American Elephants

Obama Says Republicans Are Anti-American! by The Elephant's Child

Have you noticed that Mr. Obama’s voice has changed?  No longer the assured baritone, but an arrogant, petulant  and sometimes whiny voice. Last Tuesday, in Washington D.C.:

This roads and bridges theme is one that Mr. Obama has been harping on since 2008, when he had a Democratic House and Senate. Could do whatever he wanted, and even did some “shovel-ready” projects, like new guard rails around a dry lake, and fixing an airport that had only one flight a week. He sheepishly admitted that there weren’t a lot of “shovel-ready jobs.” But now he’s back to roads and bridges as jobs for the middle class. Having thrown away the opportunity for some 42,000 new jobs promised by the Keystone XL pipeline, as a sop to Tom Steyer’s $100,000,000 offer* — he really doesn’t know how middle class jobs are created, and falls back on his one idea.

Any big construction project takes ages to actually begin. Permits, design, environmental impact, engineering, and I don’t know what else. My city tells me they are embarking on a new project, and then it’s a couple of years before the real work starts.  (Keystone was ready to go, but jobless construction people might inquire about Canada’s Enbridge Northern Gateway project that Ottawa just approved.)

Most of the commentary on his speech focused on the “so sue me” comment. But there was something even less attractive that came up in the speech. It was a clear suggestion that Republicans were unpatriotic, and failing in their duty as American to set politics aside and get behind the wishes of Obama  who is, of course, above mere politics. “We could do so much more if we just rallied around an economic patriotism, a sense that out job is to get things done as one nation and as one people.” Oh, look. They have another focus-group-tested phrase— “economic patriotism!”

Economic patriotism would say that instead of protecting corporations that are shipping jobs overseas, let’s make sure they’re paying their fair share of taxes, let’s reward American workers and businesses that hire them.  Let’s put people to work rebuilding America.  Let’s invest in manufacturing, so the next generation of good manufacturing jobs are right here, made in the USA. That would be something to celebrate on the 4th of July.

Economic patriotism says that instead of stacking the deck in the favor of folks just at the top, let’s harness the talents and ingenuity of every American and give every child access to quality education, and make sure that if your job was stamped obsolete or shipped overseas, you’re going to get retrained for an even better job.

Economic patriotism says that instead of making it tougher for middle-class families to get ahead, let’s reward hard work for every American.  Let’s make sure women earn pay that’s equal to their efforts. Let’s make sure families can make ends meet if their child gets sick and they need to take a day off.  Let’s make sure no American who works full-time ever has to live in poverty.

Excuse me, but corporations are not just shipping jobs overseas, but moving their headquarters overseas — as a direct result of American corporate taxes being the highest in the world. In the first place, corporations don’t really pay taxes. If taxes go up, they raise their prices, or cut their offering. Taxes are passed through to the consumer. They are a cost of doing business.

The US corporate tax rate at 39% is the highest in the world, and applies not only to income earned here at home, but to profits made by US companies overseas. It makes American businesses more vulnerable to foreign takeovers. The tax code limits job creation because it encourages US firms to keep foreign earnings overseas and away from the US tax collector. Medtronic is buying Dublin-based Covidin. The corporate tax rate in Ireland is 12.5%. Add in the ObamaCare tax on medical devices and Medtronic says taxes were a major factor in sealing the deal. We were a lower-than average corporate income tax nation in the early 1990s. The average among industrialized nations is 25%.

Obama’s other suggestion is more job-training. The government is exceptionally bad at this, and has multiple job-training programs, many duplicative and few successful. When neither the president nor his advisers have any experience in the private sector, they have little understanding of how business works. Raising the minimum wage will kill far more jobs than it creates, and will work to increase the mechanization of many low-wage jobs. There is a robot that makes excellent hamburgers, and many restaurants have turned to electronic tablets to take your order, eliminating the need for so many waiters. Actions have consequences. Raising the cost of doing business means that creative businessmen will find a way around the increased cost.

“Economic patriotism” is Obama’s way of saying that he, of course, is struggling to do his best for America, but the GOP is anti-American? That’s really going way too far. Obama may be the first president ever to suggest that his political opponents are not patriotic.

*Correction: Tom Steyer has offered $100 million, not $100 thousand I just get confused by all those zeroes.


The Numbers Contradict Your Words, Mr. President. by The Elephant's Child

Was it only twice this last week that President Obama was berating the Republicans in the House of Representatives by saying that while he’s doing his job (?), the GOP House is “not doing anything.” In Minneapolis when he spent a “day in the life” of Rebekah, a mother who had written to him, concerned about making ends meet.

And, now, some of you may have read — so we take these actions and then now Republicans are mad at me for taking these actions.  They’re not doing anything, and then they’re mad that I’m doing something.

The second time was a speech at Georgetown in which he resorted to his most constant theme since 2008 — upgrading those worn-out roads and bridges — something he never gets around to doing.

It’s not crazy, it’s not socialism.  (Laughter.)  It’s not the imperial presidency — no laws are broken.  We’re just building roads and bridges like we’ve been doing for the last, I don’t know, 50, 100 years.  But so far, House Republicans have refused to act on this idea.  I haven’t heard a good reason why they haven’t acted — it’s not like they’ve been busy with other stuff.  (Laughter.)  No, seriously.  (Laughter.)  I mean, they’re not doing anything.  Why don’t they do this?

You will notice that he is not berating Congress, but only the House of Representatives. What he means is that the GOP led House will not do his bidding. But the House has not been idle as the president suggests. The GOP led 113th Congress has passed 297 bills (280 bills, 17 resolutions) and is about average dating from the seventies. The 112th Congress (2011-2013) passed 301 bills.

In contrast, Harry Reid has refused to bring the majority of those bills to a vote, and his 113th Senate is on track to pass the fewest number of bills of any Senate as far back as 1972, passing a mere 59 bills.  Numbers from Some bills are obviously more important than others, but Harry Reid is unusually intent on seeing that no GOP bills come to the floor to be voted on. Possibly he does not dare allow them to be voted on? Who knows, but if Majority Leader Reid’s  actions were not consistent with his president’s wishes, he wouldn’t be doing that.

Lies My President Told Me; by The Elephant's Child

And that’s just some of the more obvious ones. Mr. Obama always uses a teleprompter because he likes to be in control of the situation. But why does he believe that it doesn’t matter what he says — everyone will believe him?  No they won’t. The president has worn out whatever trust they once may have had.

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