In 2008, following eight years with George W. Bush as president, the American voters wanted a change. Barack Obama promised us a “change.” He won the election with 53 percent of the vote and became the 44th president of the United States of America. He had also promised us a non-partisan, open and transparent administration, that six months after his inauguration our combat forces would leave Iraq, and that he would close the terrorist prison at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base by the end of 2009. I guess he’s changed his mind regarding the last three pledges. But, he has kept his vow to “change” America. The direction in which he is leading us is towards a European-style socialist democracy. That has reduced his support among independent voters, and it will be part of his legacy.
The continuing recession, which began under President Bush in 2007, has been prolonged because of President Obama’s policies. He likens himself to President Franklin D. Roosevelt; we can only pray that this recession will not end, as did The Great Depression, with another world war. In 1939, after six years of the New Deal, unemployment had climbed back over 17 percent. It has been speculated that if World War II had not started in September of that year, FDR would not have been re-elected in 1940. But as America began to rearm itself, commercial activity increased, and unemployment declined. It was the preparation for war which ended the Great Depression. FDR’s economic agenda — the New Deal — was a failure, and only deepened the Depression. The W.P.A. (Works Project Administration), the C.C.C., (Civilian Conservation Corps), and President Obama’s stimulus packages have all provided employment for many people. A large percentage of those endeavors were for civil projects, roads, bridges, etc., which were sorely needed. But, they generated only a minimal amount of commercial activity.
Both the New Deal and President Obama’s stimulus have had a limited impact on the economy, as the “multiplier effect” has been too low to kick-start the economy. If our president has, as he claims, studied FDR’s acts thoroughly, he should have seen that the results of FDR’s efforts were inadequate. President Obama may emulate FDR on the issue of taxes, too. In the mid-1930s, against the advice of his secretary of the treasury, Henry Morganthau, FDR raised the upper rates on both personal and corporate taxes from 63 to first 79 percent, then later to 91 percent. Mr. Morganthau believed, correctly, that the way for the government to collect additional revenue is “for businessmen to make more money.” President Bush’s tax cuts, which stimulated not only business but also federal tax receipts, will expire on January 1st, 2011. Congressional Republicans, and some Democrats, want them to be made permanent. Nancy Pelosi and many liberal, anti-business Democrats would allow them all to die. There are some in the White House who want a compromise. They would maintain the cuts for those whose family income is under $250,000/year, while approving the tax rise for those making over $250,000/year.
President Obama and Congressional Democrats occasionally give “lip service” to the fact that small businesses create over 60 percent of the jobs in America. This is the group which will be hurt the most by a tax increase. The sword of Damocles, though, is the health care bill. If it goes forward as it was passed by Congress, and signed by the president, it will bankrupt both Medicare and Medicaid, and lead to the rationing of medical treatment. It is a lie that reducing Medicare’s allocation by $500 billion dollars will, in the long run, make it more viable. Thankfully, 20 states are challenging whether some of the law’s demands are Constitutional. The results in the lower courts may engender many Op-Ed columns, but the most important decision will be made by the U.S. Supreme Court. That ruling will decide what features are admissible and what are not. Hopefully, that law will be as emasculated by the Court as the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act has been.
The liberal anti-business representatives and senators are supported by like-minded members of the administration who have been installed as “czars” of various segments of society. Thus we have 35 “czars” of everything from AIDS and automobiles, to health care, education, and the climate. Very few have any expertise in the area to which they have been assigned. (Only a cynic would wonder whether these appointments were political pay-offs.) They are all to the left of the typical liberal, and strongly anti-business. For example, Alan Bersin is the border czar. He believes in open borders where everyone may come and go freely. Daniel Fried is the Guantanamo closure czar. He has been a human rights advocate for Islamic terrorists. He preaches that America is responsible for the war on terror. Paul Volcker is the economics czar. He was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board under President Carter, when inflation rose to 20 percent. He was also appointed by President Obama to be the head of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which engineered our current disaster. Edward Montgomery is the automobile czar. He had been the business school dean at the University of Maryland. His message is that the American business community is responsible for the world’s poverty. Several of this covey have been members of the American Communist Party. Mr. Obama has surrounded himself with people who also want to change America.
Rather than following FDR’s failed programs to end this recession, and by spending trillions of dollars my great-grandchildren will have to repay, President Obama should have studied how President Reagan healed our economy in the 1980s. When Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, there was 11 percent inflation, 10.8 percent unemployment, and the home mortgage interest rate was 15 percent. He reduced taxes, cut many business regulations, and allowed Americans to make as much money as they could. By the end of 1982, we were moving into prosperity, and the unemployment, inflation, and interest rates were all manageable.
Another reason this recession is going to last longer than the eleven others since 1945 (each averaged 11 months in length), is that the administration and the Democratic Congress have established a hostile environment in which businesses must function. Mr. Obama is telling many firms how much money their top executives may earn; plus, in the name of safety, he has stopped the pumping of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico, in depths over 500 feet, until November, 2010. That act alone will cost approximately 200,000 jobs, and millions of dollars in lost revenue. Some of the drilling rigs have already been towed to other locations, and it is feared many more will follow. Further, the government has caused uncertainty by warning businesses that those committees which have the authority are also considering raising taxes.
In mid-September, the announced national unemployment rate was 9.7 percent. However, that is not the truth. Charles McMillion, the president and chief economist of MBG Information Services, recently released the following data. “Over the past three months, 1,155,000 unemployed persons dropped out of the active labor force, and were no longer counted as ‘unemployed.’” He claimed that the actual “unemployment rate in July, 2010 was 10.2 percent.”
If in November 2010 the people give the House back to the Republicans but neither party wins a reliable majority in the Senate, what might happen? Although the deficit will continue to grow, hopefully it will stop accelerating at 100 MPH. The sale of our country to China and Japan, via T-Bonds, will persist though, and Barack Obama will still be Mr. President. Thus, turning the ship of state around will be not only a Herculean task; it will be painful for many of our citizens. Moreover, if we do not have the will to end, or at least drastically reduce, our deficit spending, we may become as financially and morally bankrupt as are the European socialist democracies.
Prayerfully, though, we can return to our Judeo-Christian roots, and the people will recognize how far they have fallen. Then, the passage from 2ndChronicles 7:14 may come to pass: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and heal the land.”
Robert L. Wichterman is an Army veteran and former sales representative who lives in Lancaster, PA. His articles have been published in Lancaster County Magazine, the St. Croix Review, Friend’s Journal, Lancaster New Era, and the Sunday News.