Skip to comments.Barack Obama and the Open Question
Posted on 09/11/2011 11:07:13 AM PDT by jfd1776
by John F. Di Leo, for Illinois Review, 9-11-2011
Sitcom fans will recall a particularly memorable episode of the iconic show Seinfeld The Fatigues in Season Eight in which two characters accidentally mix up a pair of manuscripts, not realizing their error until they go on stage in their respective venues.
Comic Kenny Banya accidentally delivers a serious lecture on risk management to his comedy club audience and George Costanza delivers a comedy routine on Ovaltine to a bewildered corporate audience expecting to hear the risk management lecture.
To each audience, the inappropriateness of the speech for the venue overwhelms the question of content whether the Ovaltine routine is funny or not isnt even considered by the corporate crowd; theyre too baffled by the fact that our George would give such a speech at all, so far off from his assigned subject matter.
So it was when President Barack Hussein Obama called for a joint session of Congress in the days before the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attack, to give a speech on Jobs.
The speech he delivered was petulant, mean-spirited, hectoring. It was Obama at his worst showcasing his incredible arrogance, his unabashed partisanship, his combative warrior style of bullying Chicago Machine style politics. It would have been perfectly normal at a Labor Day rally or a private Democratic Party fundraising event, in the safe and comfortable confines of the Palmer House or a union hall.
But he got the venue wrong. He delivered this speech this exaggerated political assault on his enemies, Americas patriotic majority at a joint session of Congress. And horrified the television audience from coast to coast in so doing.
This was not entirely unexpected, of course. This president has a long history of allowing the lecture to overwhelm the argument, of allowing his prejudice against the nations employed, and his prejudice in favor of the shop steward and fifth columnist, to show through the veneer of moderation that his speechwriters may try to project.
So there was hesitation and concern from the very hour when this joint session was requested. House Speaker John Boehner had to weigh the risks. Joint sessions of Congress are incredibly rare. Outside of the annual State of the Union Address, mandated by the Constitution, such events are normally restricted to moments when a president steps outside politics to call for the nation to come together to address a threat such as the Sept 11 attacks, as did his predecessor, President George W. Bush, almost exactly a decade prior.
It is no time for partisanship in the speech, even if the issue at hand is a political one, because it would be so unfair to do so. If the speech is inappropriate, if it ventures too far to the partisan in tone or content, then it takes advantage of a captive audience. It makes the Congress a mere political prop because they respect their obligation to honor the presidents office, even if the president fails to reciprocate by honoring the Congressmen and Senators.
So the outrageous mistake of this presidents September address wasnt unexpected. Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, and a handful of others weighed the odds, and decided that the likelihood that it would turn out as it did was so great that they should boycott the event rather than be used as props in a presidential insult to the legislative branch and to our nations traditions. This was a risky move; if the speech had turned out to be respectful, then Walsh, DeMint, et. al. would have looked like the petty partisans. But they were vindicated almost from the first paragraph of the presidents forty-minute harangue.
Many thought that the solemnity of the venue, especially considering its proximity to the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, would temper the natural inclination of the president and his staff, but such hopes were misplaced. This team is the polar opposite of the Clintonians, who tacked right after the 1994 midterms to retain office. This team has instead doubled down, in both policy and attitude. Again and again, they fail to surprise, except by proving even the most pessimistic, most seemingly outrageous predictions by the right to have been correct.
Its rather difficult to move on from the attitude of the speech, to analyze its actual content, because the emotional shock of watching traditions be disrespected is so overwhelming, but we must.
The content of the Jobs speech: More than the usual pack of lies.
The president had been expected to call for the least helpful tax cuts, the least helpful spending increases, the least helpful economic approach. It was expected to be just another misguided stimulus, and to an extent, it was. As a complete package, it is DOA in the Congress; they cannot support the entire package, and of course he knew it.
This package was intended as yet another opportunity to remind his most important base the regulation-generators, the community organizers, the shop stewards that he is there for them, that he views his role as being the Robin Hood of the Left, the man who loots the productive to support the unproductive, who punishes the employer and encourage those on welfare to stay put.
The punditry errs when it says that the first stimulus didnt work in fact it did, it worked exactly as one would expect it to: such overspending and governmental misdirection of resources caused a contraction of the economy, right on schedule, exactly as the right predicted. That the president wants to do exactly the same thing again and again makes one wonder about his real motives.
In this speech, Barack Obama said of his package that It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for long-term unemployed. But it will not.
Every job that government creates is limited by the government spending of the moment. The government must raise the money in taxes or financed debt to pay for every job it creates, and that collection and allocation must be reviewed, reconsidered, every single year as the government does its budgeting.
So when Washington creates a construction job on a highway, that job lasts for the worker only as long as it takes to repave that stretch of highway, but because of deficit spending, the economy will be paying for the cost of that job forever. The incremental interest cost of borrowing the money to employ that worker will never stop squeezing the private sector until the entire national debt is paid off once a merely difficult challenge, today made a virtual impossibility by the actions of the Pelosi-Reid Congress and the Obama Presidency.
The same goes for every other government job their programs create. A public school teacher, a bureaucrat, an unskilled make-work project employee, must all be funded by property taxes, income taxes and sales taxes, from local to state to federal levels. The federal plan that encourages a city, a school board, or a state to employ people it cant afford, just by offering the carrot of partial federal funding, does that community no favors. All it does is lock the community into a new permanent obligation.
When the policeman or teacher is hired with federal stimulus help, the federal government gets the credit; when that stimulus runs out in a year or two, and the community is forced with the choice of raising taxes to fully support the added staff or letting the jobs end, the community is the one who gets the blame.
Thousands of policemen were hired during the Clinton administration due to that presidents federal matching funds for the first year or two of new police; when strapped cities let them go in subsequent years, did anyone remember the circumstances of their funding and allocate the blame correctly? Of course not. You blame whoever fires you.
Such federal stimulus programs are therefore always a colossal scam, using taxes and debt to fund momentary kudos for the president and a later PR backlash against the local governments that are stuck with the pain of the programs end.
In contrast, when government does not hire the people in the first place, the jobs dont need to be temporary. When its the private sector that creates the hiring, the process can be self-sustaining. A business that hires an employee for its sales, purchasing, or accounting departments, or for the engineering, design, manufacture and shipping of its products, needs no government funds with strings and expiration dates.
In fact, when the business hires those employees, it takes people off the rolls of government support. The government no longer needs to pay out unemployment, welfare, housing and food assistance to these people, and the governments costs are reduced.
Better yet, these employees then become taxpayers themselves, paying more in income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, and every other tax the grasping grubbers of every level of government can dream up. With private sector jobs, the employees purchases from restaurant to shopping mall, from bookstore to real estate, all mushroom to help the economy expand, becoming ever-healthier with every private sector job created.
So the goal of government the responsible goal, the political goal, the wise goal should be, must be, to determine what steps can be taken that will help the private sector create the most and best new private sector jobs. What bills should the president propose, and should the legislature pass, that will free the private sector to do what it naturally wants to do anyway to thrive and expand?
The wrong direction. Again.
The presidents stimulus plan provides federal money for state and local construction projects. Where such projects are needed, it is the proper responsibility of the state and local taxpayer to fund them, not the federal. The more local the decision-making body, the more able are the decision-makers to prioritize them so they only do what they can afford, when it is really needed without adding unnecessarily to the taxes and debt already squeezing our struggling private sector.
The presidents plan calls for a tax cut so far, so good we need tax cuts But the plan is for yet another temporary reduction in the Social Security tax (the payroll tax), just to make it feel like the employed are better off for another year, until it ends just after the next election. If the Social Security program were indeed the investment-based retirement plan that people like to think of it as being, this would be especially horrible, a reduction in necessary investment contributions, making the programs long-term viability even more tenuous. Since its just run as a pay-as-you-go entitlement anyway, though, the impact isnt quite that devastating, but its still a reduction in income for a program whose expenditures the Social Security payment system only continue to climb.
More importantly, this temporary tax cut will only provide a momentary shot in the arm, by giving individuals a bit more spending money for a year. It does nothing to change the long-term economic realities of our tax code, our government spending, and our regulatory climate, the things that need to change in order for our businesses to expand and hire. This kind of tax cut is just a short-term help to the individual, and yet another long-term hindrance to the economy at large.
The president has again offered a miniscule reward for employers who hire new employees $4000 dollars if they hire someone who had been unemployed for over six months. But lets think about this. If a job pays, say, $50,000/year, with a typical recruitment and training cost of about 40% and a typical overhead cost (benefits, management, other taxes) of about 35% per year, the new employees real cost to his employer is about $87,500 the first year and $67,500 each successive year (not counting later raises, promotions, and tax increases yet to come). That $4000 is a drop in the bucket, just 5% of the hiring cost the first year, less than a pittance if the person remains employed for a few years.
Would any rational and responsible employer allow the prospect of that tiny credit to play a role in his decision between two applicants, one who has been unemployed longer than six months and the other having not? And does the federal government even have any right in inserting itself in that decision, in its attempt to encourage the private employer to hire the one, discouraging him from hiring the other?
This president and his staff have the oddest ideas about what motivates people in life Many people today dont even walk into a store unless the advertised sale prices are thirty or forty percent off the stores regular ticketed prices, and yet they believe that a 5% credit against someones first year salary, less than one percent if he stays on for five years, will cause the employer to change his hiring practices. The word clueless doesnt begin to do justice to it.
On top of all this, the president proudly announced that the package would be paid for. Now, in the current environment, viewers assume the term means that other spending cuts have been proposed as part of the deal, so that the net change is no increase in spending but thats not what happened here. This president announced that it is paid for by tax increases on the backs of the producers, the employers, the corporations the very people we are counting on to get unemployment back down and to get growth numbers back up. His proposed tax increases on the producing class will dwarf the miniscule reductions in the payroll tax and the ridiculous hiring bonus he offers them.
Viewed as a total package, this president can best be likened to the childrens football coach who generously presents his 6th grade team with shiny new helmets and new shoulder pads, then sends them onto the field to be pounded by a team of NFL halfbacks.
Again and again, every economic proposal of this administration is one step forward and six behind. The temporary tax cuts pale alongside the permanent tax increases. The temporary spending creates permanent debt for generations to come. The growth of government is an eternally expanding millstone around the neck of our private sector.
The Open Question.
I believe Speaker Newt Gingrich is rightly credited with perhaps the best economic differentiation between the right and the left: The left gauges its success by how many people are cared for by the welfare state; the right gauges its success by how many people are freed from such dependence. This presidents every proposal grows the welfare state, making people ever more dependent on the government, while making it ever more difficult for the private sector on which the government depends to support it.
And so the question arises, again and again: in light of the fact that all this is so obvious in consideration of the historical experiments of the past century, proving again and again that the tax-and-spend programs of the left only contribute to further dependence, and that the Reaganite approach of reductions in tax rates, regulatory control and government spending are the right way to address such problems as unemployment and stagnation one must ask whether the president, his staff, and his party are simply too thick, too witless, too insulated to understand what the rest of us have known for two hundred years?
Or is the answer something else? Are this president, his staff, and his party intelligent enough to understand the utterly destructive nature of their policies, and they nevertheless advocate them for some other reason too impolitic for a loyal opposition to state openly without inviting the charge Are you questioning our patriotism?
Well maybe its time loyal Americans stopped cowering in fear of raising issues with unpleasant answers. If the loyalty of one of the majority parties in this nation is in question if their policies again and again do nothing but drive people out of work, shrink our standard of living, damage our culture, and weaken our society then the voters deserve to know it.
Copyright 2011 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and international trade compliance lecturer. Permission is hereby granted to forward freely, provided it is uncut and the byline and IR URL are included.
The efforts seem to be part of a larger strategy to silence those who disagree with the so-called "progressives'" agenda, as they try to make "compromise" a virtue. Is this part of a Soros-funded effort to neutralize opposition for the 2012 election? Watch AP "reports," columists, and even letters to the editor in local newspapers which suddenly tout the great need for "compromise."
Had the men and women of 1776 "compromised," we would have no Declaration of Independence and no freedom from British rule.
Citizens might remember that, unaccompanied by a strong determination to adhere to the Founders' ideas of liberty, then we risk damaging, rather than helping, the Republic. On questions essential to liberty, we may "compromise" away the liberty of our posterity and help to snuff out the light of liberty in the world.
In other words, if we keep doing the same things we've done already in the Congress and Senate, then we can expect the same results we've been getting--compromises that throw away the liberty of future generations.
On the other hand, if our nominees and representatives can articulate and explain the Founders' ideas as protections for liberty for all citizens, they will have planted the seeds of liberty in the hearts and minds of potential voters. Those seeds will bear fruit for the future, because once the ideas of liberty are understood, individuals may no longer voluntarily submit themselves to slavery to government. If, like the Founders, candidates and elected officials understood the ideas essential to liberty, they would sacrifice their "lives, liberty and sacred honor" rather than "compromise" on issues of limiting government, spending, taxation, etc.
Short-term gain, numbers wise, may lead to long-time loss.
Zacharias Montgomery: "If I have learned anything from the reading of history, it is that the man who, in violation of great principles, toils for temporary fame, purchases for himself either total oblivion or eternal infamy, while he who temporarily goes down battling for right principles always deserves, and generally secures, the gratitude of succeeding ages, and will carry with him the sustaining solace of a clean conscience, more precious than all the offices and honors in the gift of man."
"[With the decline of society] begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia [war of all against all], which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. ME 15:40
In his First Inaugural, Jefferson clearly outlined the "principles" that would guide his Administration, and added:
"These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and the blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety."
For too long, our public discourse has been based on "issues" and short-term political goals, with not enough emphasis placed on how this or that question on an issue relates to a principle essential to our very liberty as a nation. We must return to the "road" described by Jefferson as he took office if liberty is to survive the compromises and assaults by both major Parties over the past 100 years.
Well said, LoveLiberty2. Absolutely right on!
But I think you missed Obama's biggest mistake in his September 8 "Jobs speech."
Over a dozen time (17 or 18 I thihk was the actual total), he admonished Congress to "Pass this bill."
As of today, September 11, 2011, there is no actual bill.
And the Republicans definitely dropped the ball on that. Boehner should have taken the microphone at the end of Obama's campaign speech offered to move things along without obstructing. He could have offered to have the first reading into the record of this proposed "Amerian Jobs Act." That's the first step toward passing the bill. Members of Congress have to be able to read it.
One of the most damaging things to the Democrats in the 2010 election was Nancy Pelosi saying, "We have to pass the health care bill so you can see what's in it." Obama thinks that is the way things work. Boehner apparently thinks that's the way things work, too.
I'm pretty sure that one statement from Pelosi turned more independents against he Democrats in 2010 than any other single thing.
Boehner should have made Obama say something similar. It would have been the end of Obama's 2012 election hopes.
Boehner didn't do that because the "Ruling Class Republicans" also have used questionable tactics like that back in the 2001-2006 time frame. Those establishment types misread the 2010 elections, and they don't see that the people have spoken against tactics like passing a bill that hasn't been available to read. Boehner is still stuck in the 2009 establishment mentality.
Instead of challenging the President to present his bill, Boehner and Cantor are offering to be nice and not obstruct. This is essentially writing a blank check to Obama. When the bill is actually written, and it's much worse than the speech, Boehner and Cantor will regret their cooperative comments on Friday.