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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/29/10

Obama; A Heck of a Nice Guy...but

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A heck of a nice guy that's what Barack Obama is. I have been accused of denigrating the President and accused of forgetting about the previous resident of the office. So, I will preface my remarks by saying that Barack Obama is a heck of a nice guy. Throughout his career he has been known for consensus building, seeking out the opinions of others and then deciding issues somewhere in the middle ground.

This might seem a sound strategy, but when the building is on fire and five experts say go upstairs and five other experts say go downstairs, the centrist opinion would say to stay where you are.

The public opinion polls show that the American public likes Barack Obama and wants him to succeed. I want him to succeed and I imagine that you do, as well. The Democratic voters in Massachusetts said that they didn't like the proposed health care plan because it did not go far enough to aid the American public. It wasn't too extreme, it wasn't extreme enough. While the President proposed it, he then stood above the fray and let Congress do the dirty work. His plan emerged like a Cadillac left unattended in a bad neighborhood, the wheels stripped off, the motor gone, and the CD player missing. The President says, sure, that's fine. It's not everything we wanted but something is better than nothing.

He should have been fighting mad and said so. Americans love fighters and underdogs. The motion picture "Rocky" was a huge success not because Stallone is a great actor or because the film had a great script. It was the story of a dumb cluck fighter given a once in a lifetime shot at the title and what that dumb cluck would do to win against all odds. I know what I'm taking about here. I've been a fan of the Chicago Cubs for over forty years and as God is my witness, someday the championship pennant will fly over Wrigley!

We have an economic crisis that rivals the Great Depression. We have a home foreclosure crisis that dwarfs the Great Depression of the 1930s when 70% of Americans were renters. We have an emerging commercial real estate foreclosure crisis that threatens to grow larger than the home foreclosure crisis. Fifteen Empire State Buildings' worth of office space lies vacant in Silicon Valley alone and the landlords are falling behind in their mortgage payments. We have 17 million workers unemployed and of those 40% have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks. The number of Americans receiving food stamps is up by 25% in a year, plus there are millions more not counted or receiving any benefits.

The statistics are mind boggling; non-managerial workers' wages are in freefall. If you're lucky your wages grew by an average of fifty dollars last year. So when Obama supports a mandate to buy health insurance or to tax union healthcare polices, he looks around the room and asks, "What's wrong with that?" It's clueless time in Froggy Bottom; he's not a bad guy, he is just absolutely clueless as to the condition of the American public.

I once knew a millionaire in Montgomery that considered himself to be a great guy; the Lord smiled down upon him because of his great generosity. He gave away his old running shoes and sports equipment and children's toys and clothes to his staff in his home. He didn't have to do it; he did it because he was a sport and loved God. It never occurred to this man that if he paid his staff a better wage they wouldn't need his charity. He was turning his workers into vassals but thought himself a great guy in the process. He wasn't a bad man or mean, he was just clueless and uneducated about reality. His world was in boardrooms and courthouses and country clubs. His only experience with working people was with his staff and waiters. They should be grateful for my tips and leftover running shoes, he thought. Living at the other end of the spectrum, I used to think that explaining the real world to him would be like trying to explain the difference between red and blue to the blind.

Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) "President Barack Obama is proposing a tax package aimed at appealing to middle-income Americans, including an increased tax credit for child care and an expansion of tax credits to match retirement savings.

"The proposals are intended to fit within the main themes -- the economy, jobs and tackling the deficit-- the president plans to sound in his State of the Union address on Jan. 27, according to an administration statement."

These aren't bad proposals; no one is calling him a jerk for making such proposals, just clueless. The seventeen million unemployed don't have their children in childcare anymore, that luxury was abandoned long ago. As for his plan to mandate employers provide direct deposit for 401K contributions, it is no more than offering Eskimos free snow. Most everyone that I know has converted their 401Ks into groceries or house payments. Ask yourself a cynical question: Who derives the most benefit from direct bank deposits, the employee or the banks?

Senate Democrats have proposed a special commission to find ways to reduce the federal deficit. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, chief sponsor of the proposal, urged colleagues to send "a message to the American people and the markets all across the world that the United States is prepared to stand up and deal with this debt threat." President Obama announced that he will establish a commission by executive order. That's not a bad idea, only it won't have the powers of a congressional commission.

Does anyone remember back during the presidential debates? It was right after Senator Obama lectured John McCain that America needed a single payer health care system and how wrong it would be to implement McCain's plan to tax union healthcare plans. Then the Arizona Republican began to speak of his other new vision, a freeze on all government spending to be decided by a congressional commission. More nuclear power plants and clean coal technology
and the Palin chants of "drill baby drill!"

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- "President Barack Obama will call in his State of the Union address for a three-year freeze on spending for many domestic programs as part of his strategy to rein in the federal budget deficit."

Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) -- "President Barack Obama tonight will propose extending through 2010 a temporary tax incentive that encourages businesses to accelerate purchases of equipment, an administration official said. Obama will call for renewal of the 50 percent so-called bonus depreciation in his State of the Union address to the nation, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Extending the break, which expired December 31st, would save companies that make purchases of equipment such as tractors, wind turbines, solar panels and computers a total of $38 billion over this year and next by allowing a 50 percent write-off of the cost in the first year, the official said."

The Japanese company Kubota holds a 50% market share on tractors under 100hp, which is also the fastest growing sector of the market. A report by an industry watchdog group found that 84%, or one billion dollars, in federal clean-energy grants went to overseas manufacturers. The majority of solar panels are also produced by European and Asian companies, and we don't even need to talk about where computers are made these days.

These aren't bad proposals, but they are misguided. Like cash for clunkers and the first-time home purchasers' tax rebate, the lion's share of the benefit goes to the consumer who can afford to purchase a new home or car in the first place. The overall benefit to the economy is very little because that share of consumers is shrinking. Business gets $38 billion and you get free direct deposit of your 401K, plus free snow where applicable.

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I who am I? Born at the pinnacle of American prosperity to parents raised during the last great depression. I was the youngest child of the youngest children born almost between the generations and that in fact clouds and obscures who it is that (more...)

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