Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Fiscal Cliff Negotiations – Why Obama and Boehner Won’t Agree Anytime Soon – Maybe Not At All

ABOUT that Fiscal Cliff — The Daily Beast has summed up nicely the chances of a deal:

“There is a growing sense among Republican policy wonks and senior lobbyists that the chances of getting any kind of meaningful deal on the deficit between now and the end of the year are drifting toward zero.” Daily Beast, Dec 4th.

Speaker Boehner held a press conference on Friday, December 7th, to discuss where negotiations are currently going, which you can watch below.

The real takeaway from this press conference is not that negotiations are going badly — although that is what the video portrays — but that there is little that can be put on the table to actually negotiate with.

At this point, Speaker Boehner is facing a challenge within the GOP to oust him for even talking seriously about some of the ideas on the table. Earlier this week he received a letter signed by more than 100 conservative activists that threatened to work against him and any other GOP member that supported any attempt to raise taxes and/or to curb tax deductions and such. Boehner is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

American Majority Action (AMA) launched a #FireBoehner campaign, and numerous other conservative and Tea Party groups have joined the effort to toss Boehner as House Speaker. For that to work requires that just 16 members of the Republican Party drop support for Boehner in January which will take away enough votes to prevent his return as the House Speaker, opening the way for a new Speaker.

So as you watch the press conference video above, please ignore Speaker Boehner blasting the president. The two of them could probably reach a deal quickly if left to work things out together. Boehner is just echoing talking points at this point as he tries to work out some deal acceptable to his own party.

There is also criticism that Obama is not responding seriously to Boehner’s proposals. This is undoubtedly true but also just rhetoric. There is no GOP plan with specifics or any plan that can get enough GOP votes to pass even if we were to adopt the Boehner’s GOP plan ‘as is’. So reality is that President Obama is really left to negotiate with himself because any deal made at the moment is not a viable deal at all.

Things don’t get negotiated from the center. If I were Obama, I would ignore any ‘plan’ that didn’t have specifics and a guarantee of X votes to go with that plan. Speaker Boehner really needs to negotiate the Fiscal Cliff within his own party before he can expect the president to make a deal that the GOP won’t honor.

Speaker Boehner is an honorable man. Life must seem crazy for him at the moment. I wish him well and hope that he can strike a deal which really does cut national expenses and find ways to pay for whatever else remains as obligated debt. The Constitution gives that challenge to the Congress not to the president — so before we make any progress it is the Congress that has to come to terms first, and Republicans pretty much own the House which is where it all starts.

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Fiscal Cliff Alert Status for 2012.12.05: Condition Red

When it comes to the Fiscal Cliff, we all have much to lose.

The CBO projects that going over the cliff means that the economy takes a nosedive during 2Q 2013 and unemployment will easily break 9% by early 3Q 2013.

Should we go down the Fiscal Cliff path then 2013 will be a year of random misery as different parts of the economy adjust to magical movement of money, or lack thereof, in the marketplace. Ours is a marketplace addicted to subsidized money on both the left and the right, whether it be cheap credit cards, zero percent loans to large banks, defense spending or social spending, grants, shared underwriting of public programs or tax credits and deductibles for private investments.

Neither side is close to blinking. Neither side is close to have a ‘deal’ that their own party can support.

Negotiation on avoiding the Fiscal Cliff will go all the way to the 11th hour … and perhaps no deal will come about. More probable than just being possible at the moment.

President Obama has a strong hand for shooting down many aspects of what the GOP wants, although the GOP does not have any actual plan that is supported both within the House and the Senate as of yet. So criticism that Obama has rejected the GOP plan are largely empty words — there is no GOP plan that the GOP itself has endorsed that can provide a guaranteed 51%+ supportive vote in either the House or in the Senate.

And yet President Obama’s challenge is that he needs a deal that the GOP House will approve, and so far there is no real Democratic plan on the table that can provide a guaranteed 51%+ supportive vote in either the House or in the Senate.

The only two people that have a written plan are Simpson-and-Bowles … and neither the Dems nor the Reps are embracing it.

Today’s Risk Level of going over the edge: Condition Red

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Election 2012 – The GOP got Obama elected … again

I’m a conservative libertarian defector from the GOP. Since the majority of Americans identify with the ‘conservative’ brand then I must not be alone.

The GOP elected Obama president in 2008 and did it again in 2012.

If the GOP were really the party of business then it should understand that winning over your competitors is often based on winning by margin. You have got to convince non-users of your product that you are the right choice.

Things for the GOP to think about:

Social issues must become personal choices, not political mandates. Walk away from running people’s individual lives. Stop talking about ‘freedom’ and then embracing every aspect of national spying on people, groups and individuals possible and justifying it in the name of Homeland Security. Start talking about ‘small business’ as if you are saying something rather than creating deductions, tax breaks, and import/export deals that only large business can take advantage of.

And stop with the name calling. Obama may be, and is, a liberal but he is not a socialist. He is not a proto-communist. He is not someone that tripled our national debt. Get real.

Take a good long look at your family photo: full of white and aging white. It is not that people of color, almost every color, don’t like the GOP. The GOP doesn’t seem to like them. I know that this is not apparent to most GOP members because we all know a Black/Asian/Latino/Indian/Gay person that votes GOP. Yes those people exist. Several do. The GOP needs to show that it understands the problems and the challenges within the lives of the majority of these groups rather than writing them off. And keep in mind that the race card plays both ways — if you want to talk about white then realize that a whole lot of white voted for Obama.

2012 made it tough for libertarian conservatives to embrace what should have been the core GOP message: ‘Fiscal responsibility. Strong defense. Government out of our lives.’

The GOP message did not embrace these core conservative beliefs in a believable way.

Am not crazy about Obama. Did not contribute a penny to his campaign. But I did vote for him. And compared to the alternative offered: No, I do not regret my vote at all.

Dear GOP: get your act together and I’ll be back: ‘Fiscal responsibility. Strong defense. Government out of our lives.’ Skip the social issues!

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And yet … still I am voting Obama.

And yet … still I am voting Obama.

I wrote a piece the other day about the need for paying attention to the national debt, deficits, and paring expenses while balancing the budget.

Someone challenged me: how can I be concerned about these things ‘and yet’ vote Obama?

It is simple really.

I don’t see Obama as a great master of change. And no, I don’t believe that he has any grand plan for 2012-2016. He has disappointed me at times over the last four years — but I started out with lowered expectations since I’m a traditional Republican voter (70-80% of the time, maybe higher at local level).

So what do I see in Obama? Obama has lived up to his reputation of being ‘no drama Obama’ … which is good considering that the GOP has been after his ass since almost Day One with no intent of cooperating and working together for meaningful change and reform in any way on almost any issue. Obama has been a voice of stability working to bring most things to the center for resolution.

As for the incredible debt etc., every president develops each year a five year outlook into the future as to where budgets and debt are probably going. President Bush’s prediction for growth of our national debt has been Obama’s reality. Debt under Obama has barely differed from Bush’s prediction by 10% or less during his first two years in office.

—- As for Year 3 (2011) and Year 4 (2012), President Bush’s budget projection assumed that the war would be over in Afghanistan by 2011 and so no funds were programmed. Add the war expenses back in and accrued debt during Obama’s entire term is almost a straight line from where it was on Day One of his presidency, and in line with Bush FY2009’s Five Year Presidential Budget projection.

As for Obama’s legacy of debt to programs that started under his presidency: less new debt created by any president since Truman.

If you are a social conservative sure there are lots of reasons not to like Obama. If you are a fiscal conservative that understands basic math and understands the difference between ‘incurred obligated debt’ and debt due to new programs then Obama has been pretty good with a dollar.

My second reason for supporting Obama and essentially defecting from my GOP roots of almost 30 years: I really don’t think that the GOP gets it. They are not really so pissed off about Obama’s policies as they are that they lost in 2008. All this talk about ‘taking our country back’ is usually just empty, angry rhetoric that translates to ‘sure the country melted down on our watch but that was just a fluke. We like things the way they were’.

And so with just days to go until the election I do remain very concerned about America’s future, that damned fiscal cliff will be a much deeper drop than many suspect, and runaway debt seems endless. And yet … and yet I am voting for someone that I believe really has no plan, or any objective, that is any bigger or more grandiose than keeping America’s economy stable and just buying time to heal on its own. That is a classical conservative approach.

My choice may not be a brilliant choice. But for me it is a far better choice than voting for a return to what got us here to begin with.

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Jobs – Jobs – Jobs! … or is it really just Talking Point Agendas that gets presidents elected/reelected?

Do we really know or care how economics work in our daily lives?

Or do we just want magic to happen and to not be bothered by the thought of it all?!

Please, just sell us some good talking points. Give us some more happy talk. Give us some more trash talk that we can believe in!

President Obama is taking repeated butt kicks over his seeming inability to jumpstart the jobs market. Yet even with having to deal with the Great Recession’s fallout, President Obama statistically has a better track record in the jobs department than does his predecessor, President Bush.

—–>> Reality is that both presidents Bush and Obama have experienced the same phenomena when it comes to jobs creation. Jobs creation has been sluggish since 2001 and there seems to be few ideas for jumpstarting jobs growth that actually yields more than momentary results — and generally unimpressive results. We can do more with less and we are. Welcome to the future.

Erstwhile conservative commentator and former GOP Congressman Joe Scarborough posted the jobs-created-by-president chart below on his Facebook page, along with the comments that follow the chart.

Jobs by president 1960-2012 - Joe Scarborough

“Job growth is obviously what everybody talks about as a major factor in these elections…[Bill] Clinton is sort of the gold standard with 9.9% job growth. And then you see both Obama and Bush 43 essentially with no job growth…You see a mixed picture of presidents who got re-elected and how the job growth corresponds. What’s not on here is Jimmy Carter, who actually had the best job growth of all of them. He had 12% job growth during his first four years and still didn’t get re-elected.”
Joe Scarborough, Oct 18, 2012

If a president deserves credit for jobs creation, do they deserve that credit because of their policies? … or do they deserve it because of their use of the bully pulpit to push change in a given direction? … or do they deserve credit only if we like their partisan left-or-right highest ranking most popular talking points?

Jimmy Carter is considered a weak president and yet Carter is the platinum standard by which jobs growth could or perhaps should be judged.

Bill Clinton is universally the recipient of good will for strong jobs creation during his tenure, and President Reagan is held in the highest esteem by the Center-Right even though Reagan only comes in third place for jobs creation during his time in office.

Let’s consider policy. Policy is why we say that we elect presidents. We know President Obama’s record: weak jobs growth but there is now stability. So is the New Romney better equipped than the Old Romney? When Romney took office as governor of Massachusetts his state ranked #37 in jobs growth and by the end of his term Massachusetts was #47. Yet we hear constantly that Romney has the experience and the business background to grow jobs. He is a businessman, a CEO. So what happened in Massachusetts? Do policies actually matter?

The impact of policy adjusts itself over time. What works during one time period may completely flop the next.

As well, the productiveness of a policy even during the same presidency may only have a very short impact, positive or negative. When Bush jumpstarted the economy in late 2006 his tax policies policies produced only two quarters of above average jobs growth and then jobs growth returned to its downward path — even though the amount of money coming into and flowing into the economy continued to grow.

One of the reasons that jobs growth under Bush 43 was so poor (essentially the same as under Obama) was that our economy had adjusted itself to take advantage of technologic efficiencies while also getting rid of a large portion of manual labor (shifting those jobs overseas).

The math that bit Bush and Obama will also bite whomever is president during the next four years. We have embraced a policy path that puts profits before people. That may be good for folks at the Walmart, K-mart and Target checkout counters but it is not producing jobs.

If it is all about Jobs Jobs Jobs! then maybe we need to acknowledge that perhaps we have broken the system and need to reconsider the entire concept of work, compensation and jobs growth.


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12,000,000 New Jobs from 2013-2017? Bill4DogCatcher does the math.

Governor Romney has set 12,000,000 new jobs within four years as his jobs creation goal, and is chiding President Obama for not being capable of achieving that.

Many prominent economists have predicted 12,000,000 new jobs (an increase over the number of people working today) as the expected rate for jobs growth during this period (2013-2017) under normal circumstances.

Those normal circumstances are that jobs keep up with population growth.

Here is the math:

If jobs grow in direct proportion to population growth of 1.01%/year then over four years that works out to 12,560,000 jobs created, or 3,140,000 jobs per year as an average. However those 12 million jobs still represent a ZERO SUM GAIN and does nothing to replace any of the jobs lost since 2007’s Great Recession. Those jobs only represent the needs of current population growth.

—–> The Math: U.S. population is 314M (3Q 2012) / 100 * 1.01 = 3.14M jobs/year … or 261,667 jobs per month are needed to keep up with population growth.

The challenge for whomever is the next president is that the U.S. productivity rate is currently 2.2% (2Q 2012), which is double the rate of population growth. Theoretically, with a ratio of 1.01:2.2% (population growth:productivity growth), the need for workers is decreasing at twice the rate of population growth.

—–> The Math: If productivity continues to increase at its current rate then mathematically we should expect jobs growth at only half the rate of population growth (261,667 jobs = 1.01% population growth per month). So if only half the number of jobs are needed to match the growth in productivity then that number works out to just 130,833 jobs per month as being the expected monthly average.

During 2012, the 2012 average monthly jobs growth rate has been 146,000 jobs per month as of October which is appropriate for what the math tells us should be norm. If that remains the case (productivity rate vs population growth) then what we are probably looking at as realistically being the expected number for jobs growth between 2013-2017 is just 6-7 million jobs, not 12 million or higher.

Things can change but math says that we are where we should be without some game changer. Where we are is that jobs are not growing to match population growth, not even close.

The chart below shows jobs growth since 1980 as a percentage of Americans having a job. Since 2001, the percentage of Americans with jobs has dropped almost every year and incrementally almost every month since 2001. The exception was a strong but short-lived growth in jobs in late 2006 and early 2007.

BLS 1980-2012 Labor Participation Rate

BLS 1980-2012 Labor Participation Rate

Here is what the chart looks like on a monthly basis since 1980:

BLS 1980-2012 Labor Participation Rate by Year and Month

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President Obama Meets Ohioans … and discusses whether we are better off four years later (Humor)

President Obama recently travelled to Ohio where he met the locals and discussed the question: “Are you better off than four years ago.”

He did this on Saturday Night, Live.

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