Monday, August 8, 2011

U.S. Credit Rating Downgrade: It’s Our Parent’s Fault, Claims the White House

By David Kilpatrick

Last time I checked, the government was working FOR the people – at least that’s what our founding fathers intended. As such, we the people have not only the right, but the responsibility to supervise the government in many ways the same manner that a parent must supervise a child. Sure, we TRUST them to watch the house while we can’t (CIA) and keep the doors locked while we are at work (military) and we even trust them to go to the store and buy things we need when we can’t.

So, what happened when we gave them their first credit card (the power to borrow) and they maxed it out - then discovered they didn’t have enough allowance from us (tax revenue) to make the payments? Did they take responsibility for the problem and reduce spending? No. Did they realize months ago that the course they were on would lead to this eventually? No. (so they say) What did they do? They blamed us. They claimed we should give them more money while calling the credit card company to ask for a limit increase with us as a co-signer. They then reminded us that because we did not raise their allowance fast enough – we created the problem for them. This mindset alone should warrant giving President Obama (our eldest child) a good spanking and a few days in “time-out”. Now, just as any responsible parent (which we haven’t been so far), we will need to step in and get the kid’s financial house in order. No, we can’t count on his help, he’s gone out to play (endless golf breaks) and instead asked congressional leaders (his younger siblings) to “set aside politics” and lead the country. As parents, this puts us in an awkward position. Accept the blame for the problem due to the limited allowance we gave or accept the blame for putting such an irresponsible person in charge in the first place. Either way, the blame is completely ours. Whichever side you’re on, we simple can’t kick the “Yes, we can” down the road for the next group of politicians, who will only try to figure a way to kick the “Yes, we can” down the road even further. You see, eventually we will run out of road – and the contents of the “Yes, we can” will be completely rotted and hard to swallow by the time reality MUST be faced. So when President Obama chides us by saying that he promised “Change we could believe in,” but he didn’t say “when”, I wonder what the change was exactly. It’s like he’s saying, “You didn’t ask me for any details, so I never gave you any. Don’t be angry at me for not living up to expectations if neither of us ever put them in writing.”

The question one keeps asking is: who’s leading the country? President Obama keeps deferring all responsibility to Congress, Congress is getting blamed for proposing things contrary to the president’s plans – which, one might note, don’t actually exist in a paper form of any sort. Small wonder congressional leaders are getting miffed by a president who keeps “moving the goal posts” and bemoaning the “messy democracy” involved in getting things done while he quietly slips out the back for another round of golf, only to return tomorrow to criticize congress for not leading properly. So when President Obama chides us by saying that he promised “Change we could believe in,” but he didn’t say “when”, I wonder when and what that change was exactly because, so far, it has not been for the better. It’s like he’s saying, “You didn’t ask me for any details, so I never gave you any. Don’t be angry at me for not living up to expectations if neither of us ever put them in writing.” I guess “the planet healing itself” thing is out the window. Bummer – I was looking forward to that.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Obama's Leadership Vacuum

by David Kilpatrick

“Vacuum Rose Law files”, the infamous phrase described by the Clintons to mean, “there is nothing in the Rose Law files”, could now be re-written as “Vacuum White House” – as there is absolutely no leadership in the White House.

We knew during the Obama campaign leading to his election in 2008 that Obama had no experience in leading a city, county, state, country, basketball team, corner store or ice cream stand. But, he made great speeches, so we elected him to lead the greatest country on Earth. As such, we are now without a leader during times when speeches are not the solution. Don’t get me wrong; I like a great speech as much as the next guy, but it seems to me that talk and action are two entirely different things and the time for talk expired a couple years back – now we’re left waiting for the action. When’s that going to come? Oh, you might say, “Obama passed health care reform,” but did you also notice how he has given out 1000 exemptions from the law that supposedly all men enjoy equal protection under to largely political allies including big corporations, unions, and even entire states? If his crowning glory of health care reform is so great an accomplishment and was delivering “greater access and lower costs without adding a dime to the deficit” – why would so many political friends need to opt out? Remember the rush to pass it “in order to find out what’s in it,” as the great Nancy Pelosi mentioned? Where was Obama’s leadership of the nation while Reid and Pelosi were going through procedural contortions that put normally straight-forward business through something akin to the pretzel making process? Vacuum White House.

We knew Obama wanted the support of immigrants, but is the president not interested in enforcing the law? Seems there was something about that in that pesky oath of office thing. So, when Arizona saw that no leadership was coming from the White House in the way of immigration reform, Arizona took it upon itself to pass laws allowing them to determine if wrongdoers were in the country illegally. While offering no assistance past marvelous speeches, Obama’s justice department decided to sue the State of Arizona before even reading the sixteen page law! I’m not sure that a legal battle is the help Arizona or any other state is looking for, but I guess it’s a new form of leadership? Leadership through lawsuit? Don’t interfere with our lack of leadership or we’ll sue you? To this day, when it comes to illegal immigration: Vacuum White House.

Should we discuss the war in Afghanistan? Months after the officers on the ground said they needed more troops, Obama finally approved 30,000. What about the men who died during the months of waiting? Where was White House leadership? Anywhere? This pattern of absent leadership reminds me of the line in the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” when the teacher played by Ben Stein was taking roll, “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?” Today, it would sound like this: “Obama? Obama? Obama? Obama?” it seems we are all living through a movie right now titled, “Barack Obama’s Day Off”. Tough day on the golf course, Mr. President? One would expect that a president would be sitting down with his generals during a time of war, when time is of the essence (war is always a matter of life and death – we were so frequently reminded while Bush was in office) and getting things done in an expedited fashion! Why leave our men and women standing in harm’s way while playing golf? Ah, yes… Vacuum White House.

Has anyone seen the budget that the Democrats were supposed to pass last year as required by law? No? Well, that’s ok. The Democrats haven’t seen it either. The president’s party decided that spending so much with no noticeable positive impact during an election year made a written budget such a disgusting tar baby that it would be better to just forget about leadership altogether and punt – leave the Republicans to fix it in the next session. Now, that’s leadership for you. Run the opposite direction even when the law requires that you act. They would face consequences for breaking the law, except for one of my favorite Al Gore quotes: “No governing authority.” In other words – we lawmakers don’t need to adhere to laws; laws are for you little people. Not to worry though! Surely President Obama, the savior of our generation (Yes we can!), will step up and let his congressional pals know that simply kicking the “yes we can” down the road is no way to govern, right? Wrong. Budgets? What budgets? We don’t need no stinkin’ budgets! Maybe this entire “Barack Obama’s Day Off” movie has been edited to include scenes from “Treasures of the Sierra Madre”? Finally – months after your popcorn went stale – Barack Obama broke loose with a budget that included “tough choices” and “hard decisions”. Tough decisions like what? Whether or not to raise, stand, draw, or spit in the ocean? What was he talking about? Oh, yes, it was just more talk – no real action. The budget shows no leadership on any difficult issue and, once again, punts it back to the Republicans to cut the deficit that Obama promised to make his top priority. Obama leadership? Vacuum White House.

Oh, no. It’s time to look at foreign policy. Remember the Clinton campaign ad about the phone ringing at 3:00am? She was asking who you would want answering it, right? It seems that Obama has, indeed, solved the problem. He took the phone off the hook. It reminds me a little of the time I was in San Francisco and the mayor (I can’t remember which) had just won by promising to put all of the city busses back on time as they were always late. After he took office, he was reminded of the promise and solved the problem with true hard-decision, liberal leadership fashion: He had the bus schedules reprinted to add the word “approximately” next to the pick-up times. I saw that and had to slap my forehead, pull my hand down my face, and cover my mouth in utter disbelief at the audacity. When I was informed that the bus drivers are union workers, it all became clear. Anyway… Tunisia in revolt, Egypt on fire, Libya breaking into pieces, Iran cracking down on demonstrators, Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain… not a sound from the White House. Peace through weakness? Is that the new road to world stability? You may argue that it’s hard to know which side of the issue to be on when the same populations rioting now were the same bunch of Muslim sand-monkeys that were celebrating in the streets over the deaths of innocent Americans during the fall of the World Trade Center towers, but coddling our enemies while scolding our allies seems to be the best we can expect from a busy president working on those back nine holes. Which club would Obama use on this tricky shot? Your guess is as good as his. What about the Somali pirates? Is this 1811 or 2011? Any steps being taken to destroy their ports or ships or abilities to collect ransoms – or will that problem simply vanish when the planet “heals itself”? Vacuum White House.

Leadership on the environment? What - getting the EPA to declare carbon dioxide a pollutant? Great. Now the government can classify breathing (you see, kids, you breathe out carbon dioxide) an environmentally threatening activity – making polluters out of all of us, even those of you that spit your old chewing gum into your pocket. That’s just what we needed. Thank you so much, President Obama. It’s getting colder outside already as a result of that pile of horse hockey. The government can now regulate my breathing. Is that “change I can believe in”? Where’s Obama to help clear up that bit of confusion and overreach? Vacuum White House.

Where’s the leadership on job creation and the economic stimulus? Billions spent on “shovel-ready” jobs that, as it turns out, don’t actually exist. Maybe his wonderful speech was the only thing that required a shovel. What about the private sector? New burdensome regulations and expenses for every new person hired – and we scratch our heads in wonder when businesses stop hiring. Who could have seen that coming? Hello, President Obama? Is this microphone on? Tap, tap, tap… Vacuum White House

On the ongoing crisis that many states are facing as a result of high-spending policies, several states are noticing that mandatory union membership and awesome benefit packages are driving the cost of government much higher while also providing the "double-whammy" of driving businesses away from or out of the state altogether – effectively making more and more people reliant on government checks in the face of a diminishing tax base. Clearly, that’s not a practice that can be allowed to carry on forever as mountains of debt grow to unsustainable levels. The Democrats, elected to govern who find themselves in the minority as a result of their disastrous policies, have decided to simply walk away from their jobs. This is the same as saying, “We can’t win with votes, so we will force the will of the minority over the will of the majority by crippling democracy.” Could the Democrat’s despise for the democratic process be made any more obvious? No worry, President Obama will be on the phone, demonstrating leadership, and letting the errant Democrats know that they are not the winners of the last election and their duty is to go to work, make the case before the voters, and win the next election. That’s what’s going on, right? Well, no. Obama is watching the wheels come off of democracy in the states and saying… nothing. No leadership detected from Obama at all. Vacuum White House.

Black Panthers threatening voters – no prosecutions. Rest assured that if Knights of the Ku Klux Klan had been threatening voters that heads would have rolled. But, our new and improved justice department has the new and improved position of only prosecuting people we want to prosecute and only upholding the laws we believe in. The law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman – what happened there? We don’t really believe in that one, so no more legal defense of that. Forget the fact that it’s a law and was passed properly by majorities in both parties. I guess a good president only enforces certain laws that favor his personal views? That would be a first. That would also be the same approach taken by a dictator. What happened to the process of getting the votes necessary to change the law? No need to do that anymore? Obama said he was the president of ALL, not just his constituency. So far, I haven’t seen that. On the basic responsibility of enforcing the laws as they exist: vacuum White House.

How long can we go on successfully without a leader? Obama is not leading; he’s pushing a personal agenda. Anything that is not part of his agenda, be it international or domestic, will simply be ignored. We need a strong leader, not grand speeches in a power vacuum. So far, Obama is a grand disappointment who is not ready or willing to lead a nation. He is in the job for his own purposes, not for the purposes of the American people.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Spend now, SUFFER later.


In Paul Krugman's piece "Now and Later" (Spend Now, Save Later), in the NY Times, he points to the current consensus that spending is out of control and implies that people need to be smarter: We need to understand that slowing spending now is "shortchanging" the economy. We need to spend even more... and when the economy improves, we'll let the chips fall where they may and pick up the pieces at that time. In short, spend as much and as quickly as we can to ease our current suffering - and not look at any long-term damage that bankrupting the country could cause. It's like telling us to run through the forest as fast as we can while staring at our shoes. Never mind the trees, we're told, they will take care of themselves. Ouch.

Are we all on the same planet?

The problem is NOT that nobody understands this administration. We've heard that old song too many times already. We didn't understand ObamaCare, that's why we were opposed. We still don't understand what awesome benefits ObamaCare will provide - and that's why we remain opposed. We don't understand the great blessings in store for us from taxing our energy use through cap-and-tax - so we're opposed. We don't understand how shifting to alternative green power (even if it's not currently sufficient or available) will bring utopia, so we're opposed. Basically, if we're opposed to some left-wing pipe-dream scheme, it's WE who are just too stupid to understand it. I respectfully disagree. The problem is that we DO understand, not that we are uneducated!  

Now, it's time for the liberals to LISTEN. Government spending creates more, if not at least as many, problems than it solves. We spend a trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) to "stimulate" the economy. This is essentially doing two things:
1) Hiring a lot of people to do temporary work. They'll be laid off again when the work projects are finished.
2) Starting new government agencies and programs. These will be burdens on the taxpayer for decades to come as an act of congress could be required to close them down - and we all know that congress doesn't close anything that has a compassionate name on the front of the building.

So, we have this great situation the liberals are presenting us with: Spend now on a bunch of things that are temporary relief for a small group of union workers (good friends and political supporters) and then spend more on a bunch of things that will be an increase to the burden for decades to come, but can be initially built by union workers (good friends and political supporters). Excuse me, but I don't see these as the answers we need as even the union workers (good friends and political supporters) will eventually be hurt as well. Oh, let's not forget that a modest Value Added Tax (VAT) of a mere 5% would be a great thing for the country as it would tax the poor as well as the rich (who didn't see that coming?) and, as a side-bonus which some uneducated simpleton who doesn't understand will point out, it will only add about 30% to the cost of goods for the American consumer. That won't have any negative impact on the economy - will it? (Check your wallet, then answer quietly in the voting booth) We have now arrived at the same thing the liberals have been telling us for 50 years: We're only one more massive new tax increase away from paradise! The ever more elusive and ever more pricey paradise, it seems.

We're told that the United States is one of the lowest-taxed countries in the "advanced world". Are they referring to Europe? The teetering on bankruptcy Euro-Socialist countries? The high-taxed, yet much more financially enlightened (figuratively and literally) people of the bankrupt countries in Europe? Excuse me again... I'm trying to figure out why we need to follow a path of proven failure when we already know the path to success - oh, wait! I get it: liberals cannot divorce themselves from their ideological agenda of massive government - even if it is a proven mistake! Case in point: California. One of the highest taxed states in the union, yet unable to pay the bills. Anyone that's logical can very logically conclude that high taxes ARE NOT the solution to out-of-control spending. Controlling spending is the solution to out-of-control spending. When government cannot discipline itself (painfully obvious), the solution is not to hand over more money. More money means more spending and more spending means more debt. To illustrate: If I make $40,000 per year and I spend $50,000 per year - I have a debt problem due to spending too much. Increasing my pay to $60,000 per year when I have a habit of overspending, inspires me to spend $75,000 per year. For years, this is proven to be the habit of liberal governments. 

Step one: Spend based on "hoped for" tax revenues. 
Step two: Scratch our heads and wonder why the tax revenues were not as large as imagined and the debt went up. 
Step three: Introduce more taxes to fix the problem. 
Step four: Go back to step one.

Liberals site one of the problems that we face now as high medical costs (note that a liberal will never site run-away government spending, high taxes, or huge debt). Let's look at this for a moment. What is it that drives up medical costs?
1) Malpractice insurance costs (liberals can't touch TORT REFORM because they need the trial lawyer money from the lawsuits to fund their campaigns for lower medical costs - odd conflict there, yes?)
2) Medicaid means free insurance (free for people who are poor - very expensive for everyone else. Going to the doctor is free and that's less than buying cough syrup. Liberals can't bring themselves to limit access for the poor because they need the votes that they used the trial lawyer's money to campaign for.)
3) Medical technology is not free or cheap. NOW, we have something liberals can attack. Those mean old drug companies! Let's cap prescription costs and doctor salaries! I know he saves lives, but did you see the nice car? He must be rich! So, they go after the researchers and the providers as the ONLY HOPE of reducing costs - not imagining that they will be cutting access and quality dramatically. Wow.

When the government runs out of our money, the solution will be forced upon us, just like it has been forced upon the well-paid and well-benefited citizens of Greece and more "advanced" countries to come. Dramatic cuts in government spending on all levels. You'll have to pick your favorite government trough, pull your snout out, and kiss it goodbye. 

Our country was not founded on liberal principles of equal result. It was founded on conservative principles of equal opportunity. Our fathers believed that the government should empower - not provide. The government should insure that opportunity is equally available - not hand out other people's money. There is no such thing as a government social program that increased revenue and increased employment in the private sector because that is not the nature, design, or scope of government.

I, for one, would  rather SAVE NOW and have some control over where the chips fall than spend now and let the chips fall where they may. Suffering the forced-upon consequences of bankruptcy later is not a good plan - even for now. If we must stop spending (and we must), we would be much wiser to do it on our terms rather than those terms forced on us by insolvency. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How's that whole "Hopey-Changey" thing working out for you?

by David Kilpatrick

Bringing America together as one people, getting rid of partisanship, working toward the common good. Electing Obama so that the plant would begin to heal itself...

We elected a community organizer who was careful not to lay out specifics during the election campaign. Let's examine the course we have laid before us:

Helping small businesses:
Small businesses are the spearhead of every economic recovery in the history of the Untied States as they employ roughly 70% of the workforce. What policies has Obama embraced so far?

Cap-and-trade. According to the church of global warming, the sun doesn't play as much of a role in the temperature of the planet as power plants do. So we should raise the price of power to the point that people can't afford to consume as much - ignoring the fact that a prosperous, first-world country is much "cleaner" than an impoverished, third-world one. So, without China or India following suit, we are going to cool the planet alone by going to war against... ourselves. That's right - we're going to prevent those mean-spirited Americans from being able to afford to pollute with their carbon dioxide emissions which plants love. After all, if grandma is cold, she can use a blanket like they do in Serbia! This policy will involve a steep rise in the cost of doing business in the U.S. and it will also increase the burden on small businesses who will have less money to grow, hire, or pay benefits.

Additional taxes. Taking money from the business owner - always a winner because small businesses are like ATM machines in the eyes of folks like Obama, Pelosi, and Reid - three people who have never had to make payroll in their lives. More due in taxes leaves less money to pay or hire new employees - or cover their health care.

Expanding labor unions. Unions have done the country much good in the past. Child labor laws, workplace safety rules, and fairness in wages... but forcing small businesses to open their doors to labor unions will be a death sentence for many. Money doesn't grow on trees and small businesses typically have a strict budget. Simply requiring that two people get the same money that used to hire three won't make Americans richer - it will make more Americans unemployed.

The problem we have in America right now is a government running on steroids - headed by a group of people who have no idea what "unintended consequences" will occur when the Utopian ideas are taken off of the whiteboard and forced upon 250,000,000+ people. It's nice to say, "Free everything for everyone," it's quite another thing to deliver it while promising that only the very rich will have to "contribute". The great speeches and incredible promises of a better society for all are what brought the Soviet Union into being. We should take a breath and learn something from history before we continue down a path from which we cannot return.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The O is for Overrated

By Richard Baehr

In his campaign for the Presidency, candidate Barack Obama and his minions relied on several key messages:
I am for change (I am not George Bush);
I am the candidate who will break through the racial barrier and show how America (and yes, you the voter) can be part of this noble uplifting effort;
I am young and vigorous but also calm and composed (not like John McCain);
I am a gifted speaker who will inspire you.
Experience, and in particular executive experience, was not much discussed, since Obama had less of both than any candidate for President in history. And Obama also ran from his public voting record and history of associations (Reverend Wright, Bill Ayers, Rashid Khalidi, Tony Rezko) that suggested he would be far more to the left than any President in history. Rather the message was that he would be bi-partisan, moderate, and post-racial.
We have now seen the President and his team in action, and the lack of executive experience seems to be a real drawback. The fiasco with British Prime Minister Brown's visit may reflect more than the President's fatigue after going through all those papers on his desk. The Administration's vetting process for high level positions was weak and many posts remain unfilled, especially at Treasury, arguably the most critical Cabinet Department at the moment. Investors remain baffled as to how the Administration plans to address the banking industry. The President's prior voting record (the most liberal of any Senator's) seems to have been a reliable guide as to how far left the President wants to move the country (as Rahm Emanuel has said: a crisis is a terrible thing to waste, and in fact offers an opportunity.) On the other hand, Obama remains unflappable, at least on camera.
In one area, Obama as the great communicator, a little bit of the glow is gone. For it turns out that while there is only one O in teleprompter, without this trusted device, we might not have the Big O in the White House (apologies to Oscar Robertson). It is now coming out (though not in the New York Times or Washington Post) two years too late, that underlying the gifted public speaker iconography is a machine. Our President has a dependency, and it is not on tobacco products. The real "jones" is for a teleprompter.
No President is known to have used such a device at press conferences before, so that his staff could funnel facts and figures to him ("my, how encyclopedic he is with information!"). No President or Presidential candidate has ever been as inseparable from the device every time he makes a speech. Barack Obama's rhetorical gifts, which delivered chills up Chris Matthews' leg, and inspired Joe Klein to paroxysms of delight during his recent address to a joint session of Congress, appears to be the ability to "deliver" a speech, written by others and printed out for him to read. For a few months, what registered as newsworthy for the legions of Obama media flacks, was whether he would get to keep his cherished blackberry in the White House. But it was always, it seems, the teleprompter that really ruled.
In but seven short weeks, the aura of greatness (if not transcendence) has all but withered away from our new President, due to the continued and it appears, worsening economic and financial turmoil. The President can continue to start every sentence with we "inherited" this or that problem from the prior administration, or repeat the mantra of the "failed policies" of the last 8 years, but in 7 weeks since his Inauguration, the nation has shed well over a million jobs. Americans who lose their jobs, are less interested in a blame game and much more in solutions that work, and get them back to work. Similarly, stoking a populist zeal to strike back at the evil Wall Street financial crowd may serve for a period of time to divert attention from the success or failure of Obama's own programs, but if all the bailouts and stimuli don't succeed in reversing the economic decline, it is the present administration that will have to answer for its failures.
Since his election on November 4th, an event we were told that would inspire Americans with hope for change (better times), more than 2.5 million jobs have been lost. The President's words, whether read (almost all the time) or delivered extemporaneously (very rare) seem to have done nothing to inspire the confidence needed for businesses and consumers to change behavior and begin to stem the job losses. In fact it can be argued that by talking down the American economy for two years (even while it was still growing) and creating fear, Obama and other Democratic contenders for the Oval office, may have helped turn many Americans from free spenders to very cautious savers. That is not helping car sales, home sales, retail sales or business inventory levels. It is why GDP is shrinking so rapidly. But all that depressing talk undoubtedly helped get Obama elected and Democrats to expand their control of the House and Senate.
Economists consider Obama a dismal failure so far. They think even worse of his tax cheating Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, whose Department is so undermanned, it fails to answer the phone at times. Economists give far higher grades to the performance of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who if memory serves, was appointed by former President George W. Bush.
The stock market, which bets on futures, has dropped more than 15% in 50 days of the Obama administration (it is down 25% since his Election Day victory). The Obama administration's record of wealth destruction is far beyond that of any other President in his first 50 days. Forget the Lincoln and FDR comparisons. The market rallied nearly 80% in the first 7 weeks under FDR, and is down 16% (even counting Tuesday's big rally) in the first 50 days under President Obama. This is a comparison of inspiration versus desperation.
We have had a frenetic pace in the first months of the new administration. The Obama media machine has broadcast its success in early passage of the $800 billion "stimulus" bill, designed to create or save anywhere from 3 to 4 million jobs (depending on the particular day of the press release). That bill was rushed through Congress, ostensibly because every day lost, was a day when many more American jobs were shed. The reality, it turned out, was that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi needed to catch a flight to Rome for a taxpayer-funded Congressional junket. The bill was then left unsigned by President Obama for 4 days, as he flew back for his own junket to Chicago, to shoot some hoops with friends, dine out with the wife, and watch the NBA All Star game.
The signing ceremony and initial release of funds actually waited until Obama could do the honors at a campaign style event in a swing state the next week. At the rate of job losses every day in February, the signing delay occurred while nearly 100,000 more American jobs were shed. So did the bill need to get passed all that quickly or not?
Could a bit more time have been taken, even if inconvenient for both the Speaker and the President, to produce a better bill in Congress -- one focused more on job creation, especially among those groups with high unemployment rates, and less on pet priorities of liberal interest groups, particularly those of teachers' unions, environmental groups, and those who favor more health care spending?
The same hypocrisy is associated with the President's (no ceremony for this one) signing of the $410 billion omnibus spending bill on Wednesday. The candidate who promised to scour the budget line by line to eliminate waste, decided that the 8,000 plus earmarks in the Omnibus bill were OK this time. (but maybe not next time). The Congressional appropriators, who raised spending in pretty much all areas from baseline plus 3% to baseline plus 8%, got a pass on that one too from President Obama. After all, what are a few tens of billions of new money to be spent (among friends), that the Treasury does not have?
The President's ten year budget proposals also scored far higher on hype and hypocrisy than reality. The supposed $2 trillion in "savings" come in two major area: tax increases, and counting as savings any reduction in spending in Iraq over the next ten years as compared to the higher spending level in that country in federal fiscal year 2008 ( the year of the surge). Does it make sense to assume a "surge" level of spending for ten years as a baseline?
The President's shills on Capitol Hill, Geithner and Budget Director Peter Orszag, defended this new budget math with a straight face, only further diminishing them as straight shooters of the new transparency. The projected budget deficit -- falling to "only" $500 billion a year in 2013, and only 3% of GDP in ten years, requires sizable tax increases not only on the affluent, but on energy producers and corporate users from the proposed cap and trade program (who would pass their higher costs on to all consumers), and on 4% per year growth in real GDP, a level not reached on a consistent basis for decades.
If the true deficit turns out to be a trillion dollars a year or much higher for years to come, who will buy all that new government paper: $150 billion a month in new debt for 2009, and $100 billion or more in net new debt each month in the next few years? Will China buy Treasury paper paying 2.8% for 10 years, or 3.5% for 30 years? These rates reflect investors' flight to "quality" (in their wholesale abandonment of stocks), and very relaxed monetary policy since the credit crisis began. Low interest rates are assumed to remain that way in Obama's ten year budget projections, but that too may be unrealistic.
There has been grumbling even among some Democrats that Obama is trying to do too much to soon, and that parts of his program (especially the enormous cap and trade tax) may destroy jobs that his stimulus plan tries to create.
As pointed out in an earlier article, Obama has a lot of political power at the moment, with big majorities in both the House and Senate, and is using it to steamroller through what he and the hard left of the Democratic Party have always wanted. Nancy Pelosi, Henry Waxman, Maxine Waters, Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer and Bernie Sanders are having their day at the beach.
The President had another campaign style event in another swing state (Ohio) last week that is revealing. On a day when the new jobless numbers were released (651,000 jobs lost in February, unemployment up to 8.1%), Obama jetted off to take credit for saving the jobs of 27 Columbus, Ohio police recruits, whose pay (for only one year, it turns out) will come from stimulus funds. If the February pace holds, the economy would have shed almost 1,000 times as many jobs that day as were saved for the police recruits. Is it unfair to mention the carbon footprint of the President jetting to Ohio for this event to celebrate so small an achievement, or the cost of police protection by the local force, whose budget is so strained it needed stimulus money to pay the 27 new members of the force? The campaign event worked to help "win" the daily news cycle for Obama, and enable the ever friendly nightly new anchors to speak both of job losses (Bush's fault) , but also job gains (credit to Obama).
Making the locals pay for Obama public events, is of course, nothing new. In Chicago, the near $ 2 million bill for providing security for Obama's Election night party in Grant Park was never paid by the Obama campaign. A typical victory party in a hotel would have been far less demanding on and costly for the City of Chicago.
The sad reality is that if you are a narcissist in chief, and prefer campaigning to governing, you need to speak before large crowds all the time. Obama has promised to hit the road every week to meet the people of this great country. You can guess in which swing states he will find them. In July, as the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, Obama demanded an outdoor event while visiting Germany, and then spoke to 200,000 Germans, assuring them that his victory would mean the oceans would stop rising, and the earth would start healing. He decided to have his nomination acceptance speech outdoors in a football stadium in Denver, with 80,000 on hand, speaking in front of a backdrop of fake Roman columns. Add Grant Park on Election Night to the mega event list.
Oprah Winfrey, whose support for Obama last year might have been critical in his winning the nomination, helping move perhaps a million or more women voters in the primaries and caucuses away from Hillary Clinton and to Obama, was seen leaving the Denver event in August, almost unable to walk, overcome with emotion, and for once, speechless. Speechless will be one word that will never be used to describe our current President. Obama needs to talk, and for crowds to cheer him. As narcissist in chief, Obama, much like Bill Clinton, flourishes in the public setting with the adoring crowd cheering, laying out a stream of fluent prose that he is reading.
In the teleprompter we trust, could be the motto of this Administration.
The jury is still out on whether we can trust Obama to do the job to which he is elected, which involves far more than speechmaking So far, we see more of a permanent campaign than a functioning Executive. If that pattern continues, there will be more Americans over time who will conclude that the O in Obama is for overrated.

Richard Baehr is chief political correspondent of American Thinker.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Obama Will Sign Spending Bill Despite Earmarks

Associated Press
Monday, March 02, 2009

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama will break a campaign pledge and sign a budget bill laden with millions in lawmakers' pet projects, administration officials said.
Administration budget chief Peter Orszag and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel both downplayed the $410 billion spending bill and signaled Obama would hold his nose and sign it. Orszag said: "We want to just move on. Let's get this bill done, get it into law and move forward.
Said Emanuel: "That's last year's business."
The House last week passed the measure that would keep the government running through Sept. 30, when the federal budget year ends. Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group, identified almost 8,600 specially sponsored projects totaling $7.7 billion; Democrats say the number is $3.8 billion.
Either way, it is far more than Obama promised as a candidate. He refused "earmarks" for the economic stimulus package he championed and a children's health bill.
He similiarly pledged to reject tailored budget requests that let lawmakers send money to their home states. Orszag said Obama would move ahead and overlook the time-tested tradition that lets officials divert millions at a time to pet projects.
"We want to make sure that earmarks are reduced and they're also transparent. We're going to work with the Congress on a set of reforms to achieve those," said Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Obama's top hands assigned responsibility to their predecessors and President George W. Bush.
Blaming Bush-era proposals for deficits, Obama wanted to set up his own budget that would start Oct. 1, which he proposed last week with a bold goal of cutting the deficit by half within his four-year term.
"First, this is a $1.7 trillion deficit he inherited. Let's be clear about that. We inherited this deficit and we inherited $4 trillion of new debt," Emanuel said. "That is the facts."
Facts, aides said, would be the cornerstone of the administration's public relations push. Officials faced a tough haul, even as Orszag and others said the proposal would raise taxes on wealthy Americans and increase energy costs.
Emanuel said energy costs are too low, anyway. U.S. car companies relied too long on gas-guzzling autos and failed to invest in alternative energy vehicles, he said. The time for new auto fuels is now, he contended.
"They never invested in both alternative energy cars. They got dependent on big gas guzzlers. ...They have a health care cost structure that's outdated," Emanuel said, repeating the administration's premise that health costs must come under control or else risk breaking all other pieces of the budget.
Republicans were not persuaded. Rep. Eric Cantor, their No. 2 in the House, said Obama was failing on his promises.
"Listen, I mean, the president was elected by the people of this country to institute change in Washington and to finally demand a federal government that is accountable to the people," he said. "The fact that there are 9,000 earmarks in this bill and the fact that the vetting process just doesn't take place the way it should, we ought to stand up and draw the line right now and stop the waste."
Orszag and Cantor appeared on ABC's "This Week." Emanuel spoke on CBS' "Face the Nation."

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