President Obama’s campaign slogan for his re-election bid is ‘Moving Forward’. In a recent economic speech at a community college in Ohio, he did not offer any substantial new proposals. Instead, it entailed repeated lines to dupe Americans that his 2012 version of ‘moving forward’ will do what many thought he meant in 2008 by ‘hope and change’. He has described the upcoming election as “…a choice between two fundamentally different visions of how to create strong, sustained growth”. Mr. Obama is right about what the choices of election is about, but his methods have been proven wrong in achieving strong and sustained growth wherever they have been put into practice.
The President is showing the concern that his cloak of public infatuation is fading which has insulated him and his incompetency since 2008. His speeches consistently try to emphasize the created image of Mitt Romney and Republicans that he would want Americans to perceive.
The effort to achieve these images has become more desperate. Unfortunately for Obama and other Democrats, more Americans in states governed by Republicans are seeing first hand that the GOP version of ‘moving forward’ has worked for those voters.
The most recent example that illustrates the difference of two paths was Wisconsin Gov. Walker’s victory in his recall election and who also used the theme ‘moving forward’. The voters in Wisconsin chose Gov. Walker’s version of his method, which has also worked in other GOP led states and is a road map of what a Romney Presidency would look like.
However, there is a sharp contrast in the content of what the GOP and Gov. Walker mean in moving forward’ versus President Obama’s version of ‘moving forward’. That contrast is leadership in getting results despite the pressures of special interests, and using practical solutions to move a state towards economic growth and financial stability. Fundamentally, conservative policies have proven to work in moving forward. Democrats in the name of moving forward have used liberal ideological fantasies to supersede and contradict the results and interests most voters in general expect.
Gov. Walker ran on a platform in 2010 that honestly identified the real challenges facing Wisconsin and outlined what was necessary to fix them. He did exactly what he had campaigned to do with great achievements for his state in a short period of time. Despite three recall efforts by Democrats and unions and their apocalyptic warnings, Gov. Walker’s reforms turned a $3.6 billion deficit into a over $2 million surplus without tax hikes but while lowering them. He limited collective bargaining in the state so local governments and school districts could have the flexibility to get their finances in order, broke up the monopoly of the union run healthcare provider for education workers by allowing competition which actually reduced healthcare costs, averted the mass layoffs of public sector workers which was imminent without his reforms, and created and environment which encourages economic investment and growth. Even Gov. Walker’s opponent Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett used the reforms to save an estimated $10 million in that city.
Compare that record to President Obama’s and his rhetoric. He has opposed every measure that Walker and other Governors have used to turn their states around and thus been on the wrong side of the results Americans expect. He ran on a campaign of euphoric ‘hope and change’, but instead unleashed a wave of leftist ideological fantasies which have only changed us to the same failing path of bankrupting countries in Europe. These include; higher taxes, government spending, excessive regulations, more government control of capital and emboldening of labor unions with unsustainable privileges in return for political support. Instead of hope, we have renewed economic uncertainties, decline and more debt that has increased more under President Obama than under 8years of President Bush and an unemployment rate still over 8%.
When Gov. Walker was first elected and again after winning the recall election, he emphasized that the election was over and he was willing to work with anyone to keep the Wisconsin moving forward. When President Obama came into office and met with leaders of both parties he rebutted ideas and suggestions from Republicans by saying, “ We won and you lost”. That is not a leadership style compatible for moving anything forward.
Like Gov. Walker, President Obama had a majority in the legislature of members of his party to carry out his agenda, and he did. The President tries to blame Republicans in Congress for ‘obstructing him’ but he got the failed Stimulus Bill he wanted, the un-popular Obamacare, an in-effective Dodd Frank financial reform Bill, and numerous spending bills. When voters realized that these policies were not moving America forward but prolonging a weak economy and with higher debts, Democrats lost the House in 2010. The trajectory of U.S debt and the inability to reform entitlements to sustainable level, were the main reasons cited by credit agencies as the reason the U.S lost it’s AAA+ credit rating. But this did not have to happen if we had effective Presidential leadership.
According to S&P credit rating agency the only plans that would have averted the downgrade were the GOP led House proposed Cut, Cap and Balance Bill and the Paul Ryan Path to Prosperity Budget. The Senate still led by Democrats did not even bring these Bills or Budget up for debate or vote. President Obama instead of leading and encouraging the Senate led by his party to bring these proposals to a vote in order to avert this downgrade, only blamed Congress for the deadlock to absolve himself of any responsibility. He has been silent and still not shown any leadership in getting the Senate (that is still run by his fellow Democrats since 2007) to bring up or pass a budget, a Constitutional requirement that they have not full filled in almost 1300 days. Mr. Obama is also never seriously challenged in the media about this.
The GOP led House has since passed numerous Job Bills and Budgets to reform entitlements so they are not just saved but put on a sustainable path while reducing the deficit. The Senate has not taken them up. In response, the president has only joined in the baseless repetitive demagoguery of GOP proposals. He also ignored his own bi-partisan Simpson-Bowles commission’s debt reduction proposals.
Real leadership would try to find a common ground of competing ideas to get results. President Reagan had a Democrat led House and Senate and was able to get through tax and growth reforms which led to vast economic expansion. He also inherited an 11% unemployment rate double-digit inflation but his leadership reversed that trend within his first term. President Clinton had to deal with a GOP who controlled both houses of Congress for six of his eight years in office. Clinton worked with House Speaker at the time Newt Gingrich to pass Bills proposed by the GOP to the Balance Budget (which happened for 4yrs) and also welfare and tax reforms. The presence of presidential leadership led to moving the country forward in those eras. It probably was an asset to those Presidents that they ran a State or had legislative accomplishments before running for the Presidency.
Unlike Gov. Walker, President Obama has sought to reinforce the influence of powerful labor unions in State and local politics that has undermined the interests of taxpayers. At the center of Gov. Walker’s reforms was reining in excesses of union collective bargaining privileges. This was what sparked the recall efforts to remove him and members of Wisconsin’s legislature and judiciary who supported him. Like many other states these privileges have been guaranteeing perks and salaries to public sector workers more than taxpayer revenue could support. In addition it has inflated the unfunded liabilities, which saps states of funds for other expenditures further escalating deficits.
I have purposely replaced the words ‘collective bargaining rights’ with ‘collective bargaining privileges’. This is because despite what Democrats and unions say, their actions to launch recall elections were not about ‘rights’ but about the cycle of ‘privileges’ and forced dues collection mechanisms. This cycle I will dub ‘democrats-unionitis symbiosis’- The symbiotic relationship between democrat politicians and unions that guarantees unsustainable taxpayer funded privileges to unions, in return for their votes, activism and financial donations derived from the addiction to forced dues collections.
By reversing ‘democrats-unionitis symbiosis’ in Wisconsin Gov. Walker was able to put that state on a sound fiscal path where taxpayer revenue can be better managed to serve the taxpayer. Wisconsinites are having better hope in the future of their state due to the changes Walker delivered on. In comparison President Obama has only emboldened ‘democratsunitis symbosis’ and stubbornly still tries to pitch it as a means to his idea of moving forward.
While the President remained silent, Obama’s National Labor Relations Board sought to prevent Boeing from opening a plant in South Carolina because it is a ‘right for work’ State that does not force workers to be apart of a union. Obama also remained silent when union rules prevented ships that could have helped in the BP oil spill from going to Louisiana because union workers did not man them. He sided with teachers unions in D.C who opposed the successful voucher program for school choice that mostly helps poor minority students. The voucher program also cost less to educate each student but delivers better results.
The President touts ‘saving’ General Motors and Chrysler by bailing them out with almost $26.5 billion, as if that was the only way to save them. However, if both companies had gone through the normal bankruptcy process, not only would the companies have been saved but the taxpayers would not have been on the hook for that money. The bailout was really to benefit the unions and their influence of the auto companies at the expense of taxpayers and creditors of the companies who received little or nothing on their investments. See ‘Obama’s United Auto Workers Bailout-WSJ or See: Heritage Foundation’s Study on the Auto Bail Outs
His speeches also consistently reveal his lack of understanding and lack of belief on how to actually create strong sustained growth to move the country forward. At a recent press conference he was in denial and oblivious as to why Gov. Walker won in Wisconsin and why other GOP led states are in fact moving forward.
The president uttered the infamous line “the private economy is doing fine” and a complaint that America’s real growth problem is shrinking government by saying,
“Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy has to do with state and local government – oftentimes cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don’t have the flexibility as the federal government (i.e. ability to keep borrowing from China) in dealing with fewer revenues coming in. And so, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they want to move forward and people back to work, what they should be thinking about is, how do we help state and local governments and how we help the construction industry”.
Really Mr. President? Republicans supported the approval of the Keystone Pipeline, which would have been a boom for the construction industry, jobs, and tax revenue but the president opposed it. GOP governors in states like Wisconsin, Indiana, Louisiana, Virginia, Texas and others are moving their states forward by putting people back to work, balancing budgets, attracting investments to their state seeing strong sustained economic growth. Why? Because they have displayed leadership in competent financial management by reducing costs by altering or reforming public sector benefits, lowered taxes, having a predictable regulatory environment and attracting private investment to their states. States who applied reforms similar to those of Gov. Walker had local governments who also benefited from the flexibility they allowed and also had less layoff of government employees. They are not fattening up the public sector compensation and creating more government bureaucracy as the President calls for.
States that have applied the policies which Mr. Obama says will move us forward such as Illinois, Maryland and California are moving backwards in economic growth, sky rocketing debt, lower investment, and higher unemployment. In addition more taxpayers and job creators are fleeing or avoiding those states. Higher tax states are moving backwards while lower tax states are moving forward plus enjoying higher revenues.
President Obama’s $831 billion stimulus was heavily skewed towards subsidizing the public sector, mainly preserving jobs and perks for members of public employee unions. It was ‘democrats-unionitis symbiosis’ on steroids and only moved the country forward to higher debts. As in Wisconsin, before Walker’s reforms many public employees contributed little or nothing towards pensions and benefits. The stimulus allowed some governors and mayors to avoid taking the necessary steps to lead and move their state or cities forward. Many states heading towards bankruptcy have public employees that are still contributing little or nothing towards their benefits.
Since the stimulus funds have dried up, the president still thinks sending more of this type of stimulus to badly managed states is a substitute to actually leading. He wants Americans to still believe that’s the way to move forward. Unwittingly, the President in calling for more ‘investment’ in the public sector in order to keep moving forward, has exposed a fatal flaw in his argument. His policies, not the ones that pre-date him have prolonged an unemployment rate of over 8% for over 40 months and the weakest economic recovery in 60yrs.
Even some Democrats such as Chicago Mayor (former Obama chief of staff) Rahm Emanuel and Mayor Chuck Reed in San Jose pushed to pass pension reform to get costs under control. Unlike the President they realize that eventually they will run out of other peoples’ money to pay for expenditures, and that’s not the way to move forward. Moving forward is not a Republican or Democrat thing, rather it is doing the right thing to encourage growth and prosperity.
During his 53 minute speech on economic growth he did not mention capital at all but the phrases “my plan and “I have a plan” appear 13 times. This helps to reinforce Mr. Romney’s point that the difference in his vision for America compared to Mr. Obama is that he believes in a private sector centered society while the President believes in a government centered society.
Wherever there has been an increase in a government centered society there has been a reduction of economic freedom, thus a constriction of the free movement of capital in the form of human, financial or otherwise to the areas where they would normally facilitate growth. The U.S has consistently fallen on the Index of Economic Freedom in the last few years and thus experienced anemic growth while countries that have followed a private sector centered approach are rising on the index and moving forward economically.
Germany ignored President Obama’s call for the ‘government centered approach’ which also involves higher taxes, spending and regulations. It has done the opposite and with competent leadership has remained the strongest economy in Europe and one of the strongest in the world. Countries such as Canada, Poland Estonia, and Australia also ignored the Obama approach and liberated the power of the free enterprise system via lower rate tax reforms. They have also moved forward. This while other countries that practice the policies Mr. Obama advocate are heading towards bankruptcy or moving backwards.
President Obama’s philosophy of moving forward by further growing government was probably best described by a very successful leader, and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in a recent article, ‘Liberal and incompetent’ on Redstate. He said,
“The problem is that the private sector is so foreign to our President that he would need a passport to go there and a translator to understand what is happening”.
President Obama will continue to court big donor celebrities who play fictional characters in the movies. It is not surprising that he easily associates with them. He created fictional stories about his past to suit the character he wanted Americans to see during the 2008 election. See: Made up Memories- Lies Obama tells about himself by Jonah Goldberg. He also enjoys the ‘me complex’ of a celebrity president who promises fictional results through ‘hope and change’ and now ‘moving forward’. Gov. Romney would be wise to associate himself or his vision for America with real life governors and leaders who have actually led, and moved their states and countries forward.