Views on the News
June 25, 2011
Views on the News*
Every election featuring an incumbent President seeking a second term boils down to a simple question: Are you better off than you were four years ago, and that goes double in a time of economic anxiety like the one in which we are currently living. Raw political reality could put President Obama in a difficult spot as he prepares to seek another four years in the White House amid conflicting signs about the relative health of the economy. He faces four serious threats:
· The economy is very weak and unlikely to experience a robust recovery by Election Day;
· Key voter groups have soured on him;
· He's defending unpopular policies; and
· He's made bad strategic decisions.
Unemployment is at 9.1%, with almost 14 million Americans out of work. Nearly half the jobless have been without work for more than six months. The Federal Reserve says growth will be less than 3% this year and less than 3.8% next year, with unemployment between 7.8% and 8.2% by Election Day. Jewish voters are upset with his policy toward Israel, and left-wing bloggers were angry over Obama's failure to deliver a leftist utopia. Weak Jewish support could significantly narrow Mr. Obama's margin in states like Florida, while a disappointed left could deprive him of the volunteers so critical to his success in 2008. While many voters still personally like Obama, they deeply oppose his policies, and he tends to be weakest on issues voters consider most important. In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 56% disapprove of Mr. Obama's handling of the economy. In the Economist/YouGov poll, 59% disapprove of how he's dealt with the deficit. And his health-care reform still holds its unique place as the only major piece of social legislation that became less popular after it was passed. According to a Pollster.com average of recent surveys, only 38% approve of ObamaCare. Obama is now at the mercy of policies and events he has set in motion and he can't escape accountability, especially on the economy.
(“President Obama and the ‘are you better off’ question” by Chris Cillizza dated June 22, 2011 published by Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/post/president-obama-and-the-are-you-better-off-question/2011/06/22/AGEPQ7fH_blog.html
“Why Obama is Likely to Lose in 2012” by Karl Rove dated June 22, 2011 published by The Wall Street Journal at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304657804576401653113017130.html?KEYWORDS=karl+rove )
Less than two months ago, the President experienced an overnight popularity spike after finally eliminating Osama bin Laden, but in reality, this short-term popularity boost quickly disappeared and the President once again is faced with the reality of his failed policies. The reasons to believe Obama a one-term president are many and well-grounded:
· The Declaration of Independents - Candidate Obama attracted independents. President Obama repulses them. The president entered office with the approval of 62 percent of independents. The latest Gallup poll shows support of just 42 percent of independents.
· A Redder America - Barack Obama faces a redder electoral map than he did in 2008. The 2012 presidential election is more than a year away, but the Electoral College has already shifted twelve votes away from blue states and toward red states. Most of the states gaining electoral votes in the census reapportionment voted for McCain.
· The Issues Have Changed - Over the first five months of 2011, Americans point to the economy (29%), unemployment (26%), the deficit (13%), and government (11%). The issues most salient to voters uniformly work to the incumbent’s disadvantage.
· The Blank Canvass Isn’t Anymore - Presidents can’t remain blank slates for long. Unpopular ObamaCare, a sedative stimulus, ineptness in the face of the BP oil spill, and defiance of Congress in starting a third Middle Eastern war have all painted a presidential picture that has calcified conservative opposition, alienated moderates, and disillusioned liberal supporters.
· Demoralized Liberals – Democrats can never satiate their cannibalistic base. Leftists may not primary this president or siphon votes through a suicidal third-party bid, but neither will they work or give at the levels they did in 2008.
· Energized Conservatives - Conservatives, just 34% of the electorate in 2008’s election, comprised 42% of voters in 2010. From TEA Parties to raucous town halls, the political dynamic of the country has been altered, and the GOP clearly has the momentum.
· The Political Ground Has Shifted Beneath the President’s Feet - Bailouts and big-government have yielded to tea parties and deficit angst. Gallup’s most recent ideological identification survey registered its highest percentage of conservatives since the inaugural 1992 poll.
· Historic Turnouts Aren’t Every-Four-Year Occurrences - The precarious foundation of the Democrat’s election rested on the remarkable turnout, and the amazing one-sidedness, of two constituencies - African Americans and young people—who traditionally stay home on Election Day. That both groups have been hit especially hard by the economic slump makes it hard to envision a repeat of the amazing African American turnout and one-sided youth vote.
· A Low Ceiling - The best possible week of Obama’s presidency yielded barely half of the electorate’s support. His enemies should acknowledge the man has a floor of support. His supporters should acknowledge he has a ceiling, too.
· It’s Still the Economy, Stupid – The Misery Index, popularized by Governor Carter to hound President Ford only to be President Carter’s undoing, haunts Democrats again. The combined unemployment and inflation rates are at their worst level in twenty-eight years. The GDP grows at an anemic rate of 1.8 percent. The housing market has been in shambles for five years, and seems to be double dipping. Flat-lining and nose-diving trend lines make the President’s reelection precarious.
Barack Obama is a formidable campaigner, and occupants of the White House have lost general elections just five times in the last hundred years. We can’t forget that Obama has governed ineffectively and stubbornly against the wishes of the American people and he still could win reelection, but most indicators suggest Obama will be defeated.
(“10 Reasons Obama is a One-Term President” by Daniel Flynn dated June 20, 2011 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=44311 )
We’ve had strong Presidents and weak Presidents, skillful Presidents and incompetent Presidents, mediocre Presidents and just plain poor Presidents, but Barack Obama stands alone as the first president who simply declines to lead. On almost every major issue since he took office in January 2009, Obama has dumped responsibility on someone else, merely paid lip service, or let the issue quietly fade away. Just this year, the issues that have gotten the no-leadership treatment from Obama include: the deficit, the debt, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, energy, corporate taxes, medical liability, immigration, and Libya. The President set his pattern of negligible leadership early on in his administration. Rather than draft his own proposals on his top priorities: economic stimulus, health care, cap and trade, and Wall Street reform, he delegated the job to Democrats in Congress. Why is Obama so leadership averse? For one thing, it gives him flexibility since he’s not tied irrevocably to what Congressional Democrats come up with and it limits his accountability. Obama is comfortable talking about a range of issues, but more often than not he adopts a vague or equivocal position (or no position at all) and fails to lean on Congress to take action. The one specific proposal by Obama this year was a federal budget for 2012, submitted to Congress in February. After it was widely criticized for failing to tackle the critical spending and debt problem, Obama jettisoned it. He replaced it, in effect, with a nebulous plan lacking in specifics such as a spending baseline or 10-year time frame. At the same time, he denounced the scrupulously specific Republican budget passed by the House for “changing the basic social compact in America.” An Obama aide explained that in foreign affairs the President favors “leading from behind” which really means he scarcely leads at all, and on domestic policy, it’s the same, only worse.
(“Follower in Chief” by Fred Barnes dated June 27, 2011 published by The Weekly Standard at http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/follower-chief_574848.html )
The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which has the responsibility of dating recessions, says that we have been enjoying an economic recovery for two years now, but most Americans believe that we are still in a recession, because, from the perspective of ordinary citizens, we still are. The NBER looks at many factors, but for most Americans, recessions and recoveries come down to jobs. People experience economic recovery when the employment situation is getting better. When it is getting worse, it feels like a recession to them. From an employment point of view, the most recent downturn, which the NBER claims ended in June 2009, is still going strong. The best indicator of how the economy feels to ordinary Americans is the “employment-population ratio”, which is the percentage of working-age adults who have jobs. If we date recessions based upon this ratio, we get a much different picture of the past 20 years than the one painted by the NBER. The NBER says that the most recent recession started in January 2008 and lasted 18 months. However, the employment-population ratio reached its most recent peak of 63.4% in December 2006, and then began to decline. In June 2009, the month that the NBER says that the recession ended, this ratio was 59.4%, and in May 2011, it was 58.4%. So, from the point of view of the ordinary citizen, the current recession has been grinding on for 53 months, with no sign of ending. The three recessions since 1990 have exhibited a much different character. Their average duration as judged by the employment-population ratio has been 41.7 months, which is 268% longer than the 11.3-month average reported by the NBER. Judged against the labor force participation we would have at full employment (67.3%), the true jobless rate right now is 13.2%. If the Republican Party is to be anything, it has to be the party of economic growth, and given that 5% real annual growth is about the minimum required to provide a path to prosperity for the average American, it is a goal that all Republicans should get behind.
(“Endless Recessions, Jobless Recoveries” by Karl Rove dated June 22, 2011 published by Forbes Magazine at http://blogs.forbes.com/louiswoodhill/2011/06/22/endless-recessions-jobless-recoveries/ )
The country could be seeing a paradigm shift in the way people view their social compact with government with more and more people believing that government exists not just to perform essential services as delimited in the Constitution, but as a grand equalizer of economic outcomes. It's one thing to argue that those who earn more should pay a higher percentage of their earnings in income tax. But it's a completely different idea to suggest that the government should use the tax code and other legislative schemes not just to ensure sufficient revenues to operate the government, but to more equitably distribute people's remaining income. In this new paradigm, leftists contend that irrespective of the government's operating needs, they have a moral right and a duty to proactively intervene to redistribute income. Any transfer of wealth was from higher-income earners to lower-income earners. Almost half the people don't pay income taxes at all, and some 60% take more from the government than they pay in. These leftists are wholly unbothered by the obvious unfairness that almost 50% of the people pay no income taxes. These same leftists also seem to object to disparities of income between Americans and the rest of the world. They apparently believe it is morally wrong that we are more prosperous than other nations and consume more of the world's resources. Either leftists don't understand that their prescriptions to equalize outcomes rather than opportunity inevitably results in less for everyone or don't care because they believe it's preferable for everyone to have much less than it is for some to have a great deal more than others under a free system.
(“A New Paradigm for the Left” by David Limbaugh dated June 17, 2011 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/davidlimbaugh/2011/06/17/a_new_paradigm_for_the_left )
Big Government’s most unhealthy program, ObamaCare, has been mutating and degenerating since the hour of its gruesome birth, and thousands of pages of new regulations have erupted from its bloated, heaving body like tumors. Waivers for politically connected unions and businesses have gushed from its open wounds. The Administration realized that the slow bleed of ObamaCare waivers was killing it politically, as each new waiver release gave critics a new opportunity to write about how awful the program is, and how corrupt Obama’s government has become. The solution, unveiled last week, is to quietly gather applications for new waivers until September, then issue a huge clump of them all at once. The number of waivers is just more proof that political control of the economy is an unmitigated disaster. ObamaCare was never a brilliantly designed solution to health insurance problems. The objective was to grab power, and the ability to dispense special exceptions is another form of power. The latest ObamaCare regulation tumor is an ocean of new rules designed to encourage doctors from different specialties to band together into “Affordable Care Organizations.” The current lack of coordination between doctors is partially a result of Medicare’s neurotic system of price controls. Naturally, a new tidal wave of regulations that will force doctors to work together is the ideal Big Government fix. The American Medical Group Association had a look at these new rules, and pronounced them “overly prescriptive, operationally burdensome, and the incentives are too difficult to achieve.” 93% of the American Medical Group Association membership said it was not interested in enrolling in the voluntary pilot program… which will eventually become mandatory. Liberty is still suffering from a degenerative disorder, and every treatment proposed by Obama and his legislative surgeons involves more rules, regulations, and penalties, which means less and less freedom.
(“The State of ObamaCare” by John Hayward dated June 20, 2011 published by Human Events at http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=44321 )
It has long been taken for granted by Americans that this is the most powerful country in the world: the wealthiest, most powerful, most influential, and most culturally relevant, and more people would like to live in the United States if they could over any other country. America’s decline is not inevitable, but it is becoming more and more likely if we keep following the policies of President Obama. When it comes to President Obama the only arguing point is whether his policies are part of a deliberate campaign to make America weaker, so that it can pay for its perceived sins, or it is part of a general ineptitude within his administration. When we actually look at everything President Obama has done the only conclusion is that America has gotten dangerously weaker under his watch. His economic policies from his stimulus spending, his bailouts, ObamaCare have all left the country poorer. Our debt is now 14 trillion dollars, an unprecedented amount that we will never be able to pay back. Millions of Americans are on food stamps, unemployment is 9.1%, and that’s what liberals call prosperity. Then there is foreign policy and national security. He bows and scrapes to every anti American dictator, believing that no one can resist his force of personality, and yet not one foe has been turned into a friend. At the same time he treats allies with a contemptuous condescension, bullying them and alienating them to the point whether we can still consider them allies. His speeches in Cairo, his wanting to talk to Iranian tyrants and siding with the Islamist mob in the streets has not produced pro American sentiment in the Islamic world and has shown Israel, our staunchest ally in the Middle East, that America is not a trustworthy ally. In military terms we are in a dangerous place. The military is the one government expenditure that the Democrats are willing to cut back on. He’s left our border with Mexico wide open, putting the lives of Americans at risk as cartel violence spreads north. He unleashes the full power of the federal government on any state brave enough to try to actually enforce our immigration laws. In every facet of life America has gotten weaker and this is part of the leftist strategy to take America down, and make it like any other nation so the left can reject the idea of American exceptionalism.
(“Will America Continue to be Number 1?” By Craig Chamberlain dated June 20, 2011 published by The Land of the Free at http://www.thelandofthefree.net/conservativeopinion/2011/06/20/will-america-continue-to-be-number-1/ )
President Obama has crossed the Rubicon since he now believes and acts as if he is above the law; the Constitution no longer applies to him, since he is defying the rule of law and is violating the War Powers Act. Passed in 1973, the law clearly stipulates that the commander in chief can only deploy U.S. forces for 60 to 90 days without Congressional approval. He is usurping legislative authority and expanding the prerogatives of the executive branch, concentrating power in his hands, especially the most important act of all: war. By flagrantly transgressing the War Powers Act, Obama has sparked a constitutional crisis. Obama claims the War Powers Act does not apply because U.S. forces apparently are not engaged in "sustained hostilities" with troops loyal to strongman Colonel Gadhafi. U.S. air and missile strikes are only being conducted in a "supporting" role, so, there is no need to have Congressional buy-in. According to the liberal apparatchiks in the White House, Obama can bypass Congress simply by redefining the definition of "hostilities." George Orwell warned that the perversion of language is the first step on the dark road to authoritarianism. Without U.S. drones, fighters, equipment, ammunition and missiles, NATO would not be able to sustain the no-fly zone or the relentless military campaign. Obama may pretend that our involvement is minimal or somehow not the equivalent of a full-scale war because of the lack of ground troops, but it is shameless propaganda. Colonel Gadhafi and the Libyan army consider America to be at war, as do the civilians who suffer collateral damage from NATO's missiles and bombs. From its inception, the Libyan campaign has been strategically incoherent. First, the administration claimed military intervention was necessary to save civilians from a potential Srebrenica-style massacre in Benghazi. When that was averted, Obama then argued that NATO bombing had to continue to prevent Colonel Gadhafi from routing poorly organized rebel forces. Now the policy has evolved into overthrowing Libya's police state. Obama pledged in the war's opening days that the campaign would be quick, limited and well-defined. Instead, the conflict drags on and the goals keep expanding. It has become another exercise in nation-building. The President has misled Congress and the country. Obama's policy ignores our national interest, is inept, immoral and illegal. This is why members of Congress are in open revolt. The administration refuses to ask for Congressional approval because the Libyan adventure is deeply unpopular, both on Capitol Hill and throughout the country. Having failed to make his case, the President now hopes simply to ignore the public and the Constitution. The hypocrisy of the liberals is stunning. For years, progressives, such as Obama, railed against President George W. Bush. Yet, regardless of whether one supported those campaigns or not, Bush received Congressional authorization. Ironically, it is Obama who is behaving like a political thug, but Congress will not allow the Anointed One to turn himself into a modern-day Caesar.
(“Obama, the new Caesar” by Jeffrey T. Kuhner dated June 16, 2011 published by The Washington Times at http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jun/16/obama-the-new-caesar// )
* 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:
· Civil Rights at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/civilrights.php
· Employment at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/employment.php
· Foreign Policy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/philosophy.php