Article 43

 

Marvel At The Beast - Part 10

saint-obama.jpg

“Obama’s biggest blemish remains the ongoing tragedy of mass unemployment. Not only does this have a human element - the countless lives harmed or destroyed by poverty and desperation - but it is a huge drag on our economy. Mass unemployment reduces spending - the engine of our economy - which in turn, reduces growth. And without meaningful growth, there’s no way to reduce long-term debt without inflicting a large dose of harmful austerity. That, in my view, is unacceptable.”
- Obamas Biggest Blemish, Jamelle Bouie, American Prospect, January 3, 2013

The central problem is not an inadequate supply of educated workers; it is inadequate demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics now projects that of the ten occupational groups that will add the most jobs between 2010 and 2020, five do not even require a high-school education.
Who Will Save The Middle Class, Prospect, May 2012

I can tell you tell you one thing I like about The President - his speeches are GREAT.
I only wish this time THERE IS SOME REAL SUBSTANCE behind his EMPTY words.

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Obama speech reveals a different leader

By Dan Balz
January 21, 2013

President Obama has never lacked for confidence, but rarely has that attribute been on display as clearly as on Monday in an inaugural address that underscored the distance he has traveled after four contentious years in office.

This was not the politician who campaigned in 2008 on themes of transcending the divisive politics of the past, though there were ritual calls for the country and its political leaders to seize this moment together. Instead, it was a president who has accepted the reality of those divisions and is determined to prevail on his terms.

Obamas first campaign was aspirational, and he came to office believing, or at least hoping, that through force of personality he could gently guide the opposing sides to consensus on issues that had long resisted resolution. Monday’s speech conveyed the ambitions of a president looking at his next four years with a sense of frustration and impatience, and who now believes that a different style of leadership is required.

In his speech, Obama set out his priorities for a second term, goals that will cheer the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and probably alarm many on the right. He challenged Republicans to meet him partway, though not exactly in the middle. If there was an underlying message Monday, it was not “Come, let us reason together.” It was “Follow me.” The question is whether he will be any more successful in his second term than he was in his first.

Pressure on Republicans

There are reasons for the president setting a different tone in his second inaugural than in his first. Two years after he and his party took a beating in the midterm elections, he now holds the strongest hand in Washington. His approval ratings have climbed above 50 percent, while his Republican opponents in Congress remain mired in disapproval ratings almost three times as high as their approval ratings.

Obama once hoped that he could overcome the united opposition of congressional Republicans, whose militant House members set the partys tone during the battles of the past two years, through negotiation with GOP leaders. Now he is looking to the country to pressure his opponents to compromise in ways that they would not during his first term.

Republicans have already tested the reelected president and discovered the limits of their power. Their decision not to pick a fight - for now - over the debt ceiling signaled their recognition of that reality. It was an acknowledgment that the tactic of opposing Obama at almost every turn may be self-defeating.

Obama appears ready to try to split the Republican coalition by setting pragmatists against ideologues. On Monday, he rebuked those who have been most aggressive in their opposition when he said, “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.”

REPUBLICANS will have to choose their battles more carefully, and they may prevail in some cases. Obama knows that he won’t get all he wants, but the balance of power at the start of his second term is far different from what it was 24 months ago.

The year ahead promises more debates over the size and scope of government, issues that dominated the past two years in Washington. Obama acknowledged the need to deal with spending and the deficit, but he also set out terms for the coming fight over federal entitlements.

During the campaign, Obama talked about the philosophical divide between Republicans and Democrats on these issues, as he condemned the broken politics of Washington. He said the American people could break the tie with the election.

But the election returned a majority of Republicans to the House, and on Monday the president seemed to suggest that there were grounds for compromise. “Progress,” he said, “does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time.”

Addressing his coalition

Obama’s second inaugural address also reflected a changing America and the coalition that reelected him to office. The nation’s first African American president leads an ever-more diverse population and a country in which attitudes and mores continue to change, particularly among the youngest segment of society.

The policy agenda he put forth, and the values he enunciated, spoke directly to that coalition. Never before has a president used an inaugural address to speak so openly about the cause of gay rights, linking the 1969 Stonewall uprising that led to the gay rights movement with Selma and civil rights and the 1839 Seneca Falls Convention and womens’ rights.

Not all Americans agree with these changes, and as president, Obama must attempt to speak for them and to them. But his remarks Monday suggest that he believes history is on his side on these issues.

The president’s second inaugural address was notable also for what he talked about only in brief. Four years ago, he stood on the Capitols West Front with the country facing an economic crisis. Output was falling, the stock market had plunged, many Americans were threatened with housing foreclosures, and unemployment was rising rapidly. He talked about “a sapping of confidence across our land.”

On Monday, he touched only lightly on that crisis and spoke of the economy in positive terms. “An economic recovery has begun,” he said. At a time when jobs remain a top priority for most Americans, he chose neither to highlight that problem nor to offer any new solutions - though, ultimately, he will be judged on his effectiveness in restoring the economy to its full strength.

Opponents will find much to dislike about what Obama said Monday, for this was not a speech aimed at mollifying those who lost the election. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who lost the presidential race four years ago, expressed disappointment that Obama was not more explicit about bringing the two sides together. “I would have liked to have seen more on outreach and working together,” McCain said. But the senator added, “It’s his privilege to say what he wants.”

Obama risks overreaching or over-interpreting his mandate, which can be an affliction of newly reelected presidents. His victory in November was decisive but not overwhelming. Self-confidence can slip over the line to arrogance or hubris. Second terms often disappoint. So there are dangers ahead for the president.

On Monday, he set out his ambitions for a second term in clear language. What follows will define how history judges both those priorities and his ability to turn them into action.

SOURCE

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Politico has a sad because it doesn’t think Obama has done enough to cut Medicare or Social Security

By Jed Lewison
Daily Kos
January 22, 2013

WOE IS POLITICO:

The President has never precisely defined what hard choices he would be willing to make on Medicare and Social Security. Its not even clear what he would do if he had the power to remake the programs on his own, without worrying about opposition from Republicans or Democrats.

How incredibly sad. President Barack Obama just isn’t willing to make hard choices on Medicare and Social Security. And, as everybody knows, with an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent, America’s top priority is making “hard choices” to cut not just those programs, but Medicaid as well.

If only the president had done something courageous, like passing landmark health care reform legislation that will achieve $716 billion in Medicare savings over the next decade. If only he had been willing to take such a step despite the virtual guarantee that the Republican presidential nominee would run ads ATTACKING HIM FOR IT. If only he’d been willing to do something bold, like taking the risk of having Republicans claim that he had created death panels when what he really did was create an Independent Payment Advisory Board aimed at reducing Medicare costs.

But no, our lousy president hasn’t been willing to make any TOUGH CHOICES at all. In fact, as Politico “reports” in the very same article that I quoted above:

Obama infuriated Democrats by proposing controversial changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security during his failed 2011 grand-bargain talks with Boehner. The president was ready to make some entitlement concessions in the fiscal cliff negotiations last month, but that effort fizzled, too.

Wait. Hold on. You mean Obama has proposed additional cuts to Medicare and Social Security?

Now at this point you might be a bit confused, because on the one hand Politico is ripping Obama for being unwilling to cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, but on the other hand, they are pointing out that he angered his own party when he proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Fortunately, your confusion will be short-lived, because Politico explains why Obama STILL SUCKS. The short version: the tax cliff deal made it impossible for him to get entitlement cuts because Republicans aren’t willing to raise taxes again.

The FISCAL CLIFF DEAL, which raised $600 billion in new revenue, may have actually made it more difficult to strike a grand bargain. That’s because Republicans aren’t willing to consider further tax hikes a White House prerequisite to weighing any controversial cuts to entitlements.

Well, I guess that settles that. As we all know, if Republicans say no to something, then it’s off the table. It should never be considered. Why? Because Republicans said no, that’s why. And when they say no, they mean it. EXCEPT:

A senior Republican tax aide confirmed that Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, the Ways and Means chairman, planned to push forward this year with “revenue-neutral” tax reform, with the revenue target adjusted upward to the amount raised by the higher tax rates on the wealthy approved this month to resolve most of the so-called fiscal cliff.

The Republican aide said if the Senate can approve tax changes that raise revenues, it is possible that difficult negotiations between the two chambers could produce a final deal that would produce more tax revenue - but not as much as the Senate wants.

Huh. Maybe assuming Republicans say what they mean and mean what they say isn’t really the best assumption to make. Maybe it’s time to realize that Republicans like to bluff. And as long as Politico is going to perpetuate its misguided obsession with 20-year budget projections for Social Security, maybe they should give President Obama some credit for having done what they say he refuses to do.

Of course, what would really be nice would be to see the same level obsession on an issue like unemployment and economic growth, or maybe even climate change. After all, the fanciest projection in the world doesn’t mean a damn thing without economic growth. And if we don’t do anything to confront climate change, the only thing we can say for sure about the demographic forecasts for the future of Social Security and Medicare is that they are going to be wrong.

SOURCE

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Americas Vanishing Economic Freedom

By Michael D. Tanner
National Review
September 19, 2012

The 2012 Economic Freedom of the World report was RELEASED this week by the Cato Institute and CanadaҒs Fraser Institute, and it showed that the United States has plummeted to 18th place in the ranked list, trailing such countries as Estonia, Taiwan, and Qatar. Even such notorious welfare states as Finland and Denmark, not to mention Canada, have freer economies than we do.

Actually, the decline began under President George W. Bush. For 20 years the U.S. had consistently ranked as one of the worlds three freest economies, along with Hong Kong and Singapore. By the end of the Bush presidency, we were barely in the top ten.

And, as with so many disastrous legacies of the Bush era, Barack Obama took a bad thing and made it worse.

During the past four years, the U.S. saw significant declines in nearly all categories of the economic-liberty index. Most significant - and this should come as no surprise to anyone paying attention - is that the size of government grew substantially, particularly when measured by size of government subsidies and transfers and by government consumption as a share of national consumption.

As recently as 2005, the U.S. ranked 45th in size of government among the 144 nations surveyed. That was bad enough, but it still had us in the top third of the 144 countries surveyed. Today, government has grown dramatically, and our ranking has fallen to 61st place. By the metrics used, the U.S. now has a bigger government than Ukraine or Syria.

The United States has also seen a substantial increase in business regulations, labor-market restrictions, and barriers to trade. Our standing fell in all those categories, and we have undergone a long-term deterioration in ranking on property rights as well.

To anyone wondering why the U.S. is having such a hard time recovering from this recession, the 2012 report provides a pretty devastating diagnosis. We are clearly headed in the wrong direction.

Yet discussion of economic freedom seems curiously missing from the presidential campaign. President Obama, in fact, would further restrict economic liberty. He proposes a host of new subsidies and regulations. And donגt forget that the largest parts of Dodd-Frank kick in next year.

Meanwhile, when it comes to defending economic liberty, Mitt Romney has spent most of his time in a defensive crouch. He occasionally breaks form to promise he wont really reduce taxes on the wealthy, wonҒt cut Medicare, and wants to keep some parts of Obamacare. Hes actually running ads attacking the president for not confronting China over trade.

Americans instinctively know the importance of economic freedom. They know that it is their ability to invest, start businesses, and hire workers that builds a prosperous country. They know that millions have come to this country and prospered because they had freedom to pursue their economic aspirations as well as their personal ones. And they find this freedom now slipping away.

They need a candidate to speak for them҅ and for freedom.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 01/22/13 •
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