Independent Action on Jobs

Conservatives in Congress and their echo chamber have backed President Obama, and the American people, into a dangerous corner.  Private sector job creation is desperately needed for our national recovery and to begin rebuilding the economic security of our people.  

Yet for a mix of political and ideological reasons, conservatives are blocking two of the critical steps necessary to achieve that goal: federal investment in private sector job creation and increased tax contributions from the wealthiest and most privileged Americans.  Both are needed in order to get Americans back to work and grow the economy while beginning to reduce the deficit.

The President, however, still has some cards to play.  His constitutional power includes the ability to expend existing federal resources in ways that best meet our national challenges, while calling on Congress to do the same.  Specifically, the President should issue an executive order directing federal agencies to prioritize job creation in transportation, housing, and other programs already funded by Congress.  He should focus those efforts on states and communities with the highest unemployment rates, and through the lens of equal opportunity.  And he should separately urge Congress to prioritize employment in pending legislation like the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act that both parties agree must be passed soon.  As I’ve recommended before, federal agencies should begin using an Opportunity Impact Statement and requiring Opportunity Action Plans to ensure that federal funds are used most effectively to create greater and more equal opportunity.

These tools should be used to amplify the kind of strategies proposed by the President's jobs council, led by CEOs like American Express's Kenneth Chenault, who have called for measures to cut red tape, provide more loans, invest in energy efficiency and attract more tourists to the United States, among other things.

These efforts, most of which the President can take on his own, should be part of a broader narrative on what government can and cannot do to spur private job growth, and why doing all it can right now is crucial to getting our country on the right track.

Independent Action on Jobs

Conservatives in Congress and their echo chamber have backed President Obama, and the American people, into a dangerous corner.  Private sector job creation is desperately needed for our national recovery and to begin rebuilding the economic security of our people.  

Yet for a mix of political and ideological reasons, conservatives are blocking two of the critical steps necessary to achieve that goal: federal investment in private sector job creation and increased tax contributions from the wealthiest and most privileged Americans.  Both are needed in order to get Americans back to work and grow the economy while beginning to reduce the deficit.

The President, however, still has some cards to play.  His constitutional power includes the ability to expend existing federal resources in ways that best meet our national challenges, while calling on Congress to do the same.  Specifically, the President should issue an executive order directing federal agencies to prioritize job creation in transportation, housing, and other programs already funded by Congress.  He should focus those efforts on states and communities with the highest unemployment rates, and through the lens of equal opportunity.  And he should separately urge Congress to prioritize employment in pending legislation like the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act that both parties agree must be passed soon.  As I’ve recommended before, federal agencies should begin using an Opportunity Impact Statement and requiring Opportunity Action Plans to ensure that federal funds are used most effectively to create greater and more equal opportunity.

These tools should be used to amplify the kind of strategies proposed by the President's jobs council, led by CEOs like American Express's Kenneth Chenault, who have called for measures to cut red tape, provide more loans, invest in energy efficiency and attract more tourists to the United States, among other things.

These efforts, most of which the President can take on his own, should be part of a broader narrative on what government can and cannot do to spur private job growth, and why doing all it can right now is crucial to getting our country on the right track.

When the Cool Kid Came to Visit: a British perspective of Obama’s tour

Get the best cutlery out and hide the mangy dog. Tidy the living room, hoover the hallway, and put the baby pictures away. The cool kid from school is coming round today and we need to make a good impression.

These universal sentiments—unless you are the ‘cool kid’—reverberate their way through all young, impressionable, children. Recently these thoughts of gross immaturity were adopted by a nation state: Britain.  

During President Obama’s visit to Britain, the British media’s coverage was just as embarrassing, moist, and uncritical of President Obama as Prince William’s wedding.

The British public were shown video clips of Prime Minister David Cameron showing his cool, African American, friend off. Even after the transatlantic couple won a point during, that so English of games, table tennis, Prime Minister Cameron awkwardly gave President Obama a high-five. I’m sure if the microphones were near, Prime Minister Cameron would have felt obliged to say something ridiculous along the lines of “nice one dude” or “awesome brother”. In short, the public relations machine at ten Downing Street failed to manufacture the ‘cool factor’. This was mainly because Prime Minister Cameron tried to emulate President Obama’s natural ease, rather than pursue a more English persona a la Christopher Hitchens, Martin Amis, or Cary Grant. Subsequently, Prime Minister Cameron tried too hard to impress and seek approval from the cool kid in class. So, I must grade Prime Minister Cameron ‘A’ for effort, but ‘F’ for execution.

Public relations failures acknowledged.  There wasn’t much public discussion of policy either. For instance, President Obama appeared on Andrew Marr’s political talk show. Mr Marr’s show is similar to C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, a weekend wrap up of the political events of the past week, but with some banal bohemian/folk music and a segment where either authors try to unscrupulously plug their books or a minister tries to unscrupulously defend some miserable measures his ministry is introducing. 

Mr Marr is the softest interview anyone in politics can experience, unlike Mr Marr’s infamous, sometimes petulant, colleague Jeremy Paxman. President Obama’s interview was classic Marr: boring, monotonous, dry, and tiresome to watch. In fact, what’s most surprising is the BBC’s reluctance to sack Mr Marr considering what a terrible interviewer he is and what a loathsome and hypocritical character he has become. This good fortune is represented throughout the interview by Mr Marr’s eternal and disturbing smile; “I can’t believe I have a job, I can’t believe I’m interviewing Obama” Mr Marr surely pondered.

Returning to the interview, Mr Marr’s most searching question was as follows: “And that means talking to the Taliban at some level?”.  This friendly, thus uncritical, question is in contrast to the searching questions most politically minded Britons would have asked President Obama. Mr Marr could have gained some respect asking any of these questions, but he went into default mode.  Despite President Obama’s previous reservations that he wasn’t sure whether he could endure a Prime Minister’s question time, he must have felt being in the British political spotlight is a doddle after his interview with Britain’s ‘top political journalist’.

After we were shown President Obama’s interview with Mr Marr, President Obama delivered a speech. In his speech to the British public, President Obama exclaimed “we are one civilisation”. My first impression: cliché. My second: who’s he trying to kid? “We are one civilisation” is a riff that supports a communitarianism philosophy that, at its base, scoffs at the idea of state sovereignty and patriotism. I’m in no doubt the great majority of proud Britons, who are not versed in contemporary political philosophy, didn’t understand the seriousness of President Obama’s radical speech. Of course, the media played along and didn’t present any criticism of President Obama on this front, either.

In summary, then, President Obama’s visit to Britain proved one thing: we can all still be easily mystified and wooed by a great orator. President Obama’s visit could have been a great opportunity to present a friendly yet stern, sceptical, and inquisitive Britain. Instead the media and politicians alike--armed with their rose tinted spectacles and autograph book to boot—yearned for President Obama’s praise and affection. This fan boy parade was one of our most sickening hours.

 

Ian Silvera

 

 

How Michele Bachmann Beats Obama In 2012

  Yeah, you heard me right.  It is entirely possible that Obama could lose the 2012 election regardless of who wins the Republican nomination. Don't blame nanobot, blame America's dysfuntional electoral college and GOP control over redistricting. Rollingout.com has the downlow: Two Reasons Obama Loses:

In North Carolina, for example, the Republican-controlled state legislature looks to create new districts benefiting its party and are planning to try to redraw the districts that would shift power to Republicans statewide by increasing GOP voting strength in non-black regions. The reality is that November’s elections put Republicans in control of dozens of state legislatures and governorships, just as states prepare to redraw their congressional and legislative district maps. Republicans now control the governor’s offices and both legislative chambers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Indiana, Maine and Wisconsin. They are governors in Nevada, New Mexico, Virginia and Iowa.

Does anyone want to calculate how Obama wins if Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida all go GOP? I haven't seen any Red State/Blue State maps recently, but it strikes me as entirely possible that the combination of redistricting and voter suppression efforts the GOP is engaging in could add up to a GOP win.

How Michele Bachmann Beats Obama In 2012

  Yeah, you heard me right.  It is entirely possible that Obama could lose the 2012 election regardless of who wins the Republican nomination. Don't blame nanobot, blame America's dysfuntional electoral college and GOP control over redistricting. Rollingout.com has the downlow: Two Reasons Obama Loses:

In North Carolina, for example, the Republican-controlled state legislature looks to create new districts benefiting its party and are planning to try to redraw the districts that would shift power to Republicans statewide by increasing GOP voting strength in non-black regions. The reality is that November’s elections put Republicans in control of dozens of state legislatures and governorships, just as states prepare to redraw their congressional and legislative district maps. Republicans now control the governor’s offices and both legislative chambers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Indiana, Maine and Wisconsin. They are governors in Nevada, New Mexico, Virginia and Iowa.

Does anyone want to calculate how Obama wins if Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida all go GOP? I haven't seen any Red State/Blue State maps recently, but it strikes me as entirely possible that the combination of redistricting and voter suppression efforts the GOP is engaging in could add up to a GOP win.

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