Monday, July 19, 2010

Parsing Obama's Weekly Radio Address (Updated)

Obama's Radio Address was pretty outrageous this past week. As usual, if there was a Congressional Republican response, it was whispered privately in a sound proof room from a secret underground bunker deep below RNC headquarters. No word of it having leaked out, I offer my own response:

Obama: This week, many of our largest corporations reported robust earnings – a positive sign of growth.

The fact that some large businesses are prospering - those businesses which have sufficient size to be able to cut workers and trim fat in order to improve productivity - is hardly a sign of the health of our economy. That is kind of like saying that business is good during a plague because the undertakers are prospering.

Obama: But too many of our small business owners and those who aspire to start their own small businesses continue to struggle, in part because they can’t get the credit they need to start up, grow, and hire.

This is the orphan asking the Court for mercy after killing his parents. Obama - with his massive new entitlements, financial regulation, and a $787 billion dollar stimulus of which only 2.6% went to fund small business loans - is the number one jobs killer in America. As Wayne Root colorfully put it, "This "community organizer" knows as much about private-sector jobs as Pamela Anderson knows about nuclear physics."

Obama: And too many Americans whose livelihoods have fallen prey to the worst recession in our lifetimes – a recession that cost our economy eight million jobs – still wonder how they’ll make ends meet.

Indeed, many are still wondering why Obama's focus for the past year seems to have been on everything but jobs and the economy.

Obama: That’s why we need to take new, commonsense steps to help small businesses, grow our economy, and create jobs – and we need to take them now.
We are still waiting for his first idea. Despite all of the hype, the stimulus didn't do it. And the truth is, the government cannot create private sector jobs. It can redistribute money out of the private sector and into areas that are not economically competitive, such as Obama's latest plan, to spend $2 billion to create 5,100 massively subsidised "green" jobs, only 1,500 of which may become permanent. Create many more jobs like that and Obama will break our national piggy bank sooner rather than later.

Obama: For months, that’s what we’ve been trying to do. But too often, the Republican leadership in the United States Senate chooses to filibuster our recovery and obstruct our progress. And that has very real consequences.

Consider what that obstruction means for our small businesses – the growth engines that create two of every three new jobs in this country. A lot of small businesses still have trouble getting the loans and capital they need to keep their doors open and hire new workers. So we proposed steps to get them that help: Eliminating capital gains taxes on investments. Establishing a fund for small lenders to help small businesses. Enhancing successful SBA programs that help them access the capital they need.

I admit here, I am at a bit of a loss. Is Obama referring to the massive House bill that they wanted to push through, the one that was something like 90% payoffs to more public unions and few billion to help small businesses? Regardless, the bottom line is that if Obama, instead of spending hundreds of billions of the stimulus to keep public sector union employees subsidized for a year, had redirected those payoffs towards the private sector and small business loans, we would not be where we are today.

Obama: Think about what these stalling tactics mean for the millions of Americans who’ve lost their jobs since the recession began. Over the past several weeks, more than two million of them have seen their unemployment insurance expire. For many, it was the only way to make ends meet while searching for work – the only way to cover rent, utilities, even food.

Three times, the Senate has tried to temporarily extend that emergency assistance. And three times, a minority of Senators – basically the same crowd who said “no” to small businesses – said “no” to folks looking for work, and blocked a straight up-or-down vote.

Some Republican leaders actually treat this unemployment insurance as if it’s a form of welfare. They say it discourages folks from looking for work. Well, I’ve met a lot of folks looking for work these past few years, and I can tell you, I haven’t met any Americans who would rather have an unemployment check than a meaningful job that lets you provide for your family. And we all have friends, neighbors, or family members who already knows how hard it is to land a job when five workers are competing for every opening.

Obama needs to called on this lie. Republicans have repeatedly offered to pass another extension of unemployment benefits so long as it was paid for - not on more borrowed money. Who remembers all of the promises from the left when they passed "Pay Go," requiring all new spending to be paid for without borrowing. Obama promised that it would be the magic bullet to bringing fiscal discipline to Congress. Instead, quite literally as quickly as it was passed, the Democrats put that bill under a glass case marked "Do Not Open Until Needed For October 2010 Press Releases."

Unemployment payments have been extended now for eighteen months. It is no longer an emergency measure - its another entitlement. All that Republicans are demanding is that at least a portion of it be paid for. With a budget for this fiscal year of $3.55 trillion, if the Democrats can't find the spending for less than $30 billion to actually pay for unemployment, then they are, one, lieing through their teeth, and two, incompetent to run the budget of a high school student government.

Obama: Suddenly, Republican leaders want to change that. They say we shouldn’t provide unemployment insurance because it costs money. So after years of championing policies that turned a record surplus into a massive deficit, including a tax cut for the wealthiest Americans, they’ve finally decided to make their stand on the backs of the unemployed.

That one is lie upon lie. The "record surpluses" came about through a change in accounting for the Ponzi scheme that is Social Security. As to actual deficits, under Pelosi-Reid control of Congress, then the Obama presidency, our deficit has gone from $200 billion to $1.8 trillion.

Obama: They’ve got no problem spending money on tax breaks for folks at the top who don’t need them and didn’t even ask for them; but they object to helping folks laid off in this recession who really do need help. And every day this goes on, another 50,000 Americans lose that badly needed lifeline. . . .

Perhaps no statement so personifies the arrogance of Obama as the one above. It is impossible to "spend money" on tax breaks. America's wealth is not the government's to begin with. Obama is a class warrior of the first order, but as I heard someone say once, when was the last time you had a paycheck signed by a poor person? Obama wants to use taxation to punish the wealthy rather than asking what tax policy is best for the economy. Every time that tax cuts have been tried since the days of JFK, they have ended up increasing government coffers. The "why" is simple, with more money retained in the private sector, there is more money to expand. Our national pie grows bigger. It is not growing right now because of the new taxes and regulations on the horizon. Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire will only further the shrinking of the pie.

Obama: The fact is, most economists agree that extending unemployment insurance is one of the single most cost-effective ways to help jumpstart the economy. It puts money into the pockets of folks who not only need it most, but who also are most likely to spend it quickly. That boosts local economies. And that means jobs.

If any of that were true, we would be out of our economic mess by now. Certainly economists Art Laffer and Nial Ferguson disgree strongly with yet another extension of unemployment benefits. As Laffer points out, "[I]n an economy, the income effects from a transfer payment always sum to zero. Quite simply, there is no stimulus from higher unemployment benefits."

In sum, responding to Obama is not too hard. It would be nice if some Congressional Republican were to start doing it. Ceding the narrative to Obama and the far left is unforgivable.

Update: Mort Zuckerman, at US News & World Report, has written yet another scatching critique of our Community Organizer in Chief's ability to run the economy and set the stage for the regrowth of business in America:

The growing divide and tension between the Obama administration and the business world is a cause for national concern. As Clive Crook wrote in the Financial Times, Obama is "a president under business attack." He is certainly under sharp criticism and for good reason: He has lost the confidence of much of the business community, whose worries over taxes, the dramatically increased costs of new regulation, and a general perception that the administration is hostile toward them and may take yet harsher steps, are holding back investment and growth. In the midst of a weak economy accompanied by levels of unemployment unprecedented since the Great Depression, it is critical that the government in Washington appreciate that confidence is an imperative if the business community is to invest, take risks with start-ups, and altogether get the economy going again to put the millions of unemployed back to productive work.

This is what businessmen do when they are free to conduct business. For example, in the two decades of the 1980s and 1990s, the United States created 73 million new private sector jobs—while simultaneously losing some 44 million jobs in the process of adjusting its economy to international competition. That was a net gain of some 29 million jobs. A stunning 55 percent of the total workforce at the end of these two decades was in a new job, some two-thirds of them in industries that paid more than the average wage. By contrast, continental Europe, with a larger economy and workforce, created an estimated 4 million jobs in the same period, most of which were in the public sector (and the cost of which they are beginning to regret). . . .

The unique danger today is the possibility that we may face longer-term stagnation as a consequence of relying too heavily on borrowed money. When the housing and credit bubbles burst in 2007 and 2008, the unemployment rate soared to double digits and caused a cascade of shock throughout the credit markets and the banking system. Washington's ability to initiate a resurgence is now limited by the long-term dangers of our deficits and our debts.

But one unfortunate pattern that has emerged in the last 18 months is to lay all the blame for our difficulties only on the business community and the financial world. This quite ignores the role of Congress in many areas, but most glaringly in forcing Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration to back loans to people who could not afford them. And not to mention the role of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which in 2004 sanctioned higher levels of leverage for financial firms, from 12 times equity to over 30 times equity.

This predilection to blame business is manifest in the unnecessary and provocative anti-business sentiment revealed by President Obama in a recent speech that was supposed to be seeking the support of the business community for a doubling of exports over the next five years. "In the absence of sound oversight," he said, "responsible businesses are forced to compete against unscrupulous and underhanded businesses, who are unencumbered by any restrictions on activities that might harm the environment, or take advantage of middle-class families, or threaten to bring down the entire financial system." This kind of gratuitous and overstated demonization of business is exactly the wrong approach. It ignores the disappointment of a stimulus program that was ill-designed to produce the jobs the president promised—that famous 8 percent unemployment ceiling.

But it's not just the rhetoric that undermines the confidence the business community needs to find if it is to invest. Consider the new generation of regulatory rules, increased bureaucracy, and higher taxes created by the Obama administration. For example, the new financial regulation bill includes nearly 500 "rule-makings," studies, and reports, compared with just 14 in total for the controversial Sarbanes-Oxley bill, passed after the financial scandals of Enron and WorldCom. The disillusionment has spread to the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), which represents small businesses that normally account for roughly 60 percent of job creation.

The chief economist of the NFIB, William Dunkelberg, put it clearly: Small business owners "do not trust the economic policies in place or proposed." He also said, "The U.S. economy faces hurricane force headwinds and the government is at the center of the storm, making an economic recovery very difficult."

Our economic Katrina, in short.


OBloodyHell said...

> As Wayne Root colorfully put it, "This "community organizer" knows as much about private-sector jobs as Pamela Anderson knows about nuclear physics."

And as I said previously: WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!

I would lay very good odds that Ms. Anderson, asked "Ms. Anderson: what do you know about nuclear physics?", that her answer would be, in one form or another -- "I know jack sh**"

Anyone care to bet that Obama would give the same answer -- or one even *close* -- to the question, "Mr. Obama: what do you know about about private-sector jobs?" -- Hmmm?

My money -- at good odds -- is "hell no".

Knowing how little you know is an important and very large step towards actual knowledge, and, more importantly, to wisdom.

Anonymous said...

a bit less with the snark and attack ideas, please. Jesus was a community organizer and nothing wrong with that job. Why do we put our two wars off budget? that is where all the money going.
as for badmouthing Obama because of no experience? wow. Tell us the experience of Bush and how this led to a great 8 years in office...

GW said...

OBH - I was actually baiting you with that one . . . I was wondering how long it would take you to bite. And to your credit, it was not long at all.

Anonymous - hmmm, Jesus as a community organizer - I have to take issue with that. Indeed, Saul Alinsky, the man who created the "community organizer," saw it as a way of destroying traditional society from within. His "Rules for Radicals," the basis for community organizers, was dedicated to Lucifer. Jesus was concerned with the spiritual life of the people of the world. The focus of "community organizer" is far different indeed.

As to snarck, attack, etc., I am not sure what you mean. There are no cheap shots in anything I have written. As to "attack," when a person lies through his teeth, would you have me not point it out and explain it. On this blog, I have on occaision agreed with and defended Obama as well as pointed out the inane folly of Republicans. Perhaps you will tell me what you see above as "snark" and "attack."

As to Bush's carrying of the war off budget, I cannot defend that and never have. But the problem with accounting by our federal government is much bigger and deeper than that. It goes back decades. Indeed, perhaps the worst of it all is Clinton began putting surplus SSI receipts into the general fund - giving us great surpluses towards the end of his presidency. That was every bit as much as a Ponzi scheme as anything done by the worst of white collar criminals. But the problem with accounting at least is equally a problem of both parties.

As to the link you give - what point are you trying to make? That Bush got drunk once. So what?