As we enter the terminal phase of President Obama’s ongoing soap opera of negotiations dealing with Sequester, the budget deficit, and the Republican Congress, one can only get the impression that we are slouching toward oblivion, bogged down by a leaderless morass of ineptitude and political miscalculation that stands in the face of sanity, order, and the responsible exercise of government. Once again we get the joy of playing brinkmanship with the national economy and our international reputation in a ballet of sheer exhaustion between an inexperienced incompetent President unable or unwilling to recognize or rectify his mistakes, and a Republican leadership that is attempting to show that it is sufficient to the task at hand. As glorious as this display of Presidential hubris may appear to the circus that passes for our national media, it is devolving into a spectacle whose underlying lack of genuine seriousness to reach a meaningful deal calls into question the President’s judgment and temperament, as well as his abilities.
To begin with, the current budget crisis grows out of the inability of the Democratic Senate to even pass a budget for the last two years, forcing ongoing continuing resolutions. The President has been a fear mongering demagogue much of this year, attacking Republicans at every turn, kneecapping Paul Ryan at the President’s budget speech (after inviting him to sit in the first row), and prattling on in class warfare mode for the 700th repetitive and mind numbing time about millionaires and billionaires who are flying around in corporate jets at the expense of little Billy and his dependent family, who don’t have enough to eat, or a place to live, or a job, or a government program to help them, as if this was the choice. Setting up straw men and setting them on fire isn’t going to advance the budget talks or revive the economy.
Well here’s some news for the President. First of all, talking points are an abomination and a sign of total substantive infirmity. When you see 10 people on 20 shows on 6 networks all spouting the exact same terminology, they may call it messaging but I call it disingenuous cynical manipulation and intellectual dishonesty. Mantra is not a substitute for mature and reasoned policy. And where do you think all those corporate jets are made, the Grummans, and the Learjets, and the Lockheeds, and the Boeings. Why in America, of course, and they create and sustain thousands of high paying and diverse jobs. They not only produce fleets of aircraft for American corporations, but they are a huge export industry as well, bringing some much needed export weight to our balance of payments abroad, and when you take away the deduction for this industry, what is going to happen? It’s going to significantly and adversely affect their business, just as they were getting on their feet after the slump of the last two years of recession.
When Congress passed a luxury tax on expensive yachts years ago it resulted not in an increase in tax revenue from all the yachts sold, but to the destruction of the luxury yacht industry in America, significantly impacting yacht building in New England and Florida, and decimating the industry, eliminating thousands of skilled well paying jobs. Do you think for one minute the same thing wouldn’t happen to the corporate jet industry in this country. Not to mention the legitimate use of a corporate jet for any business entity is just as much a business expense as any other, just as investment expenditures by oil companies shouldn’t be penalized just because the companies are highly profitable at the moment. The President forgets that those “greedy oil company” corporate profits are taxed at some of the highest rates on the planet, 39%, and then go largely to pension funds, and shareholders, and citizens in the form of dividends and taxable income, and, oh yes, reinvestment in energy projects, because without profits you have no reinvestment.
The President should have been dealing with this long ago, quietly, engaging Republican leaders and reaching a responsible deal that dealt with entitlements, the national debt, the budget deficit, as well as tax and economic policy, long before it reached a crisis point or the threat of default. Now we play it out in public on a world stage with a deadline and no clear sense that either side is willing to make the draconian changes necessary to transform a bloated governmental system into something scaled down that understands the interposition of government over the economy almost always results in distortions and costs detrimental to economic growth and development. At no time does the situation address the central core fact that the solution to the deficit and increased revenues is to get the economy moving and get unemployment down so government expenditures turn into taxpayer’s revenue. In order to do that the sector that counts, the private sector, needs to see that something tangible is happening, that the necessary policy changes and realignment of economic management priorities of government is actually occurring, that the uncertainty and forward progress of regulation and the drags on the economy are removed, so that capital can be deployed and businesses can invest here, to create jobs here, instead of abroad.
All of these are policies and changes can only occur in the private sector, and almost everything the Obama administration is currently proscribing is an impediment to that progress. The job of being President entails ensuring that the prosperity of the nation is assured. President Obama can only prosper from a deal that raises the debt limit and cuts Federal spending, because without measures that move toward economic growth and create jobs he has no chance of a second term. He must work to cut corporate tax rates, allow the repatriation of foreign profits, show that he can govern, and work with Republicans for the common good of the country. He is the President of all the American people, but he rarely acts like it. He is the President of the United States, but he paints himself as a victim, while he consistently vilifies his political opponents in ways that are counterproductive and highly partisan, the very people he needs to work with to reach agreements. If there is a crisis of confidence in the President’s ability to manage the economy, it is of his own doing.
About the Author: LJ Keith is a non-partisan commentator taking aim at all aspects of governmental domestic and foreign policy and the American social landscape with an eye toward explaining what the functional realities of life in the modern age are grounded in, how they can be understood, and what context to view the changing face of life in America with a view to historical imperatives and precedents, factual displacement of rhetoric and hype, and objective consideration of frequently subjective interpretations of day to day events. LJ Keith holds to no party or paradigm, finds his truth in the belief that sincerity and honesty is the most constructive form of dialogue, and is not afraid to confront ugly truths and social misunderstandings by objectifying them with historical and societal considerations that are frequently lost in the rush to judge, pacify, terrify, or obscure the reality of what is occurring in the political and social dialogue. He explores issues, personalities, society, and individual expression from the framework of an ingrained personal belief system that demands we try to explore and face the reality of what is if we are to truly understand what we want things to be.