As President Barack Obama juggled faux accountability with the stubbornness of an ideologue last week, it’s important to understand that it isn’t all Barack Obama’s fault. It isn’t — the Democrats have to take their share of the blame, too.
I wouldn’t expect someone like Barack Obama to understand this; his education is woefully inadequate for the challenges that he is expected to meet. In addition, like a whining child standing within feet of a baseball and a broken window, he is always searching for someone else to blame. He couldn’t be at fault — after all, he only has the best interests of the American people at heart.
For me, when it comes to his propensity to shift blame, the most telling quote came from his remarks on Friday during a remarkable event in which the president strayed into the lion’s den–a room full of House Republicans–and answered questions peppered at him by the opposition. The quote:
We had lost 650,000 jobs in December; I’m assuming you’re not faulting my policies for that. We had lost 700,000 jobs in January, the month I was sworn in, I’m assuming it wasn’t my administration’s policies that accounted for that. We lost another 650,000 jobs in subsequent months, before any of my policies had gone into effect, so I’m assuming that wasn’t as a consequence of our policies—that doesn’t reflect the failure of the Recovery Act … but those jobs losses took place before … any stimulus, whether it was the ones you guys proposed or the ones we proposed, could have ever taken to effect, now that’s just the fact …
Actually, he’s got a couple of his “facts” wrong. First, he blames the House Republicans for the first stimulus package, which is an extremely misleading statement. The truth is that all of the stimulus packages since the successful 2003 tax cuts under former President George W. Bush have taken place with the Democrats in control of Congress. It is true that the first one was proposed in late 2008 by the Bush Administration; however, to blame that on House Republicans is unacceptable.
Second, and even more important, is that Obama has full responsibility for all job losses after November 4th when he became the president-elect. In fact, a strong case could be made that the downturn in the economy began when the Democrats took control of Congress after the 2006 mid-term elections. An understanding of why this is true demands an understanding of the impact of images of the future on a society’s current economic health, and of how business people think — how and why they make the decisions they do.
I have stated previously that I received my Master’s in Futuristics (societal futures). The subject of my thesis was: “The Influence of Images of the Future on Current Socio-Economic Health.” While my study dealt mainly with the power of positive images of the future, “negative” images of the future can have a disastrous effect on a society. In this instance, “negative” is in the “eye of the beholder.” While Obama sees the future he is planning as a very positive one, where fairness and equality will be spread throughout society, others–especially business owners and investors and anybody who trades in growth and prosperity–tend to see Obama’s vision as an extremely negative one.
There is no doubt that Obama–and, in large respect, the Democratic Party–has made it very clear that they do not support business or embrace the profits that come from running a successful one. In fact, statement after statement has been made during the entire time that the Democrats have been in control of Congress, and even more blatant during the campaigns, that profits were evil and that, “when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everyone.” The whole concept of profit being a bad word, to the redistribution of wealth from those who have achieved to those in need, to an overall War on Success and Prosperity and American Exceptionalism have been made very clear by Barack Obama from the very beginning of his campaign.
In addition, of course, were the threats of cap-and-trade, government-run health care and “card check” legislation. Any one of these measures taken alone could cause major problems for business — especially small businesses, the business segment that drives the U.S. economy by creating “more than half of the private non-farm gross domestic product, and … 60 to 80 percent of the net new jobs.” (see SBA). Together, they mean disaster for the American economy, and with so much uncertainty on the horizon, the last thing any business owner is going to take on is more personnel and related expenses. Nope — unfunded mandates are the domain of the federal government, not the private sector.
Therefore, the image of the future that Barack Obama and a Congress controlled by the Democratic Party paints is an extremely negative one for American business, resulting in more regulation and higher taxes and as a result making it much more difficult to succeed, let alone be profitable. As soon as the Democrats gained control of Congress in January 2007, businesses began to feel negative about the future. Increased government control, which always effects small businesses (97 percent of all firms) more than the large businesses, seemed to be the wave of the future.
Then, with the election of Obama—and the clear understanding to anyone who was listening carefully that he was extremely negative regarding business in general (but especially profitability) while being very much in favor of the redistribution of wealth—the handwriting was on the wall. It was now clearly understood that times were changing and the future for American business was not all that bright. Businesses went from “began to feel negative” to knowing that they had to prepare for the worse possible scenario and the potential of a dramatic decrease in profitability. This attitude was shared by the vast majority of investors.
Make no mistake — this was the image of the future that Barack Obama had painted. This was the future that he seemed committed to bringing about. His image or vision of the future was much more powerful than any of the stimulus packages.
Once businesses realized that there was a strong possibility that they would be seeing a dramatic increase in the costs of doing business, they had no choice but to “batten down the hatches” and prepare for the future that seemed to be on the horizon. How does business prepare for the potential of bad times? They lay people off, instigate hiring freezes and freeze salaries. At the same time, investors get extremely fiscally conservative, only putting their money where there is minimum risk, which means that new businesses find it extremely difficult to just get started. As a result, jobs become scarce, projects are shelved, and even the best ideas have trouble finding funding.
This is why Obama can be blamed for any downturn in the economy from the day he was elected, and why the Democrats have a major responsibility for any downturn that took place after January 2007. To ignore the effect of the images of the future they have created is to show a level of ignorance that is unacceptable in those in charge of our country.
John F. Kennedy understood this. Many, especially conservatives, want to give all of credit for the success of the economy during the Kennedy years to his tax cuts. While they certainly played a major role, we should not minimize the impact on our economy of his commitment to land a man on the moon. It wasn’t just policy. It wasn’t just science. It wasn’t just a race with the Russians. This was a moonshot. This was the impossible. And it was this image of the future which was an extremely positive one, perfect for driving the engine of a society. Businesses and investors were taken in by the vision of seeing an American walk on the moon. Investments were made, businesses were formed, employees were hired, and taxes were paid. During my research for my Master’s, I estimated that approximately $5.00 in taxes was paid for every $1.00 that the government spent on the space program during this exciting time.
In many ways, the Apollo program and the Second World War were two of the best investments made by the United States Government. While the loss of an entire generation of young men in the trenches of northern Europe and in the expansive seas of the south Pacific was something we never want to see repeated, the truth is that we came out of the Second World War the wealthiest and most powerful nation on Earth. The vision that drove us during World War II was obvious — it was saving the world from totalitarianism, it was assuring a world in need of reassurance that freedom would reign.
The Apollo space program’s vision was essentially to prove the superiority of the American way of life. That once we made a commitment to do something, nothing could hold us back. In addition, for many it was the beginning of a new future for America and the world, a future that included space travel, space industrialization and the promise of new frontiers. After all, those very same images–travel, industrialization and a promise of new frontiers–are the precise images which have driven the American dream from the very beginning.
So, images of the future are extremely important and very powerful. When the vision is perceived as being very positive, with great potential, businesses and investors search out new opportunities, invest with confidence and gladly take financial risks, believing that the rewards justify the risks they are taking. Yet when the image is perceived by these same people as being negative, they instead pull back, protect their investments and become more fiscally conservative.
Thus, whether he believes it or not, Barack Obama is responsible for what has taken place in the United States since the day of his election, if not months before. And, the Democratic Party has a major responsibility for anything that has happened since January 2007. Both Obama and the Democratic PArty are totally responsible for the images of the future they have created, and those images have had a major impact on our nation’s socio-economic health.
The president of the United States needs to wise up and realize that it is his vision of our society that is causing problems and that, quite probably, our current rebound is due more to the possibility of a Democratic defeat in November and a one-term presidency for Barack Obama than any stimulus package that they can force upon the American public.