When he was elected president in 2008, Barack Obama was untried and untested. Just four years out of the Illinois state Senate, he had not yet proved himself as either a manager or a leader. He had emerged from relative obscurity as the result of a single convention speech and was voted into office only a few years later on a tidal wave of hope, breezing past several opponents with far more experience and far clearer claims on the job.
Today, Obama is a very different candidate. He has confronted two inherited wars and the deepest recession since the Great Depression. He brought America’s misguided adventure in Iraq to an end and arrested the economic downturn (though he did not fully reverse it) with the 2009 fiscal stimulus and a high-risk strategy to save the U.S. automobile industry. He secured passage of a historic health care reform law – the most important social legislation since Medicare.
Just as important, Obama brought a certain levelheadedness to the White House that had been in short supply during the previous eight years. While his opponents assailed him as a socialist and a Muslim and repeatedly challenged the location of his birthplace in an effort to call into question his legitimacy as president, he showed himself to be an adult, less an ideologue than a pragmatist, more cautious than cocky. Despite Republicans’ persistent obstructionism, he pushed for – and enacted – stronger safeguards against another Wall Street meltdown and abusive financial industry practices. He cut the cost of student loans, persuaded auto manufacturers to take an almost unimaginable leap in fuel efficiency by 2025 and offered a temporary reprieve from deportation to young immigrants brought into the country illegally by their parents. He ended the morally bankrupt “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that had institutionalized discrimination against gays in the military.
The nation has been well served by President Barack Obama’s steady leadership. He deserves a second term.
His record is by no means perfect. His expansive use of executive power is troubling, as is his continuation of some of the indefensible national security policies of the George W. Bush administration. This page has faulted him for not pushing harder for a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws. Obama swept into office as a transformative figure, but the expectations built up by the long campaign thudded back to earth amid an unexpectedly steep recession and hyperbolic opposition from the right. That the GOP has sought to block his agenda wherever possible is undeniable, but truly great leaders find ways to bring opposing factions together when the times demand it; Obama has not yet been able to do so.
Republicans have sought to make the presidential election an up-or-down vote on Obama, hoping that voters will hold him accountable for the country’s stubbornly high unemployment and sluggish economy. But this election isn’t a referendum on one candidate, it’s a choice between two. And unfortunately for the GOP, its candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, has demonstrated clearly that he’s the wrong choice. He’s wrong on the issues, from immigration to tax policy to the use of American power to gay rights and beyond. And his shifting positions and willingness to pander have raised questions about who he is and what he stands for.
On economic issues, the race between Obama and Romney presents a stark choice. Romney wants to cut taxes, spending and regulations in the hope that the mix of stimulus and austerity will spark growth and reduce the federal deficit. Obama wants to trim spending but raise taxes on high-income Americans, shrinking the deficit without sacrificing investments in the country’s productive capacity or curtailing Washington’s role in protecting the vulnerable.
Obama’s choice of former New York Fed Chairman Geithner to head Treasury signalled fairly clearly that this President was going to go with Wall Street all the way. While not a banker per se, Geithner’s career was almost entirely within the international banking community, including the Treasury Department and the IMF. At the Fed in New York, he hobnobbed with Hank Greenberg of AIG and John Whitehead of Goldman Sachs, both of whom got bailed out generously in the midst of the 2007-08 crash.
While other nominees to Federal office might have been disqualified by the matter of failing to pay self-employment tax for several years, not so Wall Street club member Geithner. He was confirmed and jumped right in to support Obama’s policy of using Hitler-like health-care “reform” to cut costs, and ongoing bailouts of the desperately bankrupt international banks. He has continued that policy to this day, using his office to pressure Europe to adopt a suicidal policy of hyperinflation and austerity, and implementing the same policy here at home.
According to EIR sources on Capitol Hill, Geithner has also found time to visit Congressmen and Senators to pressure them against going for a Glass-Steagall banking separation. Nor was he above consorting with the rating agencies during the budget crisis of 2011, working with them to push a program of draconian budget cuts for the period ahead.
Now, with the recent exposé of the Libor interest-rate-fixing, it is clear that Geithner also played a hands-on role in that operation, although it’s not known how extensive it was. Minimally, he covered up a crime which devastated hundreds, if not thousands, of cities and states worldwide, by the scam known as interest-rate swaps, which were immensely profitable to his real “constituency,” the money-center banks.
Obamacare will be fiscal disaster
By E. Thomas McClanahan
Soon after the Supreme Court upheld the bulk of Obamacare, the Congressional Budget Office came out with a new estimate for its cost. No surprise: As before, CBO said it would reduce, not raise, the federal deficit. This put a warm glow in the heart of every Democrat and Obamacare supporter.
Too bad it’s a fairy tale. With the election only weeks away, the point must be emphasized: This law is a fiscal calamity.
CBO said the court ruling reduces the 10-year cost of Obamacare by $84 billion because states won’t be required to expand coverage under Medicaid. But that doesn’t come close to solving the budget problem.
CBO is obligated to follow “scoring conventions” that, among other things, assume spending cuts in current law won’t be overridden by Congress when the time comes for some favored constituency to feel the pain. Example: the “doc fix,” in which Congress regularly keeps physicians and other providers from being whacked by scheduled cuts in Medicare fees.
In April, Charles Blahous, one of two public trustees for Medicare and Social Security, published a study offering a more-realistic estimate of the law’s cost. Blahous found that over the next 10 years, Obamacare would balloon federal deficits by between $340 billion and $530 billion.
A big item is the double-counting of reductions in Medicare spending. This is several hundred billion dollars yanked out of Medicare and shifted to Obamacare.
CBO saw that move as a fiscal gain. If not for that, Blahous wrote, Obamacare “would have been scored as worsening the federal fiscal outlook.”
Here’s the problem: The Medicare spending reductions extended the life of Medicare’s hospital trust fund. As Blahous explained, when you take a dollar from Medicare and use it to pay for something else, the trust fund’s financial position improves.
Medicare can’t spend a dime unless the trust fund has a positive balance. Lower Medicare spending today leaves more in the trust fund to be spent later.
But that money will also be spent on Obamacare. Each $1 in Medicare sent to Obamacare sets up $2 in overall federal spending. Obamacare “expands the spending authority of Medicare in ways not accounted for under the scoring conventions that show positive budgetary effects of the legislation,” Blahous wrote.
The biggest single expense will be the health-care exchanges, estimated to cost nearly $780 billion over 10 years. Recipients will get both tax credits for premium costs and cost-sharing subsidies for out-of-pocket expenses.
This will create an incentive for companies to drop coverage and pay the required tax. CBO foresaw only a relatively minor shift from employer-sponsored policies to the subsidized exchanges, but it admits it has no clear idea how many people would be affected. Estimates by private consultants are much higher. If they’re right, costs would explode as more people migrate to the exchanges.
Obamacare supporters say new controls like the Independent Payment Advisory Board will help keep Medicare costs under control, but the problem here is similar to the doc fix. Congress will be pressured to override the panel’s recommendations.
Ditto for the tax on “Cadillac” health plans. Lawmakers will be lobbied to water down or wipe out the tax before it goes into effect in 2018.
More: Some supporters put great stock in “delivery-system reforms,” which include incentives for hospitals to boost quality and innovations such as “accountable-care organizations.”
But the savings are close to trivial. Medicare’s chief actuary put them at about $2 billion, all derived from comparative-effectiveness research. The other delivery-system reforms would have a “ negligible financial impact,” according to the actuary.
The coming Obamacare spending explosion is ironic because one of the main justifications for health-care reform was fiscal discipline. The route to that goal, said then-Management and Budget chief Peter Orszag, runs “directly through health care.”
Too bad the people who wrote this law lost their way.
and this is the “other choice”…