Obama Wouldn’t Vote for Obama
Barack Obama in 2009: “You know, a year from now, I think people are going to see that we’re starting to make some progress but there is still going to be some pain out there. If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”
Barack Obama’s best bet at reelection would be to contest the Republican primary and run as one of them. He ought not to get many votes from the Democrats in the country, at least not if they were paying attention. If he were true to his word, he himself almost certainly would not vote for himself were he not the President.
The problem with Obama is that while he was elected as a Democrat, he has the outlook of a free market right winger. Law might have been the wrong department for him to have been in at University of Chicago, the economics department might have been a better fit. There is a reason the Occupy crowd convened during the Obama administration and not during Bush’s. Aside from inequality, which is certainly high, there is a feeling of broken promises. Obama wrote a check as a candidate to fundamentally change the way that Washington works, as he so frequently said. Instead, his bank account must have been overdrawn, because we are still waiting for any real change to occur; mostly all he gave us was empty hope.
There are a couple important areas that Obama has failed in:
Income inequality is at historically high levels. “The share of total after-tax income received by the 1 percent of the population in households with the highest income more than doubled between 1979 and 2007, whereas the share received by low- and middle-income households declined,” according to the Congressional Budget Office. The net worth of the bottom 60% of Americans is less than that of the Forbes 400 richest Americans.
What has the Obama administration done to change that? To correct it to a more reasonable level? Why did people in poor neighborhoods all over the country volunteer for him? What he’s done is extended the Bush tax cuts, continued an economic policy the point of which is to put more money in the pocket of the richest people, and allowed the conservative Congress to pass spending cuts with no revenue increases. The Bush tax cuts have cost the U.S. $2.3 trillion since they were passed, with very little to show for them on the positive side and quite a bit of debt on the negative side. Any sympathy he might express for poor people, people in need, or solidarity with the Occupy movement has to be seen through the light of this fact. It is worse still that he got nothing back from the Republicans in exchange for extending the regressive tax cut. They simply asked him and he did as he was asked, no bargaining. Perhaps no bargaining was necessary, perhaps it is indicative of how President Obama views economic policy.
In keeping with Obama’s right-wing ideology, there has been little government spending on jobs, and partially as a result, unemployment remains high. The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the most recent number at 8.7% of the population that still is seeking work. All the good news Obama trumpets about jobs and job increases obscures the fact that unemployment is higher now than when he took office. While it is true that the numbers are coming down slowly, the lack of action from the administration shows that it is in no hurry to help unemployed people find work. It demonstrates a belief that the market will correct itself in the long run and shouldn’t be interfered with. While this may be true, as John Maynard Keynes famously said, “In the long run, we’ll all be dead.”
While it’s true that Obama tried and failed to introduce a major jobs bill in 2011, it was as much a gift to the business elite as it was to workers. The bill featured payroll tax cuts to companies for hiring people, but at the same provided incentives likely to lead to a decrease in working hours and pay for workers, with the effect that workers would be sharing the same number of hours among more people, meanwhile the company gets all the tax benefit from the government. There was also tax credits to companies for hiring long unemployed people. All of this is something, but putting money and jobs directly in the hands of workers in the form of benefit and infrastructure spending would have put the benefit in the hands of the people, with businesses sharing in the growth that the people would create and not the other way around. One of the reasons the jobs bill did not pass was because it would have added to the national debt.
The total federal debt as of 2010 was $13.6 trillion. Debt as a percentage of GDP was 93% and 2011 is expected to reach 100% of GDP. Such numbers are approaching or surpassing European debt levels and portend approaching austerity. Instead of raising revenue or cutting defense spending, Obama instead chose to extend the Bush tax cuts. We saw this again over the summer, where Obama was stared down by Speaker Boehner, leading to automatic budget cuts of up to $2 trillion with no tax increases. Why can’t he trade things like spending on a jobs bill for overall matched decreases in other areas of the budget? Obama refuses to cut Defense spending. While other departments are being cut sharply and a jobs bill dies in the Senate because it will increase spending, the Obama administration increases spending in the Department of Defense in the 2010 budget by 12.7% and by another 0.7% in the 2011 budget, which wasn’t really a budget at all because of Congressional deadlock.
The 2010 budget shows the President’s real priorities, and they sound a lot like the President’s before him, “the Budget supports additional permanent forces in the Army and Marine Corps, which will increase to 547,400 and 202,000, respectively, by the end of 2010.” So we have a President who is willing to propose a watery jobs bill but isn’t willing to cut military spending in order to make it politically viable. Something has got to give, and if Obama is unable to push for tax increases, budget cuts are the only option. Since he seems reluctant to cut defense spending, the cuts will have to come from other areas, most likely entitlement spending.
A couple of quotes from Obama’s State of the Union to wrap this up:
“I’ve approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than the last president had.”
“Our Healthcare law relies on a reformed private market, not a government one.”
Free markets! Low taxes! Low regulation! Strong military! Vote Barack Obama, the GOP’s other candidate!
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