Nile Gardiner is a Washington-based foreign affairs analyst and political commentator. He appears frequently on American and British television and radio, including Fox News Channel, CNN, BBC, Sky News, and NPR.
President Obama: In decline? (Photo: AFP)
The last few weeks have been a nightmare for President Obama, in a summer of discontent in the United States which has deeply unsettled the ruling liberal elites, so much so that even the Left has begun to turn against the White House. While the anti-establishment Tea Party movement has gained significant ground and is now a rising and powerful political force to be reckoned with, many of the president’s own supporters as well as independents are rapidly losing faith in Barack Obama, with open warfare breaking out between the White House and the left-wing of the Democratic Party. While conservatism in America grows stronger by the day, the forces of liberalism are growing increasingly weaker and divided.
Against this backdrop, the president’s approval ratings have been sliding dramatically all summer, with the latest Rasmussen Daily Presidential Tracking Poll of US voters dropping to minus 22 points, the lowest point so far for Barack Obama since taking office. While just 24 per cent of American voters strongly approve of the president’s job performance, almost twice that number, 46 per cent, strongly disapprove. According to Rasmussen, 65 per cent of voters believe the United States is going down the wrong track, including 70 per cent of independents.
The RealClearPolitics average of polls now has President Obama at over 50 per cent disapproval, a remarkably high figure for a president just 18 months into his first term. Strikingly, the latest USA Today/Gallup survey has the President on just 41 per cent approval, with 53 per cent disapproving.
There are an array of reasons behind the stunning decline and political fall of President Obama, chief among them fears over the current state of the US economy, with widespread concern over high levels of unemployment, the unstable housing market, and above all the towering budget deficit. Americans are increasingly rejecting President Obama’s big government solutions to America’s economic woes, which many fear will lead to the United States sharing the same fate as Greece.
Growing disillusionment with the Obama administration’s handling of the economy as well as health care and immigration has gone hand in hand with mounting unhappiness with the President’s aloof and imperial style of leadership, and a growing perception that he is out of touch with ordinary Americans, especially at a time of significant economic pain. Barack Obama’s striking absence of natural leadership ability (and blatant lack of experience) has played a big part in undermining his credibility with the US public, with his lacklustre handling of the Gulf oil spill coming under particularly intense fire.
On the national security and foreign policy front, President Obama has not fared any better. His leadership on the war in Afghanistan has been confused and at times lacking in conviction, and seemingly dictated by domestic political priorities rather than military and strategic goals. His overall foreign policy has been an appalling mess, with his flawed strategy of engagement of hostile regimes spectacularly backfiring. And as for the War on Terror, his administration has not even acknowledged it is fighting one.
Can it get any worse for President Obama? Undoubtedly yes. Here are 10 key reasons why the Obama presidency is in serious trouble, and why its prospects are unlikely to improve between now and the November mid-terms.
1. The Obama presidency is out of touch with the American people
In a previous post I noted how the Obama presidency increasingly resembles a modern-day Ancien Régime, extravagant, decaying and out of touch with ordinary Americans. The First Lady’s ill-conceived trip to Spain at a time of widespread economic hardship was symbolic of a White House that barely gives a second thought to public opinion on many issues, and frequently projects a distinctly elitist image. The “let them eat cake” approach didn’t play well over two centuries ago, and it won’t succeed today.
2. Most Americans don’t have confidence in the president’s leadership
This deficit of trust in Obama’s leadership is central to his decline. According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, “nearly six in ten voters say they lack faith in the president to make the right decisions for the country”, and two thirds “say they are disillusioned with or angry about the way the federal government is working.” The poll showed that a staggering 58 per cent of Americans say they do not have confidence in the president’s decision-making, with just 42 per cent saying they do.
3. Obama fails to inspire
In contrast to the soaring rhetoric of his 2004 Convention speech in Boston which succeeded in impressing millions of television viewers at the time, America is no longer inspired by Barack Obama’s flat, monotonous and often dull presidential speeches and statements delivered via teleprompter. From his extraordinarily uninspiring Afghanistan speech at West Point to his flat State of the Union address, President Obama has failed to touch the heart of America. Even Jimmy Carter was more moving.
4. The United States is drowning in debt
The Congressional Budget Office Long-Term Budget Outlook offers a frightening picture of the scale of America’s national debt. Under its alternative fiscal scenario, the CBO projects that US debt could rise to 87 percent of GDP by 2020, 109 percent by 2025, and 185 percent in 2035. While much of Europe, led by Britain and Germany, are aggressively cutting their deficits, the Obama administration is actively growing America’s debt, and has no plan in place to avert a looming Greek-style financial crisis.
5. Obama’s Big Government message is falling flat
The relentless emphasis on bailouts and stimulus spending has done little to spur economic growth or create jobs, but has greatly advanced the power of the federal government in America. This is not an approach that is proving popular with the American public, and even most European governments have long ditched this tax and spend approach to saving their own economies.
6. Obama’s support for socialised health care is a huge political mistake
In an extraordinary act of political Harakiri, President Obama leant his full support to the hugely controversial, unpopular and divisive health care reform bill, with a monstrous price tag of $940 billion, whose repeal is now supported by 55 per cent of likely US voters. As I wrote at the time of its passing, the legislation is “a great leap forward by the United States towards a European-style vision of universal health care, which will only lead to soaring costs, higher taxes, and a surge in red tape for small businesses. This reckless legislation dramatically expands the power of the state over the lives of individuals, and could not be further from the vision of America’s founding fathers.”
7. Obama’s handling of the Gulf oil spill has been weak-kneed and indecisive
While much of the spilled oil in the Gulf has now been thankfully cleared up, the political damage for the White House will be long-lasting. Instead of showing real leadership on the matter by acing decisively and drawing upon offers of international support, the Obama administration settled on a more convenient strategy of relentlessly bashing an Anglo-American company while largely sitting on its hands. Significantly, a poll of Louisiana voters gave George W. Bush higher marks for his handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with 62 percent disapproving of Obama’s performance on the Gulf oil spill.
8. US foreign policy is an embarrassing mess under the Obama administration
It is hard to think of a single foreign policy success for the Obama administration, but there have been plenty of missteps which have weakened American global power as well as the standing of the United States. The surrender to Moscow on Third Site missile defence, the failure to aggressively stand up to Iran’s nuclear programme, the decision to side with ousted Marxists in Honduras, the slap in the face for Great Britain over the Falklands, have all contributed to the image of a US administration completely out of its depth in international affairs. The Obama administration’s high risk strategy of appeasing America’s enemies while kicking traditional US allies has only succeeded in weakening the United States while strengthening her adversaries.
9. President Obama is muddled and confused on national security
From the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to the War on Terror, President Obama’s leadership has often been muddled and confused. On Afghanistan he rightly sent tens of thousands of additional troops to the battlefield. At the same time however he bizarrely announced a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces beginning in July 2011, handing the initiative to the Taliban. On Iraq he has announced an end to combat operations and the withdrawal of all but 50,000 troops despite a recent upsurge in terrorist violence and political instability, and without the Iraqi military and police ready to take over. In addition he has ditched the concept of a War on Terror, replacing it with an Overseas Contingency Operation, hardly the right message to send in the midst of a long-war against Al-Qaeda.
10. Obama doesn’t believe in American greatness
Barack Obama has made it clear that he doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism, and has made apologising for his country into an art form. In a speech to the United Nations last September he stated that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold.” It is difficult to see how a US president who holds these views and does not even accept America’s greatness in history can actually lead the world’s only superpower with force and conviction.
There is a distinctly Titanic-like feel to the Obama presidency and it’s not hard to see why. The most left-wing president in modern American history has tried to force a highly interventionist, government-driven agenda that runs counter to the principles of free enterprise, individual freedom, and limited government that have made the United States the greatest power in the world, and the freest nation on earth.
This, combined with weak leadership both at home and abroad against the backdrop of tremendous economic uncertainty in an increasingly dangerous world, has contributed to a spectacular political collapse for a president once thought to be invincible. America at its core remains a deeply conservative nation, which cherishes its traditions and founding principles. President Obama is increasingly out of step with the American people, by advancing policies that undermine the United States as a global power, while undercutting America’s deep-seated love for freedom.
*** Looking for the “Told you so” button.. OTP
The comments on the main page are worth a read. People are waking up.
Do you remember the abortive “Crash the Tea Party” movement? It was the brainchild of a liberal that explicitly called for progressives to commit fraud in order to attempt to discredit the Tea Party protests.
This morning, I came across this video from Think Progress:
Typical of the kind of dishonest effort Think Progress produces, the video heavily edits clips so that you have no idea what the context of a statement is or precisely what someone they’ve edited is trying to say.
Worse, the video “liberally” makes use of counter Tea Party protesters and infiltrators, including “Crash the Tea Party” drones, in order to fabricate their view.
The guy who claims “I’m a proud racist, I white” was actually driven out of the Tea Party protest he attempted to infiltrate.
Nice work, Think Progress!
Seconds later, Think Progress stitches together a series of posters they claim belong to Tea Party protesters.
Really, Think Progress?
Did you not think we’d remember the amusing signs your fellow liberals created for their little abortive “Crash the Tea Party” stunt in Boston? Let’s just say that some were more amusing than others, and some just showed pathetic and angry progressives often are.
There is an old saying that you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.
At Think Progress, they’re ready to make up the “facts,” yet again.
Senate Republicans are still fuming over the recess appointment of Donald Berwick to head the federal agency in charge of Medicare and Medicaid.
Top 10 Rejected DemCare Slogans 10. Why choose an expensive treatment when pain-pills will do? 9. Assisted Suicide: Do it for the Children 8. We Put the Rash in Rationing 7. Ask Us About Our Discount Placebo Program! 6. Only Selfish People Beg for CAT Scans. 5. Take a Number! The Bureau of Health Waiting Rooms reports the average wait time is now down to 123 minutes (in some locations) 4. Quack isn’t just the sound a duck makes: we’re importing medical experts from Mexico as part of our new Health Amnesty Program! 3. Shut up, take a seat and wait for your number to be called, Mr. GB21708-4. 2. Rahm Emanuel perusing your medical records: what could go wrong? 1. Sound mind, sound body — take your pick.In retaliation, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) blocked a Democratic request Wednesday evening to advance two of President Obama’s nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Also Wednesday evening, Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee demanded a public hearing on Berwick.
Obama used his constitutional prerogative to circumvent Senate confirmation of Berwick by appointing him the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service during the July 4th recess.
Republicans struck back by blocking an effort to schedule a vote on two of Obama’s judicial picks: North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Jim Wynn and North Carolina Superior Court Judge Albert Diaz. Obama tapped both for the Fourth Circuit.
Berwick’s recess appointment magically transformed him into the most influential man in the health care industry, wielding the power to set prices and regulate every aspect of health care delivery.
Berwick has written lovingly of Britain’s bankrupt NHS: “I am romantic about the National Health Service; I love it… All I need to do to rediscover the romance is to look at healthcare in my own country [which is governed by] the darkness of private enterprise.”
Berwick has repeatedly claimed that the NHS delivers superior care when compared to the U.S. He is a liar. And he is dangerous.
Not only does Britain rely upon America’s pharmaceutical innovations, not only does it rely upon America’s medical devices, and not only does it piggy-back upon our cutting-edge procedures and treatments — but it does so far less effectively and with far more waste than nearly any modern health care system.
Robert Gibbs, Barack Obama’s chief spokesman, got into hot water this week for daring to speak the truth – that the Democrats could lose control of the House of Representatives in November. But it could be even worse than that.
Contrary to pretty much every projection until now, Democratic control of the Senate is also starting to coming into question. While Mr Obama’s approval ratings have continued to fall, and now hover at dangerously close to 40 per cent according an ABC-Washington Post poll published on Tuesday, the fate of his former colleagues in the Senate looks even worse.
In the past few days polls have shown Republican challengers taking the lead over previously safe Democratic incumbents, such as Barbara Boxer in California and Russ Feingold in Wisconsin. Indeed, given the uniformly negative direction in the numbers, it is now quite possible the Republicans could win the Senate seats formerly held by both President Obama in Illinois, and Joe Biden, vice-president, in Delaware.
Add to that the continuing woes of Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic majority leader, in Nevada, where the Republican party’s recent nomination of Sharron Angle, a far-right and highly eccentric Tea Party supporter, appear to have had no positive effect on Mr Reid’s prospects, and the Grand Old party has a good shot at taking control of both houses of Congress. Worse for Mr Obama, political scientists say that at this stage in the calendar, there is almost nothing he can do about it.
“If you ask me where the silver lining is for President Obama, I have to say I cannot see one,” says Bill Galston, a former Clinton official, who has been predicting for months the Democrats could lose the House. “Just as BP’s failure to cap the well has been so damaging, Obama’s failure to cap unemployment will be his undoing. There is nothing he can do to affect the jobless rate before November.”
The direction of the data could hardly be worse. According to Democracy Corps, a group headed by Stanley Greenberg, a liberal pollster who is a close friend of Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama’s chief of staff, a majority of US citizens see Mr Obama as “too liberal”.
Astonishingly, 55 per cent of citizens think Mr Obama is a “socialist” against only 39 per cent who do not share that diagnosis. The same poll shows 48 per cent support for Republicans against just 42 per cent for Democrats. The numbers are eerily similar to 2006, except that it was George W. Bush’s Republicans who were on the receiving end four years ago.
“The bottom line here is that Americans don’t believe in President Obama’s leadership,” says Rob Shapiro, another former Clinton official and a supporter of Mr Obama. “He has to find some way between now and November of demonstrating that he is a leader who can command confidence and, short of a 9/11 event or an Oklahoma City bombing, I can’t think of how he could do that.”
In private, informal advisors to Mr Obama are almost as negative. According to one, the US public’s loss of confidence in Mr Obama’s leadership is a factor above and beyond their dissatisfaction over the state of the real economy, which continues to slow as last year’s $787bn stimulus starts to run dry. The adviser, who asked to remain anonymous, said the public did not know what Mr Obama really believed. Examples include his lukewarm support last year for a public option in the healthcare bill and his equally lukewarm support today for a Senate bill that would extend unemployment insurance and aid state governments to keep teachers in their jobs.
In both cases, Mr Obama has offered only token, negotiable, support. “I never thought I would say this, but even I’m unsure what President Obama really believes,” says the adviser. “Instead of outsourcing decisions to Congress, he should spell out his bottom line. That is what leaders are for.”
Next week, Mr Obama is likely to sign a historic Wall Street re-regulation bill into law. Earlier this year he did the same for healthcare. But polls show the public either does not care, or even opposes these otherwise big reforms. “The longer this goes on, the more it looks like Obama wasted his first year on healthcare,” said the outside adviser. “It’s still the economy, stupid.”
One of the cardinal sins of inexperienced writers of fiction is their tendency to violate the rule “Show, Don’t Tell.” Instead of giving the reader or audience a chance to see the character’s attributes, the writer has the narrator or another character or (in the worst case) the character himself, tell the audience about his attributes. More than that, usually, if the audience were never told about the supposed attributes of the character, they’d never know from his or her actions.
A subtrope of “Show, Don’t Tell” is the designated hero. This is where the writer tells us who we’re supposed to be rooting for and it’s a good thing too, otherwise we’d never figure it out.
Note the headline: “Obama v BP”. The hero is alone, but not giving up. See his lowered head, his obvious heartache as he turns half-away from the sight of the offshore rig. Don’t miss his rolled-up sleeves, his arms akimbo. The hero’s not done yet.
Needless to say, the accompanying article is vomit-worthy.
Here’s the original, un-doctored photo:
Oops. Not so alone, is he? Oh, and his head’s not lowered, he’s just looking at debris. And he’s not shying from the gut-wrenching sight out in the ocean, but just turning toward that woman talking to him. Actually, he kinda looks like a doofus. Hey, maybe pretend to be listening to her, huh? A little eye contact, maybe?
Many violators of the Designated Hero rule run into the same problem. Their hero is an awful, frivolous, and empty person. You end up having to tell the readers to like him because if you don’t they’ll assume he’s the bad guy.
Hence, Obama becomes the designated hero. He’s the good guy because they say he is, not because he’s done anything heroic. And, paradoxically, the fact that he’s the (designated) hero means we’re supposed to overlook his patent flaws. His lack of humanity. His inability to get anything done without six months of polling first. And his spiteful disregard for the designated villains.
Should an attack on any group of Americans be considered an act of good will? Should a hostile takeover of natural resources be considered a threat? Should a foreign power have the right to unilaterally seize American assets with impunity?
Well I suppose if you’re Barack Obama, and the foreign power is Hugo Chavez, and the group of Americans are associated with natural resources—specifically oil and natural gas, the answer is obviously no!
Here are the specifics. As of June 24, 2010 at 5:28pm EST, Hugo Chavez had initiated a hostile takeover of eleven oil rigs owned by the American company Helmerich and Payne. Make no mistake this rigs are not remotely mistakable as being the property of the government of Venezuela. But that made no difference to Chavez, and evidently not to the Obama administration, because to date they’ve taken no action to force Venezuela to return the ownership, and it is now four days into July.
Even more audaciously the “oil minister” of Venezuela goes on national television announcing the actions, claiming justification for the takeover due to Helmerich and Payne’s rejection of a formal order from the Chavez government to resume drilling.
Leftists never call things what they actually are either, so you have to understand their code to truly comprehend Chavez’s aggression.
He calls it “nationalizing” but in reality it is nothing short of felonies by theft. And when you consider the value and expense to drill each site with each rig the cost of the theft is in the billions of dollars.
Now would you like to know the truly secret irony of the entire matter? Helmerich and Payne had told Chavez to pound sand until he paid his bill. Estimates are that he is in arrears to the U.S. company to the tune of 100 million dollars. Chavez’s “oil minister” claims that Helmerich and Payne were violating the agreement by squabbling over “service prices.”
Back in the real world Helmerich and Payne said, “we only want to be paid for the work already performed.”
Come now, someone actually getting paid for the work they do? How dare they? The insolence! The capitalist pigs!
Evidently the announcement caught Helmerich and Payne by surprise given that they were still in negotiations with Venezuelan puppets when the oil minister popped on to the television screens.
Helmerich and Payne have worked in Venezuela for over fifty years.
In response the weak-kneed imps over at the State department marched out a pimply faced junior spokesman who pronounced some very firm words about Venezuela needing to play nice or have more junior spokespersons from the State department issuing other voice-crackling words. He also attempted to intimidate Chavez into submission, “This is the latest in such an instance where international investors, their investments are being nationalized by the government of Venezuela. It doesn’t speak or bode well for the investment climate there.”
Oh that’ll show ‘em. Job well done pimple boy, now off with your nerdy state department pals to some neighborhood pub in DC where you can brag about your moment in the sun.
Problem is, in a world where deficit spending by governments is more rampant than oxygen, and in a universe where it means nothing to own the value, material goods, and intellectual and physical property of your own work, this is only going to happen more often.
Because truly how different is it for Chavez to steal under the nose of the watching world billions of dollars worth of equipment, property, and rights, and simultaneously refuse to pay what he’d already promised?
Better yet, how different is either of those two concepts than the financial scale and model that President Obama has signed into law with the passing of his health care “reform?”
Stealing from people is still theft. President Obama can afford to be laid back about his buddy Chavez stealing from an oil company, because they are an oil company. Patriotism, loyalty to his own nation, responsibility to the citizens under his stewardship, and the moral principle of not taking what does not belong to you—all be damned.
Chavez has “nationalized” (i.e. stolen) dozens of companies within Venezuela’s borders going on years now. But this is the first time he’s performed a hostile take-over of foreign-owned company or its properties.
In the neighborhood where I grew up, if Chris Greene or Daniel Boone (two bullies who lived in my neighborhood) tried to take my box of baseball cards, especially the one that had my 1972 mint Nolan Ryan card in it, they’d a had a fistfight on their hands they wouldn’t be forgetting about anytime soon.
But apparently when it comes to billions of dollars of U.S. property, resources, and revenue (that taxes would be paid on for Washington programs) Obama can’t even be bothered to wake up from his mid-summer nap.
You won’t find proof of the damage Obama is doing on Wall Street, but rather on Main Street. My friends are all part of the economic engine of America: Small business. Small business creates 75 percent of new jobs (and a majority of all jobs). I called one friend who was a wealthy restaurant owner. He says business is off by 60 percent. He’s drowning in debt. He won’t last much longer. His wealth is gone.
I called another friend in the business of home improvement. He says business is off 90 percent from two years ago. My contractor just filed personal bankruptcy. She won’t be building any more homes. The hair salon where I’ve had my hair cut for years closed earlier this year. Bankrupt. But here’s the clincher — ESPN Zone just closed all their restaurants across the country. If they can’t make it selling cheap food and overpriced beer with 100 big screens blaring every sporting event on the planet to a sports-crazed society, we are all in deep, deep trouble.
I’ve polled all my friends who own small businesses — many of them in the Internet and high-tech fields. They all agree that in this new Obama world of high business taxes, income taxes, payroll taxes, capital gains taxes, and workers compensation taxes, the key to success is to avoid employees. The only way to survive as a business owner today is by keeping the payroll very low and by hiring only independent contractors or part-time employees provided by temp agencies.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is repeating a pattern that appeared just before markets fell during the Great Depression, Daryl Guppy, CEO at Guppytraders.com, told CNBC Monday… “Those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it…there was a head and shoulders pattern that developed before the Depression in 1929, then with the recovery in 1930 we had another head and shoulders pattern that preceded a fall in the market, and in the current Dow situation we see an exact repeat of that environment,” Guppy said.
The Dow retreated 457.33 points, or 4.5 percent last week, to close at 9,686 Friday. Guppy said a Dow fall below 9,800 confirmed the head and shoulders pattern.
The share of the US working-age population with jobs in June actually fell from 58.7pc to 58.5pc. This is the real stress indicator. The ratio was 63pc three years ago. Eight million jobs have been lost.
The average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks. Nothing like this has been seen before in the post-war era. Jeff Weninger, of Harris Private Bank, said this compares with a peak of 21.2 weeks in the Volcker recession of the early 1980s…
…The housing market is already crumbling as government props are pulled away. The expiry of homebuyers’ tax credit led to a 30pc fall in the number of buyers signing contracts in May. “It is cataclysmic,” said David Bloom from HSBC.
It has now become clear that, outside of the burgeoning field of Census takers, there will be no major increase in new jobs for years to come. Outside government, Obama has created a wasteland of economic ruin and depression that looks much like the landscape of Mel Gibson’s first movie “Mad Max.” Without a printing press in Obama’s world, you’re just plain out of luck.
It is time to cast aside all remaining doubt. President Obama is not trying to lead America forward to recovery, prosperity and strength. Quite the opposite, in fact…
…The real goal of “health care” legislation, the real goal of “cap-and-trade,” and the real goal of the “stimulus” is to rip the guts out of our private economy and transfer wide swaths of it over to the government to control. Do not be deluded by the propaganda. These initiatives are vehicles for change. They are not goals in and of themselves except in their ability to deliver power. They and will make matters much worse, for that is their design.
You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to recognize the very real strategies advocated by Cloward and Piven. If you care about this country, you’ll do everything you can to organize, raise money, and spread the word about the malevolent cabal that is systematically deconstructing America from within.
As the oil spill continues and the cleanup lags, we must begin to ask difficult and uncomfortable questions. There does not seem to be much that anyone can do to stop the spill except dig a relief well, not due until August. But the cleanup is a different story. The press and Internet are full of straightforward suggestions for easy ways of improving the cleanup, but the federal government is resisting these remedies.
First, the Environmental Protection Agency can relax restrictions on the amount of oil in discharged water, currently limited to 15 parts per million. In normal times, this rule sensibly controls the amount of pollution that can be added to relatively clean ocean water. But this is not a normal time.
Various skimmers and tankers (some of them very large) are available that could eliminate most of the oil from seawater, discharging the mostly clean water while storing the oil onboard. While this would clean vast amounts of water efficiently, the EPA is unwilling to grant a temporary waiver of its regulations.
Next, the Obama administration can waive the Jones Act, which restricts foreign ships from operating in U.S. coastal waters. Many foreign countries (such as the Netherlands and Belgium) have ships and technologies that would greatly advance the cleanup. So far, the U.S. has refused to waive the restrictions of this law and allow these ships to participate in the effort.
The combination of these two regulations is delaying and may even prevent the world’s largest skimmer, the Taiwanese owned “A Whale,” from deploying. This 10-story high ship can remove almost as much oil in a day as has been removed in total—roughly 500,000 barrels of oily water per day. The tanker is steaming towards the Gulf, hoping it will receive Coast Guard and EPA approval before it arrives.
In addition, the federal government can free American-based skimmers. Of the 2,000 skimmers in the U.S. (not subject to the Jones Act or other restrictions), only 400 have been sent to the Gulf. Federal barriers have kept the others on stations elsewhere in case of other oil spills, despite the magnitude of the current crisis. The Coast Guard and the EPA issued a joint temporary rule suspending the regulation on June 29—more than 70 days after the spill.
The Obama administration can also permit more state and local initiatives. The media endlessly report stories of county and state officials applying federal permits to perform various actions, such as building sand berms around the Louisiana coast. In some cases, they were forbidden from acting. In others there have been extensive delays in obtaining permission.
As the government fails to implement such simple and straightforward remedies, one must ask why.
One possibility is sheer incompetence. Many critics of the president are fond of pointing out that he had no administrative or executive experience before taking office. But the government is full of competent people, and the military and Coast Guard can accomplish an assigned mission. In any case, several remedies require nothing more than getting out of the way.
Another possibility is that the administration places a higher priority on interests other than the fate of the Gulf, such as placating organized labor, which vigorously defends the Jones Act.
Finally there is the most pessimistic explanation—that the oil spill may be viewed as an opportunity, the way White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said back in February 2009, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Many administration supporters are opposed to offshore oil drilling and are already employing the spill as a tool for achieving other goals. The websites of the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, for example, all feature the oil spill as an argument for forbidding any further offshore drilling or for any use of fossil fuels at all. None mention the Jones Act.
To these organizations and perhaps to some in the administration, the oil spill may be a strategic justification in a larger battle. President Obama has already tried to severely limit drilling in the Gulf, using his Oval Office address on June 16 to demand that we “embrace a clean energy future.” In the meantime, how about a cleaner Gulf?
(Reuters) - President Barack Obama, fresh from a win on a sweeping overhaul of Wall Street regulations, on Saturday urged Congress to take up his proposal for a $90 billion, 10-year tax on banks as the next step in reform.
Obama wants to slap a 0.15 percent tax on the liabilities of the biggest U.S. financial institutions to recoup the costs to taxpayers of the financial bailout.
“We need to impose a fee on the banks that were the biggest beneficiaries of taxpayer assistance at the height of our financial crisis — so we can recover every dime of taxpayer money,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
Obama, who is in Canada to attend gatherings with leaders of the world’s biggest economies, also used the address to welcome a deal by congressional negotiators on a historic rewriting of U.S. financial regulations.
Obama hopes to tout the changes as a model for other countries at the Group of 20 summit on Saturday and Sunday.
“I hope we can build on the progress we made at last year’s G20 summits by coordinating our global financial reform efforts to make sure a crisis like the one from which we are still recovering never happens again,” he said.
The financial regulation package would set up a new financial consumer watchdog, create a protocol for dismantling troubled financial firms and mandate higher bank capital standards, with the aim of avoiding a repeat of the 2007-2009 financial meltdown.
The bill, marking the biggest changes to the financial regulatory structure since the 1930s, still needs final approval from both chambers of Congress.
Obama, who hopes to sign the legislation by July 4, urged Congress to push the bill “over the finish line.”
*** Does ANYone not think these banks will pass on these new taxes to US?? ANYONE?? Do they really think the banks will just dig deeper in their own pockets? Think credit card interest rates are high now? Just wait.
Related: Obama at the G20 meeting keeping an eye on his number 1 priority, the Gulf oil spill DISASTER…
Whoops, my bad.. He couldn’t care less about the Gulf.
If you needed more proof that Democrats have no regard whatsoever for the rule of law, I would like to enter the ill-named “DISCLOSE Act” into the record as exhibit Z-42 million.
Spearheaded by the loathsome Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and the malignant Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the Orwellian DISCLOSE Act would be better termed “The Democrat Incumbent Protection Act of 2010”; it is explicitly designed to prohibit free speech by conservatives while promoting free speech for progressives.
Best of all, the DISCLOSE Act was crafted behind closed doors and its full impact has yet to be determined.
[House Democrats] are planning to unveil their bill at a press conference Thursday morning in front of the Supreme Court and have set the goal of passing their bill by July 4… Van Hollen has said he’s hopeful the bill could be implemented in time to affect newly legal ad spending in 2010 congressional races.
It’s true: Democrats don’t give a crap about what the Bill of Rights says; and to top things off, they’re purposely spitting on the Supreme Court’s recent Citizen’s United decision.
For crassly political purposes, Chairman Van Hollen and his lieutenants at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee decided behind closed doors that the First Amendment applies only to labor unions and certain advocacy groups that scare them sufficiently.
Citizens who are members of other grassroots groups will be muzzled by this legislation for no reason other than that they belong to a group without the financial and lobbying muscle to exempt itself from this bill.
Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress are hanging on to power by a quickly fraying thread, and this bill is nothing more than incumbent protection in its worst and most cynical form.
In short, House Democrats just voted themselves the right to license free speech. Preferred groups like public sector unions and trial lawyers get unlimited free speech licenses while grassroots organizations are prohibited — under threat of criminal penalties — from exercising their First Amendment rights.
They’ve got a radical agenda to pursue. That includes regulating free speech, amassing record deficits sure to destroy the fiscal health of the country, and nationalizing one industry after another.
But neglecting the federal budget resolution is — how do I put it? — historic. It hasn’t happened since the Congressional Research Service started tracking these things.
The Democratic controlled Congress has overlooked a small, but rather significant detail in their desire to remake America… They forgot to present a budget this year.
“Skipping a budget resolution this year, a move House Democrats are considering, would be unprecedented.
The House has never failed to pass an annual budget resolution since the current budget rules were put into place in 1974, according to a Congressional Research Service report. The budget resolution is a non-binding document whose main purposes are to set discretionary spending caps for the coming fiscal year, lay out the framework of the majority’s fiscal policy and create the option of easing legislation through the Senate via fast-track reconciliation procedures.
Gee, they’re so… historic.
Democrats in Congress won’t do the things they’re mandated to do (like pass a budget), while they constantly do things they’re not legally authorized to do (like nationalize industries and regulate free speech).
We’re getting a firsthand view into how a society crumbles, deliberately undermined from within by lawless, would-be tyrants.
Purchases of new homes in the U.S. fell in May to a record low as a tax credit expired, showing the market remains dependent on government support.
The entire economy is dependent on government support.
But the government has no money. It is in fact borrowing nearly as much as it takes in via taxes.
If you made $20,000 a year, and borrowed another $20,000, for how long would your credit card company allow that to continue?
“Quantitative Easing”, “Easy Money”, “Zero down mortgages” and all the rest - it is all a scam designed to impoverish you by stripping you of every asset you have now and as much of your future earnings as they can get you to sign away… Housing, education, consumer credit, all of it. A scam. Every bit of it. Top to bottom.
The entire intent of these “programs” has been and is an attempt to get you to spend money you don’t have and can’t acquire. The Government has built it’s entire “empire” over the last 20 years on the premise that it can continue to borrow more and more money, without any hope of ever being able to pay any of it back.
This was 3-4% of GDP, and is now 11-12% of GDP. It has been the latter now for more than two and a half years. It was mathematically impossible to continue at the former rate and obviously is impossible to continue at a rate three times the 2003-2007 borrowing pace.
We are in a Depression now and have been since 2008. A Depression is defined as a 10% contraction in GDP. But for the government borrowing 11% of GDP and spending it, GDP would have contract by at least the same amount borrowed and spent.
…Geithner and Obama have continued to insist that we “spend and borrow more”, along with idiots like Krugman and Summers. Their entire model is predicated on what amounts to a claim of perpetual motion, which anyone with more than one hour of physics class knows is impossible… At some point it is inevitable that we will run out of the ability to continue to compound debt upon debt… This is not conjecture, it is mathematics… It is not open to debate, it is fact and cannot be avoided.
“Today I return to Columbus to mark a milestone on the road to recovery,” the president said. “That’s worth a big round of applause.”
The White House staged the event here in the political battleground of Ohio, where Democrats face tough congressional races this fall, including a fight to win the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Republican George Voinovich.
Flanked by construction workers in helmets and yellow safety vests, Mr. Obama tried to score political points via the many jobs programs funded by the Recovery Act.
“More than 100,000 Ohioans are at work today as a result of these steps,” he said.
But even before Air Force One landed here, Republicans were trying to put their own spin on the president’s visit.
House GOP Leader John Boehner, who represents Ohio’s 8th Congressional District, said the administration’s stimulus program has fallen short of its promises. He cited new numbers from the Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services that showed the state’s unemployment rate “remained above 10 percent for the 14th consecutive month in May:”
The White House yesterday launched a campaign called “Recovery Summer,” in conjunction with thousands of new jobs programs funded by the Recovery Act being initiated. But Boehner portrays the campaign as bogus.
“This will be no ‘recovery summer’ for the more than 100,000 Ohioans who have lost their jobs since the ‘stimulus’ was enacted,” he said in a written statement meant to undermine Mr. Obama’s visit.
In his brief remarks delivered in the middle of a street closed for his appearance, Mr. Obama asserted the recession is easing.
“Our economy, which was shrinking by six percent when I was sworn in, is now growing at a good clip, and we’ve added jobs for six out of the past seven months in this country,” he said.
But at the same time he said he was “under no illusion” that the recession was over.
“There are still too many people here in Ohio and across the country who can’t find work; many more can’t make ends meet,” he said.
The project he came to spotlight is funded by $15 milllion from the Recovery Act to rebuild roads in the area around Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The White House says the program will create over 300 construction jobs.
Mr. Obama spoke for just ten minutes and was on the ground in Ohio for just over an hour. And though his appearance was billed as official and not political, he did use his remarks to deliver attaboys to some of the Democratic politicians here including the Governor, who is up for re-election.
“You also got one of the best governors in the country in Ted Strickland,” the president said at the start of his remarks.
Strickland faces a challenge for his job in November from former GOP Congressman John Kasich, who was not at the Recovery Act event. Neither was Boehner.
The trip Columbus probably cost taxpayers between $500,000 and $1 million.
Air Force One alone bills out at $100,000 per hour, and the round trip is nearly two hours. Adding to the cost are military aircraft to carry limos and secret service vehicles, Marine One on standby, Secret Service, local police and other factors.
*** The time frame and cost are not as shocking to me as is the fact that CBS News reported this.. WOW!! It IS the end of the world..
Using the vast engineering, logistics and oil spill remediation knowledge assembled by the White House in only 57 days, the President has announced a comprehensive plan to address the massive oil spill in the Gulf. Three projects are operating in parallel:
The ecological disaster continues in the Gulf, 57 days in. Just as the President, once upon a time, promised a “laser focus” on “jobs, jobs, jobs”; and just as he once promised to repair the housing market; and just as he once promised to revamp the economy with new, clean energy technologies; and just as he promised to “fix” the health care system — his effort here also demonstrates a profound lack of managerial experience. And, worse, his complete unwillingness to learn from experts.
Having spent trillions of dollars on Obama’s initiatives, we have nothing to show for any of them except an enormous pool of oil washing up on the Gulf Coast, a broken fiscal system, and an utterly failed President.