American Elephants

Just What Would You Do With Another Four Years? by The Elephant's Child

The Wall Street Journal says President Obama “has fundamentally shifted his view of modern presidential power” and “is now convinced the most essential part of is job, given politically divided Washington, is rallying public opinion to his side. As a result, if he wins a second term, Mr. Obama plans to remain in campaign mode.”

“The president views a second term in some ways as a second chance, an opportunity to approach the office differently. ..He would like to tackle issues such as climate change, immigration, education and filibuster reform.  He has told some aides that a sizable mistake at the start of his administration was his naiveté in thinking he could work with Republicans on weighty issues.”

Well, there you go. It’s all the Republicans’ fault.

I pay particular attention to comments on most anything from Richard Epstein, professor of law at the University of Chicago and NYU, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He knew Obama at the University of Chicago and through his neighbor who was a particular friend of Obama’s. He said that Obama never participated in the intellectual discourse at Chicago, and thus never subjected himself to strong ideas articulated by people who disagree with you. And this is where we are.

Obama never seriously attempted to “work with” Republicans, he was not open to compromise, or even open discussion. In his mind, “working with” was explaining to Republicans that they should agree with him on what were to Republicans matters of principle. Having never put his ideas out there to be shot down, he didn’t understand that he would have to give too.

In Tampa, President Obama said his relection might end the political stalemate in Washington, much “like popping a blister.”

The president said he wants to a better job of explaining to the public how his policies will help the economy grow. Obama claims he didn’t do a good enough job selling Americans on the stimulus plan and the auto company bailout because he was so focused on acting to fix the economy.

Obama’s self-assessment of his one acknowledged shortcoming during the past four years is his failure “to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity  and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.”

“He has concluded  that he was slow to understand or embrace the role of president as a kind of national counselor.” Gaack.

[W]e were in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime crisis, so we had to just do stuff fast. And sometimes it wasn’t popular,” Obama told Time. “And we didn’t have the luxury of six months to explain exactly what we were doing with the Recovery Act, which was basically a jobs act and making-sure-middle-class-families-didn’t-fall-into-poverty act.”

It wasn’t a flop because he didn’t tell us enough stories. It was a flop because Keynesian economics simply doesn’t work, as has been proven over and over. The problem is not a shortage of demand, and you can’t create demand in the economy by taking money out of the economy and then putting it back in. No multiplier.  Doesn’t work.

Richard Epstein also says that Obama does not change his mind. If he believed in a stimulus in 2008, he believes in a stimulus today — his ideas are set in concrete. Again, this goes back to his failure to put his ideas out there to be shot down so he can learn where others disagree, and revise his thinking on that basis.

You will notice that in his ideas for his next term, Obama mentions neither the economy or unemployment. Filibuster reform? Good luck with that. The President wants a Do-Over, or as they say in golf, a Mulligan. Obama is trying to steer the national conversation away from that which is the most important priority to most voters.

A second term is not supposed to be a second chance to do what you were supposed to do the first time around. “Just what”, the Economist asked on their cover, “would you do with another four years?”Apparently, just more of the same.  We need to let him go.

The U.S. National Debt Has Topped $16,000,000,000,000.00 by The Elephant's Child

According to the U.S. National Debt Clock, our debt has topped $16,000,000,000,000.00 and headed on up. Unfortunately that number is greater than the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. It is a horrifying page. Look it over briefly, and absorb what you need to know, but don’t dwell too much or you won’t sleep. Hover your cursor over any specific number and the box that says ‘Debt Clock’ will define the number.

We really need to stop sending people to Washington because they are likeable, or nice, or because they “care about us.” They aren’t and they don’t. They are ordinary people just like us and they care about their family and friends, and any specific caring about you is nonsense. We need to vote for people who are capable and competent, and have some real understanding of national problems, and the determination and fortitude to do something about it.

Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Four Years Ago? by The Elephant's Child

Vice President Joe Biden was  forced, a few days ago, to respond to the question.  He said emphatically, “Let me make something clear, America is better off than we were four years ago.  If it weren’t so hot, I’d go into detail.”

In downtown Detroit at a Labor Day rally of AFL-CIO workers, he said “You want to know whether we’re better off? I’ve got a little bumper sticker for you.  Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.”

Good old Joe, always good for at least a chuckle. But it is a dangerous question for Democrats, because the answer is so clearly no.  The official national debt will top $16,000,000,000,000.00 sometime today, during the Democratic National Convention. Just an inconvenient juxtaposition.  The trouble with that sixteen-trillion figure is that it is larger than the Gross Domestic Product.

Yes, Osama bin Laden is dead. It took a year, after they learned where he was, for Valerie Jarrett to give her approval for the raid. General Motors is alive, though the stock continues to sink along with any hope that taxpayers might get repaid. There was a lot of talk this week about GM shutting down their Volt production line again because of poor sales, and then there was suddenly an announcement that Volt just had their best month in sales. As a suspicious person, I have no idea which is true, but the Democrats are having their convention and the full attention of the media.

The problem is the recovery, or rather the lack of a real recovery.  Jeffrey Anderson noted that over the past 65 years since World War II, American has experienced 10 previous recessions and 10 previous recoveries. The average real GDP growth in the first three years after those recessions was 4.6%.

During the Obama recovery…, average real GDP growth has been just 2.2% — less than half the historical norm.  Of the past 11 recoveries, the Obama recovery has been the worst.  The 10 stronger recoveries involved Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush – in other words, every other postwar President.

Usually the pattern is that the worse the recession, the stronger the recovery.  If Obama’s recovery had been as robust as the previous recoveries from recessions, America would be enjoying 10 million more jobs now. So what happened?  Art Laffer explained in the Wall Street Journal:

[S]timulus spending doesn’t really make much sense.  In essence, it’s when government takes additional resources beyond what it would otherwise take from one group of people (usually the people who produced the resources) and then gives those resources to another group of people (often to non-workers and non-producers).  Often as not, the qualification for receiving stimulus funds is the absence of work or income – such as banks and companies that fail, solar energy companies that can’t make it on their own, unemployment benefits and the like.  Quite simply, government taxing people more who work and then giving more money to people who don’t work is a surefire recipe for less work, less output and more unemployment.

Mr. Laffer added:

Without ever thinking where the money comes from, politicians and many economists believe additional government spending adds to aggregate demand. …But for every additional government dollar spent there is an additional private dollar taken.  All the stimulus to the spending recipients is matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis every minute of every day by a depressant placed on the people who pay for these transfers. Or as a student of the dismal science might say, the total income effects of additional government spending always sum to zero.

A central concern of Keynesian economics is that inadequate demand can cause downturns. But in a market economy, if demand for a product or service is inadequate, then its price will fall until demand equals supply. In a market economy, demand can never be inadequate.  This is easily proved by those packets of sales pitches you get every week  in the mail, usually mostly for home improvement services. There are way more advertisers, and prices have dropped by more than half for many services. They need business badly and are willing to work for less. If you pay attention, it’s a good indication of how things are going.

Or you can keep an eye on how Fed-Ex is doing in the financial pages. When their business is improving or good, they are moving more packages around. Beats information from the media.

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