Nemo me impune lacessit

No one provokes me with impunity


No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Article 1, Section 9, Constitution of the United States

If this is the law of the land...why in a republic (little r) and as republicans, do we allow mere POLITICIANS to the right to use a "title of office" for the rest of their lives as if it were de facto a patent of nobility. Because, as republicans, this should NOT be the case...just saying...

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Jonathan Alter's Challenge: You Think Obama's Been A Bad President?

Jonathan Alter, a far left blogger and "pundit" has asked in Bloomberg,  "You Think Obama’s Been a Bad President? Prove It".  Peter Wehner's response is very, very good...but here's agreat "non-professional" response that is just as good, if not better coming from an average citizen type:
ChallengeResponse 11 hours ago 3 comments collapsed CollapseExpand
Mr. Alter,

I thank you for your challenge to readers: "What, specifically, has he done wrong on policy? What, specifically, would you have done differently to create jobs? And what can any of the current Republican candidates offer that would be an improvement on the employment front?"  I take it as an actual challenge and not a rhetorical ploy. I accept your challenge.

You mention policy on Libya. The President should have acted far more quickly and forcefully with an air campaign. If he had done so, this phase of the war would have ended in days not weeks, as the President promised, and their would have been significantly fewer Libyan lives lost. The faster end to this phase of the war also means it would have cost less. This was all known at the time the President had to make a decision. With the exception of Ron Paul, it's reasonable for the public to believe that the major Republican candidates would likely have acted more swiftly and forcefully than Obama did.

Your comparison to Iraq is reasonable if you concede that Iraq was much more heavily defended and their were no rebels. The comparable phase of that war, toppling Saddam Hussein, took far less time than this phase of the war in Libya. For this comparison, President Bush was clearly a better Commander in Chief than President Obama. The hard part is just beginning in Libya.

I sincerely doubt that former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell would agree with your characterization that he is "a hardcore liberal Democrat." He wouldn't have been elected governor of a relatively centrist state had this been true. The fact that the previously most liberal member of the Senate, President Obama, would press for a bigger stimulus hardly seems noteworthy given that fact.

Except for some Democratic partisans, there is near unanimity that the economy has been in bad shape for the entire Obama administration. This is why only 26% of the population approves of Obama's handling of the economy. The unemployment numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics give a rational for this sentiment. Under the Bush administration, unemployment was below 6.5% for 93 of 96 months, 97% of the time. Under the Obama administration, unemployment was above 8.5%
for 31 of 33 months, 94% of the time. With numbers like these it's entirely reasonable for the public to believe that any number of people, even Ron Paul, could do a better job.

There's wide spread agreement that the economy was in poor shape when President Obama took office. He had an opportunity to turn it around.For the first two years President had such a strongly Democratic Congress that Republican votes didn't matter. The President could pass almost any legislation he wanted to, and he did. The stimulus was enacted so swiftly that the Congress had little time to review it before voting. The administration said this haste was necessary because the stimulus would improve the economy so quickly and included numerous "shovel ready" jobs. The administration's economic theory predicted that the stimulus would hold unemployment below 8%. In fact, none of these things have been true. The public is rightly distrustful of Keynesian stimulus after this performance. It's entirely reasonable to conclude that the stimulus was just an excuse for a government payout to the President's political allies: unions, government employees, green technology firms, etc.

We can agree that Ben Bernake, appointed by President Bush, and the TARP bailouts of the banks that Bush pushed for have been successful. The bailout of Chrysler, General Motors, and their unions is another case. It is highly unlikely that the government will ever be fully repaid, and Ford has performed better without a bailout. There's no evidence that restructuring Chrysler and General Motors through the normal bankruptcy process would have performed any worse, and there
wouldn't have been any political favoritism involved.

You said "The Republican alternative for job creation wasn’t tax cuts (the stimulus contained almost $300 billion in tax cuts) but deficit reduction and rolling back regulation. I’ve yet to see a single economist convincingly argue how either would have reversed the catastrophic job losses." With all due respect either you're not looking or your standard of proof is unreasonable: economic arguments aren't generally provable at the same level as in the physical sciences. Just to offer one example on regulation, I suggest ThomasHopkins, an economist at the Rochester Institute of Technology. There
are many others if you're serious about looking. The onslaught of new and anticipated regulation and its attendant uncertainty have nearly paralyzed business. The cumulative effect is that businesses are hoarding cash, and waiting for the regulatory storm to end. The regulation includes unattainable EPA standards, Dodd-Frank, Sarbanes-Oxley, and the Affordable Care Act. To the average American, this is just common sense. While quantifying the cumulative effect of regulation is difficult, it is no less real. When Republican candidates campaign on these facts and President Obama ignores them, these candidates become more competitive.

You claim the Affordable Care Act couldn't possibly have a negative effect on the economy. "And Republicans have offered no evidence for their claim that the Affordable Care Act (which includes tax credits for small businesses) has contributed to current levels of unemployment. How could it? The program hasn’t even fully begun yet." Business investment and hiring isn't based entirely on current
conditions; a far greater factor is anticipated future returns. The Affordable Care Act will significantly affect most business for the worse, and they are reluctant to hire employees and make risky investments because of it. You quote Warren E. Buffett, "People invest to make money and potential taxes have never scared them off." For the sake of your argument, let's ssume that's true. That doesn't mean that taxes don't affect how people invest. For example, taxes are the reason that people invest in municipal bonds. Higher potential taxes drive investors towards safer investments with less risk but also less return. This is a net loss for the economy.
By the way, your attempt at sarcasm, calling Buffett a "noted lefty socialist" fails. Buffett has been a consistent supporter of thePresident, an occasional adviser, and has endorsed him for 2012 without any idea who he will be competing against. Given Buffet's banking investments and the President's consistent support of the banks, indeeds if not always in words, Buffet's actions could just be rational self interest. The tax hikes Buffet suggests would have limited effect on him, most of his money is shielded by donation to the Gates foundation.

I'm glad we can agree that the President "looked weak during the debt-limit debate.” You ask, "what would you have done?" Cut, cap, andbalance sounded reasonable to me. It's too bad that the Senate never debated the merits. Americans are waking up to the fact that their share of government debt has gone from owing roughly $30,000 apiece to $45,000 in two and a half years because of the current spending binge. They are reasonably outraged that government is growing at this pace while they tighten their belts to pay down their household debts. One could reasonably argue the repayment of this debt will be uneven across society, some will repay more while others will repay nothing. However, those repaying nothing may be hit hardest; the government services they depend on may cease to exist.

You left out an important proposal made by most Republican candidates to reduce tax rates, particularly corporate rates, by reducing deductions, exemptions, and credits for following the government's preferred activities. The entire economy would benefit if companies like General Electric payed their fair share of taxes and everyone else had a lower rate and was better able to compete with extreme right-wing countries like Canada with lower rates. Money that companies don't pay in taxes they reinvest; as Buffett said, they want to make money. Reasonable Democrats understand this, but there are many extremists who don't want to give up the donations that come from playing political favors with the tax code. The poster boy for this kind of favoritism is GE President and head of the President's Jobs Council, Jeffrey Immelt. In addition, if foreign corporate profits could come back to America without being taxed twice, additional American investment could take place.
To summarize, the President's economic policies have failed by any objective standard, including his own. The Republican candidates havesuggested that flatter taxes, reduction of double taxation, and a more common sense approach to regulation would create a better environment for the private sector to grow. When polls indicate that the public is willing to support almost any Republican candidate against President Obama, they're indicating a willingness to try a different economic theory.

Let's return to the actual, but unstated, question of your column, what can a President who is "a hardcore liberal Democrat" do within the current situation without abandoning his values? He can put the good of the nation ahead of partisanship and honestly search for common ground with Republicans. It needs to go beyond the lip service offered thus far. I suspect members of both parties in Congress would respond to an honest effort. If George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy could do it, and Bill Clinton and Rick Santorum could do it, President Obama could do it with enough of this Congress.

This doesn't have to be a zero sum game of redistribution. The President can push the reset button, give up for now on class warfare, and adopt strategies that make everyone wealthier. A tax neutral reduction of tax rates via tax reform is beneficial for most of the country. Getting rid of government programs and regulations with limited value is beneficial for most of the country. (The nation could survive without the Cowboy Poetry Festival.) Every politician talks about waste, fraud, and abuse, but no one does anything about it. It's hard to calculate the exact damage wasteful government activity does to the economy, but it certainly distorts it. Doing something about it isn't a panacea, but it could easily be bipartisan.
One could argue that the really big money is entitlements, and that's true. However, by any other standard there's still real money and economic improvement in the above ideas. There isn't going to be any progress on entitlements until both sides can resist the temptation to play politics with it. True bipartisanship on smaller stakes programs is a prerequisite to progress on entitlements, and even that looks unlikely.

Here's the real problem President Obama has: unlike President Clinton, he would rather be an ideologically pure one term president than honestly seek common ground with Republicans. Absent a third party candidate, that's the trajectory he's on.
Notice that I've played by your very reasonable rules: "I’m not interested in hearing ad hominem attacks or about your generalized 'disappointment.'" I've used specific facts and arguments. You may not agree with the arguments, and you may know of other facts that I haven't considered, but I have stated my case as factually and honestly as I can.      
Well said sir.   Here are Peter Wehner's points:
  • * Under Obama’s stewardship, we have lost 2.2 million jobs (and 900,000 full-time jobs in the last four months alone). He is now on track to have the worst jobs record of any president in the modern era.
  • * The unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent v. 7.8 percent the month Obama took office.
  • * July marked the 30th consecutive month in which the unemployment rate was above the 8 percent level, the highest since the Great Depression.
  • * Since May 2009 — roughly 14 weeks into the Obama administration — the unemployment rate has been above 10 percent during three months, above 9 percent during 22 months, and above 8 percent during two months.
  • * Chronic unemployment is worse than during the Great Depression.
  • * The youth employment rate is at the lowest level since records were first kept in 1948.
  • * The share of the eligible population holding a job has declined to the lowest level since the early 1980s.
  • * The housing crisis is worse than in the Great Depression. (Home values are worth roughly one-third less than they were five years ago.)
  • * The rate of economic growth under Obama has been only slightly higher than the 1930s, the decade of the Great Depression. From the first quarter of 2010 through the first quarter of 2011, we experienced five consecutive quarters of slowing growth. America’s GDP for the second quarter of this year was a sickly 1.0 percent; in the first quarter, it was 0.4 percent.
  • * Fiscal year 2011 will mark the third straight year with deficits in excess of $1 trillion. Prior to the Obama presidency, we had never experienced a deficit in excess of $1 trillion.
  • * During the Obama presidency, America has increased its debt by $4 trillion.
  • That is to say, Obama has achieved in two-and-a-half years what it took George W. Bush two full terms in office to achieve — and Obama, when he was running for president, slammed Bush’s record as being “unpatriotic.”
  • * America saw its credit rating downgraded for the first time in history under the Obama presidency.
  • * Consumer confidence has plunged to the lowest level since the Carter presidency.
  • * The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Obama’s watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty.
  • * A record number of Americans now rely on the federal government’s food stamps program. More than 44.5 million Americans received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, a 12 percent increase from one year ago.
 Again...well said sir.

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