Saturday, January 12, 2013

Obama's Political ADD

Is it just me, or does our President seem to suffer from some sort of political ADD? Obama continually promises to focus on jobs, but then he runs off and focuses on other political items. Yes, Obama started out his presidency by passing the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a measure which was supposed to produce jobs. However, he quickly moved his focus to passing ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank. After these bills were enacted, he then proceeded to focus on tax rates, foreign policy, and new environmental standards. Missing from this list is any type of a jobs plan. If we look at Obama's rhetoric, he seems to care deeply about jobs, but like many other areas, Obama's actions do not line up with his talk.

The blog Conservative Samizdat lists at least seven times that Obama promised to “pivot” to jobs, but despite these pivots, Obama has yet to get a serious jobs proposal passed. While it is true that he submitted one to Congress in late 2011 and had it rejected, he did nothing in the previous two years while he had a majority in the House and a filibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate. Furthermore, Obama created a jobs council chaired by General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, but he was too “busy” to meet with them for the first six months of 2012.

Meanwhile, the economy continued to stagnate and unemployment remained high. In fact, the final report of Obama's first term (released last week) showed unemployment at exactly the same level as his first report (released February 2009). When pushing for passage of the $787 billion stimulus package in 2009, the administration released a chart showing unemployment projections with and without the stimulus. Unfortunately, unemployment has not met either projection, and the gap between actual unemployment and the projected numbers continues to grow.

By even the Obama administration's own numbers, the stimulus was a massive failure. According to the chart, unemployment should have peaked in the third quarter of 2009. Unemployment peaked just after that point (10.0% in October 2009), but it remained within one-half of one percent of that high for most of the next year. In fact, thirteen months after that peak, unemployment stood at 9.8%. Presently, the unemployment rate is almost sixty percent higher than the administration's own projections say that it should be.

When Obama says that he wants to focus on jobs, we must remember the truth: jobs are far from being the President's top priority. Currently, it appears that the President's top priority is gun control. Biden promised that it would be done by the end of the month, and his “task force” is already set to make its recommendations. (Is it just me, or does this seem fast to anyone else?) After gun control, we will have to deal with the fallout from the fiscal cliff deal: the debt ceiling, sequestration, and the threat of a government shutdown. Despite whatever rhetoric the President may give, I would not expect any action on jobs anytime soon.

nFocus: January 11, 2013

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Blame the Right People

Like many other conservatives, I was immensely disappointed with the fiscal cliff deal reached in Washington this week. However, if we are going to solve our problems in Washington, we must ensure that we blame the right people for the debacle that became this fiscal cliff “solution”. I do not believe that blame should lie with the Republicans in either chamber that voted for the bill; it belongs with the Republican leadership that refused to fight for anything better.

When it came time for Congress to vote, Republicans were faced with a dilemma. They could either pass the current bill, raising the tax rates for some people, or they could defeat the bill and allow everyone's taxes to rise. Some contend that Republicans should have defeated the bill and fought for something better, but a defeat would give President Obama his dream outcome: raising taxes on everyone while being able to lay blame for the increase at the feet of the Republicans. Had we allowed taxes to rise for longer than a few days, I find it doubtful that we would have come to any meaningful compromise.

However, the need for a compromise did not mean that our leadership needed to coalesce to every White House demand. Compromise is defined as “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions...” Looking at the main points of the deal, I see very little concession from the Democrats. The most obvious is the lower rates for those making between $250-400K (or $250-450K for married couples), but some say that the Democrats were prepared to concede this before the negotiations began. Outside of this one area, Democrats had to concede very little in this agreement.

At the same time, Republicans conceded on the majority of the issues addressed. Spending cuts were not addressed. The sequester cuts were put off for two months (instead of the year that the Democrats wanted). Taxes were raised on the wealthy. The payroll tax holiday was not extended, raising taxes for the majority of Americans. And the bill was so full of pork that—despite the tax increases—the CBO scored it as losing money. That is not a compromise; that is rolling over and playing dead.

With debt ceiling talks approaching, we must quickly recognize that the problems in the fiscal cliff debacle were not the Republicans who supported the final bill; the problems were Republican leaders who gave in to every White House demand. Going forward, conservatives must fight for openness instead of the secret backroom dealing that took place on the fiscal cliff. We must fight for recognition of our ideas by our leaders. And we must fight for representation on the committees and in the meetings that will decide compromises of this nature. If we continue to allow John Boehner and Mitch McConnell to negotiate for us, we will continue to get more of these raw deals.

nFocus: January 8, 2013

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