American Elephants

2008 Obama Supporter Interviews Her 2012 Self: by The Elephant's Child

Is Relying on Lies a Winning Campaign Strategy? by The Elephant's Child

Obama has been out on the campaign trail telling anyone who will listen that”we tried our “economic plan “and it worked.” Whoo-eee. Well, as he said a few days back: “the private sector is doing fine.” Possibly related: Obama hasn’t received his daily economic briefing since April 2011. The last one was at 10:00 a.m. on April 24, last year.  As press secretary Jay Carney says”the President has a lot on his plate.”

Then he veers off into imaginary world. He claims that the country has tried Mitt Romney’s economic policies already, and they were a dismal failure. Romney, he says, wants to do two things: Cut taxes for the rich and massively deregulate the economy.

“The truth is,” Obama says, “we tried (that) for almost a decade, and it didn’t work.” Bush-era tax cuts and deregulation resulted in the most sluggish job growth in decades” he claims, along with “rising inequality, surpluses turned into deficits, culminating in the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes.” Oh, my. Another whopper.

History was never the president’s strong point. You remember the maternal grandfather who liberated Auschwitz, the paternal grandfather who was tortured by British imperialists in Kenya, and the Indonesian step-grandfather who was killed by the Dutch while fighting for independence. That was made-up personal history. He didn’t do well with historical references in his speeches either, though it’s hard to know whether it is the speechwriters, the president, or both, who are unfamiliar with history. It is economics that seems to be his weakest point.

He congratulates himself for “rescuing the automobile industry” and not letting them slide into bankruptcy.  But we have very good bankruptcy laws that would have reined in the auto workers unions whose overblown salaries and benefits were the major reason the car companies were in financial trouble. in the first place.

What Obama did was illegally shaft the bondholders who had first legal claim on company assets, the unions got ownership of a big chunk of the companies— because Obama supports the unions who support him. Many auto dealers were put out of business, though they are separate, private businesses. A big chunk of Chrysler was given to Fiat. The whole thing smells to high heaven. The taxpayer funds invested will never be paid back, and GM still owes us something over $35 billion.

But aside from aggrandizing his own efforts, Obama tells tall tales about the Bush years. He has consistently tried to blame the financial collapse on George W. Bush.” Bush-era tax cuts and deregulation” he claims “resulted in the most sluggish job growth in decades” along with “rising inequality, surpluses turned into deficits, culminating in the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes.”

Big problem. His claims are all false. Bush was no big deregulator, he actually imposed dozens of major new rules. Regulatory staffing climbed 44% during the Bush years, and federal spending on regulations shot up 45% in real terms under Bush. Much of that came as the result of government takeover of airport security in the wake of 9/11.

Romney, Obama says, wants to cut taxes for the rich and deregulate the economy. “The truth is,” Obama says “we tried (that) for almost a decade, and it didn’t work.”

When the Bush tax cuts kicked in, from June 2003 to December 2007, the economy added 8.1 million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate fell to 5% from 6.3%. Real GDP growth averaged close to 3% in the four-plus years after that, and the budget deficit fell steadily from 2004 to 2007. 5% unemployment is considered full-employment, a far cry from Obama’s 8.2% unemployment, which is the best-sounding. Unemployment for Blacks, Hispanics and kids is far higher, and most unemployed have just quit looking.

A study by University of California economist Emmanuel Saez found that inequality has climbed much faster under Obama. It was unchanged under Bush. The rich ended up paying a larger chunk of the federal income tax burden after the Bush tax cuts went into effect, with the share by the top 1% rising to 40% by 2007, up from 37% the year before Bush took office.The federal income tax was more progressive in 2007 than it was is 1979,  and is the most progressive anywhere.

The one thing Obama actually got right was that the country has tried a combination of deregulation and tax cuts before. That happened in the Reagan administration

President Reagan aggressively deregulated entire industries, and put the brakes on new federal rules. Regulatory compliance costs fell 8% during his time in office, and staffing dropped about 7%. At the same time tax cuts reduced taxes as a share of GDP by 6%. The result was an eight-year economic boom in which real quarterly GDP growth averaged 4.3%.                                                              (click to enlarge)

Not Even Half by The Elephant's Child

Has Obama Lost His Cool? by The Elephant's Child

Over at Investors, Andrew Malcolm asks “Who is this guy pretending to be president?” He argues that the optimistic hopeful fellow with the charming smile is gone and has been replaced by the “2012 Obama who is strident and mean, even deceitful, divisive, telling half-truths after half-truths.”

This Obama is in full-time campaign mode, though his accomplishments are pretty wispy. The Republican primary is essentially over, and he now has someone to run against. They tried out their prepared “war on women” theme, but that isn’t going too well, though they still have hopes. Turns out that women are a lot more concerned about the economy in general than about the cost of a month’s supply of birth control pills.

More women have been laid off from their jobs than men—177,000 women compared to 55,000 men. Mitt Romney said that his wife told him that’s what women were worried about, which prompted a new line of attack by the Obama campaign.

What did Ann Romney know about what women cared about, they asked: she’d never worked a day in her life,” That was to be a new, but connected theme — the Romneys were elite, rich, and out of touch with ordinary people.  Because they were so rich, Ann Romney just got to loll around their many houses while authentic women went out to work. That pathetic claim is something left over from the 60s. Raising five boys to be outstanding young men is not “not working.” And Mitt is supposed to be really out of touch. Square, still living back in the 50s. Above all, not cool.

Very interesting. Obama’s initial campaign was largely based on”cool.” Not just that he would be the first African-American president, but the logo everywhere, on the soon-to-be-presidential airplane, on every sign, on the podium, soon, you didn’t need words—just the ubiquitous logo. In the years since, photoshoppers have had great fun with the logo, and it has perhaps lost its cool in the process.

The new president would prove just how cool he was with his myriad accomplishments, making the hated Bush appear small and well-rid-of as the new guy in charge showed how things should be done. Hope springs eternal.

But all the dreadful things Bush did turned out to be the inevitable and correct thing to do. The terrorists in Guantanamo weren’t innocent boys imprisoned by the warmongering Bush people; they actually were the worst of the worst; and Guantanamo never did get closed. The fundamentalist rule against embryonic stem cells would be waived but the halt didn’t walk again. Whatever happened to the twenty volunteers who were waiting for the real kind of stem-cell transplant?

Major government investment in 21st Century technologies like new, towering wind turbines and cutting edge solar shingles would make dependence on foreign oil a thing of the past, except they simply did not produce the electricity that was promised by the promoters, and the countries that Obama pointed to as examples to be copied, like Spain, have gotten out of the solar business altogether.  Germany is slowly shutting theirs down, and it turns out that they weren’t the 21st century new, new thing but only old-fashioned ideas that have never worked very well.  The Volt goes about the same distance on a charge as the 1896 Roberts electric car.  There’s more, of course.

Seems to me the case that Mitt and Ann Romney are out-of-touch and not cool may be a little iffy.  Americans mostly don’t envy the rich — they hope to get rich themselves someday. They expect their president to honor the Constitution and separation of powers and  respect the traditions of the office, and to understand enough about free enterprise and how the American economy works, to avoid spending all the money on big ideas of the wonders of big government. Surely that’s not asking too much.

What to Expect From Obama’s ‘State Of The Union’ Speech by The Elephant's Child

What will the President say tonight? The first clue is always — who will be sitting in the first lady’s box? Warren Buffett’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, who Buffet says paid a higher tax rate than he did.  This is the keynote of Obama’s “Class Warfare” campaign theme. This is complete hooey, but is supposed to drive the response — “That’s not fair!” Much of the campaign State of the Union speech will be devoted to what’s fair and what’s not in the president’s lexicon, and how we should change the nation from a bastion of liberty — to a nation of redistribution in the name of “fairness.”

Also in the first lady’s box will be outgoing Rep. Gabby Gifford’s husband, Mark Kelly; Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs’ widow; and Adam Rapp, a cancer survivor that the administration claims was helped by ObamaCare. So something about administration efforts to stimulate innovation in technology, what we learned from the Tucson shooting, and something about the effectiveness of ObamaCare.

Expect a dull and divisive speech.  Will the Supreme Court attend after being insulted before the nation last year?

Will there be any mention of the fact that the White House budget will be late again this year — again missing the deadline of the first Monday in February, required by law? This will mark the third time in four years that the president has missed his statutory requirement to present a budget on time.  Heck of a way to run a government. Today will also mark the 1.000th day since Congress passed a budget. The last budget that was passed by Senate Democrats was in 2009 to set the stage for the health care bill’s passage in early 2010. Republicans sent a budget up last year, but Senate Democrats never brought it to the floor.

The Republican response to the State of the Union will be delivered by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.  Here’s a report from the Republican Governors’ Association on what can be accomplished by people with principles:


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