So, awhile back I decided to take a little break from this blog. I did it with no notice here or anything because I figured it'd be a couple weeks. So I logged in today and realized it's been over a year since my last post. All I can say is that when personal/family matters rear their ugly heads in a big way, time gets away from you. At any rate, over that year I didn't stop paying attention to what's been happening around us, and as my friends would attest, commenting on it. Now it's time to get back to commenting here, on twitter, and I've even got a facebook profile. Time to start talking, and I'm going to start by pointing out that national debt counter at the top of the page. It doesn't seem to be spinning any faster than when I was last here. I find that hard to believe, considering the spending spree that Washington seems to be on. More to come...
I've been reading the stories in the news today about the stock market, Citibank, AIG, GM and Chrysler. I'm not at all surprised to find that Citibank is trading at less than the cost of an ATM fee, AIG and Chrysler are barely above water and GM's auditors are saying that bankruptcy may be the only thing that can save them.
Is anyone surprised? I know I'm not. I've said all along that this would not work. I know that I and others have said that getting the government (which has yet to be able to get out of its own way) involved was only going to make the situation worse. So, here we are with the major recipients of bailout money on the verge of bankruptcy. A bankruptcy said that a great many of us said needed to happen some five months ago when we set out down this path.
However, we did achieve change. Things are decidedly changed. The difference between then and now? The difference is that now, instead of just having these businesses on the verge of bankruptcy, we and future generations are also on the hook for over a trillion dollars. The only question is, was that the change we needed?
I've seen something that I thought wasn't supposed to happen not once, but twice in the news this week... The first time was on my local ABC station here in Toledo. According to the story, there were concerns of flooding again in Findlay, Ohio, and so the sandbagging started. The problem was that the city quite simply didn't have the money to pay for sand or bags. Then the most amazing thing happened. It seems an evil business stepped up. According to 13abc, National Lime and Stone Company stepped forward and donated not only 2,500 bags, they gave 50 tons of sand to fill them. Then, this morning on Good Morning America, they had this story, which came, out of all places, from California! A couple who was starting a restaurant ran out of money before they could finish building it and open. As a last resort, they put an ad in the paper asking for help finishing and opening their restaurant. They said that they couldn't pay - at least not right away. They said that they would pay whoever helped in the future - if the restaurant succeeded. Then the most amazing thing happened. People stepped up. They helped out, and the restaurant opened. In the interview, the couple said that they were amazed by the response that they got. The restaurant has only been open for a couple of weeks, but they said that they have a good response from the community so far. So, what is it that amazes me about these two stories? It wasn't what was in the stories, but what wasn't - the government. If I didn't know better... if I didn't know that people can't possibly succeed at anything without Washington there to help them... I would swear that these were people who stepped up and managed to come up with a way to solve their problems without any help from Congress or the President. It's all just so confusing. Please say it ain't so.
I watched Obama's speech, as well as Jindal's response, and I find a few things interesting...
First would be the response to Jindal's speech. People are saying that the speech wasn't good, but I think it was very good. Admittedly, the delivery wasn't as exciting as Obama's, but giving the speech to a camera in an otherwise empty room as opposed to a room full of fawning, applauding members of Congress is going to change the appearance. I think that a lot of this criticism is put forward by people who are worried about the strength of someone like Jindal. The thing that Jindal did do was make people think. One of interesting the articles I read was about the sudden spike in online searches for the term volcano monitoring during his speech. That, among other things, would be one of the items that we couldn't do without in the Spendulus bill that Obama pushed. So, did Jindal have the style that Obama had? No, but he had the substance that Obama didn't have. For example,
1) Obama talked about the deficit that they "inherited" which drew laughter and applause from the Democrats in the room. Really? Who was that running congress for the past few years? I'm not going to try to exonerate Bush, because the man did spend like a drunken sailor in a nudie bar. However, for members of congress to act like they just arrived in Washington to find a budget deficit left behind by someone else is preposterous.
2) He also talked about how we need to be more fiscally responsible and cut the deficit in half. Again, really? Being that the moves he and his cohorts in congress made in his first month in office more than doubled the deficit, to cut it in half still leaves us with a deficit larger than when he started in office.
3) He cited $2 trillion in savings "over the next decade." A nice thought, but the fact is he can only be sure he has a say in how money is spent over the next four years. He might be able to pull off eight years, but he won't be there for 10. It is common political speak to make projections beyond when you will be in office. That way if you want, you can put off things like huge program cuts or tax hikes until someone else is in office. You still get to make the grand statement, but you don't have to do the heavy lifting that comes with it.
4) Obama referred to the United States as the country where the automobile was invented. The fact is that while Henry Ford did invent the assembly line, which made it easier for everyone to get a car, historians generally agree that the car was invented by a man named Benz in Germany.
5) Obama said that regulations on the banking industry were taken apart and that people bought houses they couldn't afford and unscrupulous banks pushed the loans, "And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day." He implied that it was the Republicans who were responsible for this. That flies in the face of the fact that it was the Clinton administration that pushed for the changes in the banking laws and, in recent years, while the Republicans (like John McCain) were calling for more oversight, it was Obama's friends like Frank, Dodd, Reid and Pelosi who were saying that everything was fine and stifling the GOP's efforts to change the course of this problem.
6) He, once again, touted his plan to "create or save 3 million jobs." This is an excellent thing to say, but it's just that - something to say. First of all, the only way that the government could guarantee 3 million jobs is to hire 3 million people for government work. Either that or conscript them into the military. I don't know, maybe he's planning on bringing back the draft, but I doubt it. The fact is that his own economists said in a report last month that, "It should be understood that all of the estimates presented in this memo are subject to significant margins of error." How many jobs are in a significant? Five, 10, a million, a couple of million? Who knows? There's really no way we'll ever know how many jobs are saved as a result of the stimulus. We know when people lose their jobs, but the estimates of jobs saved are based on predictions of how many jobs would be lost without the stimulus. So, basically, if we lose 10 million jobs, he can say that he figured we would lose 13 million and therefore he saved 3 million. Also, there's no way to figure how many jobs would have been created whether or not he put a giant spending bill out there.
These are just a few of the notable problems with Obama's substance. There were many more that have been noted by a number of outlets, but lest we forget, he did have style and that's what this is about, right?
Yesterday, President Obama announced that he intends to cut the deficit in half by the middle of his term. This statement leaves me somewhat dumbfounded. Being that just last week with a quick stroke of his pen, he doubled the deficit, doesn't that mean he's going to put the deficit right back where he found it? Which also begs the question, couldn't he have saved a step and not spent a trillion dollars we don't have?
In the presentation, one of his advisers said that the first step to get to entitlement reform is basically to spend billions on socialized medicine. The contradiction is enough to give you whiplash. The only way to get spending under control is to spend billions more?
Obama himself said that we cannot continue to pile debt onto future generations. Again the whiplash hits me. He and his party push through a trillion dollars in spending that heaps debt onto future generations without letting the people who are supposed to represent us read it, and he says we can't heap debt onto future generations. I'm at a complete loss.
Meanwhile, the Democrat-run congress is set to pass a $410 billion omnibus spending bill that Mike Pence, R-Ind. termed, "the largest increase in discretionary spending since the Carter administration."
Republicans have called for a spending freeze, which the Democrats seem to have already rejected.
Charlie Melancon, D-La., Blue Dog co-chairman for communications said, "The Blue Dogs will be President Obama's allies in Congress as he moves to re-institute tough budget enforcement mechanisms, such as pay-as-you-go rules, that have the force of law."
So, while they pass the largest spending increase in decades, they call for tough budget enforcement and pay-as-you go laws? In the wake of spending that makes the Bush administration's drunken sailor attitude toward money look frugal, all I can say is it's time to get a neck brace.
We've all been hearing the stories about the administration and apparently thinking that their own policies don't apply to them. The tax cheats, the orchid-growing temperature in the Oval Office, the list goes on.
Now, I read this story about the President's auto team. If a person set out to pick posts to give people a laugh because of the contradictions, he couldn't do much better than Obama.
It's been interesting to watch some creeping disillusion regarding the President and all of these grand bailout plans. Some Republican governors, like Jindal and Palin are talking about not taking bailout money for their states, saying that it comes with too many strings. Among other things, it would require the complete repeal of welfare reform that was passed by the Clinton administration, which would then only be funded for the first couple of years. I have to say good for them. I wish more people would stand strong like this instead of caving and doing like Granholm, Schwarzenegger, and Crist and begging for whatever is left by those governors who aren't taking. More interesting is a couple my Democrat friends who are looking at the latest incarnation of the bailout, specifically the $75 billion to save 9 million homes from foreclosure. It seems that they are wondering why the government is spending our money to bail out people who shouldn't have been buying homes in the first place. They are thinking that it isn't fair to the people who are doing things right, bought within their means, pay their bills and are sacrificing in this economy to realize "The American Dream" of owning a home. While I like that they are seeing what the problem is, I have to wonder where they've been all along. I saw things like this coming, and so did many other people like me. It's not like Obama made a great secret out of wanting to do things like this. I guess I should just say, "Welcome aboard, glad to have you here." It would also seem that they are not alone in their creeping disillusion, as I watch the President's approval rating start to dwindle. Hopefully, when that clock on the left column of this blog reaches zero, there will be enough people who have gone down this path to vote people into Congress who will slow plans like this down.