Tag Archives: US economy

Not so fast on ‘moving on,’ Mr. POTUS

Donald J. “Buck Passer in Chief” Trump reportedly is trying to change the subject from the coronavirus pandemic that has grabbed the attention of the entire planet.

No such luck, Mr. President. He’s got a full-blown crisis on his hands and we expect our head of state/commander in chief to take charge and to, um, lead us.

Oh, wait! This guy can’t do it. Dang! I damn near forgot. That must explain why he wants to change the subject. Why he wants to move on to other matters that have nothing to do with death, disease, heartache, misery, mourning. He wants to talk about the economy, which certainly is serious stuff. It doesn’t have as much to do about stemming the pandemic infection as dealing directly with strategies aimed at quelling the infection rate.

I will concede that devoting the vast bulk of Trump’s attention to this crisis requires him to acknowledge — in some fashion — that his strategy to date has failed. He won’t do that, either. He cannot admit failure, even when statistics demonstrate categorically that he has failed.

At some level, I happen to agree with Trump that we need to get the economy rolling again. I am with him … to a point! The first priority must be stemming the infection/hospitalization/death rate from the coronavirus. He isn’t listening to those who agree with my point of view. He is listening instead to those who have bought into the claptrap that the virus is a “hoax,” and that the media are employing scare tactics to frighten American needlessly.

Donald Trump needs to get to work — finally! — to assemble a coherent national strategy.

Aww, what the hell. He won’t heed these words, either. I just had to get them off my chest.

Oh, the dilemma is maddening

I am faced at this moment with the most vexing political dilemma I have encountered since I first became eligible to vote.

That was in 1972. I had just returned from active duty in the Army. The 26th amendment to the Constitution was enacted in 1971. I got to vote! Cool!

Now it’s 48 years later and I am trying to stare down this dilemma. It goes like this:

I am torn between wanting the economy and the nation’s health to recover from the global pandemic that is going to kill thousands more Americans while also wanting to remove Donald John Trump from the office of president of the United States.

The dilemma forms because Donald Trump would find a way to take credit for the nation recovering from the pandemic when, in my view, he has done damn near nothing to bring about a welcome conclusion to the crisis.

The economy might start to rebound later this year. Or it might continue to crater. Americans might no longer be stricken with the viral infection called COVID-19, or we might continue to get sick and die at a shocking and tragic rate.

Do I want the worst to occur? Of course not! I want there to be a full return to economic vitality and I certainly want an end to the misery, the grief and the tragic loss of life we are enduring at this moment.

However, a return to economic and physical vitality is likely going to produce a blizzard of self-aggrandizing and misleading (at the very least) pronouncements from the Nimrod in Chief about how “none of this could have occurred without me as your president.”

Perhaps the strangest aspect of it all is that millions of Americans are going to guzzle the swill that this con man would deliver.

Would a happy ending produce a Donald Trump re-election? I shudder at the thought. In my humble view, this individual — through his initial dawdling and dismissiveness about the pandemic — is responsible for more of the misery than he ever will acknowledge.

He deserves to be booted out of office.

Stop the ‘reopening’ talk, Mr. POTUS; we’re still getting sick out here!

Donald Trump’s push to reopen the United States of America is running into the proverbial immovable object.

It happens to be the rate of infection out here in Trump Country.

The White House has issued a report that declares that coronavirus infection rate is showing no signs of slowing in the heartland. That’s where I live, Mr. President, along with my family and a whole lot of our friends. I should add that many of our friends consider Trump to be the bee’s knees, but we still love them and worry about them.

Yet the Re-election Campaigner in Chief wants to push ahead with restarting the economy that has all but cratered in the wake of 80,000 deaths and more than 1.3 million infections from the killer viral infection.

States are reopening. Texas is phasing in a return to some semblance of “normal” life, although I have serious doubts about the wisdom of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan.

My wife and I have no plans to walk into a restaurant for a meal; we will continue to go sparingly to the grocery store; we’ll run errands only as needed.

Full disclosure time: I did get a haircut this past weekend. I was masked, as was the salon worker who cut my locks. They were making many customers wait in their vehicles, but not all of ’em!

Still, we remain committed to the stay at home policy. We are staying away from our granddaughter, which — truth be told — pains us terribly. However, we are doing what we believe we have to do.

As for Donald Trump’s declaration that we are meeting all of our goals in containing the virus, um … no, we aren’t. Not in the least.

The White House coronavirus pandemic task force report contradicts Trump. Listen to the experts, Mr. President. They know more than you do.

Trying to connect seemingly disconnected dots

Three issues are swirling about that seem on the surface as though they might be disconnected, but they are hooked up in curious and confusing ways.

They are the coronavirus pandemic, the state of the U.S. economy and the 2020 presidential election.

Let’s see where this brief trip takes us.

The health crisis has erupted across the globe, affecting economies on every inhabited continent on Earth. The United States is not immune from the pain.

Today’s jobs report from the Labor Department showed a shedding of 700,000 non-farm jobs in March. If you think that number hurts, wait’ll the April figures come out in early May.

Americans are hunkering down. States are issuing stay-at-home orders; all but 10 states have done so, I believe. The federal government hasn’t done so. Indeed, the feds at this moment still appear to be playing a supporting role in this national crisis, which leads me to the third issue: the election.

Donald Trump surely didn’t cause the coronavirus outbreak. He is not responsible for the crisis that began in China and then swallowed Planet Earth whole. The president’s responsibility begins with his cavalier initial response to the crisis as it was worsening before our eyes. Therein lies what might become the signature issue of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Is the president doing enough to lead the nation in this fight against the “invisible enemy” known as COVID-19? Has Donald Trump actually donned the mantle of “wartime president” and is he acting like the leader he professes to be? No and … no again!

I’ve wanted this fraud off the nation’s political stage since the moment he rode down that escalator with Melania to announce he was running for president. He has done not a single thing to persuade me he deserves a second term.

On top of that, this buffoon has bluffed, blundered and blathered his way all over the coronavirus crisis. He contradicts the health geniuses with whom he has surrounded himself. He said the virus was not a big deal, then he changed his tone. All the while, Trump keeps congratulating himself for doing a “fantastic job” of coordinating the federal effort. He hasn’t done jack-diddley-squat!

Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign guru James Carville once made famous the quip that “It’s the economy, stupid.” It well might be the economy once again that drives this upcoming election.

To think it all began when the current president once told the nation that “I, alone” can solve the nation’s problems. He’s got his hands full.

Media trying to torpedo economy? Of course!

Donald Trump’s ridiculous thrashing and trashing of the media provides so much grist and so much fodder for comics.

Now comes this from the president: The media are trying to torpedo the economy because it is too strong, too vibrant and provides too much fuel to power the president’s re-election bid in 2020.

This man is out of his mind. He’s nuts. He went around the bend long ago, but still … his goofiness reveals a serious delusional tendency.

Trump wrote this on Twitter: “The Fake News Media is doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election. The problem is that the economy is way too strong and we will be winning big on Trade, and everyone knows that, including China!” 

The president should know better. But he doesn’t.

POTUS shifts blame

The economy is likely to suffer because of the tariffs he keeps imposing on U.S. importers who purchase goods from China. The tariffs create a de facto tax on those products, inflating their cost, making them less affordable to U.S. consumers.

What role do the media play? Oh, let’s see. They’re reporting on it. That is what the media do! They report on policies enacted by the government, be it from the president, or from Congress. The president is seeking to attach steep tariffs on China, ostensibly to publish that government for what Trump says it has done to steal U.S. intellectual property and other transgressions.

Except that China doesn’t suffer the burden on the tariffs. U.S. consumers take it in their, um, wherever.

So, with Trump seeking to shift blame to the media reveals yet again this man’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for anything.

He is projecting his own inadequacies on the media organizations that report on them.

Obama vs. Trump: Why not debate, gentlemen?

I watched Donald Trump’s interview this morning with “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd and came away with a couple of observations I want to make here.

One is that I was glad to see the president sit down and be grilled hard by a member of a media organization he has demonized as a purveyor of “fake news.” Trump was mostly civil to Todd, who pushed the president hard on several key points. I was waiting for an explosion; it didn’t detonate.

Second, I was struck by the president’s continuing obsession with the record left behind by his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama. Trump kept insisting that the economy he inherited was on the brink of collapse, that the economy now is the “best” in U.S. history and, of course, he takes all the credit for an economic expansion he said was made possible only by his election to the presidency.

I tossed around in my head a notion I want to reveal here: Why not ask these two men to discuss that economic miracle together, in a debate, if you want to call it that?

I know it won’t happen. Presidents don’t debate their predecessors. Under what used to be normal circumstances, the current president takes office and assumes command, looking forward at all times, rarely looking backward, always thinking about what he intend to do to move the nation to the next step, past the next hurdle or barrier.

Not so with Trump. He is fixated on President Obama’s legacy, which to my way of thinking is a whole lot better than the one Trump characterizes.

So why not sit down across a table and talk to each other about how they view the economy — and perhaps a few other issues as well? Health care seems like a topic for discussion, along with, oh, relations with our allies, our ongoing war against terror and the nuclear threats posed by North Korea and Iran. Hey, maybe Trump can be forced to defend the ridiculous assertion that the special forces who killed Osama bin Laden should have acted sooner than they did; I would pay money to hear him mount that defense.

Trump is obsessed with comparing the presidency to the office that Obama left. He dare not compare himself to Obama the man, if you know what I am saying.

Barack Obama inherited an economy in free fall. It had actually collapsed by the time he took office. He along with Congress enacted some emergency measures that he hoped would stop the downward spiral. They worked. The economy then entered a job growth streak that hasn’t let up. Yet it is Donald Trump who takes the credit for the expansion that’s still under way.

If only we could actually hear these men explain to us their version of history. One of them, Obama, would do so in a measured, nuanced and elegant manner. The other, Trump, would resort to his version of the English language.

I wish it would happen. All I am left to do is sigh.

A+, Mr. President? I don’t think so

Mr. President, you are entitled to your opinion. As am I, sir.

You give yourself an A+ grade for the first two years of your presidency. I wouldn’t grade your performance anywhere near that high.

I laughed when I heard about Chris Wallace’s question to you, mentioning Presidents Washington and Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Reagan. I also laughed when he asked if you belonged in those men’s company.

Then you gave yourself that A+ grade.

You’re killin’ me, Mr. President.

You keep taking credit for the economy. I applaud the job figures that keep coming in each month while you’ve been in office. Yep, they’re great. But you ought to know — and I wish you did realize it — that presidents can’t take all the credit they think they deserve. I must remind you — yet again! — that you inherited an economy that was in good shape, unlike the economy that your predecessor inherited when he took office in January 2009.

There have been more than the normal number of hiccups along the way. Your key staff keeps turning over regularly. Not to mention the Cabinet posts that keep opening up. You fire folks. They quit under criticism. And yet you keep yammering about the hordes of individuals who are just chomping at the bit waiting to come to work in the White House.

Whatever you say, Mr. President. I just don’t believe it. Nor do others of my ilk, who outnumber those of your ilk by a good bit.

Keep deluding yourself, Mr. President, into thinking you deserve an A+ plus. Others of us believe differently. I won’t assign a grade. I’ll leave that others.

Just know that it ain’t nearly as good as the one you gave yourself.

 

Well done on job growth, Mr. President

The final monthly job-growth report card is in on President Obama’s two terms.

* 156,000 non-farm jobs were added to the nation’s payrolls in December.

* Joblessness ticked up to 4.7 percent.

* The president goes out of office while the nation enjoys 75 consecutive months of job growth, the longest such streak since 1939.

Not bad a legacy, Mr. President.

To be sure, the economic recovery hasn’t been as robust as Obama’s team would have wished. Wages haven’t grown as much; many jobs have been lost to automation as well as some companies have decided to take them offshore.

However, I need to say once again — with emphasis! — that the economy is nowhere near the dire straits that Obama’s foes have suggested. The foe in chief, the president-elect, injected a lot of unfounded fear in the hearts and minds of voters with suggestions that the economy was heading straight to hell. Donald J. Trump parlayed that fear into enough votes to be elected president.

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/312977-december-jobs-report

We aren’t where we need to be economically. The nation, though, is a heck of a lot closer to that destination than it was when Barack Obama became president of the United States.

Well done, sir.

Still trying to grasp the ‘problem’ with the economy

USEconomy1

I must need to crack open a few economics books.

The U.S. Labor Department released its monthly jobs numbers this past Friday and they came in quite well.

The economy added 255,000 non-farm private-sector jobs; the unemployment rate remains at 4.9 percent. The jobs figures helped stimulate the stock market as investors — for a day at least — demonstrated confidence in the economy. The economy has added 14 million jobs since Barack Obama became president.

Is that bad news? Really?

But then we hear the politicians.

The economy stinks, they say. Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump is leading the gloom-doom amen chorus by telling us how “incompetent” the government has been during the past eight years.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, of course, kept up the mantra during his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Too much wealth belongs to too few Americans, he said. We have to spread it around, he said; we have to break up those big banks.

I keep hearing how “terrible” the economy is doing. What I hear, though, doesn’t quite match up with what I see.

I live in a section of Amarillo, Texas, that is undergoing a significant business and residential expansion. My wife and I drive north and south all the time along Coulter Street and are amazed at the transformation we’ve witnessed during the two decades we’ve lived here.

We joked just this weekend about how we had moved into our newly built house in late 1996 when it literally was one block from the edge of urban civilization. Everything west of us was pasture land. That’s it! Cattle grazed a block from our front door.

Today? We see nothing but rooftops for as to the horizon.

Businesses are springing up like the crab grass that envelops fescue lawns in this part of the world.

OK, I get that the economic recovery could be stronger. I read the economists’ reports telling us of their concern that the economy could tank at any moment.

None of this, though, matches up with what I’m seeing in this city where we live.

What in the world am I missing?

Critiquing final SOTU for this POTUS

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This won’t be a thorough point-by-point critique of President Obama’s final State of the Union speech, but I want to offer a few observations of what I believe to be the high points . . . and a particular low point of his speech.

Generally, I believe he hit the right tone and sent the correct message on a number of points.

Such as:

Our political system needs an overhaul. The president sought to quell the “toxic” atmosphere that lingers over Capitol Hill and along the presidential campaign trail. He acknowledges that a State of the Union during a presidential election year is going to run headlong into partisan divisions. But it need not result in turning adversaries into enemies, he said.

This toxicity isn’t new. It’s shown itself at times during the entire existence of the Republic. Its victims have been politicians of both political parties — and more than that if you want to count the Whigs, which morphed into today’s Republican Party.

But just because we’ve had this kind of loathing of individuals with whom we differ for as long as any of us can remember doesn’t negate the need to change it.

The anger has spread to those who worship certain religious faiths and who are victimized solely because of their beliefs. Such hatred must cease. It is, as the president said, “not who we are.”

Obama is right, however, to lay the bulk of the responsibility for that change on us out here in Voter Land. The politicians do our bidding. If we demand a change, then they’ll have to heed us.

Correct?

The economy has turned around. He hit on something most of us knew he would say. The nation’s economic standing is far better now than it was when Barack H. Obama took office.

We’ve cut joblessness in half; reduced the annual budget deficit by 75 percent; our auto industry is setting records; our banks and other financial institutions are healthy again.

Does the president deserve all the credit? No. It did happen on his watch.

We remain the world’s indispensable nation. The presidential candidates have been making hay on the stump about the United States’ lack of “greatness.” They contend we are weak, that we cower in the face of danger.

The president said, though, that the world “doesn’t turn to Moscow or Beijing” when times get dicey. “It turns to us.”

Why is that so, if we’re such a basket case?

We’re continuing to fight the war on terror aggressively. The president told us of how more than 10,000 air strikes have killed Islamic State leaders and fighters, disrupted command and control operations, obliterated ISIL’s oil supplies — and is doing so with the help of 60 nations allied behind our effort to destroy these terror networks.

Yet his foes keep saying we should “do more.” One of them, U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, said the president isn’t doing enough. What, then, does Chairman Thornberry propose? Oh, yeah. Let’s put “boots on the ground,” which is a cleaned-up way to say, “Let’s put even more young American lives in jeopardy.”

No one should be naïve to think this concentrated air campaign against ISIL, al-Qaeda or al-Shabaab is going to go smoothly all the time. Wars never do.

As for the nature of this war . . .

It is a world war, Mr. President. Obama sought to downgrade this conflict into something less than a global conflict. He is mistaken.

It is true that we aren’t engaged on battlefields around the world the way we were from 1941 until 1945. This war, though, is different in every conceivable way. We aren’t fighting nation-states. We are fighting ideologies, whose practitioners live among us and who prey on innocent victims, so-called “soft targets.”

I believe it is a world war, but not in the historical sense of the term.

* **

Barack Obama didn’t likely change many minds last night. His approval ratings might tick up just a bit, but then they’ll settle back down to where they have stood for years. His foes will be sure to keep beating the drums of pessimism and gloom.

Me? I’m as concerned as the next guy about the future. Then again, I’ve lived long enough and seen enough political turmoil — and warfare — to understand that we are truly are an exceptional nation.

Well done, Mr. President.