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Views on the News

May 21, 2011

Views on the News*

The Presidential race has officially begun and if you’re a liberal this is likely to be the best part of the political season, since Obama will never be as politically strong as he is now while he faces no clear opposition. Getting the public to buy into a political campaign is not done through compelling facts or undeniable logic but through repetition of presentation. Repeat something as fact over and over and in time, even the most ridiculous things appear to be true. This Presidential cycle has an abundance of rather low budget but highly effective media-driven stories taking place. While Barack Obama has no clear competitors, he is framed as invincible. According to the mainstream media narrative being spun to the public only kryptonite could weaken his chance at a second term. To strengthen the believability of Obama’s invincibility is the denigration of the still-forming Republican pool of presidential candidates. If a potential candidate decides not to run, they are framed as the best chance the Republican Party had to win. Republicans, such as Sarah Palin, that have not yet decided on a run are demonized as being indecisive. Those that have made the decision to enter the race are framed as unworthy for a litany of reasons. The problem for the media is that this initial period of the Presidential race will soon end and focus will be placed more evenly among the political candidates, including the President himself. The President’s bump in the polls from the Osama bin Laden liquidation will subside and Barack Obama will be left with high unemployment, out-of-control national debt, an albatross in his forced healthcare and no good alternatives to explain his way out of it. At election time, the majority of people who ask themselves if they are better off now than they were four years ago are going to say no. The less media-driven story is that Barack Obama’s best chance to be re-elected is ironically a matter that is also out of his hands. When the B-rated theatrics of the media are stripped away, Obama will be re-elected only if Republicans refuse to place a true conservative candidate to oppose him. Despite what viewers will hear and see over the coming months from the liberal media, the country yearns for the Anti-Obama, a true conservative to lead the country from the brink of economic and moral destruction. The further a candidate is ideologically from Barack Obama, and the clearer that difference can be articulated to the American people, the more likely Republicans will win the presidency in 2012. 

(“The Beatable Obama: The Less Media-driven Story” by Paul Ibbetson dated May 17, 2011 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/36600 )

 

When President Obama said that "spending equals stimulus," he betrayed a shocking level of economic ignorance and the results of the stimulus bill prove this lack of knowledge. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus bill) created or saved 443,000 government jobs and 92,000 non-HELP service jobs, but it destroyed or forestalled 772,000 HELP jobs and 362,000 goods-producing positions for a net loss of 1.042 million private jobs. State and local government jobs were saved because stimulus funds were largely used to offset state revenue shortfalls and Medicaid increases rather than boost private sector employment. The goods-producing industries have completely failed to benefit from the stimulus spending and the Obama administration's other misguided policies. The majority of destroyed / forestalled jobs were in growth industries including health, education, professional and business services. The bottom line is that the American people borrowed and spent close to a trillion dollars to destroy a net of more than one-half million jobs – America deserves much more from its government.

(“A Verdict on Obama’s ‘Stimulus’ Plan” by John Hinderaker, Scott Johnson, and Paul Mirengoff dated May 15, 2011 published by Power Line at http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2011/05/029042.php

Good News: Obama’s ‘Stimulus’ Cost ONLY 595,000 Jobs!” by John Lillpop dated May 17, 2011 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/36584 )

 

The fact is the jobs numbers that create so much anticipation from the business press and so many pundit pronouncements do not give a clear picture of the labor market's health. A better understanding requires an examination of hires and separations, or what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) data. Here are some surprising facts:

·    The increase in job growth that occurred over the past two years results from a decline in the number of layoffs, not from increased hiring. The number of hires is the same today as it was when we were shedding jobs at record rates. We added jobs because hires exceeded separations, not because hiring increased.

·    The U.S. labor force has more than 150 million workers or job seekers. In a typical year, about one-third of the work force turns over, leaving their old jobs to take new ones.

·    In a healthy labor market like the one that prevailed in 2006 and early 2007, American firms hire about 5.5 million workers per month. Recall that the current number of hires is four million and it has not moved much from where it was two years ago.

·    The combination of low hiring and a large stock of unemployed workers, now 13.7 million, means that the competition for jobs is fierce. Because there are now many more unemployed workers, and because hiring is only about 70% of 2006 levels, a worker is about one-third as likely to find a job today as he or she was in 2006.

·    No one would suggest that layoffs are good for workers, but what is good is a fluid labor market, where workers and firms constantly seek to produce better products and to find more efficient ways to produce them. It generally means that workers are moving to better jobs in growing sectors that pay higher wages and away from declining sectors that pay lower wages.

The prescription for the American labor market is simple: low taxes on capital investment, avoidance of excessively burdensome regulation, and open markets here and abroad. We must create a climate in which investment is profitable, productivity is rising, and employers find it profitable to increase their hiring rate.

(“Why the Job Market Feels So Dismal” by Edward P. Lazear dated May 16, 2011 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703730804576317142210698436.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop )

Much of the American public has soured on the large government bailouts of the recent financial crisis, a verdict that bailout proponents consider unfair, but it is hard to render a final accounting of damage done or disaster averted while the U.S. government continues to hold large ownership stakes in major firms. The Obama administration is gambling that, with time, the firms will flourish, the stocks will rise, and the interventions will be vindicated, but it is placing these high-stakes bets with taxpayer funds. The federal government’s investment in General Motors has been a money-losing endeavor, but the government may make matter worse by extracting itself too soon. It has cost the government, on balance, to stand up the revived automaker between $10 and $20 billion. When all is said and done, we will probably have given them a sum equal to (GM’s) 2007 market cap and roughly four times GM's 2008 market capitalization. The question of how much U.S. taxpayers will ultimately lose requires some guesswork, in part because the federal government still holds a large stake, even after GM’s initial public offering last November. GM went public at $33 per share and rose to $35 almost immediately. After more time has passed and GM has extended its streak of profitable quarters, the stock was trading around $31.40. The biggest concern is that the government will hold onto its shares as a means of gambling for redemption. This political gamble, however, puts taxpayer funds at risk and perpetuates all the troubling aspects of having the government as a part owner of major American firms. Other parts of the government’s large stock portfolio have similar risks. The Treasury may pull out of the sale of American International Group (AIG) stock if the sale would occur at a loss. The story reports that the source of concern is a one-third fall in AIG’s share price this year. Presumably, a stock sale delay would be based on the confidence that the current price trend will be reversed, but the share price also can continue to fall as the federal government learns the stock market lesson called risk.

(“The Feds as Stock Speculators” by Philip I. Levy dated May 15, 2011 published by The American Magazine at http://www.american.com/archive/2011/may/the-feds-as-stock-speculators )

 

Runaway spending and deficits continue to grow unabated in part because any attempts to rein them in are relentlessly demagogued by the liberal defenders of big government. The latest example is the budget recently authored by House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan and passed by the House of Representatives. Most critics have failed to provide any credible Democrat alternative to the House budget, yet that has not stopped them from relentlessly misrepresenting the House budget with the following myths:

·    Myth: The House budget recklessly cuts taxes by $4 trillion - Fact: It cancels a future tax increase. What critics call a $4 trillion “tax cut” is actually the cancellation of a $4 trillion tax increase that is currently scheduled to go into effect in 2013.

·    Myth: The House budget increases the deficit by giving tax cuts to the rich - Fact: The proposed change is a revenue-neutral tax reform plan that simplifies the tax code. The House tax plan proposes reducing the top individual and corporate tax rates from 35% to 25% raising the same amount of revenue year by year as does current policy.

·    Myth: The House budget represents only minor deficit reduction - Fact: It substantially reduces both short- and long-term budget deficits. The main deficit reduction consists of $5.8 trillion in spending reductions over the next decade, including $1 trillion from phasing down overseas contingency operations, $1.6 trillion from non-defense discretionary spending, $2.2 trillion from repealing ObamaCare and block-granting Medicaid, and $1 trillion from other entitlement and net interest savings. The House budget would quickly stabilize the debt around 70% of GDP before reducing it to just 10% by 2050.

·    Myth: The House budget exaggerates the long-term spending challenge - Fact: The challenge is real and potentially calamitous. The CBO estimates that the absence of fundamental entitlement reform would push the debt to levels that would create an economic catastrophe.

·    Myth: The House budget balances the budget on the backs of seniors - Fact: Current and near-retirees are exempt from reforms. Included in this plan is a provision protecting those currently older than age 55 by exempting them from any future changes to their Social Security and Medicare benefits.

·    Myth: The House budget would privatize Medicare and hand seniors vouchers - Fact: Seniors would receive government support to purchase health insurance coverage on a tightly regulated government exchange system. Under Ryan’s House budget plan, seniors would choose health plans and the government would make direct and adequate contributions to the premium cost of the plans of their choice. This “premium support” would go to Medicare-certified and -regulated plans that would compete in a Medicare “exchange,” which Ryan himself has described as “tightly regulated.”

·    Myth: Medicare is more efficient than private health insurance - Fact: Medicare’s administrative burdens are hidden and they outweigh private-sector costs. Administrative costs per person under Medicare compared to private insurance plans shows that Medicare’s administrative costs exceed those of private health insurance. Furthermore, Medicare’s administrative costs do not include the enormous costs of provider compliance with massive Medicare red tape and paperwork. One administrative cost that is often overlooked is the tens of billions of dollars annually of Medicare waste, fraud, and abuse which has no comparable cost in the private sector or in the FEHBP.

·    Myth: The House budget plan would end Medicare as we know it - Fact: ObamaCare ended Medicare as we know it. Congress tasks the new ObamaCare Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation with transitioning from the current fee-for-service reimbursement system toward capitated or salary-based reimbursements. This would literally be the end of traditional Medicare fee for service “as we know it.” Both the House and Obama proposals impose external spending caps on Medicare, but the House proposal aims to control costs primarily through intense market competition, not just deeper payment cuts for Medicare providers, while preserving and enhancing the right of seniors to choose health care options.

·    Myth: The House budget plan would shift Medicaid costs to the states and hurt the poor - Fact: Medicaid block grants would help states lower Medicaid costs and provide them with the flexibility to better serve the poor. The block grant proposal would provide greater budget certainty at the federal and state levels. In addition, states would have greater flexibility and greater incentives to reduce costs and to spend their Medicaid dollars wisely to deliver better care at lower costs.

·    Myth: Most Medicare costs would continue to rise, and retirees would bear those costs with insufficient assistance - Fact: Intense market competition would reduce costs and enable Medicare patients to secure value for their dollars. The CBO predicts that under the House budget proposal the government’s share of retirees’ health care costs would decrease from currently about 70% to just 32% by 2030.

The House budget finally puts the brakes on soaring government spending. It is just what the nation needs in order to avert a debt-induced economic calamity. Budget proposal critics would do well to read the plan and understand it before criticizing it, and then put forward their alternative before dismissing it.

(“Ten Myths of Ryan’s House Budget Plan” by Brian M. Riedl, Robert E. Moffit, and Romina Boccia dated May 13, 2011 published by The Heritage Foundation at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2011/05/Ten-Myths-of-Ryans-House-Budget-Plan )

 

Discussion of energy policy has degenerated into a debate between drillers and renewers - between those who want more domestic oil exploration to the exclusion of other power sources, and those who want the U.S. to kick its petroleum habit entirely, and both sides are being unrealistic. Even with painful conservation measures and a crash program to develop alternative energy supplies, the United States will be relying on fossil fuels for many years to come. That's not oil-company propaganda. It's the conclusion of the National Academy of Sciences, which says even hundreds of billions of dollars devoted to plug-in electric cars would not change American gasoline consumption for at least a couple of decades. Suppose the U.S. could switch to an all-electric fleet overnight. Assuming the entire grid did not melt from the demand spike, the electricity would come from primarily coal-burning and nuclear power plants. Alternative energy sources such as wind and biomass are utterly incapable of generating the juice necessary to meet current demand, let alone the energy needed to power millions of cars and trucks. America consumes 22% of the world's energy but contains only 1.5% of proven petroleum reserves. Note the word "proven": It refers to the amount of commercially recoverable petroleum available under current government regulations. In other words, no matter how much petroleum someplace such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge contains, if drilling is forbidden there by federal policy then it doesn't count as part of the U.S. reserve. This argues for continued exploration and drilling, and does not argue against developing alternative energy sources. Just because we cannot meet our needs today does not mean we never will. Human ingenuity knows few limits. While wind likely will remain of limited benefit, solar energy holds great potential. The trick is figuring out how to harness it in economically feasible ways. Solar power presents challenges of its own, e.g., nightfall. The biggest obstacle to our energy solutions is environmentalists, because no matter which way the country turns, someone is standing in the way yelling, "Stop!" Given realistic projections of supply and demand, we shouldn't be arguing whether to develop this energy source or that one; we should be developing all energy sources.

(“The Future of American Energy Policy” by A. Barton Hinkle dated May 13, 2011 published by Reason Magazine at http://reason.com/archives/2011/05/13/tk )

President Obama, facing voter anger over high gasoline prices and complaints from Republicans and business leaders that his policies are restricting the development of domestic energy resources, announced that he was taking several steps to speed oil and gas drilling on public lands and waters, but he announced something similar a year ago and then stalled and obstructed any additional exploration or drilling since that time. Administration officials said the President’s announcement, which included plans for expanded drilling in Alaska and the prospect of new exploration off the Atlantic coast, was intended in part to answer those arguments, signal flexibility and demonstrate his commitment to reducing oil imports by increasing domestic production. In fact the policies announced would not have an immediate effect on supply or prices, nor would they quickly open any new areas to drilling. Obama said the administration would begin to hold annual auctions for oil and gas leases in the Alaska National Petroleum Reserve, a 23-million-acre tract on the North Slope of Alaska. The administration will also accelerate a review of the potential environmental impact of drilling off the southern and central Atlantic coast and will consider making some areas available for exploration. The move is a change from current policy, which puts the entire Atlantic Seaboard off limits to drilling until at least 2018. The President also said he would extend leases already granted for drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico that had been frozen after the BP spill last year. Extending existing oil leases as the President has proposed accomplishes nothing if the White House's environmental handcuffs won't let them be used. The extension will allow companies time to meet new safety and environmental standards without having to worry about their leases expiring. The actions signal a return to a more industry-friendly approach to offshore operations that Obama had adopted early in his presidency, though they do not reverse some of the steps the administration made to slow drilling after the gulf disaster. Hastening the review of drilling permits in Alaska and the possibility of offering parts of the Atlantic Coast for lease in the next few years, in particular, represent a significant change from the administration’s attitude toward drilling after the spill. This reversal is striking, since his administration has consistently blocked American-made energy.” The President said. “I believe that we should expand oil production in America, even as we increase safety and environmental standards.” The snail's-pace permitting process in the Gulf and elsewhere remains a de facto moratorium. What he really means is we will drill if it's safe for polar bears, caribou and West Texas lizards, and if it doesn't contribute to the "climate change" myth. Unfortunately this President has a habit of saying one thing and doing just the opposite, so the energy industry should wait and see how this policy is implemented and then judge the results whether they speed up exploration and drilling or not.

(“Obama Shifts to Speed Oil and Gas Drilling in U.S.” by John M. Broder dated May 14, 2011 published by The New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/15/us/politics/15address.html?_r=2&hp

Drill, Maybe, Drill” dated May 16, 2011 published by Investor’s Business Daily at http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/572387/201105161848/Drill-Maybe-Drill.htm )

Obama believes our immigration system is "broken," but there is nothing fundamentally wrong with our immigration laws, only with our politicians who lack the will to enforce our laws and deport those who violate them. Obama said last week in Texas “There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants here in the United States. Some crossed the border illegally. Others avoid immigration laws by overstaying their visas. Regardless of how they came, the overwhelming majority of these folks are just trying to earn a living and provide for their families.” Unfortunately Obama thinks people breaking the law to enter the United States -- or breaking it to remain here -- is really no big deal. Nothing in Obama's speech will discourage more illegal immigrants from entering the country illegally. Quite the contrary, Obama's speech will virtually ensure that many more do precisely that. Do you think it's an accident that Obama's phrase "broken immigration system" is one that's repeated in the gringo-bashing, anti-Yankee film "Machete"? Some of what Obama said could have been lifted from that movie's script. Obama should come clean and admit that what he and other advocates of "immigration reform" want isn't reform at all, but open borders to import more dependent Democrat voters.

(“Gutless politicians are broken, not the immigration system” by Gregory Kane dated may 11, 2011 published by The Washington Examiner at http://washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columnists/2011/05/gutless-politicians-are-broken-not-immigration-system )

 

Since Obama took office, America is increasingly finding itself isolated, vilified, and ignored as never before in its recent history. The heady days of "hope and change" have given way to cynicism and mockery within the international community.  There is little hesitation among world leaders and even the left-leaning global media to be openly contemptuous of the President who campaigned on fortifying American image abroad by the sheer force of his personality and self-proclaimed ability to connect with the people of the world. In the United Kingdom, Obama is viewed as indecisive and lacking any plan how to address the many problems that he has caused. Many German writers claim Obama has lost support of European leaders because he doesn't pay much attention to them.  The reality is the American president doesn't have a single strong ally among the European heads of state. The chief question numerous foreign pundits are asking: President Obama, you have lost the trust of the Arab world, destroyed confidence in American financial leadership due to your economic policies, and are forcing many Europeans and other allies to question the wisdom of relying on the U.S. President Obama is pursuing foreign policy as he once said: "to break free of the old ideologies and categories."  Thus the United States is being pushed and swayed by events, instead of charting a course of stability and strength.  Good policy is based on good principles which guide one's actions. In the case of Barack Obama, as the result of his upbringing in Marxist/socialist ideology, his anti-Western sentiment stemming from his father's anti-colonialism, and a virulent animosity toward capitalism, his guiding principle appears to be: America will not be able to compete with others, notably China, in the future, and its best course is to slink into the background in the hope that others will treat us kindly as we atone for our egregious sins of the past. By his determination to "break free of old ideologies" President Obama has projected an image of weakness which begets chaos, and chaos is what the international scene has become, whether in the Middle East, Asia, Russia, or Latin America.   The killing of Osama bin Laden, while good for a week's worth of fawning press coverage by the American media, does not mitigate the fact that United States foreign policy is adrift on a sea of uncertainty as there is a narcissistic and dishonest occupant of the White House who is firm in his belief that American exceptionalism is a myth.  Unless stopped soon, the American people will suffer the ultimate consequences as their standard of living and national security will be sacrificed on the altar of the Obama "cult of personality" and his collectivist ideology.

(“Restoring America’s Standing” by Steve McCann dated May 13, 2011 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/05/restoring_americas_standing.html )

 

President Obama has a bad habit of kissing up to enemies and abusing allies and his latest Middle East speech is no exception and may be the final straw for the 2012 electorate. President Obama's latest Muslim Outreach 2.0 was an exercise in whistling past the graveyard of real and growing dangers and a litany of misleading statements that borders on official malpractice. "It will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy." With this Barack Obama openly, unreservedly and without a trace of irony or self-reflection adopts the Bush Doctrine, which made the spread of democracy the key U.S. objective in the Middle East. Obama then studiously ignored the reality on the ground in virtually every country in the Middle East and North Africa now undergoing political turmoil: Islamists associated with or akin to the totalitarian, salafist Muslim Brotherhood are poised to be the principal beneficiaries of any balloting that ultimately occurs in Egypt, Tunisia, and, perhaps Syria, Yemen, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, and beyond. He seeks to buy newly minted "democracy" friends with up to a billion dollars in debt relief to Egypt and economic, trade and technical aid to the Egyptians and Tunisians. The President glossed over the extent to which the Muslim Brotherhood is not the "moderate" and "modernizing" movement. In fact, the Brotherhood is a virulently fascistic group that is explicitly committed to waging jihad to achieve the triumph of the supremacist Islamic politico-military-legal doctrine known as Shariah, and the establishment of a global caliphate to rule in accordance with it. The President has now sanctioned Syria’s Assad for gross human rights violations against the Syrian people, yet he still envisions a role for Assad in Syria’s political future. While the President rightfully drew parallels between Syria and Iran as partners in repression, no action has been taken to hold Ahmadinejad and Khamenei accountable for their brutality. On Libya, after almost 60 days of U.S. involvement, we have no further clarity on our priorities, goals, and the anticipated extent of our commitment there. His view that Israel must withdraw fully to the 1967 borders, what amounts to a call for the re-partitioning of Jerusalem, and the expectations can only be fanned among Israel's many enemies that the moment is arriving at last, to drive the Jews into the sea. Israel has been the one country in the area willing from the start to negotiate away land in return for recognition of its right to exist and a promise of peaceful coexistence from its neighbors, but instead of encouraging that precedent, Obama wants unilateral territorial concessions from Israel in return for empty promises. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded that President Obama's vision of a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 could leave the Jewish state "indefensible…" and "The viability of a Palestinian state cannot come at the expense of Israel's existence." Within hours of his speech news organizations found that a 67% disapproval rating of Obama’s handling of Israel. Obama’s plan is a formula for disaster which should be challenged at every turn, in favor of a policy that makes clear we differentiate between Muslims who do not seek to impose Shariah upon the rest of us and those who do; and we had better start making that distinction, and acting accordingly!

(“Obama Wants to Repartition Jerusalem” by Frank Gaffney dated May 19, 2011 published by News Max at http://www.newsmax.com/blogs/FrankGaffney/id-40

“Netanyahu Blasts Obama: Borders ‘Indefensible, Challenges Our Existence’” by Douglas Hamilton dated May 19, 2011 published by News Max at

“The News in Obama’s Speech” by Charles Krauthammer dated May 20, 2011 published by Human events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=43619 )

 

* 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:

·  Language at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/intro/changinglanguage.php

·  Civil Rights at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/civilrights.php

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

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

www.ReturnToCommonSensesite.com