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Cleaning up Obama’s Messes

In today’s WSJ.com’s Political Diary (available by subscription), Stephen Moore quips “The Laffer report on the two presidents”, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama “is aptly entitled ‘The Odd Couple.’ In this case Reagan would be Felix, because he cleaned up the mess; and Mr. Obama is more like Oscar, who leaves a bigger mess behind.”

Seems Democrats believe the incumbent can repeat the feat of the most successful domestic policy president of the 20th century and win reelection despite middling polls during his third year in office. Problem is is that the Gipper’s poll numbers steadily increased in 1983 while in the corresponding year of his term, Obama’s have drifted downward.

Moore is onto something when he talks about Obama having left a bigger mess behind [than the one he "inherited"]. One reason House Republicans haven’t been able to devote more time on conservative reforms is that they have had to clean up messes the previous Congress left behind, such as its failure to pass a budget and to increase the debt ceiling high enough to accommodate the spending increases it did pass.

In addition to the messes the last Democratic House left the current Republican one, there are the messes Obama will leave to his successor, including notably two of the “big” pieces of legislation he signed, the health care overhaul and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation bill, each increasing federal control over our economy. Not to mention all the new regulations administration appointees have foisted on the private sector, particularly those imposed by the EPA.

The next president is going to have to devote the better part of his first year in office just cleaning up the messes the incumbent is making today.

Will Obama consider economic history in developing his jobs plan?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:00 pm - August 30, 2011.
Filed under: American History,Economy

Two weeks ago, I wondered if Obama’s Big Jobs Speech would be, like his other big speeches, full of sound and fury, specifying nothing. Yesterday, in a similar vein, Jim Geraghty quipped, “Wait, a ‘major speech’? I thought he promised a ‘very specific plan.’”  That blogger was responding to an USA Today piece on the president’s claim that creating jobs was “our urgent mission.

So, as the president prepares that speech, I’m wondering whom he’s consulting, representatives of left-of-center interest groups whose resources he needs to win re-election, political consultants who have poll-tested various ideas or economists who have theories of how markets work.

Perhaps, he would better to consult instead with economic historians, asking them to study each major economic downturn over the past century or so, perhaps going back to the Panic of 1893, and see how the respective presidents responded to those recessions  – and to see how markets responded to those policies, whether the economy grew in response and whether or not jobs were created.

Instead of consulting economists who have put forward various theories of how markets works, he would to wise to seek out individuals who have studied what actually happened.  But, methinks, alas, Mr. Obama is too dependent on various big government theories; he just believes they work.  Seems he puts more stock in his theories than in the actual results of government policy.

FROM THE COMMENTS:  John the Egyptian offers:

The liberal narrative always transcends reality. Liberals are to be judged upon their intents, their hopes, and their empathy; not on their results.

Indeed.

Maybe if Mayor Bloomberg had studied American history, he might not have excluded clergy from 9/11 commemoration

As I drive to Colorado to celebrate my father’s upcoming birthday, I have been listening to Ron Chernow’s wonderful biography of George Washington.  Last night, when crossing Nevada in the dead of night, but with the temperature fluctuating from the mid-90s to low 100s, I learned of the trials that great man faced when first taking charge of the Continental Army, then little more than a ragtag collection of  state militias, in 1775.

Among other things, the then-green Commander-in-Chief was concerned about the spiritual welfare of his men.  From his “General Orders” of July 4, 1775 (one year before that day would become the most significant one on an American’s calendar):

The General . . . requires and expects, of all Officers, and Soldiers, not engaged on actual duty, a punctual attendance on divine Service, to implore the blessings of heaven upon the means used for our safety and defence.

Wonder how the ACLU would have reacted had it been around at the time.

Contrast the father of our country with the the current Mayor of New York City:  “New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will not reconsider his decision to exclude clergy from the ceremony marking 10 years since the Sept. 11 attacks, a spokesman said Friday.

Katrina, Irene & the Expectations of Bush’s Failure

It is perhaps instructive that Hurricane Irene threatened to devastate the East Coast almost exactly six years after Katrina did indeed devastate the Gulf Coast in and around New Orleans.

Now, to be sure, then-President George W. Bush did make his share of blunders in responding to the storm, perhaps his greatest being that he respected our federal system and trusted local authorities, who traditionally direct the response to handle natural disasters.  The federal government merely plays a supporting role.

One hundred years ago,” John Hinderaker wrote yesterday about the incumbent’s pretense of taking charge of hurricane relief efforts

. . . people understood that the president had nothing to do with hurricanes. Now, the president is expected to pretend to have control over more or less everything. This has something to do with the inexorable expansion of federal power, and also something to do with the dumbing-down of the American people.

Six years ago, our friends in the mainstream media used this expectation of of presidential responsibility over disaster relief to prove that the then-incumbent was the incompetent they knew him to be.  His image never recovered from their assault (though it just might have had he then had a press secretary who was not in a perpetual “defensive crouch“).

As the facts trickled out, it became increasingly clear that local authorities botched relief efforts in Louisiana.  Recall, that the storm devastated coastal regions in Mississippi and Alabama, but the chaos centered around Louisiana.   The then-Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat, dilly-dallied before declining the “dual-hat” command structure to accommodate her concerns about “federalizing the response“.   President Bush was concerned about overstepping his bounds and not interfering with state responsibilities.

And because of those concerns for our federal structure, he was blamed for the Democratic governor’s failures. (more…)

2008 victory didn’t give Obama mandate to increase spending

On Friday, I, like many right-of-center bloggers, posted this video and expect to post it again (as I do today for a great variety of reasons:

Some see this as showing the president’s hypocrisy on debt, lambasting his predecessor for increasing government spending without paying for it, yet when increasing it at a far more rapid pace when he took office. And recall those times he promised a “net spending cut,” At 0:54 below, he says that when elected, he’ll cut more than he’ll spend:

If anything, the Democrat had a mandate to cut spending not build upon the Bush spending increases.

(And let’s not forget this one.)

NB:  Tweaked title to make my point clearer.

Isn’t that the point?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:10 pm - August 27, 2011.
Filed under: Media Bias

UCLA Professor: Without Media Bias the Average US State Would Vote Like Texas or Tennessee

May have more on this anon.

UPDATE:  So is this professor thus saying that if the media covered the news in an even-handed manner, more people would vote Republican?  That they need to skew the news to keep people on the Democratic plantation?

UP-UPDATE:  Glenn reminds us that “the professor is Tim Groseclose, author of Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind.

Arguing with an Obama Supporter

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:04 pm - August 27, 2011.
Filed under: Obamania

Created by our reader V the K.

Could Democratic 2012 Attack Plan Backfire as did similar plan in 1980?

In recent weeks, with increasing evidence of a sputtering economic recovery, it’s become abundantly clear that the Democrats see their path to victory in the 2012 elections in attacking and marginalizing the GOP.  Because the Democrats have made their intentions abundantly clear, Republicans should have an easier time running against the president’s party.

That said, failing an effective counteroffensive, the Democrats’ attacks could work.  Yet, it remains a high-risk strategy for the party currently in power.  Instead of offering hope for a less-divisive, shall we say, post-partisan politics, the president and his party will attempt to label the GOP as the party

  1. reluctant to tax “millionaires and billionaires,” refusing to ask the superrich to pay their “fair share” of federal income taxes.
  2. of extremists out of step with middle American, particularly the “middle class”, and
  3. the party of “No,” unwilling to compromise and failing to offer a jobs plan of its own.

Republicans should be able to counter the 3rd line of attack, if the House passes a jobs bill and Republican leaders remind voters of the details of the plan–and if the Republican nominee offers a plan of his own.

Over at the Washington Examiner, Philip Klein reminds us that Democrats have tried a similar attack strategy in the past, smearing the Republican nominee in order to distract voters from an incumbent Democrat’s record.  “With his ratings in the tank, President Carter [in 1980] attempted to raise fears about Ronald Reagan.”  Remember, the left did not always see the Gipper as a genial conservative pragmatist, indeed, Carter’s team that year hoped the California Republican would win the GOP nomination as many thought him too much a right-winger to win a general election.

The attacks on Reagan were actually effective in keeping the race competitive until the very end – and that’s when the two candidates debated, and Reagan came off as reasonable, informed and likeable, which was a contrast with the way he was being portrayed. Everybody who follows politics knows about Reagan’s famous “there you go again” retort to Carter during the debate, but few remember what Reagan was responding to. As it turns out, it was a similar line of attack that we’re now seeing against Perry. (more…)

A reminder: Obama helped secure his victory in 2008 by running against George W. Bush’s big-spending policies

A number of conservative and libertarian bloggers have linked this video of then-candidate Barack Obama calling it “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic” for his predecessor to add $4 trillion to the national debt:

One of those bloggers, Ed Morrissey, quipped that the Democratic candidate “questioned Bush’s patriotism for the same policies that Obama accelerated as President himself“.  The 2010 CPAC blogger of the year reminds us that a phrase Obama used in the clip, “Credit card from the Bank of China”, was one of his favorites “during the campaign.  A quick search shows that he used it in an April 2008 debate, this June 2008 appearance, and others as well, usually tying it to tax cuts.”

This clip (which I daresay won’t be played that often on any of the major networks during the 2012 campaign) reminds us how the Democrat co-opted certain conservative constituencies in the 2008 campaign, casting himself as an opponent of the big-spending George W. Bush.  He helped pad his margin of victory with the votes of Republican-leaning independents who read such rhetoric as a commitment to cutting the budget.

He won’t be winning their votes back in the upcoming contest.

Governor Brown’s Jobs Plan Not Cure for CA Employment Woes

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:40 am - August 26, 2011.
Filed under: California politics,Democratic demagoguery

Given the way California’s Governor unveiled his jobs plan, it seems he’s taken a page from the playbook of the President of the United States, seeking to use the issue to score political points against Republicans rather than repeal laws which increase the cost of doing business in the Golden State.  The “news conference,” the LA Times reports, “at times seemed more like a partisan rally than an attempt to reach across the aisle. Democrats used the governor’s announcement to rap Republicans’ knuckles for favoring out-of-state companies at the request of conservative activists who oppose changes in the corporate tax structure.

The governor contends that California’s current “complex tax formula . . . allows a tax break for companies that move jobs out of state. He wants to eliminate that ‘outrageous and perverse’ incentive.”  To fix that, the Democrat . . .

. . . wants to change the state’s tax code in a way that would reap more revenue from some companies that employ the bulk of their workers outside California, while creating new tax breaks for firms that hire in the state or buy business equipment here.

Problem is is that such changes might spur those companies which are based in California and employ workers in other states to join those companies that have already left the state.   The intention may be to bring jobs back to California; the result would be for more firms to leave the state. This proposed change basically just imposes another burden on California employers.  Firms would avoid that burden by leaving the state.

In short, Brown’s plan would only succeed in making the currently complex tax formula even more complex.  He’d be wiser to simplify the formula and cut regulations. (more…)

Looks like the Japanese Prime Minister is resigning

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:03 am - August 26, 2011.
Filed under: Politics abroad

On Yahoo!’s home page, there are currently four headlines referencing the matter:

Regulatory regime in Sacramento causes businesses to flee CA

Because of its size, the largest population-wise, with 12% of the U.S. population, California should rank first in the number of new businesses created and indeed has enjoyed that status for the better part of this century, but in recent years that’s begun to change:

From 2001 to 2009, California ranked either first or second in the nation in creating businesses. But last year, the state plummeted to 50th as it lost 4,600 businesses, according to a study by Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.

California was among 29 states that saw a drop in net new businesses, according to the study, which calculates net new business creation by using the quarterly employment and wage information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. . . .

But last year, amid continuing high unemployment, California lost 4,632 businesses from the prior year, the study found. Only Michigan, among the states and the District of Columbia, ranked worse.

This is not something we can blame on the weather or other forces beyond human control.  Indeed, the solution to the problem lies very much in the hands of our election officials since it is the regulatory behemoth in Sacramento which discourages entrepreneurs from setting up shop in the (once-)Golden State:

Entrepreneurs often complain about stringent environmental regulations and government red tape in California as obstacles to doing business. Those things become more of a burden during bad economic times, said Hank Robison, chief economist at EMSI.

“If the economy is doing well, it seems like those things that might otherwise inhibit new business formation can be overcome,” he said. “When the tough times hit, those things become binding.”

If Governor Brown wants to make the Golden State shine once more, then instead of doubling down on the state’s draconian environmental laws, he would work to weaken them while reducing the various fees and regulations the state imposes on businesses.  Not only would such regulatory relief prevent businesses from fleeing the state, it might also prompt them to innovate and expand, creating new jobs in a jurisdiction with the nation’s second highest unemployment rate.

(H/t Reader ILoveCapitalism)

Parsing Youthful Approval of President’s Performance

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:14 pm - August 25, 2011.
Filed under: Economy,Obamania

As the president’s poll numbers continue to slide, he still enjoys relatively healthy ratings among young voters.  According to Gallup, 49% of Americans in the youngest voting demographic continue to approve of the Democrat’s performance:

Given how the president’s policies, while hurting Americans in all age groups, have been particularly painful to young voters, you’d think a higher percentage would disapprove of the incumbent. Jim Hoft reports today that the “percentage of young people employed was the lowest ever for a July since the government started tracking the numbers in 1948.

This year, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the share of young people who were employed in July was 48.8 percent, the lowest July rate on record for the series, which began in 1948. (The month of July typically is the summertime peak in youth employment.)

Well, given that 48.8 percent of young people are working and 49% approve of the president’s job, maybe this youthful support for Obama is not so irrational after all. All those working approve of Mr. Obama — and credit him for creating (or saving) their job.

Can your sexuality now help you get into college?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:46 pm - August 25, 2011.
Filed under: Academia,Gay PC Silliness

Elmhurst College, Nathan Harden reports in the National Review’s Phi Beta Cons,

. . . has become the first college in the nation to directly ask applicants if they are gay. The question, “Would you consider yourself to be a member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) community?” appears on the school’s new admissions application.

Students who self-identify as could could even “qualify for a scholarship worth one-third of tuition at the private, liberal arts school”.

Guess this helps promote the notion of sexuality as a protected victim class entitled to all rights, privileges and honors pertaining thereto.

This is absurd.  Colleges shouldn’t ask about such things on their applications and focus instead on the student’s merits, his accomplishments.

Obama promised change, but can he change?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:31 pm - August 25, 2011.
Filed under: Democratic demagoguery,HopeAndChange

It seems that wherever the president goes, whatever he does, whenever he does it, he says just about the same thing, that our politics in Washington are broken and he’s uniquely qualified to fix them.  His rhetoric since he took office differs little from his rhetoric on the campaign trail.

From his speech in Cannon Falls, Minnesota last week:

So there were a bunch of things taking place over the last six months that were not within our control.  But here’s the thing — the question is, how do we handle these challenges?  Do we rise to the occasion?  Do we pull together?  Do we make smart decisions?  And what’s been happening over the last six months — and a little bit longer than that if we’re honest with ourselves — is that we have a political culture that doesn’t seem willing to make the tough choices to move America forward.

This rhetoric is not just highly partisan and not presidential, but it’s also vapid.  He’s speaking in cliches.  And the president passes the buck.  Note how he makes “political culture” the actor in the final line.  Political cultures don’t act, people do.

I thought he was going to be the guy to change that political culture, but even he acknowledges, it’s still not conducive to tough choices.

An introspective leader might ask himself if perhaps his leadership has helped contribute to the problem, but not our Mr. Obama.  “The president,” Mortimer Zuckerman writes

. . . appears to consider himself immune from error and asserts the fault always lies elsewhere—be it in the opposition in Congress or the Japanese tsunami or in the failure of his audience to fully understand the wisdom and benefits of his proposals. But in politics, the failure of communication is invariably the fault of the communicator.

Read the whole thing.  Via Jim Geraghty.

Jeb says don’t question Obama’s motives but criticize his policies

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 4:07 pm - August 24, 2011.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election,Noble Republicans

Even if he says he isn’t running for president, the very successful former governor of Florida offers some great advise to his fellow Republicans on how to campaign against the increasingly unpopular incumbent President of the United States:

Asked by Fox News host Neil Cavuto if some Republicans go too far in their criticism of Obama, Bush said flatly, “I do. I think when you start ascribing bad motives to the guy, that’s wrong. It turns off people who want solutions.

“It’s fine to criticize him, that’s politics,” said Bush, the younger brother of former President George W. Bush, who again reiterated that he won’t run for president himself. “But just to stop there isn’t enough. You have to win with ideas, you have to win with policies. … He’s made a situation that was bad worse. He’s deserving of criticism for that. He’s not deserving of criticism for the common cold on up.”

“If you’re a conservative, you have to persuade. You can’t just be against the president,” he added.

Emphasis added.  Note that Jeb how Jeb criticizes Obama’s policies, reminding us that the Democrat has “made a situation that was bad worse.”  Interesting that in saying that Obama started with a “bad situation,” he is implicitly implicating the incumbent’s predecessor (i.e., my Bush’s brother) in leaving Mr. Obama with that bad situation.

Jeb is right.  We have to win with ideas and policies.  The problem with Obama is not his motives, but his policies.  And let’s keep the focus on that.

As Republicans fault the incumbent for wanting to spend ever more of our tax dollars to address out nation’s economic problems, they must also explain how conservative policies, cutting spending and reducing regulation, is conducive to economic growth and job creation.

(H/t Gateway Pundit.)

Barely a week in the GOP presidential contest, Perry zooms ahead

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:58 pm - August 24, 2011.
Filed under: 2012 Presidential Election

According to Gallup, the current Texas governor leads the immediate past Massachusetts governor by a statistically significant margin:

Shortly after announcing his official candidacy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has emerged as rank-and-file Republicans’ current favorite for their party’s 2012 presidential nomination. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationwide say they are most likely to support Perry, with Mitt Romney next, at 17%.

Methinks this man, who has barely been in the limelight has emerged as the frontrunner, largely because he is the new guy — and rank-and-file Republicans aren’t all that satisfied with the current pack.

Biden’s Offensive Comments Offer Clear Picture Of His Priorities

Posted by ColoradoPatriot at 10:28 am - August 24, 2011.
Filed under: Biden Watch,Big Government Follies,Faith,Liberals

Much hubbub over Vice President Biden’s latest foot-in-mouth buffoonery, this time delivered on the soil of our landlord. (When, btw, can we all agree he makes a bigger fool of himself and more often than Dan Quayle ever could have even tried to?)

If you haven’t seen his despicable (and, no I can’t think of a more appropriate way to describe his words) comments, hold your nose and press play:

Of course the most disgusting and blatantly offensive thing he says is that he “fully understand[s]” and is “not second-guessing” the brutal and vile and perverted One Child Policy and its ancillary of forced abortions and sterilizations in that Communist (and, by government dictate, godless) nation.

But as with his boss, look beyond his characteristically poorly chosen extemporaneous words and you’ll see a philosophy that drives him and the rest of the Left:

It isn’t that, as a practicing Roman Catholic, the Vice President finds abortion to be an abomination. It isn’t that he sees forced sterilizations and abortions to be an egregious trampling of civil rights. It isn’t that such policies and disrespect for innocent human life leads to a coarsening of society and therefore an overall degradation of its moral quality. Nah, in the face of those factors, Mr. Biden is not “second-guessing”.

The criticism of the policy Biden musters—and hopes, from which “maybe we can learn together”—is that they’re “in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people: Not sustainable.”

When faced with the evil of China’s One Child Policy, to people like Biden, the greatest flaw is that it won’t sustain a welfare state as he’d like to see it.

So much for rendering unto Caesar.

-Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from HQ)

A tax system that might cause the Founders to reach for their muskets

Until recently, when I read about the Revolutionary era, I devoted most of my attention to my three favorite Founders, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, studying less the events which inspired them to rebel, focusing instead on the ideals which inspired them to establish our republic.

In recent years, I have expanded that list of favorites to include not just the father of our country, but also a man dubbed the “First American“, Benjamin Franklin.  And in studying these two great men, I considered not just their actions during and after the American Revolution, but also in the period which lead up to it.  As I read (and listened via Books on CD) to their biographies I learned why both Washington and Franklin, once loyal British subjects, broke with the “mother country.”

Fighting in the French and Indian War, Washington learned that a “colonial” could not advance in the ranks as could a counterpart born in Britain, particularly one born there wealth and privilege.  One’s birth, not one’s merit, determined the rank to which he could rise — and the leadership posts he could assume.

Building his own business from scratch, Franklin learned that in a “Proprietary” colony, there were two sets of laws, one which applied to certain families, the other to everyone else.

They believed that the law should make no distinctions based on class.

Yesterday, in the Wall Street Journal, Harvey Golub, a former chairman and CEO of American Express, responding to Warren Buffett and the president, critiqued the current American tax system and showed that it now privileges certain favored “classes”:

. . . the extraordinarily complex tax code is replete with favors to various interest groups and industries, favors granted by politicians seeking to retain power. Mortgage interest deductions support the private housing industry at the expense of renters. (more…)

Still hoping to change the Washington Blame Game, Mr. Obama?

Hope:

“And one of the things that I’m trying to break is a pattern in Washington where everybody is always looking for somebody else to blame. . . .  the key thing is for everybody just to stay focused on doing the job instead of trying to figure out who you can pass blame on to.”  –Barack Obama, March 2009.

Change:

“As Failures Grow, Obama Blames Others.” (Via Ed Driscoll, via Glenn Reynolds.)  And as I noted last night, “Mr. Obama blames policies inherited from his predecessor’s administration for the soaring debt.