During the Republican Presidential Debates, which are being held nearly a year before the next Presidential Election, one of the constantly recurring themes that a number of the Republican Presidential candidates continually bring up is that the current President, Barack Obama, is a failed president, not capable of running the country. Of course if he’s that bad one would expect a movement to impeach him. But I haven’t heard of that happening. So what we have is an interpretation by the prospective Republican candidates who of late have tied Hillary Rodham Clinton to President Obama as a failed Secretary of State. I suppose the more they denounce him the greater they feel they themselves are.
Also after denouncing President Obama and Clinton the Republican candidates announce generally what they will do, the results from their handling of specific problems. How they will solve military issues by sending in American troops, create a no-fly zone over Syria, create increased employment by getting rid of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But more pollution will not necessarily produce more jobs. It will successfully, however, shorten a number of lives. It must be wonderful to be that sure of oneself.
In essence most of the potential candidates are blowing in the wind! Most, if not all, that they say they will do requires either an act of Congress or an Amendment to the Constitution. According to what Donald Trump says as to what he will do would need a new document of government to drastically increase the powers of the president and limit Congress’ powers. In the case of Carley Fiona I keep remembering that after she became CEO of Hewlett Packard the stock dropped to half its original value and she argued that she was a positive force even though she lied to her employees to get them to reduce their wages and thus reduce company costs. She left the company or was fired by the Board of Directors not too long after with a buy-out package worth about 15 million dollars. She has also lied or fabricated in her public announcements as a Presidential candidate. Ted Cruz, it seems to me from much of what he has said, would like to become leader or fuhrer of the United States rather than just President. He seems to have some of the elements of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy.
I have often wondered what would have happened if in 2008 Senator John McCain had become President of the United States. First off, he would have inherited a full-fledged Great Recession or potential Great Depression from former President, George W. Bush. While Bush had temporarily initially bailed out many of the banks at the end of his presidency the question that arises is would McCain have continued the process? According to the current Republican Presidential candidates no business is too big to fail. The indication is that McCain would probably not have bailed out the banks. The result would have been that the major banks in the United States would have gone under. The movement of money through the economy would have slowed to a trickle and the country would have gone into a major depression that would make the Great Depression of 1929, which did not end until 1939 with the outbreak of World War II, look like a mild recession. We would still today be feeling its strong negative effects.
In addition since the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) insured every bank account up to a half million dollars the Federal Government would have had to pay out all the accounts of the bankrupt banks or take over and continue to operate those banks. Either solution would have disrupted the dollar internationally and brought about major depressions in all the major industrial nations.
Unemployment in most if not all of these nations would have dropped to over 75%. It was only 50% at the depth of the Great Depression.
In addition there would have been no bail out of the automobile industry and all the American car producing companies would have gone under in the U.S. Mitt Romney distinctly made the point in 2012 when he ran for the Presidency, as the Republican candidate, that the auto companies should have been allowed to have gone through bankruptcy. His point there is that in a bankruptcy the court generally declares the stock worthless. The judge uses the value of the stock to pay off the company’s debt. The same management that initially made the decisions that caused the bankruptcy stays in control of the company.
Way to go Mitt! Your group stays in control of the company and the stockholders who trusted your leadership all get screwed. It sounds very much like what Donald Trump did with his casinos in New Jersey.
Barak Obama, in 2008, ran for President on a platform of change. And it was indeed time for a change after the disasters brought about by the George Bush Jr. administration. Presumably Bush had declared war against Iraq because they had secreted away weapons of mass destruction. Actually he had the military invade the country because its leader, Saddam Hussein, had attempted to have his father, former President Bush Sr., assassinated and he was also acting as Sheriff of the Middle East, bringing American Democracy to Iraq. The CIA was amazed when they heard his reasons for the act. The United Nations, at the time, was legally searching Iraq for weapons of mass destruction. Bush ended that with the U.S. invasion.
President Obama inherited a country ready to slip into total disaster. Employment was rapidly dropping. Property values were falling like a major landslide. While he had been elected to bring about change his immediate problem was literally keeping the society functional. He had to return to normality before he could inaugurate any real changes. The fact that he also inaugurated Universal Health Care at this time is a demonstration of his level of competence.
In periods of economic recession the government has two major weapons to fight the economic down-flow. One is Monetary Policy which is controlled by the Federal Reserve (FED). Here the FED can increase the amount and movement of currency in the general society by lowering the interest rates it charges banks. This, in turn, forces the banks to lower their interest rates on the monies they lend out. The effect of this is to loosen up the flow of currency through the economy, making the cost of borrowing cheaper, and thus encouraging growth or economic expansion. Will this always happen? The answer is generally; there are occasionally other variables which can hinder growth.
Under normal conditions there will be economic expansion and the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) would increase helping to end or counter-act the recession. Going along with this is an increase in employment.
The FED, which has twelve distinct branches throughout the fifty states, constantly monitors the entire economy. It’s as though it has a thermometer throughout the nation and can interpret what’s happening in every part of the country. Its main function is to keep the economy as healthy as possible.
Another tool the FED has is its control of how much money banks can led out. This amount can be raised or lowered. Every commercial bank or credit union has to keep a small percentage of every loan it makes. The average is about 5% of all the monies it lends out. For every $100.00 the bank lends out it has to keep $5.00 in cash. If that is deposited in the bank then it has to keep 5% of that and so on until it has a $100.00 in cash. By that time the bank has lent out $1,000. If this amount is raised by the FED to 10% it then lowers the amount that can be lent out by 50%. If it is lowered to 2 ½ % it increases the amount to $2,000.00 for every hundred dollars deposited into the bank.
The FED also controls the money flow in the U.S. by using the National Debt as a tool, buying and selling government bonds. When the FED buys back government bonds and does not issue as much in new bonds it can increase the amount of money in circulation. Doing the reverse of this decreases the amount of money available. It can also, as it did after 2011, just issue currency to the National Cash Flow. All this would be done with the concurrence of the President. During Jimmy Carter’s four year administration he had the FED reverse its policy because of its adverse effect upon a segment of the population.
All of these are powerful tools for regulating the economy. But in some instances they are not enough to bring about the needed positive change. Such an instance was the 2008 Real Estate Crash. At that time what was also needed was the other major Federal Government weapon that could help regulate the economy and that was Fiscal Policy. Fiscal Policy would be one or more laws authorizing government spending passed by Congress and signed by the President.
From 2009 through 2010, during President Obama’s first two years in office, he worked upon limiting the effects of the Great Recession. This was done through an intensive use of fiscal policy with a Democratic Congress, continuing the bank bailouts and also bailing out the American automobile industry, among numerous other things. During this period the Affordable Health Care Bill was passed. This was the major visible change; the others, keeping the economy from crashing, were mainly invisible. To many people who voted for him in 2008, the changes he had promised did not come about.
In the year 2010 the Midterm Election was held. A large number of people who had supported President Obama in the Election of 2008 apparently were disgusted with him for not bringing about enough visible change in the society and stayed at home, not voting in the election; this resulted in the Republicans gaining control of the House of Representatives.
2010 was a census year in which the population of the country was counted so that the seats in the House of Representatives which are fixed in number could be properly reapportioned. That year Republicans also won control of a number of states. Those states and other Republican controlled states were then gerrymandered with new Voting Districts that would give Republicans an advantage in the future elections.
The new House of Representatives met as a caucus and took an oath not to cooperate with President Obama in anything. The former minority Party in the House of Representatives, where the Democrats had had a majority, had taken the same oath two years earlier. The Republicans had wanted to make him a one term president. The new House of Representatives would not pass any Fiscal Policy laws. When presented with a plan by President Obama they totally ignored his recommendations. In fact they all opposed Obamacare and swore to rescind the Affordable Health Care law and passed such bills over 50 times from 2011 to 2014. All these bills were ignored by the Senate.
Because of the nature of what President Obama and his administration were doing there was very little publicity given to most of the changes they were bringing about, keeping the country from falling into a major depression and slowly bringing about recovery from the Housing Crash. Visibly the President and the Democratic Congress seemed to be doing very little. The one thing that emerged from that two year period was the Affordable Health Care Law, which was loudly denounced by the Republicans and passed strictly on a political party basis. All Republicans voting against it and all Democrats, who had the majority in both Houses, voting for it.
As a note of irony the Affordable Health Care Bill (Obamacare) was modeled upon a Republican plan developed by a Republican Think Tank and originally applied in the state of Massachusetts by its then governor, Mitt Romney. The plan, rather than have a single insurer, the Federal Government, relied on private enterprise, the many insurance companies across the country, in order to be put into operation. It was a means of increasing the amount of business that the insurance companies did with some patient protective limitations.
To get Republican support on this bill President Obama and the Democrats had bent backwards to give the Republicans something they could easily support. The Republicans have continued up until the present to oppose and denounce this law. Ted Cruz has sworn to end this program when he becomes President. The term Obamacare was originally stated as a put-down.
With the 2011 Midterm Election the Republicans were able to achieve a majority in the House of Representatives. The voter turnout was very low. A number of people who had voted for Obama in 2008, particularly among the Hispanics stayed at home and didn’t bother voting. Thereafter virtually nothing President Obama supported was passed in the House of Representatives.
One of the major problems within the United States has to do with its infrastructure. The National Highway System was built in the 1950s during the Eisenhower administration. Most of the ports are too small to allow the new giant container ships to use them. Many if not most of the bridges built in the U.S. were done in the early part of the 20th Century if not earlier. The majority of airports are inadequate in dealing with all the air traffic. The electric grid throughout the United States is totally dated and in winter parts of it have stopped functioning by freezing up and parts of the country has lost electric power. Most of the utility companies don’t have the resources to fix this problem, leaving it to the Federal Government. These are just some of the infrastructure problems, there are many more. Ultimately most of these come down to the Federal Government as the only source that has the resources to really upgrade the nation.
Most of these repairs would in a relatively short period of time pay for themselves by increasing the GDP and significantly increase the tax base on all levels of government. With one exception, and that is renewing a functioning plan that already existed, both the House and the Senate have ignored these problems. Ultimately a total upgrade would cost trillions of dollars. And at some point it will have to be begun and ultimately done.
President Obama presented Congress with a detailed plan that would at the same time have begun work on the infrastructure and ended all the effects of the 2008 Real Estate Crash by totally ending unemployment in the country. The plan would have reduced unemployment to about 2% which is the rate of people changing jobs.
The House of Representatives totally ignored the plan and did not even consider it. To them spending government money they didn’t have to would be anathema; their basic problem was that they could only understand the present which meant that they would be spending additional funds. The fact that the nation would get that money back with interest in the next decade or so was out of their realm of comprehension.
In fact what the Republicans have done in passing legislation in the House of Representatives and in the Senate has been to increase unemployment in the United States. Using economy or reduced government spending as their excuse they have forced through bills that significantly reduce government spending. Their final and most important cut was Sequestration which was passed when they could get no agreement with the Democrats in Congress to cut anything else. This law automatically cuts by a specific percentage every year from just about every program unless a law is pass to stop a section of it from happening.
The President requires the “advice and consent” of the Senate on most of his appointments of officials to government jobs; particularly supervisory positions such as judges, heads of government departments, etc. There are more open judgeships now or unappointed heads of departments that at any other time in the history of the United States.
An individual that comes to mind is someone that both the Democrats and Republicans approve of whose expertise deals with a phase of banking wherein he can trace the movement of currency through terrorist organizations like ISIS and interrupt that movement. The current Senate, that has a slight Republican majority, has refused to bring his name up for a vote. Apparently they don’t want President Obama to have any successes regardless of the cost to the country.
However, even though the media just mentioned a small number of these incidents, U.S. explosive drones have killed most of al-Qaeda leaders as was Osama bin Laden in a military raid in Pakistan. They are no longer the military terrorist force they were when they blew up the Twin Towers during the Bush Republican administration.
President Obama has just signed a 1.15 billion dollar compromise with the Republican Congress that will keep the Federal Government going and achieve a number of Democratic programs. It was a compromise bill and will also achieve a number of Republican goals.
If we examine the achievements of the last dozen or so Presidents, Barak Obama emerges as one of our top leaders. This is amazing in the respect that for the last five of his eight years in office Congress has consistently worked to keep him from achieving anything. He emerges as a man among men who has achieved much regardless of the limitations continually set for him by the Republicans in Congress.
During most of his administration he has bent backwards to get the cooperation of the Republicans in Congress. It hasn’t happened. I suspect that by this time he had had it and will only accept positive results from Congress as he did with the 1.15 trillion dollar budget compromise.
In this bill the Republicans have added significantly to the National Debt, a principle they supposedly oppose. They spent almost as much in 2014 with their last minute bill then to finance the Federal Government through 2015. They achieved a number of their objectives but they did not defund Planned Parenthood or keep Syrians from immigrating to the United States. They did however keep Planned Parenthood from getting an increase in funding from the government.
Personally I am glad that Barak Obama is President of the United States. I would hate to think of what might have happened if John McCain or Mitt Romney had won. President Obama has carried the United States through a very difficult time in our history.