It’s Not an Act

I rarely read or quote the Washington Examiner but I wanted to express my disagreement with Conn Carroll’s latest remarks there:

On Face the Nation last Sunday [ed. Education Secretary Arne] Duncan told CBS, “As many as 40,000 teachers could lose their jobs. … There are literally teachers now who are getting pink slips, who are getting notices that they can’t come back this fall.” But when pressed to identify which teachers are “literally” getting pink slips right now, Duncan could only name one country in West Virginia. And when The Washington Post followed up with the director of federal programs for that county, she said that while five to six teachers were being laid off, those layoffs had nothing to do with the sequester. In fact, they were caused by a previous White House decision to cut funding for ineffective Head Start programs.

Now newspapers across the country are all running stories directly refuting Obama’s “sky is falling” Chicken Little act.

I do not believe it is an act. I continue to believe that President Obama is poorly served by his subordinates (e.g. Arne Duncan) and, like most of the rest of us, is predisposed to confirmation bias, accepting uncritically things that support what he genuinely believes to be true.

For what it’s worth I also do not believe that the president’s reaction to the sequester that he proposed actually coming to pass is purely tactical or “taking a page out of FDR’s playbook”. I think he genuinely believe it will be bad for the country, it’s entirely the Republicans’ fault, and that, when the inevitable cyclical downturn takes place in the economy, that will be their fault, too.

I doubt it will occur to him that the fact that there is virtually no Congressional support for the budgets the White House has proposed (his budget proposal of last year was voted down 99-0 in the Senate; the previous year’s was defeated 97-0) means he should be doing something differently.

22 comments… add one

  • jan

    It’s not an act?

    So, President Obama is merely a pawn of the data his subordinates feed him. Is that it? He intakes their information and then, with no critical thinking of his own, unquestioningly processes it like it was totally true? Even if that were the case, it would demonstrate a lack of leadership curiosity, with cemented-in ideology being the major source of his so-called ‘wisdom’ and decision-making.

    Well then I guess one could ‘forgive’ some of GWB’s governing flaws as well. So, why do the dems continue to chastise him for the WMDs misinformation, or the yellowcake brouhaha. It was all his subordinate’s fault!

    I don’t buy it.

    I think he genuinely believe it will be bad for the country, it’s entirely the Republicans’ fault, and that, when the inevitable cyclical downturn takes place in the economy, that will be their fault, too.

    Obama has manipulated the sequester issue to the max. While the republicans at least addressed it with several bills last summer, he continued to campaign, ignore deadlines and negotiating requests from the House. His actions implied that it was not an important deal. Now, with his election behind him, the country is at high risk for crumbling under the weight of these cuts? That not only doesn’t make sense, but is so disingenuous, considering his earlier shrug over sequester.

    Furthermore, the numbers I’m hearing, minus the WH doom and gloom rhetoric, don’t indicate that much will change, unless the administration cherry-picks the most damming and painful ways to address the cuts — which, BTW, are cuts to the automatic raises in spending, not effecting existing amounts allotted for programs. Also, according to Tom Coburn, who has been a budget watchdog, there is something like $365 billion dollars in duplicate programming, plus another $45 billion money appropriated and not used, that the administration doesn’t take into account. Didn’t Obama say, when he was originally running for office, and deficit-spending and raising the debt ceiling were things he called Bush on, that he was going to go line-by-line in the budget to weed out such waste and fraud? What happened to that stellar promise?

    Maybe the republicans will be holding the bag on this one too, when all is said and done. However, I just can’t believe that the public will be forever gullible to the debris-pile of accusations and displaced blame put out by Obama, and not figure out sometime that something is terribly amiss, and that this administration is ultimately functioning under a film of dishonesty and disservice to them .

  • michael reynolds

    Per OTB: http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/washington-more-worried-about-the-sequester-than-the-american-people/

    The people don’t seem too worried, and I’m with them. Are we seriously to believe that these small, marginal cuts signal the official start of the End Times? Even the scare stories aren’t scary. I’m very sorry for the people who will be laid off, but his is a paper cut: painful, not life threatening.

  • Drew

    If he really believes these things he’s the stupidist mf on the face of the earth. I don’t think he’s the stupidist mf on earth. Charitable explanations about confirmation bias and blind acceptance of subordinates advice just don’t square with masterful political posturing, now and in his past.

    If I’m wrong be afraid, very afraid, the leader of the free world is a moron.

  • michael reynolds

    Drew:

    There isn’t necessarily a conflict between a believing stupid things and being intelligent. Lots of smart people believe absolute nonsense. I could name names, but then you could, too.

  • jan

    This is the kind of over-the-top crap the dems are putting out there! Maxine Waters: “Over 170 million jobs could be lost due to sequestration.”

    If that were the case, why wasn’t this issue handled last year, before the election was a done-deal? Why didn’t the democratically-run Senate put out it’s own sequester solutions, long before the closing minutes before it was to kick into effect, so it could be re-worked between the House and Senate? Doesn’t one put gas in the car before you run on empty in the middle of the Mojave Desert?

  • Drew

    “There isn’t necessarily a conflict between a believing stupid things and being intelligent. Lots of smart people believe absolute nonsense. I could name names, but then you could, too.”

    ;-)

    But seriously folks…….Look, this guy traffics in BS. Pure and simple. Why. Because he can, he has a slobbering press in his pocket. The man makes the most laughable propositions. His sycophants attribute all things good to him………….and all things bad to Republicans or low level administration flunkies. Its preposterous on its face.

    Perhaps the one honest thing I’ve heard from him is what his buddy Rev Wright said he told him “the problem with you is you have to tell the truth.” I know you do not know who Emil Jones is, but when a guy (Obama) says Emil Jones is his political godfather, you know you are dealing with a serpent. Its all fun and games to hurl invective and play gotcha on internet sites, but as I’ve note many times before, back in the real world we have an incompetant and destructive force in charge. Give me a positive metric under this guy.

  • Drew

    “Doesn’t one put gas in the car before you run on empty in the middle of the Mojave Desert?”

    Not if your stock in trade is dishonesty……….well beyond the usual political type. There are usually boundaries, even for politicians.

  • michael reynolds

    Drew:

    You remain clueless about Obama. It’s that inability to analyze things accurately that cost your side the election. Until you learn to appraise things fairly without ideological blinders your side will continue to lose.

    Obama is a B or B minus president. He’s neither a genius nor a fool. He’s neither a saint nor a great sinner. He’s a guy handed a mess who has done a decent if uninspired job of cleaning it up.

    What he has been is very, very lucky in his enemies. If there’s a conspiracy to elevate Obama beyond his due it’s on the side of his blindly stupid opposition. You guys make it too easy.

  • Drew

    Michael

    Could you please define a “decent if uninspired job?” Please be specific. From where I sit I see no definitive legislative or (soft) leadership and confidence inspiring actions to halt the financial crisis, or a rebound in output and employment. Its been quite some time as a steward, and the real stats are miserable.

    He has successfully played class warfare politics, but with a tax increase in the name of a “balanced” deficit reduction approach that amounts to no more than masturbation. He has championed a health care initiative under stealth of night that is just now showing its costs and effect on employment. See: Donna Brazille. He has watched as debt has increased wholly disproportionately to the increase in the entire history of the country with no material improvement to output or employment. If the Fed was not totally destroying the term structure of interest rates the interest on this debt would be crippling right now. This is only a temporary respite. As a leader he has not been able to propose anything wrt a budget, forge a compromise, his Dem controlled Senate sits on its, heh, ass. He supports mindless “green energy” initiatives, especially for his donor buddies, and supports corporate welfare for his union buddies. Screwing the taxpayers at every turn.

    The “Arab Spring” is a disaster.

    Should I stop now?

    This is decent if uninspired?

    Your standards may differ from mine. But this is simply godawful.

  • Drew

    As a follow on…

    Michael, you, with all due respect, fail to understand the reach and propaganda power of media. When a low info electorate simply hear at every turn that “Republicans want to cut money for children and the elderly” while “Obama Cares” and that same electorate can’t name the VP, leader of the House etc what do you really expect. (Have you heard the recent AARP ad on SS?? Expect any media outlet to correct the lies?)

    As I note repeatedly, this is played like a football game: “hooray for our side.” If the national discourse and public policy is going to be played as a football game then The Average Joe is screwed.

    Goldman, JPM, Solyndra backers, GM union workers, Obama etc will do just fine. Quite frankly, you will do just fine because you are pretty much outside the sphere of influence. But The Average Joe is screwed. I care more about that more than winning the football game, or your diversionary comment about ideology.

    With all sincerity, I think you need to ask yourself how The Average Joe has prospered or will prosper under Obama-style philosophy. I see absolutely no evidence so far, and a train wreck coming.

  • Icepick

    We’re over three million jobs SHORT of where we were in December of 2007. Of the jobs added since the employment low, most have been low wage (most of those lost were NOT low wage), and there has been a surge in part-time hiring.

    The median wage has continued going down even after three and a half-years of recovery. (This does not factor in inflation accurately, which is outrageously understated.)

    The poverty rate continues to climb after three and a half years of recovery.

    SNAP usage continues to climb after three and a half years of recovery.

    By any measure the “recovery” has been the worst statistical recovery since the end of WWII. Not one of the worst – THE worst.

    This is a B level job IF the goal is to increase poverty and dependency in the electorate. Given that poor people and dependent people vote overwhelmingly Democratic, there’s no reason to be shocked that Dems believe Obama has been a success.

    This is what they want, Drew. There’s no reason to believe otherwise because they TELL you they’re happy with the results. Reynolds keeps telling you that he is HAPPY with this state of affairs. Just believe him when he tells you this is exactly what he wants for the nation and the people.

  • Drew

    ice

    I’m willing to attribute better motives to Reynolds. He claims I’m a blind ideologue. I, of course, believe he is. But I don’t attribute ill will to him. Obama is different. I now believe all of my prior instincts are validated: incompetant, and as dishonest and corrupt as the day is long.

    I simply point to the empirical evidence.

    Reynolds gives him a B or some such. Decent but not inspired I think was the quote. As a serial business owner, I would violate all fiduciary duties to let a man like Obama continue in his role with his record. Seriously, I would be open to shareholder lawsuits. The man is all but a zero in my opinion. But this is politics and our system, not the companies I control.

    A sad commentary.

  • Andy

    Jan,

    unless the administration cherry-picks the most damming and painful ways to address the cuts — which, BTW, are cuts to the automatic raises in spending, not effecting existing amounts allotted for programs.

    That’s simply not true, at least for the Defense cuts. These are not cuts to automatic raises in spending, they are cuts to programs this year and they certainly DO affect amounts allotted for those programs. That’s why there will be furloughs, because the amount allotted to personnel is getting cut. And the administration can’t “cherry pick” the cuts. Again, the law was crafted purposely to prevent that and, ironically, the GoP bill that failed today would have given the President the power to “cherry pick” the cuts and the Democrats opposed it….

    That said, the administration is certainly engaging in a lot of exaggeration about the effects, but that doesn’t mean the effects aren’t real and bad – after all, that was what the sequester was designed to do.

    And on top of this is the CRA which runs out near the end of March. That means there is no budget at all for the rest of the year. So all these sequester projections are contingent on the passage of another CRA that continues funding at present levels (which, for defense, are a continuation of the 2012 baseline). And this brings up some interesting political possibilities – Congress and the President could, in theory, keep the sequester cuts but, in effect, cancel some or all of them out in a new CRA. Not likely to happen, but one never knows….

  • TastyBits

    @jan

    The Republicans were finally able to take a rational position, and they have allowed the President to over play his hand. The Republicans should point out that the President promised to only increase taxes on the rich, and apparently, a lot of people are richer than they thought. “If you liked the President’s last tax hike on the rich, you should love his next one.”

  • jan

    That’s simply not true, at least for the Defense cuts. These are not cuts to automatic raises in spending, they are cuts to programs this year and they certainly DO affect amounts allotted for those programs.

    Defense already experienced severe cuts, and sequester, as I understand it, will deliver yet another round of cuts — 50% of the cuts are to be derived from defense spending alone. So, in this area of government there will probably be some painful realities experienced.

    But, for other programs, the cuts are calculated as a decrease in the annual spending increases, not a decrease from the expenditures allotted for the previous year. When graphs are shown, dealing with spending, the slope continues upward, only a tad more gradually, with the sequester demands kicking in.

    And, as I alluded to in another post, there are definitely areas of overlap and money laying around that could be prudentlyutilized if anyone cared to analyze and prune dead weight from existing government programs and financial obligations.

    The Republicans were finally able to take a rational position, and they have allowed the President to over play his hand.

    Tasty,

    We’re see whether or not Obama’s overreach will be seen as such by the majority of people. So far, I have been disappointed at the level of cluelessness and non-caring demonstrated by the public. They monitor everything close up — if they are getting by then everything must be ok. The average person on the street is simply disengaged from events of the day…until the sky actually does fall in, and then they will fall over each other in useless attempts to point fingers of blame and anger — usually at the wrong persons.

  • Andy

    Jan,

    When graphs are shown, dealing with spending, the slope continues upward, only a tad more gradually, with the sequester demands kicking in.

    I’ve seen some of those graphs and typically they show total government spending which includes stuff not under sequester, primarily the major entitlement programs. And if you look at it that way then yes, it appears as though the sequester merely cuts the rate of increase because entitlement growth outpaces the sequester cuts. However, I’m unaware of any actual account,program, or activity subject to sequester that is not actually getting cut.

  • jan

    Andy, I’m no sequester expert, and as most events in DC, there are only predictions being exported to the people about the effects of sequester. Reality will unfold with time….

    In the meantime, some March 1st sequester humor:

    Shortly after midnight, this is what happened, according to Twitter:

    Stephen Gutowski: “Just tried driving but since sequestration went into effect the roads have all crumbled into dust.”

    Brendan Loy: “OH MY GOD THERE ARE GOVERNMENT WORKERS SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTING ALL OVER THE PLACE, THIS IS HORRIBLE, PLEASE MAKE IT STOP” He added, “BREAKING: CALIFORNIA DECLARES WAR ON OREGON; KENTUCKY LAUNCHES SNEAK ATTACK ON TENNESSEE. MASS CHAOS.”

    Jonah: “It wasn’t until I ate my neighbor’s pancreas that I realized president Obama was right about the sequester.”

    Iowahawk: “The corpses are piling up outside my window like cordwood, oh my God the humanity.”

    Sebastian: “Nothing to worry about! I grabbed my double barrel shotgun & blasted #sequester through the door, just like the VP said.”

    Ari Fleischer: “President Obama is right. Undo the sequester! I can’t stand it already.”

    Becket Adams: “I don’t think my neighbors are taking sequestration seriously. They’re giving me weird looks and making fun of my war paint and loincloth.”

    Exurban Jon: “So this is what anarchy feels like . . . From now on, I shall be known as ;ExJon, Warlord of the Western Deserts.'”

    Buck Sexton: “Did America lose 170,000,000 jobs in the last 10 minutes? Keep me informed, everyone.”

    Brandon Morse: “The #sequester may now join the Mayan Calendar and the Y2K bug in the “[Stuff] Everyone Survived” Hall of Fame.”

    By morning, it was even worse:

    Rick Wilson: “A few hours of fitful sleep, the sound of sirens and screams of the victims of the Barackolypse rending the night air . . . I saw their fires in the dark, savagery swiftly tearing away the thin veneer of civilization only government diversity programs provided.”

    John Podhoretz: “Just looked out the window. Five hedge fund guys fighting over a piece of raw meat.”

  • He’s a guy handed a mess who has done a decent if uninspired job of cleaning it up.

    Really?

    On employment: Failure, no matter how you cut it (i.e. which data set yo use) we are still well below full employment….43 months into the recovery.

    On GDP/Economic Activity: Meh at best. We are 43 months into an expansion and are average 2.1% annualized growth.

    Deficits/Fiscal Sustainability: Total disaster.

    Foreign Policy: Pretty much Bush 2.0 with better diction.

    But for this Obama gets a B/B-?

    Jesus Christ, what would it take to get a C let alone a D?

  • jan

    He’s a guy handed a mess who has done a decent if uninspired job of cleaning it up.

    Adding on to Steve V’s comment to that excerpt…why is Obama always given such a pass because of the mess handed to him? Isn’t cleaning up messes part of the job description of any CEO, let alone the president of a country?

    Also, the so-called ‘mess’ was a creation of both parties, not just one. The Congress, at the time of the ’08 crash, was democratically controlled — not just half, like it is today, when republicans get all the blame. But, all of it!

    This partisan selective memory is too much! If each party owned what they created, there would be a much better chance of fixing the problems.

  • TastyBits

    @jan

    What truly disgusts me about the left and right is the arrogance that each is smarter than the people who do not agree with them. In 2004, Democrats derided the voters as knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing Neanderthals too stupid to come in from the rain. By 2006, these same folks were able to raise their IQ enough to agree with the Democrats, and by 2008, they were almost geniuses. In 2010, they reverted to their reptilian brain, but in 2012, they were able to regain their intelligence.

    Most on the right would agree that people do not need the left telling what to do. Perhaps the right is wrong, and these uninformed, uninterested, clueless, and non-caring folks do need a “nanny state”.

    I have previously made the same case with the lefties. People make choices based upon their values. Their values may not be the same as mine, but they are as valid to them as mine are to me. I got tired of defending my choices a long time ago. If the world does not like my choices, they can go f*ck themselves. If I do not like people choosing “American Idol” over “The Universe”, I can go f*ck myself.

    To my friends on the left, roles will eventually reverse. To my friends on the right, roles will eventually reverse.

  • Michael,

    Give us your letter grade for G.W. Bush. Keeping in mind:

    1. Bailing out GM started with Bush.
    2. Drone strikes started with Bush.
    3. TARP/Fiscal stimulus started with Bush.
    4. Obama kept the Bush tax cuts for quit awhile.

    These are all policies that Obama kept and or pushed even more, and that Obama is also,

    5. Is even worse on warrantless wire taps.
    6. Has pushed for killing American citizens overseas even more aggressively.

    To everyone else,

    Prediction: We wont see any more posts in this thread by Michael.

  • jan

    To my friends on the left, roles will eventually reverse. To my friends on the right, roles will eventually reverse.

    That comment is like the old adage that “This too shall pass.”

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