Table of Contents
Barack Obama Quotes – 1/23/2009
President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Speech
Barack Obama Presents Global Model for Grassroots Change
President Obama’s Priorities – 1/30/2009
Preparing Public Opinion and Legislating – 1/30/2009
Obama Watch: Week II – 2/6/2009
Obama Watch – Week 3 – 2/13/2009
Obama Watch – Month 1 – 2/20/2009
Obama Watch – Week 5 – 2/27/2009
Obama Watch – Week 6 – 3/6/2009
Obama Watch – Week 7 – 3/13/2009
Obama Watch – Week 8 – 3/20/2009
President Obama’s Eisenhower Strategy – 3/20/2009
Compare Democratic and Republican Leaders – 3/20/2009
Obama Watch – Week 9 – 3/27/2009
Obama Watch – Week 10 – 4/3/2009
Major Political Battles to Come – 4/3/2009
Obama Watch – Week 11 – 4/10/2009
President Obama’s Multiple Strategies for Reducing Global Warming – 4/10/2009
Obama Watch – Week 12 (April 7 – 14) – 4/17/2009
Obama Watch – Week 13 (April 14 – 21) – 4/24/2009
What Tea Baggers Profess, Obama Is Doing – 4/24/2009
Obama Watch – Week 14 (April 21 – 28) – 5/1/2009
President Obama’s First 100 Days – 5/1/2009
Some Obama Administration Environmental Policy Changes – 5/1/2009
What President Obama Has Done for Working Families – 5/1/2009
Government Watch 5/8/2009
A Second Wave of Reforms – 5/8/2009
Government Watch – 5/15/2009
A Messy Week – 5/22/2009
What Should We Be Doing? – 5/22/2009
2010 Elections – 5/22/2009
Government Watch – 5/29/2009
Three Types of Economic Stimulus: Good, Bad, Ugly – 5/29/2009
Government Watch – 6/5/2009
Barack Obama Quotes
Brief quotes (slogans) remind us of larger paradigms. We remember seminal quotes
of Franklin Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, John Kennedy and many others. Barack
Obama may provide us with more memorable quotes that any of our other leaders.
He is thus changing our mindset, which as he has noted is most basic change that
“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United
States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino
America and Asian America - there's the United States of America.”
“We have a stake in one another … what binds us together is greater than what
drives us apart, and ... if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and
act on it, then we might not solve every problem, but we can get something
meaningful done for the people with whom we share this Earth.”
“This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it
can always be perfected.”
“It is that (American) promise that has always set this country apart - that through
hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come
together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their
dreams as well.”
“It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what
we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and
“It's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will
realize your true potential.”
“Individual responsibility and mutual responsibility that's the essence of America's
“Yes, our greatness as a nation has depended on individual initiative, on a belief in
the free market. But it has also depended on our sense of mutual regard for each
other, of mutual responsibility. The idea that everybody has a stake in the country,
that we're all in it together and everybody's got a shot at opportunity. Americans
know this. We know that government can't solve all our problems - and we don't
want it to. But we also know that there are some things we can't do on our own. We
know that there are some things we do better together.”
“That's why I stand here tonight. Because for 232 years, at each moment when that
(American) promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women, students and
soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors found the courage to keep it
“America is a land of big dreamers and big hopes. It is this hope that has sustained
us through revolution and civil war, depression and world war, a struggle for civil and
social rights and the brink of nuclear crisis. And it is because our founding fathers
dreamed that we have emerged from each challenge more united, more prosperous,
and more admired than before.”
“That is the true genius of America , a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the
insistence on small miracles. That we can say what we think, write what we think,
without hearing a sudden knock on the door.”
“Hope – Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity
of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A
belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.”
“We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics who will only grow
louder and more dissonant in the weeks to come. We've been asked to pause for a
reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false
hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false
about hope. For when we have faced down impossible odds; when we've been told
that we're not ready, or that we shouldn't try, or that we can't, generations of
Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people.
Yes we can.”
“In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of
cynicism or a politics of hope?”
“We can build a more hopeful America. And that is why, in the shadow of the Old
State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a house divided to stand together, where
common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce
my candidacy for President of the United States of America.”
“They say I need to be seasoned; they say I need to be stewed. They say, 'We need
to boil all the hope out of him -- like us -- and then he'll be ready.”
“You notice that people who've been in Washington too long, they don't talk like
ordinary folks,. We had this debate in Las Vegas, and somebody asked me, “What
are your weaknesses?” So I said, Well, you know, I don't keep track of paper that
well, I'm always losing paper, my desk is a mess.' And then they asked the next two
candidates. And one candidate says, “Well, my biggest weakness is I'm just so
passionate about helping poor people.” And then the other one says, “I'm just so
impatient to help the American people solve their problems.” So then I realize well, I
wish I'd gone last and then I would have known.. I'm stupid that way, I thought that
when they asked what your biggest weakness was, they asked what your biggest
weakness was. And now I know that my biggest weakness is I like to help old ladies
across the street.”
“Politics has become so bitter and partisan, so gummed up by money and influence,
that we can't tackle the big problems that demand solutions. And that's what we
have to change first. We have to change our politics, and come together around our
common interests and concerns as Americans.”
“One of the things that we have to change in our politics is the idea that people
cannot disagree without challenging each other's character and patriotism.”
America, our work will not be easy. The challenges we face require tough choices,
and Democrats as well as Republicans will need to cast off the worn-out ideas and
politics of the past.
“It's not just enough to change the players. We've gotta change the game.”
“Faith doesn't mean that you don't have doubts.”
“Faith is not just something you have, it's something you do.”
“The true test of the American ideal is whether we’re able to recognize our failings
and then rise together to meet the challenges of our time. Whether we allow
ourselves to be shaped by events and history, or whether we act to shape them.”
“If we aren't willing to pay a price for our values, then we should ask ourselves
whether we truly believe in them at all.”
“Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But
it's not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure
along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won't.
It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from
it; whether you choose to persevere.”
“I am running in this race because of what Dr. King called "the fierce urgency of
now." Because I believe that there's such a thing as being too late. And that hour is
almost upon us.”
“People of Berlin - people of the world - this is our moment. This is our time.”
“America, this is our moment. This is our time. Our time to turn the page of the
policies of the past.”
"We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set
aside childish things. The time has come to . . . choose our better history; to carry
forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation:
the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to
pursue their full measure of happiness."
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are
the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
“Yes, we can.”
Notice how these quotes combine to present a comprehensive understanding, taught
through a series of repeated little lessons. Not also how seldom, Barack Obama uses
clichés. Instead, he changes them slightly, so that the discrepancy entices our
reflection. For example, he doesn’t talk about our American Dream. Instead he
speaks of the dreams of our nation’s founders. And of America’s promise.
President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Speech
President Barack Obama’s inaugural speech was very different from his campaign
speeches. His campaign speeches emphasized that through unity, we can
successfully overcome the challenges we face. He sometimes referred to the
difficulty of our struggle, but did not emphasize the sacrifices we must make.
His inaugural speech was a ‘No Free Lunch’ speech. He emphasized that our
struggle would be difficult and prolonged. That we would all have to do our part. It
was the answer to those who said expectations should be lowered. He raised the
expectations that we will prevail; but lowered any expectations that our struggle
would be easy and that we could simply wait for our government to act. Individually
and collectively, we will be responsible for our successes and failures. Even
Conservative commentator Patrick Buchanan approved the message that
government could not do it all for us. That our individual and collective initiative
outside of government is also required. How about a citizen’s oath of office? For
more. For more. Notice that Obama has revitalized American patriotism.
President Obama’s speech also demonstrated that he will extensively use his bully
pulpit. He will place as much emphasis upon educating us and he does upon
legislating. Two million people attended the Inauguration. That is one for every 150
Americans. (And assuming 1 third attended as couples, participants from perhaps
one of every 80 American families,) If people came proportionately from different
origins, 43,000 came from Washington, 800 from Bellevue and 45 from my Lake Hills
neighborhood. Being so far from Washington, D.C., we probably have fewer who
participated. But the number still must be impressive.
All around the world, people watched and listened to our inauguration, more people
and a greater proportion of the world’s population than watched and listed to lunar
landing. Partly because more people have access to radio and television. President
Obama is not only teaching Americans. He is teaching people almost everywhere.
Barack Obama Presents Global Model for Grassroots Change
During our last 8 years, America’s traditional respect from people around the world
has been much diminished. Barack Obama and others have promised to regain this
respect. To become a cooperative member of our world community. To be able to
provide leadership toward solving problems which transcend national boundaries. I
suspect that most of us imagined (as I did) that this would be a gradual process
involving lots of sensitive diplomacy.
Wow! What a surprise! See what a positive response, Barack Obama was drawing
from Germans and people around the world, even before he was elected. See how
many people have been impressed by our election and now our inauguration of
Obama. People are already according us much greater respect. For more.
By word and deed, President Obama is teaching people about our American
Constitutional Democracy, made powerful through people’s trust, resulting from the
limits we place on the powers of our various institutions. By using his bully pulpit
and being a role model, he will do far more to spread democracy based freedom than
President Bush could do by using our military might. In fact Obama’s approach will
work; while Bush’s approach won’t. For more.
Perhaps more important, Obama’s political campaign provided a role model for
internet facilitated grassroots organization for change. (Maybe we should term this
approach ‘grassnet organization’.) I imagine that all around the world, people who
desire change have been watching Obama’s campaign and asking how can we adapt
his approach to our situation. We may see people power which goes far beyond that
of the Philippines, Korea and other places since the 1980s.
As our leader, President Obama is becoming a world leader. If we had an
international election today for world leader, I suspect Obama would be a serious
contender. Even more in a few years, if he is able to lead us to solving major
challenges, both domestic and international. I can even envision that 20 years from
now, such an election might be held with Obama the victor.
President Obama’s Priorities
President Obama is doing many things at once and in appropriate sequence, due to
his strong sense of priorities. During the transition, he first selected his close
Whitehouse advisors, before selecting his cabinet members. His research teams
visited government departments to learn what needed to be maintained and what
changed. He extended his support base through his Change.gov website.
President Obama’s inaugural address repeated his campaign commitments to our
constitutional rights and to cooperating with other nations. He reminded us that our
struggles are many and will not be easy or quickly resolved. He informed us that
resolving these struggles would require not only government action, but action by all
of us collectively and individually. He called for an ethic of service. His message was
one that both Liberals and Conservatives could approve. For more. More.
I believe Obama’s inaugural address was very appropriate and will be long
remembered, contrary to the views of cynical pundits, who place emphasis upon
memorable quotes. I believe that Obama usually avoids memorable quotes, to avoid
detracting from the details of his lesson.
In his first week in office, Obama has efficiently attended to a variety of issues. He
proclaimed a new transparency and accountability in government, established rules
to separate his staff from lobbyists (for more), and placed a lid on their salaries, all
oriented to gaining our trust. He blocked further implementation of Bush’s final
regulations to assist his cronies. He reversed Bush’s ban on aid to family planning
agencies. For more. For more. He prohibited torture, stopped military trials of
accused terrorists and promised to close our Guantanamo prison within a year. His
administration will move quickly to allow states to set strict automobile emissions
and fuel-efficiency standards. For more. For more. And to limit global warming. He
signed the Equal Pay Bill. Obama reached out to foreign leaders, both Democratic
and Republican congressional leaders and to both Liberal and Conservative
commentators. Conservatives are nevertheless lying about our stimulus and
recovery proposals. Can bi-partisan support be obtained for health care reform? His
transition website, change.gov has been closed. Two new websites have been
created: whitehouse.gov to promote transparency and america.gov to tell America’s
story to people abroad. Another website has been created to allow our grassnet
people to continue their support for Liberal reforms: Organizing for America. For
more. For more. Another website: Recovery.gov has been created to provide
transparency for the spending of our Stimulus and Recovery funds.
Obama’s major concern has been reviving our American economy. He has insisted
that congress must quickly pass a stimulus and recovery bill, working flexibly with
them to shape its contents. For more. Some ways to limit our deficits – read all 3
pages. Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag will be in charge of
identifying how to limit government programs to what works. If Obama is able to
assist economic recovery, he will amass great political influence, which he can use to
reduce the influence of wealthy and powerful public interests and their lobbyists and
return influence and financial equality to our people. Reforms necessary to return
influence to our voters.
He has encouraged Republican participation, but clearly indicated that they can not
obstruct public investment in favor of tax cuts directed to their cronies. House
Minority Leader John Boehner and other Republicans complained about increasing
our government deficit and debt, something they never did during the enormous
increases during the Bush administration. Republicans still regard public investment
as only legitimate when it consists of tax cuts and subsidies for their cronies, which
were largely responsible for our government deficits and debt and failing economy.
For more. For more. For more. For more. For more. Our commercial media is
spreading Conservative lies concerning the Stimulus package.
Obama’s other major concern is foreign policy. Following his inaugural speech which
reassured the world that we will no longer take a unilateral approach, he and Hillary
Clinton have asserted that our foreign policy will rest on three legs: diplomacy,
development and military. I assume that diplomacy will be the primary approach to
immediate problems, development oriented to creating long run conditions which
reduce future problems, and military only when the others fail. Development will be
revamped. Obama gave his national security team the mission to end our war in
Iraq. For more.
George Mitchell was named to address Israel-Palestine justice and peace issues.
Richard Holbrook was named to address Afghanistan-Pakistan issues. Perhaps
another envoy will be named to address Iran issues. Together with Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, a strong foreign policy team is in
place to strongly address foreign issues.
As he has done with other issues, Obama has reframed the settlement of the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict. In an interview on Arab television, he said, “I think it is possible
for us to see a Palestinian state -- I'm not going to put a time frame on it -- that is
contiguous, that allows freedom of movement for its people, that allows for trade
with other countries, that allows the creation of businesses and commerce so that
people have a better life.
And, look, I think anybody who has studied the region recognizes that the situation
for the ordinary Palestinian in many cases has not improved. And the bottom line
in all these talks and all these conversations is, is a child in the Palestinian
Territories going to be better off? Do they have a future for themselves?
And is the child in Israel going to feel confident about his or her safety and
security? [Bold added]
And if we can keep our focus on making their lives better and look forward, and not
simply think about all the conflicts and tragedies of the past, then I think that we
have an opportunity to make real progress.” For more. For more.
Notice that President Obama is focusing upon improving our future. Not on the past.
There is no thermometer of the extent to which the damage done by President Bush
is being undone. There are many issues which have not been addressed from ‘Don’t
ask, don’t tell’ to promoting unionization, to regulation of corporate abuse, to Darfur
and other foreign conflicts. But a tremendous start has been made during President
Obama’s first week. We can expect him to continue to address basic issues of
governing, major economic and foreign policy issues, and a continuing series of other
I can imagine that someone in the Whitehouse is maintaining a database of interest
groups and their agendas. For example, young people, seniors, women, GLBT, men,
various ethnic groups, unions, small businesses, farmers, other industrial and
commercial groups and many more. Also groups concerned with particular issues
such as environment, civil rights, immigration, peace, nuclear proliferation, land
mines, and other issues. He will continually adopt agenda items of various groups,
often quietly, so that only the interested groups will notice, while minimizing public
controversy. Progress by a million small steps is the opposite of death by a million
Preparing Public Opinion and Legislating
Legislating reforms is much easier when the public supports these reforms. The
quickest route to reform may often be to change public opinion before legislating.
But sometimes reform is so urgently needed that we can’t wait for supportive public
An example is the 1965 passage of President Johnson of the Voting Rights bill.
Abuses were so grave, that the bill was passed before public support was obtained.
More typically, varying amounts of public persuasion can precede actual legislation.
In various circumstances, Liberals may legitimately disagree concerning how much
public support is needed before attempting legislative action.
I suspect that most of us thought change would come during Obama’s presidency
through legislation. We often worried whether he would legislate this or that,
whether the legislation would come soon enough or reach far enough. Now we find
that careful preparation of public opinion and of grassnet support will often occur
before legislation. This may increase or decrease the time before the legislation can
be passed. It will surely make the legislation more effective and enforceable.
Already during his first week as president (beginning with his inaugural address), we
observe that besides legislating, Obama will do much to reform public opinion. He
has signaled his support for civil rights, including GLBT rights and for women’s rights
including free choice; for scientific integrity and research; as well as preparing
support for economic stimulus and recovery proposals and a foreign policy which
emphasizes diplomacy and includes more development.
We can expect him to continually use his bully pulpit, through weekly addresses,
public announcement, photo op visits, webcasts, and press conferences. He may
even have to limit his public exposure, if we become tired of him as our first teacher.
Notice that much of his teaching will be directly to us, instead of mediated through
our drama-seeking, controversy-promoting, nit-picking, and cynical commercial
media. I would be glad to see our commercial media decline in importance along
with the Republican Party.
Obama Watch: Week II
President Obama’s Inaugural Speech Was Best
I have reviewed previous presidential inaugural and state of the union speeches
(including Roosevelt’s first inaugural speech, his 1941 state of the union speech and
Kennedy’s inaugural speech). These contained memorable quotes (“We have
nothing to fear but fear itself”, Four Freedoms, and “Ask not what your country can
do for you. Ask instead what you can do for your country.”). But they mostly
consisted of addressing a series of specific contemporary issues.
By contrast, Obama’s Inaugural speech reviewed some history of our people and
government, described our continuing commitment to long held values, indicated
that our struggle would be difficult and long, and stated what our people and
government must do. It maintained a focus upon a general theme, with some
illustrations. I believe it will be long remembered as expressing basic truths about
our America, as well as addressing what’s needed in our time.
Democrats are Flooding Republicans
Focus upon passage of the economic stimulus and development package has taken
much of the oxygen out of the air, leaving little attention to other issues. President
Obama and the Democratically controlled congress are acting on many varied
smaller issues. They are running flat out, creating a flood of executive orders,
legislation and diplomatic initiatives. Such that the Republicans can’t bring to public
consciousness more than a few of the larger ones, such as the attempts to create
As Democrats move on to passing the 2009 budget and health care and coverage
reform, we can expect them to continue to flood the Republicans with lots of lesser
moves, which various Democratic constituencies consider important. These may
include stem cell research; ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and various legislation facilitating
labor unionization. Some measures, such as the Employee Free Choice Act and
cutting our military budget will still involve intense struggle. For more. For more.
Before worrying about potential messes, we should appreciate and congratulate our
Democrats for what they are doing.
With union leaders present, President Obama signed orders, which union officials say
will undo Bush administration policies that tilted toward employers, would require
federal contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change, and
would make it more difficult for federal contractors to discourage union activities.
President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act (video).
President Obama signed a children’s health bill, which adds 4 million children to the 9
million who were previously eligible for free health coverage. For more. With
seniors, most children and poor people covered, the next step is to cover everyone
else. President Obama may expand cooperation with faith based programs.
Several armed conflicts are diminishing, including in Sri Lanka and the Congo.
International attention should be focused upon Sudan (Darfur), Myanmar and
Zimbabwe to reduce government abuse of its people. Let’s hope that besides
attending to the Mid-East, our Obama Administration can provide international
leadership to solving these problems. Our Obama Administration should also support
the International Criminal Court and take other actions supported by Citizens for
Now Let’s Win the Support of White Men
President Obama is not making the mistake of the 1960s Democrats who appeared
to favor women, minorities and poor people more than White men, who then
deserted to the Republicans. Obama is focusing upon creating jobs and assisting our
middle class. Vice President Joe Biden says the administration will succeed if our
middle class once again shares in our economic success. President Obama has
created a task force, chaired by Vice President Joe Biden, aimed at studying ways to
raise living standards for middle class Americans and help the poor become middle
class. The task force will be led by Jared Bernstein, a prominent liberal economist
who has been writing a study on the impact of Mr. Obama's stimulus plan.
The focus of the first meeting will be "green jobs, those jobs that pay well, can't be
outsourced and will help us move toward a cleaner, more self-sufficient energy
future," Mr. Biden said. For more. Future monthly meetings will be held across the
country to discuss the mundane but essential concerns of working people like child
care, workplace safety and retirement security, the vice president said. The
administration has set up a Web site, AStrongMiddleClass.gov, that Mr. Biden said
would tell people what their government was doing and invite them to share their
thoughts. For more. Submit your ideas to the task force.
Commercial Media Interviewers Don’t Interview
Have you noticed that interviews on commercial television consist of the interviewer
posing a hypothesis? (For examples: The stimulus bill is full of pork. Many stimulus
projects won’t begin quickly.) The interviewee is then asked if he or she agrees.
Whatever the answer (often interrupted), the same question is posed slightly
differently. Then still differently a third time. When the interview is over, we have
little idea what the interviewee thinks. But CNN’s (or other network’s) thinking is
The commercial networks could simply quit interviewing officials and candidates,
leaving interviewers to simply present their commentaries. As Wolf Blitzer has
stated, “Our role is to make the news. Our officials try to avoid it. Baloney. Yuk.
Conservatives claim that $800 billion is too much to pay for stimulating the
economy. What they don’t say is that if the economy isn’t stimulated, our
government will lose several times more than $800 billion, through reduced income
taxes and increased unemployment and other expenses. So we have already spent
$800 billion. The question is whether we will choose a path that helps our people
cope with our economic downturn. Will we choose a path that improves our
economy for the long run? Or both? All of the criticism of the stimulus package
spending only concerns 2% of the spending.
Conservatives are now dividing $800 billion by 4 million jobs to complain that each
job produced by the stimulus package will cost 200,000 dollars. This ignores the
hundreds of thousands of dollars that will be given in tax cuts, more unemployment
payment, increasing food stamps, and similar measures which increase spending,
thus producing jobs only indirectly. I read somewhere that the actual cost per job is
about $60,000. I don’t know if that is calculated by assuming only $240 million is
being spent on job creation. Or if it assumes that that 13 million jobs will be directly
or indirectly preserved or created. Or maybe something in between, with less that
$800 million being spent to directly or indirectly create more than 4 million jobs.
Conservatives are also complaining that tax rebates for people who don’t pay income
taxes are simply welfare. They fail to recognize that everybody pays taxes. Workers
pay FICA taxes. Everybody directly or indirectly pays property and utilities taxes.
We all pay sales taxes. Conservatives dislike any government expenditure or tax cut
that doesn’t reward their campaign contributing cronies. For more.
Conservatives are also defending huge corporate salaries and bonuses. They argue
that like effective quarterbacks, effective executive officers and securities deal
makers are scarce and must be paid well. Will they find another company which will
pay them well for destroying it? The problem is that they have not been effective in
helping our economy or even their companies. People shouldn’t be rewarded for
producing and selling mystery securities based on fraudulent mortgages and other
financial assets. For more. For more. For more.
For more. Obama is asking for Republican participation, but their price for
cooperation is too high. They simply want to continue President Bush’s policies. So
like children who get upset, take their marbles and go home, house republicans
mostly from safe districts, voted 100% against our stimulus and recovery package.
They oppose the stimulus package because they oppose government that works.
Republican senators are more likely to occupy competitive seats, so some of them
will support the stimulus package. Even if they could obtain the 40 votes to sustain
a filibuster, they may not risk the public relations disaster that could follow.
Democratic Tax Cheats
A lobbyist is selected as presidential assistant. Democratic tax cheats Timothy
Geithner and Tom Daschle are selected as cabinet members. They apparently have
talents so rare that normal ethics rules don’t apply. Both cabinet members plead
that they overlooked the taxes they owed. Part of being a patriotic American is
ensuring that all of one’s taxes are paid. People who want government positions
should continually vet themselves or hire someone to do it. Unfortunately, even
Democrats overlook ethical lapses of their colleagues.
I am glad that Tom Daschle has removed himself from consideration for Secretary of
Health and Human Services and that President Obama has apologized for attempting
to appoint him. I hope Obama will take further steps to weaken the influence of
lobbyists backed by campaign contributions, which make the United States the most
corrupt government ever. For more.
Republicans Choose Less Consistently Conservative National Party Chair
Republican house members who survived the last election are consistently
Conservative, including many Christian Conservatives. House Republicans voted
unanimously against the stimulus package. By contrast, delegates, who chose
Michael Steel to be their new Republican Party Chair, come from throughout our
United States. They are less consistently Conservative, as is Michael Steel, who
promises to reach out to ethnic, age and other groups who currently favor
Obama Watch – Week 3
An Unprecedented Rapid Start
President Obama’s transition team quickly filled his staff positions and nominated
cabinet members, with only several glitches. Although our commercial media
pundits dramatize the glitches, he has already signed various executive orders and
several long delayed bills. Our major stimulus-investment package is moving quickly
The most difficult unresolved issues are responding to mortgage defaults and bailing
out financial companies in order to increase credit. The major obstacle is indecision
concerning how much to continue our Borrow, Consume and Speculate habits and
how much to painfully return to Earn, Conserve and Invest habits, which were
prevalent during our prosperous period following World War II. We need to decide
how much credit we should have and what financial qualifications households should
have to assume mortgages. Our answers to these questions will ease our making
decisions concerning bailing out financial companies and defaulting borrowers.
A Master Strategist
President Obama is a master strategist, keeping his eye on winning the war, even as
he loses a few battles. Passing our stimulus-investment package is winning the war.
Knowing that some Republican Senators must support passage of our stimulus-
investment package, he continues to reach out to them, even at the cost of some
investments in education, other human infrastructure and assistance to state and
Our stimulus-investment package passed the house without any Republican support,
was modified in the Senate to gain 3 Republican votes necessary to passage, and
now has been compromised by a conference committee to be passed soon for
President Obama’s signature. For more. For more. Liberals can support virtually
everything in the package, although we would desire more investment in our
physical and social infrastructure. The package delivers on President Obama’s
campaign promises to cut taxes for 95% of Americans. It provides greatly needed
assistance our state and local governments.
It introduces a disagreement between Republican congress members and Republican
state and local officials and legislators. It opens the door for further public
investments. After a 50 year wait, John Kenneth Galbraith is smiling from heaven.
I am surprised that the Obama Administration has poorly framed the cost of our
stimulus-investment package. Conservatives have been allowed to complain about
the $800 billion cost (over 2 years) as though there would be no cost without the
The Bush administration has left us with an economy which is losing hundreds of
thousands of jobs each month. With an increase from 4.6 to 7.6% unemployed,
there are now 3% (4.6 million) more of the labor force unemployed than in early
2007. Since each worker produces $94,000 ($14.5 trillion GDP divided by 153
million workers), the annual cost to our economy is $430 billion ($94,000 times 4.6
million workers) per year. At an average annual earned income of $50,000, lost
household income per year equals $230 billion per year. The cost to our government
would be the lost income tax on $230 billion per year plus the costs of services and
payments caused by increased unemployment.
In addition, we have lost several trillions in speculative home values and several
trillions in speculative stock market values. We will and should perhaps lose some
more. But stimulating our economy will prevent us from over-correcting these
values and ease the transition to appropriate ones.
If unemployment continues and increases because our government does nothing, our
economy will lose more than $430 billion a year, our workers will lose more $230
billion per year and our government will lose some amount. If spending $800 billion
puts 4 million people back to work, increases our national production and their
incomes, reduces the amount of household dislocation (mortgage defaults,
bankruptcies, divorces and mental illness), and the government recovers some of its
money, it may be a very good deal.
This statistical argument is too complicated for framing, but supports it. The basic
choice is between losing more than $800 billion in production plus
experiencing many other negative consequences (due to Conservative economic
policies) or spending l$800 billion over the next two years. The economic
stimulus-investment package costs us nothing. It enables us to regain the
more than $800 billion that Bush’s economic policies have already cost us.
Given the increasing collapse of our economy, only a few Conservatives (mostly
ones who aren’t in congress) argue that no stimulus is needed.
They mostly argue that our stimulus-investment package is too large, even
though they voted for all of President Bush’s budgets with huge deficits.
Even though large tax cuts contributed to our economic mess, Conservatives still
argue we need more tax cuts (including supply side tax cuts for business) instead
of investments which directly create jobs.
They argue that investments in our infrastructure won’t be spent soon enough,
even though they supported permanent tax cuts as economic stimulus.
Even though they have long argued that services are better offered by state and
local governments instead of our national government, they are now warning that
including funding for the former will be wasted by poor state and local decisions.
They were wrong when they predicted in 1993 that Clinton’s tax increases on the
wealthy would harm our economy. They now argue that our package won’t
stimulate the economy. Even if it takes a while, our economy will improve and
Democrats will receive credit for their stimulus efforts.
I believe that Republican attempts to delay our stimulus-investment package, their
refusal to vote for it and their hypocritical arguments will harm them. With 5
incumbent Republican senators not running for re-election in 2010, Democrats can
expect to win more senate seats.
Our Current Political Struggle Is Only the Beginning
Our Obama administration will soon unveil its 2010 budget proposal. It will surely
include more expenditure for physical and human infrastructure. It will also include
reduction of subsidies for powerful corporations and for military technology which
fulfills no realistic defense need. It may include eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the
wealthy. Republicans and their cronies will certainly fight these shifts in budget
priorities. So expect another big battle. For more.
Our Obama administration will then address health care and coverage reform. Even
though more Americans, more employers and more providers will support reform
than ever before, private insurers and market fundamentalist Republicans will
provide strong resistance. Complicating the struggle will be a lack of consensus
among reformers concerning whether to support a single payer or a compromised
approach which includes private insurers. So another big battle.
What will follow in 2010, will depend upon the outcome of these battles. And the
extent to which our economy is recovering. If the economy is recovering and we win
these battles, we can expect even further progress in 2010, followed by election
victories which further weaken the Republican Party. Hopefully, we can also beat
Republican state legislators to preclude them from gerrymandering the redistricting
following the 2010 census.
Obama Watch – Month 1
Transition and Appointments
A large diverse transition team rapidly investigated government agencies and
departments to begin determining priorities for reforming and strengthening
Key Whitehouse staff were appointed. See who’s who.
All top Cabinet offices but two and many sub-cabinet offices have been filled.
Other agency posts were filled.
President Obama’s inaugural address Read or View it.
Repeated his campaign commitments to our constitutional rights and to
cooperating with other nations.
Reminded us that our struggles are many and will not be easy or quickly
Informed us that resolving these struggles would require not only government
action, but action by all of us collectively and individually.
Called for an ethic of service. His message was one that both Liberals and
Conservatives could approve. For more. More.
Many Changes Begin
President Obama proclaimed a new transparency and accountability in
government, established rules to separate his staff from lobbyists (for more), and
placed a lid on their salaries, all oriented to gaining our trust.
President Obama’s transition website, change.gov has been closed. Three new
websites have been created:
Whitehouse.gov to promote transparency and america.gov to tell America’s
story to people abroad.
Organizing for America has been created to allow our grassnet people to
continue their support for Liberal reforms. For more. For more.
Recovery.gov has been created to provide transparency for the spending of
our Stimulus and Recovery funds.
He blocked further implementation of Bush’s final regulations to assist his
He prohibited torture, stopped military trials of accused terrorists and promised
to close our Guantanamo prison within a year.
Environmental, Health and Labor Actions
President Obama indicated that his administration will move quickly to allow
states to set strict automobile emissions and fuel-efficiency standards. For more.
For more. And to limit global warming.
He reversed Bush’s ban on aid to family planning agencies. For more. For more.
With union leaders present, President Obama signed orders, which union officials
say will undo Bush administration policies that tilted toward employers, would
require federal contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts
change, and would make it more difficult for federal contractors to discourage
President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act (video). For
President Obama signed a children’s health bill, which adds 4 million children to
the 9 million who were previously eligible for free health coverage. For more.
President Obama prepared to carefully expand cooperation with faith based
Major Concern #1: Reviving Our American Economy
Only 24 days after Obama’s inauguration, congress passed a stimulus-investment
package, which largely reflects President Obama’s initial proposals. He has fulfilled
his promise to cut taxes for 90% of Americans. See more below.
He reached out to gain sufficient Republican support. But only three Republican
senators and no Republican representatives voted for the package. Offering no
comprehensive alternative, Republicans are now on record as opponents of
stimulating and investing in our economy. For more. For more. Note that only 1
Republican voted for the original Social Security bill.
Major Concern #2: Foreign Policy
President Obama’s inaugural speech assured the world that we will no longer take
a unilateral approach.
Together with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden, a
strong foreign policy team is in place to strongly address foreign issues.
President and Hillary Clinton have asserted that our foreign policy will rest on
three legs: diplomacy, development and military.
Obama gave his national security team the mission to end our war in Iraq. For
As he has done with other issues, Obama has reframed the settlement of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In an interview on Arab television, he said, “I think
anybody who has studied the region recognizes that the situation for the ordinary
Palestinian in many cases has not improved. And the bottom line in all these
talks and all these conversations is, is a child in the Palestinian
Territories going to be better off? Do they have a future for themselves?
And is the child in Israel going to feel confident about his or her safety
and security? [Bold added] And if we can keep our focus on making their
lives better and look forward, and not simply think about all the conflicts and
tragedies of the past, then I think that we have an opportunity to make real
progress.” For more. For more. George Mitchell was named to address Israel-
Palestine justice and peace issues.
Richard Holbrook was named to address Afghanistan-Pakistan issues. Perhaps
another envoy will be named to address Iraq and Iran issues.
Less noticed, President is reorganizing the National Security Council to allow
flexible participation by relevant agencies in national security issues.
Whew! What a start.
Notice that President Obama is focusing upon improving our future. Not on the past.
There is no thermometer of the extent to which the damage done by President Bush
is being undone. There are many issues which have not been addressed such as:
‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ , promoting unionization, regulation of corporate abuse,
eliminating wasted subsidies and other spending, reforming immigration policies,
altering free trade to fair trade, Darfur and other foreign conflicts. But a tremendous
start has been made during President Obama’s first month. We can expect him to
continue to address basic issues of governing, major economic and foreign policy
issues, and a continuing series of other lesser issues. In spite of the nit-picking of
commercial media pundits, President Obama has made a tremendous unparalleled
start. He pledges to find and do what works.
Obama Watch – Week 5
President Obama continues performing his busy agenda, including announcements
about stimulating our economy and protecting people from its ravages, foreign policy
and visiting our hinterland.
Our Stimulus-investment Package Becomes Law
President Obama traveled to Denver to sign our stimulus-investment package
legislation and on to Phoenix to unveil his plan to spend $75 billion of the second
$350 billion of the TARP funds to assist 9 million people to avoid foreclosure. For
more. The trips and previous ones to Michigan and Florida suggest that Obama may
frequently visit Main Streets outside of Washington D.C.
Fiscal Responsibility Summit
Pledging to bring federal spending and tax collections back into balance after the
deficits resulting from attempts to revive our economy, Obama held a White House
summit on fiscal responsibility. Bringing together leading Democratic and Republican
lawmakers together with policy experts. They separated into groups which discussed
health-care costs, Social Security, tax reform, defense procurement and the federal
budget process, topics which exist apart from our current recession. While
Conservatives would like to cut Social Security, Obama’s priority is to reform health
care, military procurement and taxes. For more. Once again, Obama is seeking
bipartisan solutions. For more. Cuts in spending for military hardware were
discussed. But no mention was made of cutting subsidies to oil and other
wealthy and powerful businesses.
Yes, We Can. And Here’s How.
The next day (exactly five weeks after his inaugural address), President Obama
delivered a magnificent speech to a joint session of Congress, in which he stated,
“We will rebuild, we will recover and the United States of America will emerge
stronger than before.” For more. For more. Noting our economic difficulties, he
presented a series of goals and actions to be taken. Priorities include reviving our
economy, through restoring credit, preventing foreclosures, infrastructure
investments, reforming our environment, health care, and education and restoring
fiscal responsibility through cutting ineffective expenditures and subsidies. For more
on eliminating ineffective military expenditures. For more. Health care reform will
be addressed this year. For more.
Obama’s expression of obvious truths (not mentioned or denied by the Bush
Administration) and presentation of clear goals and actions repeatedly brought our
Democratic and even Republican legislators to their feet. Immediate polls indicated
that Obama’s popularity increased from 69 to 79%. Hopefully this indicates that we
can begin to gain confidence in our economy. 85% said they felt more optimistic
about our country’s direction after listening to Obama’s speech. Even our cynical
commercial media pundits could find little to criticize. Once again, Obama has
demonstrated the power of his rhetoric. For more. With this speech, President
Obama has moved the American center to Liberalism.
Let’s hope that our congress can address these multiple goals. And that so many
initiatives will make it difficult for K-Street lobbyists to concentrate their fire. For
more. Campaign finance reform would help.
President Obama’s and Joe Biden’s Wednesday’s agenda was typically busy.
Preliminary Budget Proposal
On Thursday, Obama delivered a preliminary view of his proposed 2010 budget, with
the full budget proposal to be presented in April. For more. For more. For more.
There will be more commentary on the 2010 budget in next week’s newsletter.
Having previously met with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, Obama visited
Canada to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Japanese Prime
Minister Taro Aso was his first foreign guest to visit him in the Whitehouse.
Described as a listening tour (like George Mitchell’s visit to the various Mid-Eastern
countries and Richard Holbrook’s visit to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India), Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton visited Indonesia, Japan, South Korea and China. For more.
More on the China visit. Other special envoys may be chosen for Latin America and
other regions. On talking and listening to Iran.
Republican Party May Become Small Enough to Drown in a Bathtub.
Grover Norquist wants to make the government so small it can drown in a bathtub.
But the way Republicans are going, the Republican party may become small enough
to drown in a bathtub. They have responded to President Obama’s bi-partisan
approach with an almost unanimous ‘Just say no.’ Several Republican Governors
are refusing to take stimulus-investment funds which would create jobs and alleviate
misery in their states.
Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said that one of her excuses for 'just
saying no' to President Obama's economic recovery bill was because "we're
running out of rich people in this country." Republican Senator Shelby has
questioned whether President Obama is an American citizen. Louisiana’s Republican
Governor Bobby Jindal’s response to President Obama’s speech to congress was
weird. He indicated that Republicans support the things that Obama had just
promoted, while accusing Democrats of opposing them. 9000 Conservative activists
at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) are listening to their
most Conservative leaders discuss how to repackage the same old stagnant ideas.
Let’s win the remaining red states in 2006.
Washington State Has Become an Obama Administration Farm Team
Gary Locke for Commerce Secretary. Ron Sims for Housing and Urban Development
Deputy Secretary. Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske to head the Office of National
Drug Control Policy, a Cabinet-level position otherwise known as the drug czar. And
ethnic diversity with Chinese, African and Polish heritages.
Obama Watch – Week 6
Also go to Whitehouse.gov.
President Obama’s Proposed Budget
President Obama’s stimulus-investment package, calls for regulation and proposed
budget put an end to the era of government being the problem instead of the
solution. One of the best things about President Obama’s proposed budget is its
honesty, so we can easily find out what it does and the truth of various claims
concerning it. Read the entire budget and fact sheets. President Obama’s honesty
includes shining light on the costs of our wars. For more. For more. For more. For
more. For more.
The budget is also Liberal, distributing undeserved money from our wealthy to our
The budget includes major initiatives concerning protecting our environment, health
care and education. It will raise $2 trillion over ten years through raising taxes on
corporations and wealthy people. It also rewards people who may become part of a
long time Democratic majority. Early reports failed to mention repeal of subsidies for
oil companies; but they are there with other tax reforms. See table S-6 of the
budget summary tables. For more. I am concerned that President Obama’s
proposed budget increases instead of decreases our military budget. For more.
Progressive Democrats of America call for cutting military to fund health care and
non-carbon based energy. For more. For more. For more. See what we could do
with the wasted military expenditures.
As he stood before Congress on Tuesday night, President Obama had job approval
percentages in the 60s. After his speech, CBS News found that support for his
economic plans increased from 63 percent to 80. For more. For more. For more.
A Profile in Courage: President Obama’s Weekly Saturday Address (text and video)
“Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the
status quo in Washington. I know that the insurance industry won’t like the idea
that they’ll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but
that’s how we’ll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for
American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won’t like the idea
that we’re ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that’s how we’ll save taxpayers
nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas
companies won’t like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that’s how we’ll
help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries.
In other words, I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and
lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re
gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this: So am I.”
“The system we have now might work for the powerful and well-connected interests
that have run Washington for far too long, but I don’t. I work for the American
people. I didn’t come here to do the same thing we’ve been doing or to take
small steps forward, I came to provide the sweeping change that this country
demanded when it went to the polls in November. That is the change this budget
starts to make, and that is the change I’ll be fighting for in the weeks ahead –
change that will grow our economy, expand our middle-class, and keep the American
Dream alive for all those men and women who have believed in this journey from the
day it began.” Barack Obama
But President Obama appears to have ruled out single-payer health coverage. For
Will Our 2 Senators and 6 Democratic Congress Members Support President
Of interest is whether our Washington Democratic congress members will support
President Obama or the lobbyists which oppose his reforms. As demonstrated by
votes on such issues as making bankruptcy more difficult and creating earmarks for
their campaign supporters, most of them have sided with lobbyists against the public
interest before. Brian Baird and Rick Larsen voted to make bankruptcy more
When Will President Obama Deal with Other Major Issues?
Unlike numerous other Liberals, I have admired President Obama’s carefully pursuing
an agenda which enables him to continually build political support, then spending his
political capital on the most important issues. I have admired his willingness to
compromise just enough to pass necessary legislation. I admire his openness about
what he is doing, while recognizing that it may not be useful for him to make public
and alert his opponents concerning his agenda.
But I wish I knew when we will see action on various issues: Darfur? Myanmar?
Promoting unionization? For more. Immigration? The Patriot Act? Gay rights? I
am consoled that he is honoring many of his campaign promises. I assume he will
also honor his promises concerning these issues.
James Kunstler Asks Whether Obama Will Lead Us to Change Our
No good, in fact, will come of a campaign to sustain the unsustainable, which is
exactly what the Obama program is starting to look like. In the folder marked
"unsustainable" you can file most of the artifacts, usufructs, habits, and expectations
of recent American life: suburban living, credit-card spending, Happy Motoring,
vacations in Las Vegas, college education for the masses, and cheap food among
them. All these things are over. The public may suspect as much, but they can't
admit it to themselves, and political leadership has so far declined to speak the truth
about it for them -- in short, to form a useful consensus that will allow us to move
forward effectively. One of the sad paradoxes of politics is that democracies do not
seem very good at disciplining their citizens' behavior. The wish to please voters and
the influence of campaign money overwhelm even leaders with mature instincts.
AIG Receives $30 Billion More from Our Government
This brings the total amount that AIG has received to $180 billion, the same amount
that was received by our public in the first tax rebate. Being considered too big to
fail, AIG may receive billions more in the future. At the least, AIG should be broken
up so that the parts aren’t too big to fail. For more. For more.
Republicans are lying about the impact of his proposals. For more. Commentator
Frank Rich noted that if more viewers had watched Republican Louisiana Governor
Bobbie Jindal’s response, President Obama’s favorability rating might have reached
100%. Republicans are holding a conference of Conservative Kooks. For more. The
Republicans are not only not reaching out, they are alienating long time allies. No
Republican seems willing to censor Rush Limbaugh for wanting President Obama’s
economic initiatives to fail.
Republican representatives cater to their Conservative constituents, dooming their
party’s chances of winning in the rest of the country. They seem to believe
erroneously that most people believe in crony capitalism, trickle-down (tax cuts for
the rich) economics and unregulated markets. Let’s hope they continue proclaiming
their delusions. For more. For more. For more. For more.
We should have a contest. Who do you support for the 2012 Republican presidential
nomination: Sarah Palin or Bobby Jindal? Or maybe Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter?
Other similar possibilities come to mind, but no different ones who could be
nominated. With opponents like these, President Obama will be re-elected, even if
he screws up big time.
Rebuilding Gaza Infrastructure after Israeli Destruction
Israel uses American weapons to destroy Gaza infrastructure. Now Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton proposes to spend $900 billion to rebuild the infrastructure.
Jewish leaders criticize Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for wanting to help Gaza
Next week’s Obama Watch will include Obama’s White House Conference on Health
Obama Watch – Week 7
Also go to Whitehouse.gov.
Two Approaches to Health Care Reform: One or Two Steps
Unlike the 1993 attempt to reform health care, President Obama initiated his attempt
with a White House Conference on Health Care Reform which included a wide variety
of stake-holders (insurers, employers, providers, consumers and legislators and
others, although few advocates of a single-payer (Medicare type) system). For
more. More. More. More. Our media is also ignoring single payer alternatives. For
Instead of presenting any specific proposals, Obama indicated that reform could
include all private or all public coverage or some combination, but must meet three
1. everyone has access
2. to high quality health care
3. with cost controls
All of the participants apparently agreed that reform now is necessary (although they
could change their minds if the reforms that are considered don’t meet their
One approach would be to attempt to adopt a single payer health system now,
even though stiff opposition from private insurers would result. Many advocates of
health care reform and a majority of our American people believe that only a single
payer system (used by all other countries with national health care coverage) can be
affordable. For more. We believe that allowing private insurance invariably
increases costs due to assessing who qualifies for what. And reduces coverage due
to motivations to disqualify people. The result is that not everyone is covered,
quality of health care suffers, and it is expensive. This is proven by our present
system and the failure of the Massachusetts system.
President Obama is pursuing a second approach which reduces resistance through
allowing participation of private insurers. Once the new system is adopted to enable
coverage for everyone, the costs of including private insurance will become
apparent, especially is there is a public coverage option. It will then be possible to
proceed to a single payer system. For more. But private insurers are objecting to
having to compete with a public insurance option. For more. For more.
For more. For more. For more. For more.
Flexible Foreign Policy
Hillary Clinton is continuing her travels to visit foreign leaders, see better relations
and explore new joint initiatives. Our Obama administration is opening up more
foreign policy options.
Science and Stem Cell Research
Declaring that science, not ideology will guide his administration, President Obama
allows scientists who use newer stem cell lines to apply for federal funding. For
more. For more. President Obama repudiates president Bush’s signing statements.
Increased Support for Quality Education
Through his stimulus package and 2010 budge, President Obama is doubling the
money for education compared to President Bush’s budget. To make our students
more competitive with students in other countries, money is increased for early
childhood education, for encouraging students to graduate from high school and to
ease their entrance into college. Particular attention is given to high poverty hard-
The money is contingent upon schools rewarding excellent teachers and assisting or
replacing poor ones. Merit will be measured in various ways including certification
and student achievement, to be decided through consultation with parents and
teachers. Obama also supports charter schools as laboratories for innovation.
Educational associations worry about merit pay and charter schools, but appreciate
that they will participate in defining merit. For more. For more.
House Democrats introduced the Employee Free Choice Act, a vitally important
package of protections that would help restore working people's much-denuded right
to join a union if they so desire. There's nothing more terrifying to corporate
America than the prospect of dealing with its workforce on an even playing field,
and, along with its allies in Congress, it's pulling out all the stops to keep that from
happening. For more.
Limiting Compensation of Executives of Bailed-Out Companies
President Obama has proposed limiting their compensation to $500,000, which is
25% more than he receives. Median U.S. household income in 2007 was $50,233.
Only 5% of households had incomes of more than $177,000. If your income is
$500,000 you are rich. CEOs of our nation’s 500 largest companies averaged $12.8
million. They are very, very rich. Top 20 private equity and hedge fund managers
averaged $657 million. They are insanely rich. For more. For more. For more.
If all these ‘best and brightest’ financial company executives (who played key roles
in destroying our economy) quit instead of serving for $500,000, we might be better
2009 Budget Bill Passed
President Obama will sign 2009 budget legislation (for 9 remaining appropriation
bills), which includes significant increases for food aid and housing vouchers for our
poor, energy research and other programs. It has earmarks, but only half as many
as previous bills, 60% from Democrats and 40% from Republicans. For more.
Special Interests Ready to Fight
Businesses in many industries are mobilizing to resist regulations, tax increases, cuts
in their subsidies. For more.
Obama Watch – Week 8
Also go to Whitehouse.gov.
President Obama is simultaneously dealing with a large number of major issues:
taxes, jobs, infrastructure investments, conservation, energy, health and education.
And other issues: government ethics and transparency, science, women’s rights, and
more. And making appointments and getting them approved. And communicating
with the public much more than any previous president. For more.
Obama administration is taking ethics seriously.
Obama administration is taking military spending reform seriously.
President Obama created an advisory committee to advise him on issues facing
women. For more.
President Obama created a Food Safety Working Group to upgrade our food safety
President Obama restricted the use and sale of cluster bombs.
President Obama seeks cooperation with and support for the United Nations.
Note that President Obama never promised to eliminate all earmarks, as did John
President Obama is faced with gay rights decision concerning health benefits for
Apparently, immigration reform will not be attempted until this fall. For more. For
Will President Obama replace all U.S. Attorneys at once or stagger the replacements?
Large and Small Businesses and Community Banks
During his talk with Business Roundtable leaders, President Obama defended his
initiatives to deal with a number of issues that affect our economy. He also indicated
his desire to work closely with leaders of large businesses and help them succeed in
sensibly regulated economy.
I have long regretted that Democrats did not serve small businesses better, noting
that more families have members engaged in small businesses than have members
of unions. Small businesses produce many innovations and new jobs. Yet
Democrats have often imposed unfunded mandates on small businesses, instead of
initiating tax and other programs to assist them. The result is that small businesses
have supported Republicans.
I have also suggested that our government should assist local and regional banks to
offer more credit instead of focusing upon the large banks which largely caused our
credit crisis. So I am pleased that President Obama met with owners of small
businesses and managers of community banks to express his support for them. He
is restoring the ability of the Small Business Administration to assist low cost loans to
small businesses. Our Treasury Department will purchase $15 billion of loans from
community banks, so that they can recover funds to make more loans. Large
financial companies will be required to report their loans to small businesses.
Various tax breaks which will benefit small businesses will also be implemented. For
more. For more. For more.
Government by Shock and Awe Miracles
We could call it government by miracles. A miracle is simply a surprise. When
something happens that no one expects. Although almost all of President Obama’s
actions were promised during his campaign to become election, most of our public
was skeptical. So now we are impressed. During these difficult times, Obama’s
popularity is increasing.
Nervous Liberals are warning that Obama is taking on so much that he will fail. For
more. For more. They are worried that he may try to go one bridge too far. But by
attempting many bridges across the same river, he improves the chances of crossing
the river. Obama honestly says that not all of his initiatives will work. But then he
will try others until we succeed. The relevant question is: Can Congress cross many
Conservatives Are Losing Ground
Obama is providing Conservatives so many targets
that they can’t concentrate their fire. They whine
about this, then about that, simply repeating the
same lies and prescriptions that were disproved by
their rule. For more.
To obtain a relevant balance, it would make sense
for our television forums to feature arguments
between Liberals who think Obama is
compromising too much with Liberals who think he
is only making necessary short-term compromises,
leaving scratched-record Conservatives out of it.
But the more Conservatives repeat their same old
proven wrong diagnoses and prescriptions, the
more unpopular they become.
Controlling Health Care Costs
Little noticed is a comment that President Obama made during his health summit.
He said that he would not restrict older persons from receiving health care that
younger people receive. I have assumed that one necessity for reducing health care
costs is to use cost benefit calculations to restrict expensive end-of-life care as other
countries do. Obama’s statement will reassure older people who might otherwise
oppose health care reform.
73% of voters support having public health insurance as one alternative.
Labor union groups support single payer or at least a single payer alternative to only
The Massachusetts Health Care Plan quickly covered everyone, but is too costly to be
sustainable. What will be the next step?
We should offer public health insurance (like Medicare) to all.
How Strong Is our Economy?
Pundits are noting an inconsistency between President Obama’s statement that our
economy has fundamental strengths (entrepreneurial spirit, workers who work hard,
an excellent higher education system); but before the election, he criticized John
McCain for saying our economy is fundamentally strong. The difference is that
before the election, John McCain downplayed our economic recession, while Obama
has consistently emphasized it. Obama’s message is that while we are having a
severe recession, we have the resources and the will to recover.
Even as unemployment (a lagging indicator) continues to increase, there are various
indicators that our economy is beginning to stabilize. A manpower survey of 31,800
employers found that only 14% plan to cut their payroll. Moderate inflation instead
of deflation occurred in February. Housing starts are increasing. Obama said that
the days of overheated housing markets and maxed-out credit cards are over. He
said that “It is very important even as we’re focused on the financial system and
credit markets, that we are laying the foundation for what I’m calling a post-bubble
economic growth model.”
The Good News and the Bad
President Obama repeatedly presents various groups with both good news and bad.
He gives them some of what they want, while denying them other things they want.
He will pay teachers more and work closely with them to set standards; but wants
merit pay and charter schools. He will allow private insurance, but will remove their
subsidies and may provide a public insurance alternative. He will seek input from
business leaders as he implements regulations. He will considering lowering
corporate taxes, but will close loopholes which now allow businesses to escape most
taxes. He will help American businesses to be competitive with foreign ones, but will
make it disadvantageous for them to move jobs abroad. He will seek equal rights for
GLBT people, but not marriage.
You get the idea. The various groups have the choice of gratefully accepting what he
gives, or of insisting they must have more. Which runs the risk that they will get
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, a Refreshing Change
I am impressed that Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is holding daily (weekdays) press
conferences, at which he relates well to the press, with a balance of this is our
policy, I don’t want to steal the president’s message tomorrow, I don’t know, I’ll find
out, your question is trivial, etc.
He often banters with the press: During Monday's press briefing, CNN's Ed Henry
asked Robert Gibbs to respond to Dick Cheney's withering attack on President
Obama. Gibbs fired off a good one-liner in response, joking that apparently the GOP
didn't have Rush Limbaugh available, so they trotted out Cheney, the "next most
popular member of the Republican cabal." Also read CNN’s supportive interview with
Dick Cheney, with John King as straight man. Yuk.
I don’t get the impression that Robert Gibbs will lie to us in order to make the
president look good, as has been common practice among past press secretaries.
But he may equivocate and make excuses.
President Obama’s Eisenhower Strategy
During World War II, General Montgomery wanted our allied armies to thrust forward
toward Berlin. General Eisenhower instead mounted a slower broad based offensive,
which better maintained logistical security. President Obama is using Eisenhower’s
strategy both economically and politically.
As critics call upon President Obama to concentrate upon reviving credit, he is
instead taking a multi-pronged approach:
Free large financial companies of toxic loans;
Provide a stimulus-investment package (tax cuts; assistance to state and local
governments and schools to maintain jobs; infrastructure, conservation and non-
carbon based energy investments; and other measures to maintain and increase
private and public jobs)
Enable homeowners with defaulting mortgages to reduce their payments
Assist family security through extending subsidized health coverage
Reinsure for community bank loans
Give tax breaks to small businesses
A million jobs here, 500 thousand there, several hundred thousands here and there.
Soon there are real numbers, millions of jobs maintained or restored.
President Obama is not simply relying on support of Democrats and their allied
interest groups (such as minorities, labor unions, teachers associations and GLBT
groups. He is reaching out to a variety of other groups to which Democrats have
traditionally given little attention: White working class males through job creation,
women through defending their rights, health providers and insurers, executives of
large businesses, small business owners and managers, and even Republicans. A
few million supporters here, a million there, hundreds of thousands elsewhere and
pretty soon there are real numbers, millions of supporters widely spread throughout
our social fabric.
I notice that Michelle Obama arranged for a White House fountain to turn green in
celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Will this produce more support from thousands of
the 51 million Americans with Irish ancestry? It all adds up. Just teasing.
As in basketball with which he is familiar, Obama is executing a full court press. As
financial advisors suggest, he is maintaining a balanced portfolio. Instead of placing
all his eggs in a one basket, he is hedging his bets. This strategy is particularly
sensible when dealing with new situations, in which solutions are uncertain. My
optimism about Obama’s economic and political success is based upon his
superb implementation of Eisenhower’s European war strategy. His strategy
is audacious in fighting on so many fronts, but less audacious than dramatically
plunging on one or a few.
As is often true, pundits are wrong to criticize Obama’s broad based economic and
political strategies. Obama’s success will drive them nuts. They will look for, but be
unable to find, one or a few dramatic activities which explain his success. What we
need are fewer commercial audience oriented pundits and more well educated social
analysts, able to make historical and social comparisons.
President Obama has hosted meetings which included employers, private health
insurers and health providers, big and small business executives and bankers. But
note that he hasn’t hosted union leaders (Labor feels excluded.), nor Hispanic
leaders concerned with immigration or GLBT people. Is he assuming that he already
has their support? Or can act to obtain it later?
Neither President Obama nor the Change for America book which prescribes
structures and proposals for the Obama administration have given much attention to
Darfur, Zimbabwe and Myanmar. No attention has been given to restructuring our
United Nations to make it more democratic and give it more authority and resources.
Compare Democratic and Republican Leaders
President Obama is a devoted husband and father, with a healthy lifestyle (except
for smoking). Self indulgent Rush Limbaugh is a bulky, cigar-smoking, pain killer
addicted, thrice divorced owner of a $400,000 car, private plane and 24,000 square
foot house. Unlike Barack Obama, Rush Limbaugh thrives upon expressing hate.
Other differences include their respect for truth, their respect for American traditions
and their compassion, with Rush Limbaugh failing on all three. Many other
Republican leaders resemble Rush Limbaugh much more than they resemble Barack
Obama Watch – Week 9
Also go to Whitehouse.gov.
During previous weeks, President Obama’s agenda dominated our news.
Obama made executive decisions, signed several bills into law, promoted and signed
our stimulus-investment package, presented his proposed 2010 budget which
reached 10 years into the future, held various gatherings concerning health care,
large businesses, small businesses and community banks. In addition, special
envoys were appointed and trips made to explore diplomatic possibilities in the Mid-
Week 9 Was Very Different.
The news was dominated by ‘retention bonuses’ given to AIG present and past
employees. Main Street anger stimulated intense activity by our congress members
to recapture the bonus money. Notice that this anger was Liberal anger directed
against corporate abuse. Republican members of congress were torn between
wanting to protect corporate abusers and wanting to respond to Main Street anger.
About half voted for and half against a bill to heavily tax those receiving the
bonuses. This Main Street anger may push our Obama administration to more
strongly oppose corporate abuse. As will criticisms from Liberal economists that the
Obama administration is giving more aid to large financial companies than is
necessary. For more. For more.
Reducing our Dependence upon Carbon Energies
President Obama has followed up his fiscal responsibility and health summits with a
press conference featuring private and public attempts to replace our coal, oil and
natural gas consumption with non-carbon based electricity. And to lower our energy
consumption. For more about Obama’s strategy for a green economy. I guess that
he will soon hold a summit or other gathering concerning education reform. A
compromise may be reached concerning concerns of teachers and education
Creating Volunteer Jobs
President Obama called for a new era of volunteer service in both his radio address
and in a commentary in Time Magazine. He is promoting the Serve America and
GIVE acts which congress is considering. They will provide volunteer employment
for 250,000 Americans a year, as well as assisting social entreneurship and volunteer
programs. They will likely pass congress and be signed into law soon.
Dialoguing with our Public
When I watch President Obama or Press Secretary Robert Gibbs with members of the
press, they seem like giants among pygmies. At press conferences, many reporters
ask questions which are designed to elicit information that affects our people. Some
reporters (especially those from CNN) simply ask ‘gotcha’ questions (of the “Have
you stopped beating your wife?” variety) designed to embarrass the president.
Instead of focusing on what the president is saying about our economic mess and
steps to recover, our electronic media focus upon President Obama’s discomfort, or
President Obama is continuing to find new ways to dialogue with the public. He held
several town meetings in California, including one with Governor Schwarzenegger.
He appeared on Jay Leno’s late night television show. He appeared on ’60 Minutes’.
He held his second public press conference. He continues to give a Saturday radio
talk. His Press Secretary Robert Gibbs continues to host daily news briefings.
Various websites enable people to learn about many aspects of our Obama
administration policies and activities.
Obama’s public popularity remains high, in spite of criticisms from pundits and
politicians across our ideological spectrum. People appreciate the gusto with which
President Obama is acting, with less understanding and concern about his specific
decisions and actions. For more. President Obama avoids labeling his actions as
Liberal or Progressive. But they are Liberal and as they succeed, Liberals can claim
victory for their political values, proposals and strategies.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner Gets a ‘A’ for Effort
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has now presented his 4th or 5th proposal for
restoring credit. He intends to provide public assistance and guarantees to private
investors who participate in auctions of toxic securities. The intent is to establish a
market and prices for these toxic assets. This will enable better understanding of the
worth of large financial companies and their ability to provide credit.
It relies upon a market in which private investors establish a price, instead of the
large companies trying to establish a high price and the government perhaps trying
to establish to low a price. While it puts our government at some risk, our risk is
less than if our government bought the toxic securities without private participation.
I don’t understand how the bidders can establish prices for the disparate
combinations of mystery securities. But I hope it works to establish prices, with
minimal ultimate cost to taxpayers. For Dean Baker’s criticism of Tim Geithner’s
latest bailout proposal. Paul Krugman’s criticism. Joe Stiglitz presents some
principles for reviving financial markets. For more. For more.
Tim Geithner is also seeking authority to regulate hedge funds and other financial
companies that aren’t now regulated.
Are Proposed Federal Expenditures and Deficits too Large?
Various Conservative congress members and commentators are criticizing the size of
the deficits involved in President Obama’s 2010 budget proposal. What they fail to
note is that the choice is not between large budget deficits and smaller
deficits. The choice is between large budget deficits resulting from investments to
create jobs and even larger budget deficits which will result if jobs are not created.
Obama’s budget deficits are really preventive measures to counteract President
Bush’s larger potential budget deficits.
Our Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has predicted larger budget deficits than
those predicted by Obama’s 2010 budget. The difference is the assumptions
concerning amount of economic recovery and amount of production, earnings and
revenues which will result. Although we can’t be certain about the rate and amount
of economic recovery, I believe that Obama’s assumptions are as likely to be as true
as the assumptions of the CBO.
Primary Opposition to Republicans, Not Democrats
When Republicans vote with Democrats, they are threatened by opposition from
consistently Conservative Republicans in primary elections. But when Democrats
vote with Republicans against Democratic legislation, primary opponents are typically
not threatened. Why not? And why is it taking so long for Change for America to
continue the support for Obama’s policies that its members provided for Barack
Obama’s election. It’s time for Liberals to support President Obama’s Liberal 2010
budget and punish Democrats who threaten to obstruct its health care reform and
cap and trade proposals. For more. For more (video). Democrats should also be
pushed to support our Workers Free Choice Act. For more. For more.
I notice frequent references to Dems as an abbreviation of Democrats. I don’t notice
Rees, Reps, or Repubs as abbreviations for Republicans. I prefer that we use
Democrats instead of Dems. I also deplore the use of Democrat as an adjective. For
example, Democrat senators instead of Democratic senators, or Democrat party
instead of Democratic party.
Is There Light at the End of the Tunnel?
It is easy for various important statistics to go unnoticed. During the last few weeks,
we have experienced a more stable stock market. Housing prices are continuing to
decline, but housing sales are beginning to increase. Oil prices have recently been
increasing. The value of our dollar is again declining, which can help our exports.
This is too short a time period to announce a trend. But taken together, they bolster
the thought that the economy is beginning to revive. The key will be what happens
to employment. For more.
I believe that besides the actions of our government to stimulate the creation of
jobs, there are many private parties who are seeking to create jobs. Managers and
employees want to expand and create jobs, when they find an opportunity to do so
profitably. People who have been laid off are seeking ways to create jobs for
themselves. These efforts counteract the lack of market demand which is pushing
companies to pare their workforces. Given a glimpse of light at the end of the
tunnel, many firms and entrepreneurs may quickly act to retain employees, recall
them and create additional jobs. Dean Baker presents a more pessimistic view,
arguing that more stimulus is needed.
I suspect a lot of quiet progress is being made as cabinet secretaries reorder the
priorities, resources and structure of their departments. See what’s happening at
USDA, EPA and FDA concerning food safety and nutrition. No more raids against
medical marijuana. EPA halts hundreds of mountaintop mining permits. Five federal
departments illustrate the opportunities for reform.
Work is continuing on the details of our 2010 federal budget, which may be
presented in May with some significant changes from the preliminary overview.
Stimulus-investment tax cuts and funds are becoming available to their recipients.
President Obama appointed a Sudan envoy, Scott Gration. For more. More about
Obama’s diplomatic overtures. Obama administration considers sending
development funds to other Afghan officials than corrupt President Karzai.
Little things Mean a Lot.
Michelle Obama had green dye put in a White House fountain for St. Patrick’s Day.
Now she has organized some school children to plant an organic garden on the White
House grounds. For more. Like motherhood and apple pie, America strongly values
school children and gardening. Will she next issue a healthy eating cookbook? Or
sew some of her dresses and new drapes for the White House? How will she express
her professional skills?
Michelle Obama has also toured federal agencies, addressed tens of thousands of
their employees, thanking them for their service and discussing how our economic
stimulus-investment package will improve their work. She has as much imagination
and energy as her husband. What an outstanding first wife, first mom and one of
two first professionals. It has been suggested that she and other spouses should
receive part of the pay going to their employed spouse, perhaps $100,000 for her
and $300,000 to Barack. We don’t hear much about the valuable contribution of our
first grandmother and mother-in-law to our first family and country.
Obama Watch – Week 10
Also go to Whitehouse.gov.
President Obama’s Organizational Discipline
Our present administration is more disciplined than any previous administration.
White House officials meet weekly to decide their agenda for coming weeks. A
limited number of important meetings are held and they are disciplined. President
Obama reserves time for thinking and mingling. The results are both effective and
efficient. Especially compared with recent administrations.
President Obama has perfected the art of obtaining information from other people,
while standing firm to his own beliefs.
Read about Obama’s marketing strategy.
Obama’s boldness with cautions is confusing both his critics and supporters.
If our economy doesn’t quickly begin to recover, opponents of our economic
stimulus-investment package will say it isn’t working and should be repealed. If our
economy does quickly begin to recover, opponents will say our package isn’t needed
and should be repealed.
President Obama: Here, There, Everywhere
On Wednesday, President Obama appeared at a Wednesday evening fundraiser.
On Thursday, he held a virtual town meeting.
On Friday, he met with executives of large banks. For more.
On Saturday, his weekly address extolled volunteerism. For more.
Since President Obama became president, his campaign for public support continues.
President Obama’s diversified media strategy is maintaining his popularity
When people are picking at President Obama from all directions, can he be wrong?
March 31 NY congressional race is a referendum on President Obama’s economic
President Obama’s 2010 budget is being approved by congress. For more. 2010
budget appropriation bills may need with only 50 votes to pass senate. The biggest
threat to passing Obama’s proposals is unruly Democratic congress members. For
more. For more.
Dave Broder fails to realize that debt will be larger in the long run without short term
Republican budget outline reduces taxes for rich, increases taxes for the rest of us.
For more. Democratic ad lampoons Republicans so-called budget (video). By
contrast, James Galbraith calls for an economic revitalization program similar to
Congress passed and President Obama signed a Wilderness Protection bill which adds
more than 2 million acres to U.S. wilderness. The legislation includes important
protections for 350,000 acres of land along 86 new Wild and Scenic Rivers. The
Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, co-written by Sen. Dianne Feinstein
and Sen. Barbara Boxer, is the largest wilderness preservation bill since President
Clinton signed the Desert Protection Act in 1994. For more.
The Serve America bill has been passed by both houses of congress. It awaits
President Obama’s signature when he returns from Europe. For more.
Binding mercury emissions control treaty results from Obama administration efforts.
Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke propose comprehensive regulation of financial
President Obama is forcing General Motors to become much smaller if it is to survive.
Chrysler is again becoming part of a foreign company. For more.
Our Transportation Dept. announced tougher mileage standards, the first in 25
years. Government may provide cash to those who trade in clunkers for more fuel
efficient new cars.
On March 27, Obama announced an Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy to prevent either
from being a safe haven for Al Qaeda, including military, diplomatic and development
aid components. For more. For more. Is Obama overestimating the danger that
Afghanistan or Pakistan will provide a safe refuge for Al Qaeda?
President Obama plans a late April Climate Summit with representatives of 16 major
Since Barack Obama was inaugurated on Tuesday, January 20th, I have been
counting weeks as running from Tuesday through the next Tuesday. So we will
report the Obama’s European trip next week (week 11). Here is his itinerary:
Tuesday: Travels to Britain.
Thursday: Attends G-20 economic summit in London.
Friday: Goes to NATO summit in Strasbourg, France.
Saturday: Travels to Prague, Czech Republic.
April 5: Travels to Ankara, Turkey.
April 6: Visits Istanbul, Turkey.
April 7: Returns to Washington.
Here are preliminary commentaries: one. Two. Three. Four. In spite of America’s
tarnished economic reputation, President Obama needs to get countries to cooperate
to revive economy. G-10 nations are likely to target tax havens. Can Obama
persuade European nations to fund more staff for the International Monetary Fund to
assist poorer nations to cope with economic collapse?
President Obama gave Queen Elizabeth an iPod. More appropriately, he might have
given her two former colonies. Perhaps Georgia and South Carolina.
Major Political Battles to Come
Strong lobbies will resist health care reform, cap and trade climate emissions control,
military spending reductions, and measures which promote unionization. Our Obama
administration has so far delayed or indicated compromise on these various issues.
Unless these hard fought issues are resolved to produce necessary reforms, our
deficits may be much greater and corporations will continue to create for financial
While there is widespread agreement that health reform is needed now, there is
disagreement about various aspects. Particularly whether public health insurance
should at least be an option to private health insurance. This and other issues are
being negotiated now by White House and Congressional participants.
In any event, we will learn that a system which includes private health insurance will
be unaffordable, even if other problems of access and complexity can be solved. For
more. For more. Any money saved will come later, so how to pay for health reform?
Cap and Trade
Coal interests strongly oppose Cap and Trade legislation which will reduce the use of
coal. They and their Republican supporters argue that, like a tax increase, it will
increase costs for consumers. But the money obtained can be given back to
consumers, who will benefit in the longer run from cheaper alternative energies, less
pollution and less global warming. House Democratic leaders have introduced a
plan. For more. For more.
Reduce Military Spending
Our Obama administration’s budget proposal includes a 4% increase in military
expenditures. Cutting these expenditures is necessary to obtain money for
domestic infrastructure and safety net programs. Just as important, a large military
with many hundreds of foreign bases, tempts us to an imperial foreign policy,
including military action and the alienation of other countries and their peoples.
Businesses are strenuously opposing legislation and other measures to make
Unions insist that they have sufficient congressional support. But so far the Obama
administration and congress have delayed action.
Key to resolving these issues are the Obama administration’s policies and the votes
of our often inconsistently Liberal Democratic Congress Members. Our readers
should respond to our petitions to tell our congress members to strongly support
Obama Watch – Week 11
Also go to Whitehouse.gov.
Tuesday: Traveled to Britain.
Thursday: Attended G-20 economic summit in London.
Friday: Went to NATO summit in Strasbourg, France.
Saturday: Traveled to Prague, Czech Republic.
April 5: Traveled to Ankara, Turkey.
April 6: Visited Istanbul, Turkey.
April 7: Visited Iraq. Returned to Washington.
G-20 agreed to clamp down on tax havens and to provide money for the IMF to
assist poorer nations to counter their economic collapse. Dean Baker questions
whether IMF is best funding agency. G-20 agreed to international regulatory back-
up to national regulations. European countries argued that their safety net is enough
stimulus, but agreed to more stimulus if it is needed. Dean Baker argues that
Europeans need to implement more stimulus.
President Obama’s Successful Mediation
Mr. Sarkozy and Mr. Hu disagreed about tax havens. Mr. Obama pulled Mr. Sarkozy
aside, took him to a corner, "and discussed possible alternatives. Once they arrived
at one, President Obama "sent a message to the Chinese" that a counter-offer was
on the table. The Chinese spent some time considering the offer. But they took a few
minutes. So Mr. Obama, with the assistance of translators, suggested that he and
Mr. Hu have a conversation as well. They, too went to the corner to talk. After a few
minutes, Mr. Obama called upon Mr. Sarkozy to join them. They reached an
agreement. There was a multiple shaking of hands.
Diplomacy Done Right
President Bush refused to negotiate with countries with whose policies and actions he
disagreed, derogating them instead for domestic political reasons. Turning 180
degrees, President Obama looks for points of agreement and possible cooperation
with other countries, negotiating with them on such issues to open the way for
negotiating issues of disagreement. We are quickly seeing that many possibilities for
cooperation exist between our Country and Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and other
countries. For more.
A New Relationship
On Friday at a French town meeting, President Obama called for a new relationship
between Europe and the United States for a new generation. We must end the
divisions that developed during the previous administration. We need to develop
shared strategies for dealing with our economic collapse and other international
issues. In Prague, President Obama presented an agenda to eliminate all nuclear
weapons. For more. In Turkey, Obama reached out to Moslems.
In Iraq, American military personnel cheered their commander-in-chief when he
strongly emphasized that the Iraqi people, politicians and military must take
responsibility for maintaining order.
Both houses of congress passed budget resolutions which provide most of what
President Obama asked. Our Obama administration hopes that by the August
recess, House and Senate committees will have sent health care bills to the floor and
Waxman's House committee will have reported out a comprehensive energy bill. But
opposition to President Obama’s proposals will be difficult to overcome.
See arguments for inclusion of public health insurance in the health reform. For
President Obama’s Multiple Strategies for Reducing Global
Cap and Trade
The goal of cap and trade is to "steadily reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse
gas emissions economy-wide in a cost-effective manner." The "cap" is an annual
limit on total pollution; large emitters (such as power plants and petroleum
refineries) must acquire pollution allowances from the government. These allowances
can be traded, "rewarding the most efficient companies and ensuring that the cap
can be met at the lowest possible cost to the economy.
As McKinsey and Company has found, putting a cap on carbon emissions corrects
market failures by driving investment into efficiency and fuel economy improvements
that actually save everyone money. Then it spurs investment into the expansion of
renewable energy, creating new jobs and a competitive advantage in the
international marketplace. Despite conservative claims, environmental protection
creates economic growth. When a cap-and-trade program to stop acid rain pollution
from power plants was established in 1990, as Center for American Progress Senior
Fellow Daniel J. Weiss explains, industry studies included "hysterical predictions"
about "the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, and compliance costs totaling tens of
billions of dollars." In reality, pollution reductions cost "one quarter of original EPA
estimates," electricity rates fell 10 percent, and the U.S. economy added 16 million
new jobs." "American ingenuity and American entrepreneurship and inventiveness,"
Obama told industry executives last week, "created options that ended up being
much cheaper than anybody had imagined." The scope of a carbon cap-and-trade
system is much greater.
California’s appliance, building, automotive, and utility efficiency standards are a
model for the nation — saving money, creating jobs, and saving lives through
significant reductions in pollution. The study by economist David Roland-Holst finds
that “California’s energy-efficiency policies created nearly 1.5 million jobs from 1977
to 2007, while eliminating fewer than 25,000.” Today, California’s per-capita
electricity demand is 40 percent below the national average:
Total electricity use, per capita, 1960-2001
Because a coherent energy policy is critical to our nation's future, Obama's proposed
plan goes far beyond capping emissions to reform the transportation and electricity
infrastructure, prioritize energy efficiency, transform the housing industry, and
create millions of new high-paying jobs. For more.
Jim McDermott’s Bill
Congressman Jim McDermott introduced The Clean Environment and Stable Energy
Market Act of 2009 in the House of Representatives. You can read the bill online at
www.Thomas.gov. He says, “I want to reduce carbon emissions over time through
the use of permits sold at a predictable price that is set by the Secretary of the
Treasury.” “Price predictability is key to enabling producers of products and
resources that emit greenhouse gas emissions to reduce their carbon footprint. The
reason is simple- the enormous financing that it will take to transform America into a
clean and renewable economy will need a stable financial market in order to thrive
and sustain this transformation.“
”Yes, my legislation mandates reductions in carbon emissions; in fact, there is a
schedule in the legislation that cuts carbon emissions 80% by the middle of the
century. And the bill includes a Climate Protection and Economic Security Trust Fund
where revenue raised from the sale of permits would be deposited. I envision this
money being used to help nurture and sustain the transformation of America into a
green economy while protecting vulnerable families and communities along the way.
Obama Watch – Week 12 (April 7 – 14)
Also go to Whitehouse.gov.
President Obama visited Iraq.
Copying a strategy used successfully in Iraq, U.S. is recruiting local militias in
President Obama’s Foreign Policy
President Obama and the United Nations For more. For more. For more.
President Obama vowed to cooperate with other countries to counteract piracy. For
President Obama relaxes restrictions on travel and gifts to Cuba.
President Obama plans trip to Latin American summit.
Infrastructure projects costing less than expected, allowing more of them.
On Tuesday at Georgetown University, President Obama described 5 pillars of
recovery (video). More. For more.
Health Care Reform
Max Baucus leads struggle for health reform.
Largest battle will be whether to include public health insurance option.
Arguments for including a public health insurance option in health reform package.
House Liberals may insist upon including a public health insurance option in health
reform package. For More.
Health care costs can’t be cut by other measures than replacing private with public
health insurance. For more.
People without health care insurance aren’t an organized advocacy group.
President Obama promotes refinancing mortgages
Attorney General Eric Holder restores disclosures required by freedom of information
Carol Browner is promoting President Obama’s Energy and Climate Initiatives.
Various political alternatives exist for dealing with climate change. Unclear which will
Environmental Protection Agency is reversing Bush Administration environmental
Obama Administration will rewrite regulations to better protect spotted owls.
White House is reaching out to Washington, DC schools and students.
Obama’s weekly address All weekly addresses.
President Obama’s continues to be popular at 68%. Republicans unpopularity is
66%. For more.
Organizing for America (successor to Obama’s campaign organization) is off to a
Obama Watch – Week 13 (April 14 – 21)
Also go to Whitehouse.gov.
During the first 10 weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, the focus was on our
economy. The stimulus-investment package, the remaining 2009 appropriations bills
and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program were passed. More money was
given to AIG and other large financial companies. A program was initiated for
avoiding some mortgage defaults.
Then, Obama went to Europe. After both houses passed their 2010 budget
resolutions, they closed down for their three week Easter recess. This week, Obama
visited Mexico and the Latin American Summit.
A Wednesday Commentary on the week.
Latin American Trip and Policy
President Obama comments on Latin American issues, policies and visit.
President Obama visits Mexico. Obama is unwilling to oppose International Rifle
Association to restrict guns used by drug cartels.
In a Washington Post Op Ed, President Obama called for a new day of American
Nations meeting shared challenges. This continues his approach to foreign policy.
But Washington still appears to reject the independent thinking of new strong Liberal
democratic Latin American administrations. For more.
This Summit of the Americas was 180 degrees different than previous ones. Instead
of promoting unregulated markets and trade, this one was oriented to fixing the
mess that resulted from them.
Serve America Act
President Obama signed the Serve America Act, greatly increasing the number of
participants in various volunteers programs. For more. This act will employ a small
percentage of the number who were employed by WPA and CCC programs of the
1930s. But in 1930, a small wage was sufficient for men who didn’t have large
mortgages and other obligations.
Release of Bush Administration memos concerning interrogation techniques. More.
President Obama promotes high speed rail. For more. About Pacific NW rail.
President Obama spoke of building a new economy on a sound foundation. For
President Obama’s weekly address introduced a Chief Performance Officer and Chief
Technology Officer. He is asking his department heads to cut costs by $100 million.
President Obama appoints border czar, but may delay immigration reform to later
FDA approves making Plan B
EPA takes first step toward regulating green house gases.
Energy and Labor Secretaries say now is time to build a clean energy economy.
President Obama may offer Iran a nuclear deal they will accept.
Stress test results will be released on May 4th.
Health Care Reform
Various factors favor passage of health care reform this year.
Read about the top 10 opponents of single payer public health insurance.
Bill Greider calls for Liberal opposition to Democrats who are beholden to
moneyed interests. Some corporations are pretending to support health care
reform while spreading disinformation to obstruct it.
Howard Dean rejoins Democracy for America to promote public health insurance.
Sign his petition.
One issue is whether health care reform can pass the senate with a simple
majority. For more.
Robert Reich says passing health care reform quickly to reduce costs requires fast
Senate plans to markup health reform bill in June, which will likely include some
form of public health insurance. For more.
Health and Human Services Secretary Designate Kathleen Sebelius has described
Obama’s rationale for including a public health insurance option.
Medicare pays too much to HMO providers who then offer extra services to attract
State legislatures and city councils are expressing support for single payer public
President Obama’s popularity increases a bit more to 69%. If fewer bailouts are
performed, this will help President Obama’s reputation. Imagine that health care
reform passes and our economy shows definite signs of recovery this year. President
Obama will then have the political capital to spend on such controversial subjects as
immigration reform. Until then, he is delaying action on Immigration reform and
various other issues.
Beginning next week, we can expect things to be more routine, with both congress
and President Obama attending to a variety of issues. After Easter Recess, congress
will have many issues to resolve. What to expect from congress.
What Tea Baggers Profess, Obama Is Doing
Tea bag demonstrations (supported by Fox cable news and corporate interests)
profess to want lower taxes, lower deficits, lower debt and less government. For
more. For more. For more. More about protests in Washington State. Unlike
President Clinton, President Obama has fulfilled his campaign promise to lower taxes.
He has lowered taxes for 95% of American people, those having incomes less that
$250,000 people. Income taxes are near their historic low, with average families
paying 9% and middle income families paying 3%. For more. Although our
immediate deficits are larger than before, the total deficits and debt over the next 10
years will be less than would occur if no stimulus-investment package was
While our government will be funding more investments and a more comprehensive
safety net, the Obama Administration and Congress are not proposing to employ
large numbers of additional government workers. Unlike President Roosevelt’s New
Deal CCC and WPA programs, Obama is not proposing programs to hire our
unemployed. Private contractors will instead by hired by federal, state and local
governments to fix our infrastructure, private businesses will be stimulated to create
green and other jobs, and tax cuts will provide demand for private employment.
But the tea baggers are clearly not supporting the President Obama. Instead, they
are expressing hatred for him. The tea baggers are a Conservative response to the
new Liberal dominance of our federal government. Mouthing long time Conservative
misconceptions of Liberals, they accuse the Obama Administration of what more
appropriately applies to the Bush Administration. Their expression of hate harms
their appeal to others.
The tea baggers include racists who carry racist signs. Note that Conservatives are
reacting negatively to a newly released Homeland Security Report which labels hate
groups (which target ethnic and religious groups) as right wing extremists. For
more. This despite the fact that prominent Republicans often appear at hate group
conferences and endorse many of their views toward immigrants and others.
Conservative radio and television commentators don’t condemn hate groups.
Instead they express many of the same views. For more. For more. Tea bag
parties may be harming image of Republicans.
Obama Watch – Week 14 (April 21 – 28)
Also go to Whitehouse.gov.
Aren’t you glad Katrina George isn’t in charge of responding to our swine flu threat?
On Tuesday, congress began work on President Obama’s environmental proposals.
On Thursday, President Obama met with credit card executives, chastising them for
the consumer abuses. Both houses of congress are preparing regulatory legislation.
President Obama’s Saturday weekly address emphasized fiscal discipline. He called
on federal employees to identify ways to cut government expenditures
On Monday, President Obama met with scientists and educators to express their
importance. The $5 billion ‘Race to the Top’ funds in our stimulus-investment
package will stimulate higher standards and better teaching for science and
On Wednesday, President Obama swore in Health and Human Services Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius, completing the seating of all his cabinet members. Both the
house and senate passed the 2010 budget proposal (similar to what President
Obama proposed) with all Republicans voting against it. Four senate Democrats and
17 house Democrats voted against it.
President Obama’s First 100 Days
Beginning with President Franklin Roosevelt, the custom of political commentators is
to evaluate a president’s first 100 days. For more. For more. For more. Barack
Obama was inaugurated on Tuesday, January 20 at noon. The 100th day of his
presidency begins on Wednesday, April 29 at noon and ends on Thursday, April 30 at
Watch President Obama’s 100th Day press conference. (Video)
The most obvious feature of President Obama’s first 100 days is his use of the bully
pulpit. Almost daily, he and his Press Secretary Robert Gibbs talk to the American
people, in meetings concerning various issues, at press conferences, weekly
Saturday addresses, town meetings away from Washington, bill signings, meetings
focused upon various issues, meetings with government employees in various
departments. Other top officials also give frequent addresses and appear on
television talk shows.
During his campaign, Obama argued that we must not only change our practices.
We must change our mindset. He speaks often of our national traditions, our
oneness, our obligations to our country and to each other. He speaks of the
difficulties we face, alternative responses, what his administration is doing and what
we Americans can do. His speeches and his administration’s websites present us
with a more complete and detailed understanding of administration agenda,
principles and actions than have occurred during any previous presidency. For more.
His critics have argued that he will wear out his welcome. But so far, our people
have relished Obama’s openness and communication. We are glad to know about
our political and economic situation, and what is being done to improve it. We often
don’t understand much of what is being done or why, but we are reassured that
considered action is being taken. The proportion of Americans who believe the
country is heading in the right direction has greatly increased. President Obama’s
popularity has been continually increasing. Conservatives are going ballistic.
Many Things at One Time
Also distinctive is President Obama’s multi-pronged approach to resolving our
economic crisis: government ethical standards and openness; promised tax cuts and
increased food stamp, unemployment and other payments; assisting home owners
with defaulting mortgages; bailing out financial companies; reforming and
augmenting our health care, education and energy systems; and eliminating waste.
While critics have argued that he should focus upon only one or a few of these, his
strategy is cautious. Instead of putting all his eggs in one basket, he is increasing
our chances for success, even if one or several initiatives fail. He said during the
campaign that a president must be able to do more than one thing at a time. He is
demonstrating that he can do many things at one time.
Obama has made "spending to promote renewable energy technologies that will
generate jobs and an effort to shift the nation to a low-carbon economy" key
priorities. For more. For more.
President Obama is also working well with Congressional Democrats. His major
achievement was hasty passage of our stimulus-investment package, with few
changes from his proposals. The 2009 budget appropriation was passed. The 2010
budget proposals are proceeding rapidly through congress. The use of reconciliation
and the switch by Republican Senator Arlen Specter to become a Democrat promises
well for passage of Obama’s budget initiatives.
Extending Our Arm of Cooperation
Unlike President Bush’s ‘You’re with us or you’re against us.’ foreign policy and
refusing to negotiate with those who are not with us, President Obama has
expressed at home and abroad that we are a cooperative member of our world
community of nations. We will negotiate with any country to first find issues and
solutions of agreement, and then to address issues of disagreement. The result is
that President Obama has been warmly received on his trips. Respect for and
popularity of our United States is increasing. For more.
What Various Commentators Are Saying.
Various commentators insist upon giving President Obama a grade of incomplete,
because the results of his initiatives are not yet apparent. But that has been true for
every president after only 100 days. They have also graded him poorly for doing
what they think should be done. But again, it is too early to tell whether he or they
are right. As he has said, some of his initiatives will prove disappointing. But as the
results occur, he can add to some and curtail others. So far, various initiatives are
producing positive results and few negative results are apparent. For more. For
more. For more. For more.
Looking ahead, a major question is ‘How will he use his political capital?’ For more.
Watch President Obama’s 100th day news conference. (Video)
Some Obama Administration Environmental Policy Changes
On January 26th, President Obama ordered tough new fuel economy standards for
cars and trucks.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar voided Bush era Utah oil and gas leases.
Salazar voided leases to develop Rocky Mountain oil shale.
Obama included $100 billion in stimulus-investment package for reducing usage
of carbon based fuel and green house gas emissions.
In his 2010 budget proposal, Obama increased EPA spending by a third, revived
superfund program for cleaning up hazardous waste, allocated $3.9 billion for
clean water projects and directed revenues from a cap and trade program to
Obama eliminated a Bush rule by requiring federal agencies to consult with
scientists before allowing construction which might harm endangered species.
Obama eliminated funding for nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in
Obama reversed Bush policy by supporting an international treaty to cut mercury
And you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Most Americans think President Obama will do a good job of protecting our
What President Obama Has Done for Working Families
Dear Dave, It's remarkable! In just 100 days, President Obama and Vice President
Biden, with your help, have laid down a foundation of change for America's working
families. Obama has taken major steps on the economy, health care and the
protection of workers' rights that will lead to a more prosperous and fair future for
working people and America. And he has dealt simultaneously with international
crises and begun to reset the opinion about our country around the world.
Given the perilous state of the economy and the world, there remains much to be
done. But today is a time for a brief reflection on what the Obama administration has
accomplished and what lies ahead.
For starters, President Obama has shown his commitment to strengthening the
middle class and making the economy work for working families by:
Signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to ensure that women earn equal pay for
Working with Congress to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program
to cover an additional 4 million children;
Creating the Task Force on Middle Class Working Families, so workers have a
direct input into policymaking;
Appointing Hilda Solis, a champion for workers, as secretary of labor; and
Protecting America's workers by rescinding some of the most damaging anti-
worker executive orders put in place by former President George W. Bush.
More broadly, with the Economic Recovery Act and the budget, the Obama
administration, together with Congress, is rebuilding our economy by:
Investing in the rebuilding of our infrastructure and creating good jobs;
Providing aid to state and local governments, so they can avoid layoffs and
continue to provide essential services;
Funding the development of "green technologies" that will create good-paying
jobs while protecting our environment; and
Setting aside resources for real health care and education reform.
The Obama administration focused its first 100 days on putting down an important
foundation for change, and many challenges remain. We look forward to helping the
administration meet those challenges by passing the Employee Free Choice Act and
comprehensive national health care reform so our economy truly works for everyone.
In solidarity, Marc Laitin, AFL-CIO Online Mobilization Coordinator
Budget Plan Approved
On Wednesday, April 29th, Congress approved a $3.4 trillion budget plan. Despite a
persistent recession and soaring budget deficits, Democrats overwhelmingly
endorsed the president's request for hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending
over the next decade for college loans, early childhood education programs,
veterans' benefits and investments in renewable energy aimed at reducing the
nation's dependence on foreign oil. Only 17 Democrats in the House and three in the
Senate voted against it, as did Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who announced
Tuesday that he would leave the Republican Party.
Lawmakers also agreed to use a powerful procedural tool known as reconciliation to
advance the president's proposal to expand health coverage for the uninsured -- a
move that ensures Republicans would not be able to filibuster the legislation.
Approval of the budget blueprint marked a huge victory for Obama on his 100th day
in office, but it was not a slam-dunk for him. Lawmakers trimmed his tax-cutting
plans, refusing to extend his signature tax credit for working families past 2010
unless it is paid for. They sliced $10 billion from his spending request for non-
defense programs in the fiscal year that begins in October and jettisoned his
suggestion that another $250 billion would be needed to stabilize the banking
system. They also refused to authorize the use of reconciliation for his plan to cap
greenhouse gas emissions.
Leaders of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition stood shoulder to shoulder
with House leaders on Wednesday and rallied around a $3.4 trillion budget
agreement that also paves the way for an eventual pay-as-you-go law — a provision
that became a prerequisite for Blue Dog support of the budget document. Yet they
acknowledged that they might have to settle for a codified version of the Democratic
pay-go rule that allows for offsets to be found five or even 10 years after new
spending is enacted.
The budget plan favors health care reform but could severely crimp the rest of
Obama’s domestic agenda unless new revenues or savings are found. Economic
recovery could produce both revenues and savings. Less money than Obama wanted
is included for middle-class tax cuts, including his signature Make Work Pay credit to
relieve the burden of payroll taxes on working-class families. And the final
compromise retreats from a House proposal to build into the budget adequate funds
to cover annual Medicare reimbursement increases for physicians.
President Obama reports on his first 100 days as president (video).
Lots of Issues
The swine flu pandemic. Selection of a Supreme Court justice. Arlen Specter
changes parties. More issues for our Obama Administration to deal with. But also
more issues for Conservatives to complain about. With no official leader,
Republicans can’t focus on a few issues and can’t agree on their message. Just a
bunch of whiners, who examine and react to the daily news.
For example, the top Republican in Congress, John Boehner, tried to argue that
global warming was a hoax related to cow flatulence but then did an immediate
about face and promised a plan to solve global warming. Congressman Joe Barton
(R-TX) displayed his clear lack of scientific knowledge when he suggested oil in the
Arctic arrived there via a pipeline from Texas. You have to see the video to believe it.
Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) actually called a bipartisan clean energy plan a
greater "assault on democracy" than the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Big mouth Biden did it again. Indicating people shouldn’t travel. Sometimes, I wish
David Axelrod was Vice President. I think he might be able to best continue Obama’s
A Second Wave of Reforms
When asked about whether immigration reform would occur this year, President
Obama said that he was already being accused of taking on too many issues. He
said he is focusing on issues most relevant to our economic recovery, including
reestablishing credit, assisting defaulting mortgage holders, health care reform,
education reform and energy reform. He said progress was being made toward
immigration reform, implying that it wouldn’t be implemented until next year.
Through honestly describing and explaining our economic challenges and what his
administration is doing to meet them, President Obama has achieved a remarkably
high level of popularity among Democrats and Independents, including Republicans
who have become Independents, leaving only a small 20% minority of Republicans.
But his popularity will quickly decline if our economic recovery falters. To maintain
his political capital, he must focus upon ensuring economic recovery. For more.
Hopefully the Worker’s Free Choice Act (which is certainly related to economic
recovery) will be passed this year.
If economic recovery is clearly occurring later this year, President Obama will then
have solid political capital to address other issues, such as immigration reform,
changing our military’s ‘Don’t ask. Don’t tell.’ policy toward gays; and possibly such
issues as gun registration and restrictions, and the so-called ‘war on drugs’. 2010
may see as many reforms as are occurring this year. The issues involved in our
Cultural Wars may be resolved, to eliminate some of the worst President Bush era
threats to our civil liberties. For more.
Less Bully Pulpit
During the first 100 days of his presidency, Barack Obama was everywhere in the
public eye: press conferences, town meetings, so-called summits with political and
economic leaders concerning various economic reforms, weekly addresses, and
appearances on television shows. His message was that our economy has collapsed;
his stimulus-investment package and other measures would restore the economy,
but not quickly; and that we should support his programs while remaining patient for
results. His use of the bully pulpit was successful.
These past several weeks, President Obama has been much less in the public eye. A
fun exception was his appearance before the White House Press Association. He
also met Health Care Insurers and providers who pledged to reduce increased health
care costs. He praised companies which encourage employee health. More on
health care reform. He asked his cabinet to find ways to cut expenditures. In his
weekly address, Obama called for congress to address credit card abuse.
Government Department Actions
Most of the political action is occurring in various government agencies and
Congress. Many of President Bush’s actions to let corporations override our
environmental laws have been reversed. Our EPA and FDA are taking on new
responsibilities for regulating and enforcing environmental and consumer protection.
FDA says Cheerios can’t be marketed as a drug. Our Justice Department is
increasing its willingness and resources to investigate and pursue anti-trust and
fraud violations. For more. Our Housing and Urban Development and Transportation
Departments are increasing the coordination of their activities. Our State
Department is enhancing its diplomatic and development capacity. Similar actions
are occurring in other Departments. Tax reductions are being distributed and
infrastructure investment projects are beginning. Our Military is adopting a new
counterinsurgency strategy for Iraq.
In the aftermath of the stress tests, fewer unpopular bailouts are anticipated.
Bankruptcy will resolve the fates of Chrysler and General Motors. The number of
troops in Iraq is being reduced. Comprehensive strategies are being developed and
applied for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Obama administration is insisting on an
Israel and Palestine two-state solution.
Environmental, Health Care and Educational Reform
Having passed the 2010 budget resolution, Congress is moving rapidly on health
care, with some form of public health coverage an option. Greenhouse gas cap and
trade legislation is being prepared with credits being given free during our recession
and then auctioned off. House climate bill may pass soon. For more. For more.
Our Education Department is promoting reforms and providing 100 billion in
stimulus-investment funds to assist local schools.
Various issues are being delayed while emphasis is upon dealing with our recession.
No immigration reform bill is being introduced; but Homeland Security is scaling back
its raids upon employers of undocumented immigrants and deportation of those
found. No attempts are anticipated to legalize drugs, but the federal government is
allowing states and cities to quit punishing drug users. As states are increasing civil
rights for GLBT people, our Federal government is even waiting to eliminate ‘Don’t
Ask. Don’t Tell.’
Our Obama Administration is not mounting a frontal assault on K Street lobbyists.
But it is proposing a variety of measures to eliminate corporate tax loopholes and
other corporate abuses. The lobbyists are being forced to defend their corporations
from so many actions, that they will certainly lose many struggles. Similarly, a
frontal assault is not being mounted on our military-industrial and agro-business and
other subsidies and contracts. But after recovery occurs, we expect government to
seek major savings there to reduce our deficits. When digitized medical records,
preventive medicine and changed incentives for providers to keep or make people
well instead of simply being paid for their procedures fail to control health costs, we
can expect more attention to be given to end-of-life treatment costs and to
eliminating costly private insurance coverage. Dave Thomas
A Messy Week
President Obama is framing his reforms as building a New Foundation. His
favorable poll numbers are staying high at 68%.
Many of President Obama’s addresses, including the commencement addresses he
delivered at Arizona State University and at Notre Dame, called upon Americans to
act as one people to serve one another. Referring to the first address, he joked
during the second address that honorary degrees are hard to get. He only got one
for two addresses. Addressing the disagreement between pro-choice and anti-
abortion people, he called for us to stand by our principles, avoid caricaturing those
who disagree with us, and seek common ground for joint action.
President Obama decided to appeal a court decision requiring the release of torture
photos, saying they would inflame opinion against our United States and cause harm
to our troops. I have difficulty believing this, since the photos are said to be less
provocative than ones already released. His decision goes against his other words
and actions in favor of greater government openness. Torture photos are being
published, in spite of President Obama’s attempt to suppress them.
Another Commercial Media Frenzy
While former Vice President Dick Cheney is arguing for torture, the media has
decided to harass House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for not speaking up against torture,
after being informed about torture policy (and maybe practice) by the CIA. For
more. For more. The major villains are the Bush Administration officials who
justified, authorized and implemented torture, in an attempt to prove links between
Iraq and 9/11.
President Obama decided to use a modified form of military commission to try at
least some of our Guantanamo prisoners. Earlier he had indicated he preferred use
of civilian courts. For the prosecution, using a military commission has the
advantage of admitting evidence that would be barred in a civilian court. I believe
the prisoners should be granted quick trials in civilian courts.
Virtually none of the Guantanamo prisoners were captured as enemy combatants. I
believe that they should have been tried for crimes within a year, or released. To
hold them for long periods of time without charges contradicts our basic principles of
justice. If any prisoners who are convicted are incarcerated in the United States and
the others released, I believe little harm would come to our security.
I believe the 9/11 attacks involving several dozen competent terrorists, fortunate
that the Bush Administration paid no attention to threats posed by Al Qaeda, caused
a hysteria and over-reaction to the threat of terrorism. Since cockpit doors were
secured, hijackers cannot obtain control of a plane. I think our no fly lists are
unnecessary and contrary to our freedom. I am disappointed to see the ending of
easy transit across our Canadian border.
Our Senate voted 90 to 6 to bar the use of funds to transfer Guantanamo prisoners
to our U.S. There are some inconsistencies between President Obama’s speech
about civil liberties and his proposed treatment of Guantanamo prisoners. For more.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Meeting with President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that before any two-
state agreement, Palestinians must accept Israel as a Jewish State. He also said
that any agreement must wait until Iran is prevented from developing nuclear
weapons. It appears that no progress can occur without strong action by President
Obama. For more. Some Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs are attempting to relate
Health Care Reform
Having secured his stimulus-investment package and in large part, his 2010 budget
proposal, President Obama is giving congress much leeway in crafting the detailed
budget. Obama comments on health care proposal (video) For more. For more.
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (a major recipient of campaign contributions
from health insurers) has largely banned advocates of single-payer health insurance
from health care reform deliberations. For more on campaign contributions. But I
believe that enough support for single-payer health insurance exists in the house and
senate that a public insurance option will be included. The major bargaining will be
over the specifics of the public insurance option which affect how competitive it will
be with private insurance plans. For more.
Wanting to privatize Social Security to the enormous benefit of Wall Street,
Conservatives continue to claim that Social Security is fiscally untenable. In fact,
Social Security is in no trouble, unless our economy continues in serious trouble, in
which case all of our public and private services are in trouble. The real challenge is
increasing health care costs, including Medicare and Medicaid. Health care reform is
essential. While various measures can reduce costs, the biggie is elimination of
private health insurance. The major question is whether it will be sooner or later
that we change to the public health insurance coverage that all other affluent
countries have adopted.
Once the Democrats get health care reform right, it will become as popular as Social
Security and Medicare. Republicans will find it’s a third rail that they can’t reverse.
Various private health insurers, pharmaceuticals, and health providers met with
President Obama to pledge to reduce the rate of increase of health coverage and
care prices. But immediately began to back away from any commitments. For
more. For more. For more. Some strategies to reduce health care costs.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Bill
Regional coal and electricity interests are weakening the greenhouse gas emissions
bill. For more. For More. For More. 10 lobbying firms represent hundreds of
Changing to non-carbon based energy will help our economic recovery.
Increased Mileage and Reduced Emissions
I wondered when our administration would approve California’s emission standards.
Now we know that our administration has been forging increased national standards.
President Obama introduced new mileage standards which will save gasoline. reduce
driving costs and reduce oil imports. Reduced emissions are also required. For
Our administration may have various task forces forging other initiatives. Perhaps
concerning immigration, illicit drugs, gun control, and gay rights. We don’t know of
such initiatives because it’s difficult to forge consensus publicly with divisive factions
Two Phase Fiscal Reform
President Obama has apparently decided to not pursue various fiscal reforms that
would increase taxes or reduce employment during our economic recession. He is
letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy continue until they end in 2011. His
proposed cuts in military procurement are only a small fraction of our spending upon
unneeded military equipment and activity.
President Obama is proposing the closing of business tax loopholes, and the
elimination of some subsidies for oil companies. I expect that more tax increases,
subsidy and spending decreases will occur once our economy recovers.
Protecting Homeowners and Our Economy From Fraud
President Obama signed two bills to protect homeowners from fraud. The Fraud
Enforcement and Recovery Act will protect Americans by:
Increasing resources for federal investigators and prosecutors to go after cases of
Modernizing fraud and money laundering statutes to deal with the growing wave
Strengthening the False Claims Act to better equip the Justice Department to
recover the proceeds of fraud, and
Establishing a Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to investigate the root causes
of the economic and financial crisis.
President Obama chooses Utah’s Republican Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. to be
Ambassador to China.
Michelle Obama speaks out for working families.
A compromise bill to ease unionization is likely to pass.
House passes green schools bill.
Let’s hope our Republicans are right. Democrats need more socialism.
What Should We Be Doing?
It was easy to know that we should support Barack Obama for president. It was
easy to support the passage of the stimulus-investment package. It is not easy to
know what we should do about various possible compromises in the 2010 budget.
We want a public single payer health care coverage system. But what about a
compromise that only includes it as an option, with perhaps various limits, to enable
private health insurance to better compete? We want to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions, through a carbon tax, or a cap and trade system. But what about a
compromised cap and trade system? We want to regulate financial companies,
financial products and financial markets. But what regulations? Many of these
decisions are highly technical and have little historical evidence to guide them.
Even if we can decide what decisions we support, how do we support them? We
should sign petitions to our president and congress members to indicate our
positions. We should focus upon stimulating congress members who have been
influenced by campaign contributing business interest. Unfortunately, googling the
websites of our congress members reveals little about their positions on these
issues. We should email them to ask their position and express our own. If they
persist in voting for Wall Street instead of Main Street, we should consider assisting
challengers in our next Democratic primary.
Our decennial census will occur in 2010. Population shifts will result in 11 (mostly
Democratic states) losing 12 congressional seats and 7 (mostly Republican states)
gaining 12 seats. Our 2010 elections will determine whether Democrats or
Republicans will be in control of redistricting congressional and state legislative
districts. For more.
Also go to Whitehouse.gov.
President Obama Signs New Legislation
5/20 Helping Families Save Their Homes Act
5/20 Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act Includes investigation of causes of
5/22 Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009
For more. More.
5/22 Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act
President Obama Speeches
5/21 President Obama spoke on the values that guide his foreign policy decisions,
including the closing of Guantanamo. He began by speaking of the importance of
robust national security efforts and upholding American’s core identity and
Constitutional principles, explaining how each can enforce the other (video)
5/22 Annapolis (video) The President speaks at the US Naval Academy
Commencement in Annapolis, Maryland, and reminds us that our military is made up
of hundreds of thousands of individual stories, each guided by a common set of
values. He connects his admiration for the service of sailors and Marines to the
values he espoused yesterday at the National Archives.
5/23 Weekly Address: Sacrifice (video) On Memorial Day weekend, President Obama
calls on the American people to join him in paying tribute to America’s veterans,
servicemen and women – particularly those who have made the ultimate sacrifice - and
President Obama honors military dead and increases expenditures for veterans.
President Obama nominates Sonia Sotomayer for Supreme Court (video). For more.
Conservative racists accuse Sonia Sotomayer of being racist. Our best 20th Century
Supreme Court Judges (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Earl Warren, William J. Brennan,
William O. Douglas, and Hugo Black) had no previous service in Federal Courts.
28 senators have co-sponsored a resolution to provide a public health insurance
option. Single-Payer events are scheduled in 50 cities.
Gail Collins says that the college loan system is a mess and needs to be reformed,
but is skeptical that it will happen: The White House estimates that it could save
about $94 billion over 10 years if it cut out all the middlemen. And it has the basis of
a system in place, since the Department of Education already makes a lot of direct
loans to students. How many people out there think that there’s going to be some
reason that this turns out to be extremely controversial? Can I see a show of hands?
“Senator Nelson is for the system as it is now,” said a spokesman for Ben Nelson,
Democrat of Nebraska. If you are a big fan of Senate stalemates, you will remember
Nelson, the star of such past triumphs as The Stimulus Is Too Big. A great part of
Nelson’s resistance has to do with the fact that Nelnet, a big student loan provider,
has its headquarters in his state.
After messy last week, everyone became less popular, but President Obama is still
much more popular than Republicans. Colin Powell is much more popular than Dick
Cheney or Rush Limbaugh. Among Republicans, Colin Powell, Dick Cheney and Rush
Limbaugh are tied.
Three Types of Economic Stimulus: Good, Bad, Ugly
Unnoticed by our commercial commentators, there are three types of economic
stimulus. The good type is our economic stimulus-investment package, which
creates jobs and improves our public services. The bad type is bailouts of financial
companies, which sustains jobs and incomes which harm our economy. The ugly
type is tax breaks and subsidies of wealthy and powerful private interests, which
create some jobs and needed public services; but not nearly as many per dollar as
our economic stimulus package. Our Obama administration is treating these three
types of economic stimulus differently.
Good Economic Stimulus
Our economic stimulus-investment package is a shift in policy from the Bush
administration. It includes tax cuts for middle and lower income people, increased
unemployment benefits and food stamps to create consumer demand and jobs. It
includes funds for state and local governments to maintain jobs and public services.
It includes funds to maintain and improve our infrastructure and stimulate
conservation and non-carbon based energy, thereby creating construction,
manufacturing and other jobs. Generally, these funds efficiently create needed
jobs, doing work that needs to be done. They may produce half as many jobs as
have been lost. Popular with Main Street, our 2010 and following budgets will
contain more such economic stimulus and investment.
Another good economic stimulus is unionization, which increases wages, consumer
demand and jobs. So far, our Obama Administration has not moved on this issue.
Bad Economic Stimulus
Our bailouts of too big (actually too politically powerful) to fail financial companies
began under the Bush administration and are now diminishing. These bailouts
maintain employment of people, who were often the ones responsible for our
economic collapse. For more. Main Street rightfully blames these people for our
troubles and opposes the bailouts. Before the end of 2009, new regulations will
inhibit the Wall Street speculation which created our housing and credit bubbles,
forcing many financial employees to find work in other sectors.
Ugly Economic Stimulus
Our tax breaks and subsidies for private interests have increased greatly during the
years of Republican dominance. Due to ‘K’ Street lobbyists, our wealthy and
powerful have received many unfair tax breaks. Military-industrial, agro-business,
oil, private contractors and other private cronies receive money, far in excess of the
public value of any services they offer. The funds they receive creates far fewer jobs
per dollar than the funds that are spent on our stimulus-investment package.
Instead of being seen as increasing taxes and cutting jobs during our economic
recession, our Obama administration is choosing to allow many of the tax breaks and
subsidies to continue until the economy recovers. Perhaps during 2011, we can
expect a huge confrontation between the Obama administration and ‘K’ Street
interests. In the meantime, the continuation of these inefficient economic stimuli is
contributing to our federal deficits. For more. When will basic changes occur?
Also go to Whitehouse.gov.
Speech to Moslems
President Obama’s speech to Moslems (transcript and video). Obama described our
historic differences, called for a new beginning and cited 6 Mid-East issues to be
resolved: terrorist extremists, Iraqi sovereignty, Israeli/Palestinian statehood,
nuclear non-proliferation, democracy and women’s rights. He spoke unpleasant
truths to all, while offering pleasant futures through cooperation.
Health Care Reform
President Obama tells supporters to tell congress that we must have health care
reform now. For more. Senator Ted Kennedy says Health, Education, Labor and
Pensions subcommittee will include public health insurance in its report. For more.
Senator Max Baucus supports public health insurance option. Kennedy and Baucus
will try to create a single bill, which includes a public health insurance option. For
more. For more.
Regulation and Enforcement
FDIC Chair Sheila Blair seeks to restrict power of large financial companies.
In 1932 through 1934 the Senate Banking Committee, led by its Chief Counsel
Ferdinand Pecora, ferreted out the deeper fraud and corruption that led to the Crash
of 1929 and the Great Depression. The Pecora Committee's findings helped change
the political mood, and laid the groundwork for the sweeping financial reforms of
Roosevelt's New Deal. Roosevelt himself often conferred with Pecora, encouraged
him, and depended on Pecora's work to build the public support for reform. He
appointed Pecora to one of the newly created results of his handiwork, the Securities
and Exchange Commission, though Pecora was disappointed not to be its chairman.
President Obama has now signed legislation, The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery
Act of 2009, which among other things creates an investigative commission inspired
by Pecora. For more.
How the Obama Administration developed its American auto industry recovery
strategy. For more.
For more. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack ends discrimination against Black
farmers. Obama Administration gives Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack
sole authority on development in roadless areas for one year.
President Obama appoints Republican congressman as Secretary of the Army.