for terrorism as well as their appetites for weapons of mass destruction), Barack Obama has assiduously avoided underscoring state sponsorship of terrorism. By not talking loudly about the increasing evidence of a longstanding alliance between Iran and al Qaeda, by not talking more openly about the horrendous problem we have with Pakistan, and by intentionally misrepresenting the nature of al Qaeda and the alliances among Islamic militant groups, the President has turned a blind eye towards probably the most dangerous terrorist threat to the United States over the next decade: state sponsorship of “independent” Islamic terrorist groups and the likely partnering of Iran and Pakistan against the United States. The White House has exchanged the “Global War on Terror” for a smaller, supposedly safer, more manageable confrontation with “extremists.” We are more likely to find ourselves in a state-to-state confrontation precisely because of Obama’s intentions and methods. Like the Bush administration, Obama’s people have not wanted to follow up on the 9/11 Commission Report, which depicted regular operational contact and likely training between Osama bin Laden’s men, Iran’s security services, and Hezbollah. Since 2005, evidence has been mounting that the Islamic Republic has allowed al Qaeda to use Iran as a safe haven and an operational hub. We don’t know whether al Qaeda will survive as an effective organization without bin Laden, but we certainly do know that Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s myriad radical Islamic groups are doing okay, if not prospering. We know for a fact that bin Laden intended early on, even before he returned to Jalalabad in 1996, to marry his organization, operationally and ideologically, to radical groups in Central Asia. Once in Afghanistan, he successfully integrated his personnel into the Taliban, incorporating them throughout the chain of command in units fighting the Tajik commander Ahmad Shah Massoud. No information has surfaced indicating that the Taliban has backed away from al Qaeda in the field. It is also downright bizarre that the administration intends to negotiate with the Taliban while it’s killing the group’s elders, who are probably less radical than the young men who’ve enlisted since 2001. Predators have created headroom for the religiously and operationally ambitious. Such “negotiations” really cannot lead to anything, except to “America’s surrender.” What President Obama is likely leading the United States to is a Taliban victory in Afghanistan that will reinvigorate al Qaeda and its allies. Much of Pakistan, especially within the military, has been hoping to get back to a pre-9/11 world, where Pakistan’s considerable Islamic fervor could be directed again towards Afghanistan, Kashmir, and the United States and away from the Pakistani military, which really didn’t want to get into a shooting war with Islamist groups it had once supported. The attacks of 9/11 forced the Pakistani military, which has become an increasingly Islamist outfit over the last 30 years, to shoot its children which is a distasteful and ultimately unsustainable position. President Obama’s drone campaign in Pakistan already restricts the use of predators from bases on their soil, but is critical to targeting Afghan Islamic militants based in northwest Pakistan. If President Obama is serious about withdrawing the bulk of American forces from Afghanistan by 2014, Pakistani cooperation will likely dry up. We would do well to remember that it was the “old” Pakistan, with its officially sanctioned A.Q. Khan proliferation network, that delivered nuclear technology and know-how to Tehran. Pakistan will back a Taliban drive to retake Kabul and reestablish Pashtun Islamist supremacy throughout Afghanistan; Iran will perforce back its Persian-speaking Tajik and Shiite Hazara allies. But this ethnic split in Afghan aid was already present in the 1990s when Islamabad allowed Khan to help Tehran. Despite all the success so in the Global War on Terror, Obama’s rush to wind down military operations and quest for a group to surrender to in Afghanistan will likely undermine all the progress made thus far.
(“Drones Are Not Enough” by Reuel Marc Gerecht dated February 6, 2012 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/drones-are-not-enough_618786.html )
It’s now quite clear that Obama is playing chicken with Israel on Iranian nukes, since his goal of nuclear brinkmanship is to drive Israel into making dangerous territorial compromises. This is a Carteresque policy: blame the victim, and arm her enemy. Jimmy Carter enabled Iranian radicalization starting with Ayatollah Khomeini, heedless of the disastrous and possibly genocidal consequences. Obama and Carter represent the dangerous “left of the left” wing Democrat foreign policy establishment, the folks who thought we should surrender to the Soviets, who created the retreat from Saigon, and who rationalized the Iran-Iraq War, which killed a million people after Carter allowed Khomeini radicalism to rise in Iran. The destruction caused by left of the left foreign policy “thought” from the Democrats is immense. Over the years, they have colluded in hundreds of thousands of deaths abroad, covered up by the mainstream media. They are Lenin’s “useful idiots,” who colluded in 100 million Communist terror victims in the 20th century alone, and they have not changed one little bit. When they enabled Mao Zedong’s “Great Leap Forward” at the cost of 40 million Chinese lives, all the damage was to China. When Vietnam killed hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese after the U.S. withdrew from Saigon, again, Ho Chi Minh’s purges were turned inward. Now that North Korea is again filling its concentration camps and having another major famine, its neighbors feel reasonably safe. The useful idiots of the West engage in criminal collusion with madmen of the East, as Dr. Thomas Sowell points out in his latest book on Western intellectuals, but our criminal colluders always stay safe themselves. That is not true with a nuclear Iran, which is really run by a suicide-glorifying cult. For the first time in history, humanity is facing the worst of all possible options: nuclear weapons in the hands of a cult which preaches and glorifies massive martyrdom and which has carried out giant martyrdom attacks during the Iran-Iraq War. That is why Iranian nukes are different from American or Soviet nukes. The left of the left has always lived in denial of that plain and obvious fact: that the war ideology of one’s nuclear enemies has everything to do with the lethality of the danger those enemies pose. Our useful idiots have preached for thirty years that “they don’t really mean it,” in exactly the way Western appeasers told the world that Hitler didn’t really mean Mein Kampf. Obama has failed to do anything about Iranian nukes in order to pressure Israel (and probably the Saudis) into obeying his Napoleonic destiny. Obama is a reckless gambler: he is gambling with our economy; he is gambling with our first-rate health care system, including your future as you age; and he likes to gamble, and he figures to blame everybody else when he inevitably fails. That’s the role of the Occupy Mobs during the election: to blame “capitalism” when the economy aches and groans from Obama misgovernment. Obama (like Bill and Hillary) has figured out that misgovernment doesn’t matter in the least, not if you have the Big Media on your side, ready to rant and rage to blame your enemies for the chaos you bring. The bottom line is that Obama is threatening Israel with nuclear genocide if it doesn’t obey his Napoleonic orders, which are to retreat to the 1948 ceasefire lines that make Israel look like a gerrymandered congressional district. Such a “solution” doubles or triples the borders to be defended against lethal enemies, while shrinking Israel’s small territory by two-thirds. It is a death sentence. That is the barely hidden agenda of the left of the left foreign policy establishment the Democrats have cobbled together in the last several decades. They are the same people who brought Muslim propagandists into our universities, just as they are the generation of pseudo-historians who brought in the Stalinist Howard Zinn version of American history to propagandize an entire generation of American teenagers. They are the “declinists” who constantly preach that Pax Americana is dead, and that we will have to rely on China to enforce the peace of the world from now on. Obama no longer believes in the nation-state. Yet, our safety and security depends crucially on what remains of nationalism. We are ruled by delusional saboteurs who will do anything to destroy our national security on behalf of their dream of international peace, which means international tyranny, of course. For the first time, the United States is in the hands of an ideological minority that rules our schools and media with an iron fist. Obama is a radical leftist. His mind is stuck in ideological delusions. Psychologically, they have created a delusional cult, which happens often in human history. Instead of bringing peace, they are a clear and present danger to peace. Today, with the media penetrated mostly by left of the left wing cult members, we can no longer see who they are. We have Barack Hussein Obama, political tightrope-walker, who is willing to risk seven million Jews in Israel to achieve his narcissistic aims, and we will have to suffer his delusions until we can vote him out of office – hopefully this November!
(“How Dangerous is Obama?” by James Lewis dated February 8, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/02/how_dangerous_is_obama.html )
David Coughlin is a political pundit, editor of the policy action planning web site “Return to Common Sense,” and an active member of the White Plains Tea Party. He retired from IBM after a short career in the U.S. Army. He currently resides with his wife of 40 years in Hawthorne, NY. He was educated at West Point (Bachelor of Science, 1971) and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (Masters, Administrative Science, 1976).