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Views on the News

May 12, 2012

Views on the News*  

There is a glaring disconnect between the conventional wisdom, which still maintains that Obama has a slight edge in the electoral-map math, and the fundamentals pointing to the probability of a decisive defeat for the President.  This Presidential election is coming down to two immutable facts that have become increasingly clear as November draws closer: President Obama will be running for a second term under a stagnant economy, and his two most significant legislative accomplishments, health care reform and a job-goosing stimulus, remain deeply unpopular.  It doesn’t take a professional pundit to recognize that’s a very tough ticket for reelection.  Obama’s scores on the economy are worsening, even as voters still have mixed feelings on who’s to blame.  The Battleground survey found Republicans leading Democrats by 2 points on the generic Congressional ballot.  The other red flag for the President is the waning enthusiasm of his base—college-age voters, African-Americans, and Hispanics.  The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that fewer than half of voters (45%) ages 18-34 expressed a high interest in the election, down 17 points from the same time four years ago.  Democrat enthusiasm overall is down 16 points from 2008, and it now lags behind the GOP.  This is critical, because, for Obama, excitement is as important as persuasion.  Actions speak louder than spin, and the moves of Obama’s campaign officials indicate they are awfully worried about their prospects.  The most recent telltale sign is that they went up with an early, expensive $25 million ad buy in nine swing states, attempting to reintroduce the President in the best possible way.  Obama’s campaign officials can’t utilize the time-tested “are you better than you were four years ago” message because it doesn’t ring true, so they have to argue things are getting a little better and the administration needs more time.  It shows how limited the Obama playbook is this time around: mobilize the base, lambaste the opposition, and hope enough independents will hold their nose and vote for him.  It’s hard to believe that Obama’s campaign is confident of victory and more likely, campaign officials are putting on an awfully good game face in light of what promises to be a very challenging reelection and a real possibility that the incumbent President and his Party will be swept from office in November.

(“Obama, the Underdog” by Josh Kraushaar dated May 8, 2012 published by National Journal at http://nationaljournal.com/columns/against-the-grain/obama-the-underdog-20120508 )

In 2008, young voters were inspired by Barack Obama and helped elect him President, but Obama’s failure to live up to his promise (and his promises) has led to widespread disillusionment not only among the young, but with voters of all ages who were captivated by him four years ago.  Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney now has the opportunity to claim the mantle of idealism that Obama has fumbled, and in so doing, Romney could capture a significant and potentially decisive share of the voters who handed Obama the Presidency last time out.  Obama’s supposed idealism has been unmasked for its hollowness, shallowness and callowness.  We were promised post-partisanship but have been subjected to hyper-partisanship instead.  There are few groups that have been hurt more by the President’s policies than the idealistic young people who so fervently supported him.  It is the young, after all, who will be used as the piggy bank to fund ObamaCare if it survives, and who will be burdened by the unconscionable levels of debt that this administration has run up.  More than half of college graduates under 25 are now unemployed or underemployed; it is likely that many are losing the “hope” that drove them to the polls in 2008.  It is now incumbent upon Romney to offer a hopeful, youthful, idealistic and optimistic vision of conservatism.  It would be an effective way to expose and counter the cynicism masquerading as idealism that has been churning out of the Obama campaign machine.  Conservatism can offer a home for the frustrated idealism of liberals who ultimately discover the logical contradictions of their beliefs.  I’ve noticed that conservatives are more focused on what they’re for and liberals are more focused on who they’re for.  A person is likely to define himself as a conservative, for example, because he stands for the free market, liberty, limited government and strong national defense.  A person is likely to define himself as a liberal, on the other hand, because he’s for the middle class, the poor, working people, women, minorities, etc.  That difference in approach explains why it is possible for conservative policies to be the best way to achieve liberal ideals.  Liberals typically attack conservative policies on the basis of their supposed impacts on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society.  Conservatives should not back down from defending their policies, and attacking liberal policies, on those very terms.  Liberal policies are emasculating our private sector and bankrupting our public sector.  This is impeding the creation of jobs in struggling communities, and will cripple the ability of government to provide a proper safety net in the future.  The people who will be hurt most by Obamanomics are the very people that it is supposedly designed to help, because the rich will be fine in spite of Obamanomics; the poor will not.  Romney understands the importance of seizing the mantle of idealism from our faltering President, and not merely running as a highly competent technocrat.

(“A hopeful, youthful, idealistic and optimistic conservatism” by David Cohen dated May 3, 2012 published by Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2012/05/03/a-hopeful-youthful-idealistic-and-optimistic-conservatism/ )

 

You very seldom hear Obama talk about his record, which is especially noteworthy because like him or hate him, Obama has passed a lot of legislation, but nevertheless Obama is a failed President because his policies haven't worked.  If Obama had actually produced results, the country would look very different today:

·    Obama promised to restart the economy with his trillion dollar stimulus spending and lower the unemployment rate, but instead unemployment has remained above 8% for more than 3 years now and the economic recovery remains stalled.

·    Obama promised not to leave our children a debt they cannot repay, but instead out-of-control spending has accelerated and the U.S. credit rating has been downgraded.

·    Obama spent more than 75 billion dollars to directly address the mortgage crisis, but Obama has accomplished very little of significance to help most homeowners over the long term or to prevent a future housing crisis.

·    Obama touts General Motors as a success story, but taxpayers lost 14 billion dollars on the deal while GM received a special 45 billion dollar tax break.

·    Obama spent hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars to promote the Chevy Volt and said he had a goal of seeing a million electric cars in the U.S. by 2015, but a meager 7,700 Volts were sold last year, before production was halted this year.

·    ObamaCare was supposed to reduce the deficit, give almost universal coverage, and everyone was supposed to be able to keep his own health care plan, but instead ObamaCare will add 700 billion dollars to the deficit over its first 10 years, 3-5 million people will lose their health care, and 30 million people still won’t have health coverage.

·    Obama attacked Bush for high gas prices and promised alternative fuels as a viable alternative, but instead gasoline has doubled to $3.80 per gallon.

·    Mexican criminals are supposed to be in jail today because of Operation Fast and Furious, but instead, the Obama Administration ended up putting guns in the hands of Mexican cartels while Eric Holder tries to cover up their incompetence.

·    Obama promised to win in Afghanistan, but instead military advice on the conduct of the war was ignored and the only guarantee was when the U.S. would leave.

·    Hillary Clinton tried to "reset" relations with the Russians, but instead Russia is helping Iran build nuclear weapons and threatening pre-emptive attacks.

For the first time in his political career Obama is being held accountable for his actions and the results are abysmal and lag far behind voters expectations.

(“10 Things That Would Be Happening Today If Obama’s Policies Were Working” by John Hawkins dated May 4, 2012 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2012/05/04/10_things_that_would_be_happening_today_if_obamas_policies_were_working )

It is clear that the entire re-elect Obama operation likes its odds of winning a second term based on a strategy to defeat the man, Mitt Romney, rather than run on Obama’s record.  The informal slogan is essentially “Be confident, but take nothing for granted.”  Despite the dangers of high unemployment and gas prices, Mitt Romney faces four major barriers to winning the big prize.

·    First, in the view of the Obamans, Romney is still a weak candidate. The belief is that Barack Obama has a better personality and better marketing. Obama’s team is sitting on a multimedia treasure trove of research and expects to launch powerful missiles at key moments throughout the campaign.

·    Second, they maintain, their research suggests Romney has exactly one rhetorical path to victory, as a can-do businessman able to fix what’s broken. The key is to focus on dismantling Romney and prevent the election from becoming a referendum on the President’s economic tenure.

·    Third, the Obama team argues, Romney has taken many positions to the right of public opinion. The President’s team plans to throw two years’ worth of provocative statements in Romney’s face, using sophisticated micro-targeting to impacted demographics.

·    Fourth and finally, Presidential politics, in the end, is all about the Electoral College. The Obama campaign’s analysis, matching recent media number crunching, indicates that Romney has a paper-thin margin of error to get to the magical 270.

Nevertheless, the Obamans are quite aware of challenges bred by three years of incumbency.  Among voters, disappointment has replaced hope; change has been as rare as good economic news.  Those job and fuel numbers are especially toxic.  Romney has the luxury of an open schedule.  Although without the gilded mantle of the Presidency, he can spend every waking hour as a full-time candidate, while the President is required to do his day job.  Obama’s team expects one-upmanship and fireworks when their magnetic, fired-up leader hits the road, including some planned spring and summer battleground bus trips, but lately Obama’s magnetism has faded and he no longer draws the crowds like he did in 2008 when he was all promise and no missed expectations.

(“Why the Obama Campaign Is So Confident About Beating Romney” by Mark Halperin dated May 7, 2012 published by Time at http://swampland.time.com/2012/05/07/the-view-from-one-prudential-plaza-why-the-obama-campaign-is-so-confident/ )

 

The now-infamous “Cloward-Piven Strategy” outlined by Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven in 1966 proposed a clear roadmap to socialism: get so many people addicted to government entitlements that the economic system collapses, and in the resulting chaos the populace will demand and vote for a new economic system in which everyone is supported by the state.  Sounds logical (if nefarious), and President Obama seems hell-bent on bringing it to fruition in the United States.  The problem for Obama’s inner socialist is that he’s also required for appearance’s sake to attempt a rescue of the American economy using Keynesian principles.  This self-cancelling combo-strategy is the underlying cause of our economic stagnation.  President Obama is simultaneously trying to rescue the economy using the Keynesian/Democratic model while at the same time also trying to destroy the economy through the Cloward-Piven Strategy.  His two mutually contradictory plans cancel each other out, rendering all his efforts self-negating, and this explains why the American economy has stalled.  This strategy should be called the Obama-Piven Strategy and is the reason why we remain mired in a deep recession.  We are neither recovering, as the Keynesian model predicts, nor is capitalism collapsing, as the revolutionaries hope; the Obama-Piven strategy ensures that we remain in suspended animation between the two extremes.  This explains what is happening in Europe.  Voters in both France and Greece, two countries ruinously addicted to government entitlements, rejected the “austerity” model of debt-reduction and instead doubled down on unsustainable spending sprees.  Exactly as Cloward and Piven had surmised, once you get 50+% of the population hooked on “free” government money, there’s no turning back, they will vote for socialists every time.  Once enough voters are on the dole, regardless of your party’s ideology or what label it has, you will win elections if you promise to keep the free money flowing.  This was Cloward-Piven’s point, and they turned out to be frighteningly correct.  It seems that if they were left to their own devices, both France and Greece are willing to ignore reality and plunge headfirst into a completely unsustainable socialist model.  The question is whether Obama’s policies over the last four years have addicted enough people to food stamps and Social Security disability payments and unemployment benefits and so many other entitlement programs that we as a nation will go the route of France and vote for the guy who promises to keep the drugs flowing, regardless of the consequences?

 (“Cloward-Piven Strategy Working Perfectly – in Europe” by Zombie dated May 6, 2012 published by PJ Media at http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2012/05/06/cloward-piven-strategy-working-perfectly-in-europe/ )

 

The political left has no solutions to our most pressing problems: whether the issue is economic growth or runaway entitlement spending or non-performing public schools, left-of-center solutions were tried and found wanting here and abroad during the last century.  Further, the only solutions that seem to work today are right-of-center, requiring privatization, individual empowerment and free markets.  For Barack Obama the problem is even worse.  If the election is about the economy or government regulation of the economy, or whether bigger government or smaller government is the solution to what ails the economy, the President is almost certain to lose.  So leftist make up a problem whose only solution appears to be higher taxes and bigger government.  That’s where inequality comes in because it’s a way to change the subject.  It’s a way to find a scapegoat to blame (explicitly or implicitly) for the problems at hand.  It’s a way to distract attention away from the fact that the President is not solving our problems (and even making them worse!) toward people who are not generally loved.  It’s also a way to justify a more active role for government.  Barack Obama has obviously learned from that experience: High gasoline prices are a political problem, so blame the oil companies; Families are hurting, so blame the rich; and People are not successful finding a job, so blame the most successful 1%.  There is nothing new about any of this.  The tactic of finding a scapegoat to blame for our problems and using the argument to justify more government power is as old as politics itself.  Barack Obama is an expert at political distract and distort, but campaign theatrics will not be enough this election and his re-election is in jeopardy, with the economy continuing to suffer and America ‘s reputation destroyed abroad.

(“The Politics of Envy” by John C. Goodman dated May 5, 2012 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/johncgoodman/2012/05/05/the_politics_of_envy )

 

The core economic model of the American left is Keynesianism, which is less a viable economic path than it is an unrealistic pipe dream that stirs the collectivist's blood, much like the notions of world peace and Utopia.  Keynesianism is a model based upon how collectivists think the economy should operate, rather than how it actually operates.  It is based on a pleasant hypothesis that a central government can stimulate demand and shorten economic downturns for stabilized prosperity, but unfortunately it doesn’t work in practice.  The facts surrounding his economic policy are simply not useful for anything but arguing the same policy's ineffectiveness.  Keynesianism always fail when employed wholesale as an economic strategy.  Obama's stimulus was based on this Keynesian economic model, and it allocated expected future taxpayer money to achieve short-term stimulus.  The Obama administration posited that future revenue should be used to stimulate consumerism and get employment back to where it should be, but clearly, that hasn't happened.  What has happened, however, is that the federal government share of GDP increased from 19% in 2008 to 24% by 2011, and this administration will have grown the federal budget by 16.5% by the time its first term ends, barring any new stimulus.  This significantly increases taxpayer liability, which all but ensures the need for higher taxes.  And higher taxes lead to depressed consumer demand, which does not stimulate the growth of capital in a free market, but instead it thwarts it.  You may spend less, and you may save more, but spending patterns will be affected.  They generally embrace a "zero elasticity view of the world."  They believe that "people will behave after taxes just as they behaved before taxes and the only effect of taxes is more revenue."  In other words, they think we are cogs in a government-run economic machine operated by bureaucratic tinkers working for a greater good, rather than individuals who operate within individual circumstances.  That is why collectivists love Keynesianism and hate supply-side economics.  Keynesian economics, like socialism, Marxism, and fascism, can work only in the absence of individualism.  And this is simply not a realistic expectation unless individualism is forcefully repressed.  Rather, human nature dictates that individualism will be expressed in a free society, and along with it will come varying levels of ambition and ability and, ultimately, success.  Individualism is reality and it cannot be ignored simply because it is an inconvenient consideration and yet that is precisely what Keynesian economists do and that is precisely why many recognize that Keynesian economists fail.

(“Keynesianism and the Collectivist Dream” by William Sullivan dated May 3, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/05/keynesianism_and_the_collectivist_dream.html )

 

The nation faces an unprecedented tidal wave of tax hikes on January 1, 2013, aptly called “Taxmageddon,” costing nearly $500 billion the tax hike is so massive that accomplishing what many regarded as impossible: consensus that at least most of this tax hike must be prevented.  The debate is really only about how much and when.  At the same time, there is a growing consensus in favor of tax reform.  There is a correct two-step sequencing to prevent all tax hikes now while working on and for tax reform in 2013.  On January 1, 2013, among other unfortunate tax consequences:

·    Income tax rates shoot up,

·    The child credit is cut in half,

·    The marriage penalty roars back,

·    The capital gains tax rate goes up,

·    The dividend tax rate soars,

·    The payroll tax rate jumps two percentage points,

·    The death tax is restored to its punitive past,

·    The Alternative Minimum Tax relief expires, and

·    A uniquely pernicious additional payroll tax hike from ObamaCare takes effect.

Collectively, this would by far be the largest tax hike in history.  The effects on families and businesses would be devastating; the effects on the economy no less so.  Congress can’t wait until after the election to act.  Taxpayers deserve more respect from their elected officials than being left in doubt about facing a massive tax hike, and the economy also needs better tax certainty.  True tax reform generally involves reducing the tax bias against saving and investment.  While preventing “Taxmageddon” is not tax reform, failing to prevent “Taxmageddon” runs directly and substantially counter to fundamental tax reform.  Congress should be aware that preventing the massive tax hikes of “Taxmageddon” and advancing tax reform are related but separate issues, and, by virtue of the calendar and electoral context, they should be addressed separately and in the proper order: First up should be preventing “Taxmageddon,” then, Congress should use the ensuing window of time to advance tax reform.

(“The 2012 Tax Policy Two-Step: Taxmageddon, Then Tax Reform” by J.D. Foster dated May 9, 2012 published by The Heritage Foundation at http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/05/2012-tax-policy-two-step-taxmageddon-then-tax-reform )

 

The President's defense strategy creates a hollow force and worsens our readiness crisis because big cuts mean weakening the military's ability to fulfill its constitutional duty to provide for the common defense.  The President's victory lap in Afghanistan on the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of the Navy SEALs "an attempt to shore up his national security credentials, because he has spent the past three years gutting our military."  Barack Obama has exhibited a hostility to military preparedness even greater than that of Jimmy Carter, who left successor Ronald Reagan with a legacy of ships that couldn't sail and planes the couldn't fly for lack of parts and crew.  Obama, who betrayed Poland and Czechoslovakia on missile defense and shut down key weapon systems like the F-22 Raptor, has vowed to veto any changes to the mandated cuts, including $650 billion from defense as called for by the Budget Control Act over the next decade.  That cut comes on top of $460 billion in defense cuts already agreed to, a total of $1.1 trillion in defense cuts our commander in chief is OK with:

·    Since Obama took office, over 50 major weapons programs of more than $300 billion have been cut or delayed.

·    The House Armed Services Committee says the cumulative cuts will result in Army and Marine Corps losing 200,000 troops.

·    The Navy will shrink from 300 ships to 238 vessels and would lose two carrier battle groups needed to project American power and influence.

·    Strategic bombers will fall from 153 to 101.

·    Air Force fighters would drop by more than half, from 3,602 aircraft to 1,512 planes.

These are real cuts, both in spending and in military capability.  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned, "Very simply, (further cuts) would result in hollowing out the force," alluding to reductions made in the aftermath of the Vietnam War that left Army units undermanned and ill-equipped and "It would terribly weaken our ability to respond to the threats in the world" and now we have Barack Hussein Obama, disarmer in chief.

(“Obama Hollows Out Military: Tanks for the Memories” dated May 4, 2012 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://news.investors.com/article/610448/201205041853/obama-defebse-cuts-hollow-out-military.htm )

 

* There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news.  I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning.  Updates have been made this week to the following issue sections:

·  Philosophy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/philosophy.php

·  Budget at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/budget.php

·  Environment at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/environment.php

·  Environment at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/environment.php

·  Homeland Security at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/homelandsecurity.php

·  Terrorism at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/terrorism.php

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

www.ReturnToCommonSensesite.com