RTCS

Views on the News

June 13, 2009

 

Views on the News*

Obama has “cried wolf” once too many times, claiming impending doom without immediate passage of one of his bloated liberal spending bills, but the economy has proven resilient and the hysteria unfounded. Current economic indicators suggest that our economic crisis will hit bottom soon and that the U.S. will be poised for economic recovery. The end of the recession is still months away, but it is increasingly clear the stimulus package was a serious mistake. To date, it has had no identifiable beneficial impact on the economy. The stimulus appears only to have delayed the recovery that economists were expecting in 2008 before it was passed. Obama is nothing if not excellent at delivering speeches, but America didn't get into its current jam from bad speeches, instead, the problem is one of policy. In January, President Obama said that $787 billion stimulus package was desperately necessary to prevent more Americans from losing their jobs. To boost support for his stimulus, Obama’s economic team released a report that estimated unemployment wouldn’t rise above 8 percent with a stimulus package. When Obama began unemployment was 7.2% and all major spending programs were rammed through Congress, but unemployment continues to increase, now at 9.4% and still growing. Obama also promised to create 3 million jobs, but instead over 2 million people have lost their jobs since he took office. Now Obama has reiterated his promise to “create or save” 600,000 jobs by the end of the summer, despite no way to estimate the number of jobs created or saved by the stimulus. The bottom line is that American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“stimulus”) will leave us with a legacy of substantially rising debt without a commensurate benefit. The old recession, that the public says was caused by Bush, shows signs of winding down. However the new Obama recession and/or inflation, triggered by Obama’s massive deficits, is just now coming upon us. A Rasmussen poll found that 45% of Americans favor canceling the rest of the stimulus money. If Obama refuses to cut back on his spending/stimulus plans (despite convincing evidence that Americans are not spending the money), he has three options:

·    He can raise taxes, which will trigger a deeper recession;

·    He can print money, which will trigger huge inflation;

·    He can pay more interest to borrow money, which will send the economy diving down again.

The blame for these outcomes will fall squarely on Obama’s deficit and spending policies. The fact that Americans are aware of these issues, and already disapprove of Obama’s performance on them, indicates that they will be increasingly receptive to blaming him for the “new” recession. According to a Rasmussen poll, more voters now trust Republicans more than Democrats to handle the economy, by a margin of 45-39. As a consequence Obama's disapproval rating on the economy has risen from 30% in February to 42%, according to the most recent Gallup poll. For the first time in his career Obama is being measured on his results, and not just his flowery rhetoric, which falls flat when the promised results don’t follow the actions!

 

The federal government role in the economy has changed dramatically under Obama. The Obama administration is engaged in the most sweeping power grab in modern American history, but few people seem to care. In barely four months, we've witnessed the president and his minions taking over insurance companies, banks, and car companies, forcing private companies to sell off assets, appease unions, and stiff bondholders. In the bailout state, the federal government takes over failed private entities in order to maintain overall economic stability. Sometimes the companies already had ties to government, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) that the Treasury "took into conservatorship" last summer. Sometimes the bailout state's beneficiaries are businesses like AIG, Citigroup, Bank of America, and the other financial institutions wedded to government through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (or TARP). Other times, the beneficiaries are unions: the United Auto Workers (UAW) whose members' jobs at Chrysler and the "new GM" will survive thanks to government largesse. No, the salient feature of the bailout state is government ownership and control. At first the bailouts were meant to pick up the pieces that the financial crisis left in its wake. The current recession began in the residential real estate market, spread to the banks' balance sheets, and eventually caused a collapse in short-term business lending and consumer demand. In the past, the U.S. government allowed private companies to fall apart, confident that new ones would rise in their place. In the bailout state, politically connected groups secure government ownership of enterprises that otherwise would go belly-up. The new government approach is to transform once-private companies into government tools of economic and social policy. American voters have serious misgivings about the TARP and the auto bailout. Those concerns likely will become even more pronounced as government embeds itself deeper into the banking and car sectors. In time, the electorate may even vote for politicians who stand with private enterprise. The Republican Party, with a track record of opposition to government overreach, overspending, and over-indebtedness, and with proposals to roll back the bailout state, will benefit.

 

Obama has one of the smartest, most finely calibrated press operation in White House history, parceling out scoops (The New York Times), partisan talking points (the Huffington Post), and First Family tidbits (the celebrity magazines) to a desperate media. The Obama team doesn’t want to talk about the meticulous calibration of everything to do with retailing its image and message because it is all so meticulously calibrated. The Obama administration has started with 14 professionals working in the office of the press secretary—and an astounding 47 more devoted to other aspects of media and message. Using the president as salesman-in-chief continues to be at the heart of the administration's communication strategy. The Obama people have abandoned that grail of all White Houses, to bypass the mainstream media and go directly to the people, to get the message out, pure and unfiltered—which, with their millions of e-mail addresses and Twitter followers, never seemed so possible as now. Courting the dinosaurs, the Obama people feed the increasingly hungry new media the scraps—and manage, mostly, to have them thankful for them. The First Lady appears in public only about three days a week. Exclusivity and unattainability make the brand. The Huffington Post has become an ideal back door for the most partisan stuff; the mean and simplistic. The New York Times gets soft, thoughtful, and complicated stuff. In other words, the Obama people have purchase on both established media and partisan media. The White House be testing the limits of overexposure, or is it simply making the most of a new president's persistent popularity? The Obama image is so stage-managed and contrived that one has to question, like the Wizard of Oz, who is the real person behind the curtain and is there any real substance? I can not speak for you, but I hate for my perceptions and opinions to be manipulated by a biased media that does not reflect my morals and principles.

 

President Obama repeatedly emphasized as a candidate that his three top priorities as President would be health care, energy and education. This would seem to relegate to secondary importance such "minor" issues as: Islamic fundamentalism and its assault on Western Civilization; runaway entitlement programs that threaten to bankrupt the nation; a bloated federal government, massive deficits, a rapidly expanding money supply that portends severe inflation and a crippled economy, all of which threaten to do likewise; out of control illegal immigration, augmented by tens of millions of poorly assimilated minorities that weaken the cultural fabric of our society; and a profound ignorance among our citizens of the founding principles upon which our country was established. The sad thing is that Obama is trying to solve the problems that government created in the first place, but unfortunately the preferred method of solution bears amazing resemblance to the methods used to create the original problem. Obama has done everything in his power to sabotage the energy industry: (a) restricted the use of coal and limited the deployment of more environmentally friendly coal technologies; (b) severely limited drilling and exploration for new domestic sources of oil, shale and other "dirty" sources of energy; (c) began to emphasize and favor inefficient and expensive biofuels that has had the unanticipated consequence of distorting food prices (because of the diversion of certain grains from food production to biofuel production); (d) made the construction of new oil refineries virtually impossible; (e) pursued the chimera of reviving the use of "natural" sources (water, solar, wind) in a major way, expecting beyond common sense that they would provide a substantial portion of our total energy needs; and (f) most importantly, essentially suspended the development and deployment of nuclear technologies that would in fact have supplied huge proportions of our energy needs. Not surprisingly, these steps have caused scarcity in energy supplies, driven energy costs sky high and placed our industry and our lifestyle at grave risk. The basic problem is the explosive nature of the cost of health care. It is universally acknowledged that American health care is the finest in the world, but unfortunately, its cost is exceedingly high and seemingly out of control. The root cause is that the vast majority of American health care is paid for by so-called "third party" insurers. That is, party one (the individual or family) seeks medical assistance from party two (doctors and hospitals), but the bill is paid by party three (either an insurance company or the government). Obama is proposing to expand Medicare approach to cover everyone. The fact that the current Medicare is bankrupt is conveniently overlooked. The education problem began early in our history when the people decided that education of their children was a task best left to the government. The governments involved are local, or occasionally county or State, not federal. Now the government-run schools have become inefficient and ineffective delivering a high performing quality education. Now we have a President who doesn’t accept that the government caused these health, energy, and education problems, so he thinks more government is the solution.

 

Obama has developed a standard template for first justifying, then nationalizing large private companies to control the entire industries. Obama summons top representatives of a major industry and tells them that their spending and expenses are unsustainably high. He declares this unacceptable and then orders that significant cuts be made. In the process, the president goes as far as to point out specific items which he personally deems unnecessary and wasteful. While Obama berates everyone else for their “excessive,” “unsustainable,” and “wasteful” costs, the federal government has under his direction embarked on an unprecedented spending extravaganza. Perhaps we can learn some lessons from another government owned company, the National Rail Passenger Corporation aka Amtrak. What taxpayers bought with Amtrak is not exactly the same, but it raises many issues about the future of GM. Amtrak is now 38 years old, and in middle age shows no sign of moving out of the taxpayer’s house. The government gives Amtrak about $1.5 billion per year, not including an additional $1.3 billion from the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. After 38 years, it still costs taxpayers about $1.40 for every $1 of revenue Amtrak takes in. The federal government has an abysmal record managing private companies and has been very reluctant to return them to free market ownership despite losses year after year, so don’t expect government control of AIG, GM etc. to end anytime soon!.

 

Since Medicare was created in 1965, U.S. health spending has risen about 2.7% faster than the economy and on current trend would hit 20% of GDP within a decade. Often there is no relationship between spending and the quality of care, according to a vast body of academic research. It is exploiting the looming bankruptcy of our current entitlements as a pretext to pass the largest entitlement expansion since 1965. According to the numbers most often cited by Obama, 45 million people are without health care. Even if that number were correct regarding health insurance coverage, there is a difference between the number of persons without health insurance and those without health care. Emergency departments and hospitals by law must provide unreimbursed care for everyone, uninsured Americans as well as illegal aliens. Obama’s federal plan would essentially operate like a massive version of Medicare, the government-run plan for seniors which cost 3.2 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2008 and which will become insolvent for the first time this year. Medicare faces $34 trillion in unfunded liabilities – the cost of services seniors are eligible for in the future but for which the government does not have the money. According to the 2009 annual report from the Medicare Trustees, the program will require a 134% increase in the payroll tax paid by every working American to remain solvent.  The worst part is that he is selling this agenda with a phony cost-control "plan" that doesn't even exist. The Obama legislative procedure is to write a massive piece of legislation in secret, without hearings, press coverage, open debate or public comment, and then tell Congress it's essential to hurry up and pass it quickly because "we've got to get it done this year." Only the broad structure of the bill is shared with Congress, while the details will be filled in after passage by the Department of Health and Human Services or by Tom Daschle, who has re-emerged (without a title) as a key player on health care. The Obama team is well aware it was the details that sank Hillary Health Care in 1994. So, goodbye to the transparency that candidate Obama promised. After declaring that Obama Care would not require rationing, the initial details released show just the opposite. Medical costs will be cut by cutting medical care, with four initial targets:

·    Cut diagnostic imaging tests like MRIs and CAT scans.

·    Reduce the use of antibiotics.

·    Perform fewer Caesarean sections.

·    Cut care for management of chronic back pain

These decisions will not be medical but financial. They will not be based on a doctor’s opinion of what his or her patient needs, but a bureaucrat’s and an accountant s opinion of what the new health care system can afford. Here is what this “efficiency” would mean in stark terms: severely restricting healthcare services to our elderly, and the severely and terminally ill. Efficiency” here means providing services to millions of young and healthy, who do not need much of it, and cutting healthcare to seniors and the severely ill who “statistically do not have as much to lose by not getting good healthcare.” In other words, the administration believes that those of us above 60 will not live nearly as long, no matter what healthcare we receive, as a healthy 25-year-old, so why “waste” doctors, nurses, drugs, hospitals, and surgeries on us? Healthcare resources, in cold, hard, inhumane computer calculations, are used more “efficiently” when the elderly die years earlier after a less-healthy retirement. It is questionable whether government bureaucrats will be capable of determining which technological innovation will reduce morbidity, mortality, and overall spending, and which will simply involve "an excess supply of high technology equipment and services”? The worst part of a federal healthcare entity is that it would not have to be solvent, meaning that unlike every other private plan, the federal plan could operate at a loss and still remain in business. Obama's plan will do nothing to stem the rising cost of health care because government, directly or indirectly, is the cause of much of that rising cost. Based on all our experience with government programs, government-managed health care will result in much higher costs, the absence of choice and inferior care for all.

 

Someone needs to expose Global Warming as the environmental hoax that it is, and the American Clean Energy Security Act as all cost and no benefit. There is no climate crisis and no impending environmental doom! Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant; it is a natural byproduct of life on earth! Considering the Waxman-Markey Cap-and-Trade bill’s meritless substance, potential influence on a future global accord, and outrageous price tag (hundreds of billions of dollars annually) the world must be reminded that there is widespread dissent to so-called consensus on the causes, consequences, and proper responses to climate change” and that “immediate action to reduce emissions is not necessary.”  The Mainstream Media (MSM) is complicit hiding the existence of tens of thousands of scientists that dispute the notion of manmade global warming mostly secret as its foundation.  This hysteria is fueled by a number of complicit and self-serving groups.  Thousands of scientists that depend upon government grants to fund their climatology research are invested in asserting a human connection to or some new negative impact of climate change.  Environmental organizations also depend upon sounding the alarm to keep the donation coffers full.  Journalists also use environmentalism to nab front-page newspaper positions by echoing the alarmists.  And the Capitalists who see, well – capital, prompting huge corporations to jump on board to exploit renewable energy subsidies and R&D grants from the federal government.  The claim of consensus usually reveals an absence of fact, since the very foundation of the issue of global warming is wrong, and politicians need to kill this legislation before it does irreparable harm to our economy.

 

President Obama stated in April, "We can and should increase our domestic production of oil and natural gas. .  .  . We still need more oil, we still need more gas. If we've got some here in the United States that we can use, we should find it and do so in an environmentally sustainable way." Given his practice of misdirection--saying one thing, doing another--no one should have. Now, nearly five months into the Obama presidency, it's clear he didn't mean a word of it. His administration is impeding, not promoting, increased production of oil and gas, as it is of coal and nuclear power. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has cancelled 77 oil and gas leases that had been issued in Utah. He halted plans to lease the oil shale region in five states after a Shell Oil study concluded there are 1 to 2 trillion barrels there of recoverable oil. He declared the listing of the yellow-billed loon as an endangered species justified, which could limit the development of a huge oil-rich region off the west coast of Alaska. The Obama administration has also decided not to issue leases for gas well drilling on the Roan Plateau in Colorado and has shown little interest in developing the "Chukchi" region offshore north Alaska. Energy independence becomes still another of Obama's stated policies being championed in words but not deeds. Higher prices on oil and gas may make wind and solar power, the renewable sources of energy the Obama administration is promoting, more competitive, but only slightly. They would still be heavily reliant on large subsidies from the federal government, face severe technical problems, and produce energy only intermittently. Wind and solar now provide less than 1 percent of America's energy needs. Obama has called for doubling this in three years, still leaving them as marginal sources of energy. The Obama policy is to make gas, oil, and coal more difficult to produce and more expensive for consumers, while sinking billions into immature technologies that hold little short term promise.

 

The Sotomayor nomination commits the cardinal sin of identity politics: It seeks to elevate people more for the political currency of their gender and ethnicity than for their individual merit. Obama is promising one thing and practicing another, using his interracial background to suggest an America delivered from racial corruption even as he practices a crude form of racial patronage. This contradiction has always been at the heart of the Obama story. On the one hand there was the 2004 Democratic Convention speech proclaiming "only one America," while on the other hand there was the race-baiting of Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Does this most powerful man on earth know himself well enough to resolve this contradiction and point the way to a genuinely post-racial America? Throughout her career Judge Sotomayor has demonstrated a Hispanic chauvinism so extreme that it sometimes crosses into outright claims of racial supremacy, as in 2001 when she said in a lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, "a wise Latina woman . . . would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male." Democrats who engaged in this treatment of Thomas, Roberts, and Alito (the vice president and president most prominent among them) are hypocrites to demand any more civil treatment be meted out to Sonia Sotomayor. A new IBD/TIPP Poll shows that three in five (59%) believe a high court justice should consider only the Constitution, applicable laws and precedents rather than all of these plus his or her own life experiences and views. The White House’s strategy is simple: get the nomination through as quickly as possible to limit investigation time into her judicial record and philosophy; and the Republican strategy should also be simple… just vote “No” on the unqualified nominee!

 

In the first five months of his presidency, Obama has traveled the world apologizing for the transgressions of America committed by the 43 previous administrations.  He has used terms such as we "went off course," "lost our way," and "made mistakes." In the most recent leg of the never-ending apology tour, Obama addressed the Muslim World with one of the wordiest requests for forgiveness offered to date. Obama’s goals for his latest trip was, first, shepherding real progress toward a Middle East peace, and, second, defusing tensions between the Muslim world and the West while ensuring a secure America in an age of terrorism. The president employed his customary rhetorical device when characterizing the central issues facing the Middle East region, listing the major complaints of both sides, which was too balanced for those who refuse to recognize that, in fact, there are two sides. Most criticism focuses on the lack of specifics, a typical trait of Obama sermons. Obama’s biggest shortcoming was recognizing Hamas, Fatah, and Hezbollah as legitimate players in a Middle East solution considering their continued commitment to terrorism and the eradication of Israel. As we have noted in these pages, much of the policy substance of the speech was similar if not identical to George W. Bush administration policies. The novelty was not the message, but the messenger. President Obama returned home to find that his own oratory laying out an ever-more-ambitious agenda, both in foreign and domestic policy, and is ratcheting up demands for concrete achievements.

 

Political Independents hold the balance of power in the Obama era. A recent Pew Research Center survey shows independent voters climbed to 39% from 30% of the electorate in the five months following the 2008 election. During that same time, Democratic identification fell to 33% from 39%, while Republicans fell four points to 22%, their lowest since post-Watergate. This is evidence that President Obama's election does not represent a liberal ideological mandate, as House Democrats have claimed, but rather a continued rejection of the Republican brand. It's on fiscal issues that independents are putting the Obama administration on notice. There are now more independents in the West and Midwest than there are Democrats or Republicans. In the South, independents are one point behind first-place Democrats. In the Northeast, where Republicans have gone from near parity 20 years ago to 20% today, independent voters have picked up the GOP's declining voter rolls. Mainstream America is desperately looking for someone possessing sufficient wisdom and courage to rise up as the leader who will stridently confront the liberal political machine that is systematically dismantling their beloved nation, but unfortunately, no leading Republican has yet displayed the necessary spine to take on this battle.

 

* There is so much published each week that unless you go out of your way to find it, you will miss important breaking events. I package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning for your reading pleasure and to fill in factual vacuums.

 

If you are sick and tired of government and politics as usual, read my web site with its individual issue analysis and recommendations sections at: http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com . Individual issue updates this week include:

 

Week’s Best Articles:

·         ’Obama, Media likely Wrong on 2009 Job Figures… by May” by Julia A. Seymour dated June 3, 2009 published by Business & Media Institute at http://www.freemarketproject.org/articles/2009/20090603145014.aspx .

·         Is GM the New Amtrak?” by James Langenfeld dated June 5, 2009 published by The Daily Beast at http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-06-05/is-gm-the-new-amtrak/ .

·         Employment report Fuels GOP Attack on Obama Policies” by Jonathan Weisman dated June 6, 2009 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124424486700390517.html .

·         Obama’s Message Managment” by Mike Memoli dated June 6, 2009 published by Real Clear Politics at http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/06/06/for_white_house_its_all_obama_all_the_time_96853.html .

·         All Talk, No Action” by Matthew Yglesias dated June 7, 2009 published by The Daily Beast at http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-06-07/all-talk-no-action/?cid=hp:mainpromo1 .

·         Obama’s trip raises the bar” dated June 7, 2009 published by Politico at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23437.html .

·         Obama’s Speeches Setting a High Bar for Results” by Jonathan Weisman and Laura Meckler dated June 8, 2009 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124441577582992341.html .

·         Obama’s Health Care Illusion” dated June 8, 2009 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124442772329993085.html?mod=googlenews_wsj .

·         Obama Calls for Government-Owned Healthcare Company” by Matt Cover dated June 8, 2009 published by Cybercast News Service at http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=49228 .

·         Obama repackages stimulus plans with old promises” by Brett J. Blackledge dated June 8, 2009 published by Yahoo News at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090609/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_obama_stimulus_35 .

·         Our New President’s Three Top Priorities: Government Cures for Problems Caused by Government” by Ron Lipsman dated June 8, 2009 published by Intellectual Conservative at http://www.intellectualconservative.com/2009/06/08/our-new-presidents-three-top-priorities-government-cures-for-problems-caused-by-government/ .

·         Economic Life or ‘Stimulus’ Death?” by Donald Lambro dated June 8, 2009 published by Front Page Magazine at http://www.frontpagemagazine.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=35144 .

·         GOP hopes GM is Obama’s Katrina” dated June 8, 2009 published by Politico at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0609/23461.html .

·         Sotomayor and the Politics of Fear” by Shelby Steele dated June 8, 2009 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124442662679393077.html .

·         Obama’s Muslim Roots” dated June 8, 2009 published by The Washington Times at http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jun/08/obamas-muslim-roots/ .

·         GOP seeks to trim stimulus, cut deficit” by Donald Lambro dated June 8, 2009 published by The Washington Times at http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jun/08/gop-seeks-to-truncate-stimulus-cut-deficit/?feat=article_related_stories .

·         Obama’s economic spin machine” dated June 9, 2009 published by The Washington Times at http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jun/09/obamas-economic-spin-machine/ .

·         Obama Care: Robbing From Peter to Pay Paul” by Frank S. Rosenbloom dated June 9, 2009 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/06/obama_care_robbing_from_peter.html .

·         The Beginning of the End of Private Health Insurance” by Ronald Bailey dated June 9, 2009 published by Reason Magazine at http://www.reason.com/news/show/134016.html .

·         Behind the Cap-and-Trade Curtain” by Max Schulz dated June 9, 2009 published by National Review Online at http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MTQxNDQwMGJiNmMzNDUyYjk5MTRhZmUxOTFiNzYyNzM= .

·         Murder by Bureaucracy” by Peter Ferrara dated June 10, 2009 published by The Ameri can Spectator at http://spectator.org/archives/2009/06/10/murder-by-bureaucracy .

·         Mislead-As-You-Go” by Vasko Kohlmayer dated June 10, 2009 published by Front Page Magazine at http://www.frontpagemagazine.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=35158 .

·         The $787 Billion Mistake” by Lee E. Ohanian dated June 10, 2009 published by Forbes Magazine at http://www.forbes.com/2009/06/09/american-recovery-reinvestment-act-roosevelt-opinions-contributors-depression.html .

·         The Sotomayor Case File” dated June 10, 2009 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=32214 .

·         Independents and the Obama Mandate” by John P. Avlon dated June 10, 2009 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124459129882600069.html .

·         “Obama’s Issues Crumbling” by Dick Morris dated June 10, 2009 published by Dick Morris at http://www.dickmorris.com/blog/2009/06/10/obama%E2%80%99s-issues-crumbling/ .

·         The Power and the Story” by Michael Wolff dated July 2009 published by Vanity Fair at http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2009/07/wolff200907 .

 

David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY

www.returntocommonsensesite.com