Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Staying the Course

In the wake of the Democrats' "shellacking" in the November elections, there has been no shortage of advice from the press about what the president "must" do to recover.  A quick Google news search of the term "Obama must" turned up the following sampling:

 -Obama must reclaim the progressive base.  (Howard Dean)

 -Obama must move in the direction of the new Republican House majority. (Eric Cantor)

 -Obama must scare the hell out of the American people about the deficit. (Morton Kondrake)

 -Obama must focus on seniors and blue collar workers by protecting Social Security and pushing for a new stimulus package. (Martin Frost)

-Obama must cut the federal workforce, in addition to freezing their pay (Detroit News)

 -Obama must enthusiastically work with Republicans on some issues and fight them on others (Michael Waldman)

 -Obama must not extend tax cuts for the wealthy. (Florida News-Press)

 -Obama must learn to be like Clinton and back off his agenda. (Grover Norquist)

 -Obama must chose between Wall Street and Main Street. (Kos)

 -Obama must back off his liberal, statist agenda and start listening to the American people. (Cynthia Lummis)

 -Obama must battle the Republicans. (Guam P D N)

 -Obama must compromise. (Newsmax)

My advice?  President Obama should not listen to any of these people.  They can't all be right, obviously, and most of this advice just seems to reflect the particular agenda of whoever is offering the advice.  President Obama is still the most popular elected official in the country.  His approval rating, according to Gallup, is at the moment three points HIGHER than Reagan's at the same point in his presidency.  (Do I need to remind people that Reagan was re-elected in one of the largest landslides in history?)   The administration is about to complete one of the most successful legislative sessions in history, having already passed landmark legislation to stimulate the economy, reform financial regulation, and reform the health insurance industry.  The TARP program, begun under President Bush but continued by the current administration, is going to end up costing the taxpayers practically nothing.  The economy, though still sluggish and with unemployment still too high, is showing steady and continued growth.   The United States, despite the embarrassing release of a trove of diplomatic cables, is still more respected abroad than it has been in years. 

Why change course now?  The main reason the Democrats took a beating in November is that the policies they put in place--especially health care reform, the stimulus, and TARP--were highly unpopular with large segments of the American public.  Yet all these policies were necessary medicine to fix the disasters that the administration inherited.  More importantly, all these policies are working, and nobody had any viable alternatives to suggest.  If the economy continues to improve, and health care reform starts to show some benefits, people's fears about the direction we are headed will subside.

Hope and change is still the only workable agenda on the table.


  1. I agree. I hope he stays the course. Full speed ahead!

    On a serious note, it was interesting reading so many contradictory opinions on one page by so many different people.

  2. Thanks Harrison. What was interesting to me is that even though all these people might think that what they are advocating is in the President's or the country's best interests, their advice just so happens to coincide with their own little wish lists. Since they are all so obviously biased, and since they all obviously can't be right, I figure they must all be wrong.

  3. You guys make me smile, so I'll paraphrase Marilyn Monroe for fun:

    Ever notice how 'What the hell' is always the right answer?

    Let them think what they want. If they care enough to bother with what I do, then I'm already ahead of them.

    A wise politician listens but doesn't believe, and leaves before he is left.

  4. On a more serious note, I hope the Prez changes course. There is no policy in place to add 350,000 jobs a month. Our current economic policy has been handed over to Bernanke (print money). Disturbing. Both houses of Congress seem too busy jockeying for power to work for America. Very disturbing.

  5. Printing money is in fact a policy designed to get people back to work. A better way would be to increase infrastructure spending, but there doesn't seem much chance of that now, with so many in Congress calling for reductions in government spending (which of course would only put more people out of work). Remember that the way we finally got out of the Great Depression was that the government decided to order thousands of planes and ships and tanks, mobilized a giant army, shipped all that stuff over to Europe, and blew most of it up. Building more roads and bridges and schools would probably work better than that, but if we can't get that through the Congress, we'll just have to print more money. Oh and by the way, the President just announced a free trade agreement with South Korea, which is supposed to increase US exports to that one country by $10 or $11 billion. That ought to employ a few people.

  6. It doesn't look like we are not going to get a consensus on whether printing money is beneficial to the unemployed.

    Speaking of infrastructure and the depression era, what would you think of having millions of American's on relief doing something like they did in the 30s and early 40s (the CCC). Is it reasonable to ask the unemployed to work on our infrastrucure or natural resources (like roads and parks)?

  7. I think the CCC was a great idea for those times. But I don't know if something like that would work today or not. I would bet that the government workers' unions wouldn't be too crazy about the idea, since cheap labor working in the national parks and such might be a threat to their members' jobs.

  8. Great point. Sadly, it would work.

  9. I think a great way to get people back to work would be to put the country on a solid fiscal track so businesses aren't wondering what's going to fail next and they would hire. Cutting their taxes so they could expand and hire more people would be a helpful thing too. A passing more free trade agreements so we could increase our exports would help. Building roads or bridges won't help.

  10. Harrison, I think that is a fair view. Cali is a preview to our national finacial issues. What was grossly unfair was for the Federal government to harvest tax payors to hand over 3 trillion to big banks who have done nothing to help the real economy as it goes to hell. Goldman, Citi, Bears, BofA, AIG, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, etc. Did they invest the 3 trillion back into our economy? Did they make loans? Create jobs? The Fed supports speculators.