Views on the News – 8/4/2012


By: David Coughlin
In the course of four short years, President Obama has transformed from “The Messiah” into “The Pariah,” because voters aren’t buying his distractions anymore.  It started with the failed stimulus that promised to buy our way out of the recession, the multipliers from which barely registered a tick upwards for the economy.  This infusion of dollars will harm the economy for a decade or more as the nation must find a way to pay back those dollars plus interest.  In healthcare, a bold initiative long coveted by progressives for the last 100 years and an initiative Obama couldn’t wait to tackle, even though majority of Americans were already satisfied with their existing healthcare.  The President somehow found wisdom in pushing through his healthcare agenda during a time of recession and high unemployment – as a result, earmarking one-sixth of the entire economy.  America’s poverty rate has increased under Obama and food stamp recipients are at an all-time high.  Those should be enough to sink any President with an overall record like Obama’s.  In this election, Romney holds the clear advantage and, barring a campaign implosion, is likely to beat President Obama in November.  President Obama spent over $40 million on negative campaign ads for June and most of July.  The polls, meanwhile, stayed the same, demonstrating that Obama’s attempt at a breakout through the malaise failed.  The point is clear that voters just are not buying it anymore.  According to a new Gallup/USA Today poll, voters gave Romney overwhelming support in “managing the economy, reducing the federal budget deficit and creating jobs.”  By a margin of more than 2-1, or 63% to 29%, the surveyed believed Romney possessed the right kind of experience to deal with current economic problems.  President Obama’s actual record is there on the surface, in plain sight.  As a result, most voters have accepted reality that no matter how “likable” Obama is, he has failed.  On Election Day, voters will be given a choice that offers an alternative to four more years of Obama and that scenario is no longer acceptable.
(“Voters Aren’t Buying Obama’s Distractions” by Jason Bradley dated July 28, 2012 published by Breitbart at http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/07/28/Voters-Arent-Buying-Obamas-Distractions )
Democrats have invested a great deal in the Obama brand, but his image has begun to erode as he speaks without a script and away from his ever-present tele-prompter .  One cannot help noticing the struggle between Barack Obama’s natural instincts and the serene and benevolent persona he projects to the world.  Beneath the visage of a cosmetically populist, post-racial, post-partisan reformer who wants to “perfect” America and to have “millionaires and billionaires” “pay their fair share” is just another condescending, self-important, sarcastic, academic liberal Democrat, who believes in false consciousness and in scholastic theories that success in life can be attributed to birth or luck or community but not to individual effort and grit.  Obama may be talented at self-fashioning, but he cannot maintain his public face constantly because his mask keeps slipping and the real Obama emerges.  He lets loose in the self-consciously ironic and pretentiously omniscient argot of the American ruling class, lecturing audiences in what he treat as the new catechism.  The reaction to these gaffes is always the same, sparking justified criticism.  The activity is convulsive and furious because David Axelrod and David Plouffe understand that an unplugged Obama will damage his brand.  He is not actually likable at all.  He is liable to wreck years of hard work and mythmaking the moment he goes off script and tries to talk without his teleprompter.  The “Obamian Slips” inadvertently disclose his inner self, and undermine the Axelrod message of hope and change and unity:
·    On July 23, 2007, at the Democrat primary debate, then-senator Obama made his ludicrous and unrehearsed pledge to meet personally with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea in the first year of his administration.
·    On January 5, 2008, Obama insulted Hillary Clinton by sneering she was “likable enough.”
·    On April 6, 2008, he said at a San Francisco fundraiser that “it’s not surprising that he wasn’t winning the votes of working-class whites in the Democrat Party” because… they cling to their guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment.”
·    On August 22, 2009, Obama remarked that the Cambridge police had acted “stupidly” by arresting a disorderly Harvard professor.
·    In February 2010 at the health-care summit, Obama could not hide his contempt when Obama dismissed McCain by sniping that “The election’s over,” as though the four-term senator had no legitimate grounds for opposition.
·    On the June 13, 2011 meeting of the President’s jobs council, Obama confessed “Shovel ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected.”
·    On March 26, 2012, Obama confided to Russian Dmitri Medvedev that a second term would give him “more flexibility” to negotiate away America’s missile defenses, nuclear arsenal, and interest in democracy and human rights.
·    At a June 8, 2012 press conference, he said “The private sector is doing fine” to explain away the anemic private sector job creation, minimal GDP growth, stagnant wages and incomes, weakening manufacturing, record-low yields on U.S. Treasuries, and the longest sustained period of over 8% unemployment since the Great Depression.
·    On July 13, 2012, Obama said “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Since 2007, Obama has tried to maintain a façade of positivity, nationalism, and mainstream goodwill, even as he harbors ideas, attitudes, and reflexes peculiar to a highly educated and overly compensated legal, corporate, and cultural elite.  The foundation of his appeal is eroding.  Obama’s favorability ratings are down.  Democrat enthusiasm is down.  The only one to blame for demolishing his dazzling countenance is Obama himself, and the more he speaks away from the tele-prompter the clearer the image becomes.
(“Wreck-It Barack” by Matthew Continetti dated July 27, 2012 published by The Washington Free Beacon at http://freebeacon.com/wreck-it-barack/ )
The social experiment that was Barack Obama’s election and Presidency is over, because he has failed at just about everything he has attempted.  Most Democrats voted for Obama in 2008, but none at this point is inclined to vote for him in 2012 because they view him as an abject failure across the board and have decided to put the welfare of their families and themselves before the empty rhetoric of the Obama campaign before it’s too late.  The majority of journalists lean left politically, but not one believes Obama is going to win re-election.  Mitt Romney may be a weak candidate, but they are still convinced that he will comfortably defeat Obama on November 6th.  These liberal and jaded journalists privately admit that Obama has been exposed for what he is: an overhyped, self-invented candidate with no real-world experience who has been frozen into inaction by the enormity of the office he holds.  Obama has no domestic policy to speak of.  He has no foreign policy to speak of.  He has no jobs program to speak of.  His signature health care plan is driving doctors out of the field, crippling small businesses and putting thousands of Americans out of work.  The Obama of 2012 has nothing positive to run on.  He knows it; he knows his election and Presidency were social engineering gone wrong.  He knows that he has run out of all options but one: Go negative on Mitt Romney 24/7 and hope a heretofore compromised mainstream media will once again unethically act as his surrogate.  In 2008, Obama was an unformed piece of pottery clay molded into shape by his own false rhetoric combined with a media narrative that sought to canonize him in anticipation of having his face carved into Mount Rushmore.  Today, in 2012, Barack Obama stands on his own, an unqualified man who did not have the gifts to grow into the presidency, and the social experiment that was Barack Obama’s election and Presidency is coming to its natural and expected conclusion.
(“Barack Obama ’s Runs On Empty and Toward Defeat” by Douglas MacKinnon dated August 3, 2012 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/article/620954/201208031733/barack-obama-heads-for-a-loss-in-november.htm )
The U.S. economy grew at a slothful 1.5% in the second quarter and way below the level needed to create new jobs as workers and small businesses are losing hope.  Despite our $16 trillion in debt and a bloated federal deficit of $1.2 trillion, Obama and the Democrats keep telling us that we need more spending and intervention in the economy for it to reach “escape velocity,” as if the economy were a rocket ship or something.  The economy needs to grow 3% or more just to sop up the 130,000 new workforce entrants each month – accomplished only twice since 2008.  Today, our economy is roughly $13.56 trillion in size, adjusting for inflation.  If we had grown at just the median 15.1% rate, our economy would be $15.34 trillion in size – a $1.78 trillion difference.  The failure of Keynesian stimulus and Obama’s socialist meddling in our economy is clear.  The President’s class warfare economic rhetoric and policies are pushing the country perilously close to a double-dip recession.  Unemployment has remained above 8% for 42 straight months.  The total number of unemployed, officially 13 million, is really closer to 28 million when you count discouraged workers and those who can find only part-time work.  Yet, Obama continues to slam the door on the entrepreneurs who create small businesses and 80% of all new jobs and rather than help them, Obama and the Democrats threaten to hike their taxes.  Small business is in crisis, but help isn’t on the way with 300 new regulations pending, each with a job-killing annual cost topping $100 million.  Small businesses today spend more than $10,000 per worker on regulatory costs, and it’s only getting worse.  Meanwhile, Obama’s planned tax hikes will hit 1.2 million small businesses and kill 710,000 jobs.  No matter how the White House spins it, the latest disappointing GDP report shows Americans continue to lose ground under Obama, with the election only three months away!
(“Americans Lose Ground Under Obama’s Failed Policies” dated July 27, 2012 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/article/620162/201207271900/americans-are-losing-ground-under-obama-polices.htm )
We are currently in the most anemic economic recovery in the memory of most Americans with declining consumer sentiment and business concerns over policy uncertainty weighing on the minds of all of us and we must fix our economy’s growth and jobs machine.  We must have vastly different policies aimed at stopping runaway federal spending and debt, reforming our tax code and entitlement programs, and scaling back costly regulations.  Those policies cannot be found in the President’s proposals, but they are the core of Governor Romney’s plan for economic recovery and renewal.  In response to the recession, the Obama administration chose to emphasize costly, short-term fixes, ineffective stimulus programs, myriad housing programs that went nowhere, and a rush to invest in “green” companies.  As a consequence, uncertainty over policy, particularly over tax and regulatory policy, slowed the recovery and limited job creation.  The Romney economic plan would  change the direction of policy to increase GDP and job creation now and going forward.  The governor’s plan puts growth and recovery first, and it stands on four main pillars:
·    Stop runaway federal spending and debt - reduce federal spending as a share of GDP to 20% by 2016.
·    Reform the nation’s tax code to increase growth and job creation – reduce individual marginal income rates by 20%, reduce corporate income tax rate to 25%, and maintain low tax rates on dividends and capital gains.
·    Reform entitlement programs to ensure their viability - reduce growth in Social Security and Medicare benefits for more affluent seniors, give more choice in Medicare programs and benefits to improve value in health-care spending, and  block grant the Medicaid program to states to enable experimentation.
·    Make growth and cost-benefit analysis important features of regulation - remove regulatory impediments to energy production and innovation, repeal and replace the Dodd–Frank legislation, and repeal and replace ObamaCare.
In contrast to the sclerosis and joblessness of the past three years, the Romney plan offers an economic U-turn in ideas and choices.  When bolstered by sound trade, education, energy and monetary policy, the Romney reform program is expected speed up the current recovery, enabling the private sector to create 200,000 to 300,000 jobs per month, or about 12 million new jobs in a Romney first term, and millions more after that due to the plan’s long-run growth effects.
(“The Romney Plan for Economic Recovery” by Glenn Hubbard dated August 1, 2012 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443687504577562842656362660.html )
Disability payments from Social Security have evolved into a lifeline and an economic trap for millions of unemployed Americans threatening the program with insolvency in just four short years.  Created decades ago to help those unable to work because of severe health problems, the $128 billion program stops many from sliding into total poverty and inflicting further damage on the economy.  More Americans qualified for disability than found jobs over the past three months, and since 2000, the number of beneficiaries rose by 73%, even though the workforce rose by less than 10%.  Of the 8.7 million beneficiaries, federal officials claim the vast majority, with some estimates as high as 99%, will never rejoin the workforce and remain dependent on the federal government.  Jobless Americans over the age of 50 with little savings increasingly apply for disability as their 99-weeks of unemployment runs out.  SSDI continues until the beneficiary is old enough to collect Social Security.  Both the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans say that they are weighing reforms to salvage the finances of the disability system before the politics of the issue harden along partisan lines.  Guidelines for those suffering from mental disorders and muscle pain, about 67% of all beneficiaries, were last updated in 1985, shortly after Congress liberalized the screening process.  The GAO indicated that the government could narrow the health eligibility standards for receiving disability.  Stricter criteria would limit enrollment and reduce the costs.  The growing number of people on disability and other federal benefits, combined with weak economic growth, raises serious doubts about the sustainability of the American economy.
(“Disability Benefits Program is Going Broke” by Josh Boak dated July 27, 2012 published by The Fiscal Times at http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/07/27/Disability-Benefit-Program-Is-Going-Broke.aspx#page1 )
No one has any idea what the Middle East will look like next year, much less in five years, so all we have to guide our foreign policy is a set of constants.  Amid this daily chaos in the Middle East, there are a handful of constants that can guide U.S. foreign policy:
·    Arab governments, whether they take the form of one-man authoritarianism, monarchy, or theocracy, will remain anti-Israel. The region’s unrepentant embrace of anti-Semitism, resentment over the economic power and success of Israel, and longstanding anger at the establishment of a Jewish state in the heart of the Arab Middle East trump all ephemeral changes in government.
·    The Arab Middle East will remain anti-American. American aid; generous U.S. immigration policies for Muslims and Arabs; loud support for democratic movements; the removal of Saddam Hussein and Moammar Qaddafi; past help to the Iraqis, Kuwaitis, Egyptians, Palestinians, and Jordanians; prior efforts to protect Muslims in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Somalia — all that earns little, if any, goodwill.
·    Oil, one way or another, will still affect all strategic thinking. Over the next decade, the huge new reserves of oil and natural gas found in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico will, if fully exploited, revolutionize the fossil-fuel supplies of North America.
·    Nuclear proliferation may become immune to international scrutiny. There is simply too much turmoil in the Middle East for the international community to monitor and control the spread of nuclear weapons.
·    We will have not a single ally in any effort to influence Middle East change. Attempts to curry favor in Russia, China, Turkey, and the United Nations have all failed.
We should restore close relations with an Israel that is becoming wealthier and stronger all the time, and is the only consistently pro-American, democratic nation in the entire region.  The Obama administration has demonstrated that any hint of daylight between the U.S. and Israel does not win over the Arab world, but only persuades it that Israel is more vulnerable.  The wisest course will be to depersonalize our Middle East policy and simply state that the U.S., to the extent that it weighs in on the turmoil, supports constitutional government (rather than plebiscites): To the degree that a society is transparent, respects human rights, and remains consensual, we support it; to the degree that it does not, we are more likely to oppose it.  The U.S. must fast-track energy exploration, especially via the leasing of resource-rich federal land, the completion of the Keystone pipeline, and drilling in well-established oil-rich areas offshore and in Alaska.  If North America does become energy independent, the entire continent will be both richer and safer.  Now is not the time to cut our strategic arsenal or to prune back missile defense.  The danger is not the loss of our own nuclear deterrence, but any sign that the U.S. feels somehow that its arsenal is redundant.  We should worry not just that Egypt or a Gulf state might go nuclear in response to Iran, but that a half-dozen nations might.  America’s message to the Middle East must be that an attack on the U.S. or its interests would not only be futile but would ensure an overwhelmingly destructive response.  All that should remain constant is American support for a pro-Western, free-market, and constitutional Arab world, an inseparable alliance with Israel, an end to importation of Middle Eastern energy, and an America with clear military dominance.
(“The Muddle East” by Victor Davis Hanson dated July 31, 2012 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/312699/muddle-east-victor-davis-hanson )
About The Author David Coughlin:
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).
Website:http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/

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