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Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

One of the most astute political observers in America titles the president an ‘unhappy warrior’ as the latter cobbles together a hackneyed proposal to jump start job creation out of the Zero August. And he calls the address to the joint Congress what it really is, a campaign speech!!

Michael Barone has the rare mix of experience, of having visited every congressional district in the country, of  having lectured extensively, as well as of leading the American Enterprise Institute. In an article in the Washington Examiner, Barone exposes the president’s speech and its hidden flaws.

 

Obama assured us that this would all be paid for. But as far as I could gather, he punted that part of it to the super-committee of 12 members set up under the debt ceiling bill. He now blithely charges it with coming up with more than its current goal of $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas’ [..]

As I read it, he’s not insisting on higher tax rates, though he apparently is not ready to agree to a tax reform that is scored as revenue-neutral, as the 1986 act was. [..]

Straw men took a terrible beating from the president. He assailed “tax loopholes” for oil companies, the chief one of which is that they are treated like other companies classified as manufacturers. The administration proposal is that the five largest oil companies shouldn’t be, because—well, because we want to get our hands on more of their money. [..]

When Barack Obama says, “This isn’t political grandstanding,” you have a pretty good clue that that is exactly what it is. Lest anyone doubt that, consider this from the third-to-last paragraph. “You should pass it. And I intend to take that message to every corner of the country.”

In other words, this was a campaign speech. It might result in passage of some of Obama’s proposals, and some of them might even do some good. [..]

Michael Barone. (Emphasis Added)

 

Barone analyses policy statements like no one else can. he can dissect a speech or a plan and see the hidden agendas and potential pitfalls and secret directions that the plan will engender. So then, what of the presidents job speech and its weakness?

 

…we didn’t see the kind of change of direction on policy that Bill Clinton made in 1995 and 1996, which enabled him to rise above his party’s 45% level of support in the 1994 elections (that’s the Democratic percentage of the House popular vote) and with 49% of the vote win reelection in 1996. [..]

I don’t think these proposals have the potential to turn around the careening economy, I don’t think many of them will become law …

 

And that is not good news for the nation.

Elsewhere in the press, Dana Milbank of WaPo, gives a laundry list of reactions from the GOP side of the floor and all but describes the president as a Rodney Dangerfield in the White House, he gets no respect.

The lawmakers weren’t particularly hostile toward the president — they just regarded the increasingly unpopular Obama as irrelevant…..

And such a sentiment:

   … wasn’t entirely limited to the Republicans. [..]

both sides had concluded it didn’t much matter: Obama has become too weak to enact anything big enough to do much good. [..]

Milbank notes that even the press wasn’t that curious anymore:

Usually, the press gallery is standing room only; this time only 26 of 90 seats were claimed by the deadline.

Milbank thinks all this is worse than Joe Wilson shouting lie.

Now, ain’t that the truth!

 

 

Dakinikat of Skydancing blog, a personal favorite for a variety of reasons, actually believes it’s time Barack Obama pulled a Lyndon Johnson!!

A Star is Born

A Star is Born

“A Star is Born” is how he described Sarah Palin after the GOP convention last year.

Michael Barone  is a leading legend amongst the nation’s opinion shapers. He is well-educated, well-read, wealthy, and wise. His column about Obama voters of last year, Dear Young Obama Voter, is something of a political commentary classic. It will be recalled years hence.

Barone writes opinion columns, appears on talk shows, edits the Almanac of American Politics, and is published in dozens of publications world-wide. It is noted that he has traveled to all 50 states and all the 435 Congressional districts. So, it’s worth listening when Barone speaks.

Recently he wrote in the New York Post WHY THE PUBLIC ISN’T BUYING IT – The Liberals overplayed their hand

Here are some excerpts:

THERE are more conservatives than Republicans and more Democrats than liberals. That’s one of the asymmetries between the parties that helps to explain the particular political spot we’re in.

The result is that the two parties have offsetting political advantages. Democrats tend to win on party identification. Republicans tend to win on ideology. Democrats don’t have to appeal to as many independents as Republicans do. Republicans don’t have to appeal to as many moderates as Democrats do.

But the Democrats have a problem here. … Of the 21 top leadership members and chairmen, five come from districts carried by John McCain, but the average vote in the other 16 districts was 71 percent to 27 percent for Obama.

All these Democratic leaders understand that their home turf  tilts far left of the rest of the nation. …. most of these leaders — though Obama obfuscated this in his campaign — have strong, long-held convictions that are well on the left of the American political spectrum.

These are the people — the House leaders more than Obama, surprisingly — who have shaped the Democrats’ stimulus package, cap-and-trade legislation and health-care bills. The rules of the House allow a skillful leader like Pelosi to jam legislation through on the floor, although she’s had more trouble than expected on health care. But their policies have been meeting resistance from the three-quarters of Americans who don’t describe themselves as liberals.

Republican leaders tend to come from mostly suburban districts closer to the national political average. Of the 19 lawmakers who are in the GOP’s House leadership or who are ranking committee members, four come from districts carried by Obama. The average vote in the other 15 districts was a less-than-landslide 57 percent to 41 percent for McCain.

…. Republicans have been winning the battle for public opinion and, more important, for public enthusiasm — in sharp contrast to 2008.

The exit poll showed that though the GOP label had lost support since 2004, conservatives didn’t lose their edge over liberals.

“I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking,” Barack Obama said on a campaign stop in Virginia on Aug. 6. “I want them just to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess.” When a politician tries to stop debate, it’s a sign he’s losing the argument.

Elsewhere, Barone said:

“John McCain and Sarah Palin were ahead in September, but the responses of the presidential candidates to the financial crisis was telling.”

“The 2008 numbers are not etched in stone. The ground is unsteady. The numbers are in sand.”

“Young people like Obama, but the issue for the GOP to emphasize is choice. Young people like choice. On health care, Obama is offering less choice.”

“In Russia in 1989, if you had heart trouble, care for that was on the fifth floor. There was no elevator. That was one way to reduce costs.”

“Yelling ‘lower taxes’ will not bring everyone to the GOP’s side. The key is to relate to people’s lives. Either we can choose our own future or the government chooses.”

“Polling shows that people have not shifted away from markets to government. The changes have been marginal, not major.”

barone_michaeljpg

Barone-speak

“The 1930s and 1970s were political inflections because the next decade after these periods provided positive results. The 1940s validated the 1930s government intervention. The 1980s validated markets, which led to Morning in America and winning the Cold War.”

“We are not at an inflection period yet. We are at an earlier stage in the process.”

“We are now in a period of open politics. The main thing the GOP must do in making the case is by finding and running good candidates.”

(Emphasis added in above excerpts)

Leave it to Michael Barone to parse the polls and read the pulse.

All of which begs the question:


The GovernatoressIn these days of growing sports frenzy, with baseball picking up steam, basketball and hockey in the limelight, with the US auto industry in trouble again, and with the Obama flip-flops continuing, only a few folks may have heard that Governor Palin refused federal stimulus funds for Alaska. Even fewer would have bothered to find out the details.

It is natural for us pumas to worry about the press in this country not doing its job fairly, if at all. When is the last time you have heard about anything that Sarah Palin did, other than gossip about her family, children no less!

Recently, the Governatoress, yes, that’s the new affectionate term I coined for Sarah Palin, it’s along the lines of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s nickname the governator, explained her stand.

In an Op-Ed piece in the Anchorage Daily News, Governor Palin explained that federal money was tied to changes in Alaska policies that ran counter to local legislation, local traditions and an Alaskan way of thought. Here are some quotes:

Strings were definitely attached to federal energy dollars. The stimulus law in section 410(a) (2), along with the Department of Energy’s (DOE) official guidance, required certifying one of two options before Alaska could receive the energy conservation funds. [sic]

The Legislature did not pass a bill adopting a statewide energy building code. In addition, the federal residential building code does not allow exemptions, such as we use in Alaska. When Alaska Housing Finance Corporation funds are used, building and energy codes can be waived due to the “high cost of implementation” in different areas of Alaska. One size does not fit all in Alaska. [sic]

Alaska communities have the right to determine for themselves whether to adopt building codes. [sic]

The Department of Energy finally admitted section 410 and their previous statements were “inappropriate” for some states but still wanted an agreement to push model codes on all Alaskan communities. I said no.[sic]

Beware of Washington, D.C., trying to cajole local community leaders to eliminate the choices Alaskans have when building or renovating homes and businesses. These new codes are so detailed they would dictate the kinds of lights that can be installed in a home in Akutan, and how thick window panes must be in Chignik. [sic]

We have hundreds of millions of dollars already budgeted for conservation, weatherization and renewable energy development. My administration will remain vigilant for Alaskans and oppose mandates or pressure to conform from Washington, D.C., bureaucrats.
{Emphasis Added}

Even a cursory reading of the op-ed article reveals the reasoning and the eloquent argument made by the Governor. You won’t read too much about it in the popular press. I guess, that’s why we-b-log.

A Foster School of Business, University of Washington presentation. September 30, 2008.

This is basically an 80 minute long presentation by four different financial experts offering in-depth, full-background, historical explanation of how the current crisis came about.

It is well worth watching a couple of times, it gives a very broad understanding of the entire fiasco. It’s a different way of learning about it than the ‘little videos’ in the vodpod collection in the sidebar. Good Luck!

CLICK THIS LINK

Immediately prior to the start of the Democratic National Convention, Obama led in the RCP average 45.5% to 43.9%. In June, he had an average lead of 47.1% to 42.4%. So, from June to the beginning of the conventions, McCain whittled down Obama’s lead from 4.5 points to 1.6 points. The Republican National Convention put him ahead of Obama, but recent events have wiped that lead away. Currently, the race stands roughly where it did in June, though McCain is in a slightly better position.

Such is the topsy-turvy progression of public opinion, as observed by the erudite Seer, Prof. Jay Cost, in his most recent essay  RealClearPolitics – HorseRaceBlog – On the State of the Race. He charts the progression of the polls in time, and marks the major events in the last 25 days: failure of various banks, brokerages and bailouts. The timings of the news have a dramatic affect on the poll numbers.

The prinicipal thrust of this latest essay is that Jay Cost believes, news of the economy has reversed a trend toward a tightening of the race, which could still happen because:

i} The number of undecideds has increased in recent weeks again, following a definite decline since end of primaries;

ii} Polls are very volatile this month, and have been compared to the rest of the season, and even more so compared to same time last election cycle. In other words, much could change in weeks to come;

iii) There continues to be voters who will not make up their mind until the last minute, so to speak.

There seems to be a lot of uncertainty out there.

It is fair to say that, on a purely political basis, McCain needs a resolution more than Obama.

McCain needs this issue to become less immediate, less salient. Nothing else is getting through right now. McCain needs this to drop off the front page as a first step to recover the ground he has lost in the last 20 days.

(Emphasis added)

I think most voters will agree with most of Jay Cost’s observations. The debates could still affect the thinking of some people, but nothing like pocket book issues taking up frontpage space. After all, truth be told, something even more critical than election results depends on the bailout plan. So, get to it Congress!


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