Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The C+ President

(Cartoon by Jim Morin / Miami Herald (January 20, 2014) and featured at  MCCLATCHY DC.  Click on image to enlarge.)

Yes, President Obama has done many good things in his six years in office, but I still maintain that he has a mixed record.  That's the reason for the grade of C+ I assigned in the title.  An article I read in McClatchy DC on Monday will illustrate my point.

— The world’s richest 85 people control the same amount of wealth as half the world’s population, according to a report issued Monday by the British-based anti-poverty charity Oxfam.
That means the world’s poorest 3.55 billion people must live on what the richest 85 possess. Another way to look at it: Each of the wealthiest 85 has access to the same resources as do about 42 million of the world’s poor, a number equal to the populations of Canada, Kentucky and Kansas, taken together. ... 
The report also said that while the recent financial crisis was an enormous burden on the world’s poor, it ended up being a huge benefit to the rich elite. The very wealthiest people on Earth collected 95 percent of the post-crisis growth, the report said.
The report said that the trend is more pronounced in the United States than in other nations, but hardly limited to the U.S.  [Emphasis added.]

Now, I am willing to admit that the Democrats don't control both houses of Congress.  The GOP, especially the Tea Partiers (and those who are afraid of them), run the House of Representatives and that group has made it clear that it will obstruct any and all legislation proposed by the President.  That, however, doesn't make the president powerless, far from it. 

First of all, he has executive powers.  His administration could have done some real investigations into the nefarious actions of the large banks providing mortgages and their buying and selling of those mortgages on the derivative markets.  And, after the investigations, meaningful penalties/fines/prison terms for the malefactors could have been imposed.  What we got instead were a few gentle slaps on various wrists.

Second, the president has a bully pulpit.  He can use his Saturday radio address to announce his intentions to address the issue of wealth inequality.  He can call a press conference at which he can announce plans to address the issue and to answer questions in which he can outline the specifics on his plan.  He can urge the public to swamp their elected representatives with demands to pass legislation to extend unemployment benefits, to fund the WIC and SNAP programs.

So far he hasn't done anything along those lines.  The subject somehow just doesn't appear on his agenda, at least hasn't since he got elected in 2008.

Maybe I was too generous in giving him a C+.

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Blogger ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I would give him less than a C-.

Remember, when he came into office he had both houses of Congress, by substantial majorities.

And he had the example of Bill Clinton's Administration and the bad results their neoliberal policies (NAFTA, deregulating Wall Street).

He hired from the same collection of cynical corporatists, and the resulting policies have been predictable: the elite financial criminals got bailed out, the rest of us get nice speeches.

Remember, he campaigned against NAFTA when dueling Hillary for the nomination in 2008. By 2009, he'd secretly resumed negotiations on the TPP...NAFTA on steroids. You can't say that Republicans, or conservative Democrats, made him do that. It is simply a flat-out betrayal of the people who voted for him, in favor of the few who make money with their money.

The same is true with mortgage cram-down. In exchange for being bailed out by the taxpayers, underwater homeowners were supposed to get help, too. Obama promised this. But the big servicer banks didn't want it, so that promised turned into "foaming the runway" for the banks.

He had the opportunity: the mandate, and the majorities in Congress, to make a difference. Instead, he has cynically chosen Bill Clinton's path to becoming a hundred millionaire: sell out the suckers who vote for Democrats.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Diane said...


10:50 AM  
Anonymous Shared Humanity said...

Far too generous. This president has presided over the ongoing destruction of American's rites as we march towards an increasingly autocratic state. He is involve personally with the decisions to kill people overseas with drones, including U.S. citizens. These drone attacks kill as many innocents as it kills enemies which can only make us less unsafe in the future. His reform of health care was written by the insurance industry.

7:58 AM  

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