Category Archives: Obama

By the numbers: Barack Obama’s contribution to the decline of US democracy

John Weeks | November 26 2016 | openDemocracy

How neoliberal doctrine undermined the Obama administration and ushered in the age of Trump
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Obama meets Trump. Press Association/Pablo Martinez Monsivais. All rights reserved.

Yes, we can!

The iconic slogan “Yes, we can!” inspired the wave of enthusiasm that swept up millions of Americans during the presidential election of 2008 and carried Barack Obama to the White House. If that slogan epitomized the beginning of the Obama presidency, he had an equally iconic ending: the first African-American president shaking hands with the first president-elect in at least 100 years endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.

In November 2008 Barack Obama won the presidency with almost 53% on a voter turnout of 58%. The winning percentage was the highest since 1988 and the turnout the largest for 50 years. The first non-white president took office on a surge of enthusiasm exceeding any since Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 (by comparison John Kennedy went to the presidency with less than half of total votes and a winning margin of 0.2 percentage points).

The enthusiasm for Obama arose from fervent hope for specific changes: 1) a universal, affordable health system; 2) the end of two disastrous wars (Afghanistan and Iraq); 3) economic recovery from the worst collapse in 80 years; and 4) action against banks and bankers to prevent a recurrence of the collapse.

To fulfil these hopes, Obama had majorities in both houses of Congress, 58 of 100 Senators (largest majority of any party in 30 years) and 257 seats in the House (most since 1992). By any measure the new president enjoyed an overwhelming majority.  Under some circumstances the Republican minority in the Senate could prevent voting, but a determined and bold president could force votes within the arcane Senate rules.

No he didn’t!

It quickly became obvious that Obama would be anything but determined and bold; on the contrary, avoiding conflict through compromise would guide his presidency. In face of a solidly right wing Republican opposition, attempting to compromise was recipe for failure, a disaster foretold and fulfilled.

Despite the large House and Senate majorities a litany of failure dogged the first two Obama years, some partial and others presented as success. Extension of the popular Medicare programme offered the obvious method of achieving a national health system (confusingly dubbed “single payer” by its adherents). Obama yielded before opposition from private “health care” corporations and drug companies.

Continue reading By the numbers: Barack Obama’s contribution to the decline of US democracy

The Presidential Scorecard©: Job Creation, Unemployment, Not in Labor Force, GDP

THE PRESIDENTIAL SCORECARD©: HOOVER TO OBAMA SUMMARY WITH TOTAL EMPLOYMENT & GDP

PRESIDENTYEARSAVERAGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE EMPLOYED DURING TERMJOBS CREATEDJOBS LOSTNET JOBSAVERAGE U-3AVERAGE LABOR PARTICIPATION RATENOT IN LABOR FORCE AT END OF TERMAVERAGE DISCOURAGED WORKERSAVERAGE MARGINALLY ATTACHED WORKERSGDP AVERAGE BY PRESIDENTIAL TERM
Sources:Source: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BEA
HOOVER1929 - 1932-9.3% (* see note below)
ROOSEVELT1933 – 1944 37,417,000 (* see note below)9.3%
ROOSEVELT-TRUMAN1945 - 194842,773,000-2.4%
TRUMAN1949 - 195246,486,0008,357,0001,070,519,8245,135,0004.4%5.1%
EISENHOWER1953 - 196051,830,00010,142,0001,067,179,8243,580,0004.9%3.0%
KENNEDY-JOHNSON1961 - 196456,231,0006,067,0001,073,351,8245,677,0005.8%4.7%
JOHNSON1965 - 196864,716,0009,983,0001,073,583,8249,825,0003.9%5.2%
NIXON1969 - 197271,660,0007,404,0001,072,361,8246,024,0005.0%3.0%
NIXON / FORD1972 -197677,966,0007,473,0001,071,446,8245,178,0006.7%2.6%
CARTER1977 - 198087,474,00011,714,0001,072,522,82410,495,0006.5%63.2%61,531,0003.3%
REAGAN1981 - 198896,290,00019,273,0001,070,431,82415,963,0007.5%64.7%62,780,0003.5%
GHW BUSH1989 - 1992108,703,0004,372,0001,071,959,8242,590,0006.3%66.4%65.780,0002.3%
CLINTON1993 - 2000121,617,00023,420,0001,073,556,82423,235,0005.2%66.8%70,488,000359,0008.8%3.9%
GW BUSH2001 - 2008133,824,0008,702,0001,067,152,8242,113,0005.3%66.2%80,380,000408,0009.2%2.1%
OBAMA2009 - 2015 (so far)134,998,00013,730,0001,068,313,8248,302,0007.8%63.8%94,103,000873,00014.3%1.4%
* FDR: partial data starting in 1939* Hoover: partial data starting in 1930

 

Average Job Creation (1939 – 2015):

Jobs-Created
Note: Click image to open full size image in a new tab

Source: BLS

Best Jobs Gains (Net job gains after losses):

  • Clinton (23.235 million)
  • Reagan (15.963 million)
  • Roosevelt (11.938 million) (partial data)
  • Carter (10.495 million)

Worst Job Losses:

  • GW Bush (6.589 million)
  • Eisenhower (6.562 million)
  • Obama (5.428 million) (partial data through 2015)
  • Truman (4.904 million) (Note: WWII vets returning home)

 

Average Unemployment (1949 – 2015):

Unemployment-Rate
Note: Click image to open full size image in a new tab

Source: BLS

Lowest unemployment:

  • Johnson (3.9%)
  • Truman (4.4%)
  • Eisenhower (4.9%)
  • Nixon (5.0%)

Highest unemployment:

  • Obama  (7.8%) (partial data through 2015)
  • Reagan (7.5%)
  • Nixon-Ford (6.7%)
  • Carter (6.5%)

 

Continue reading The Presidential Scorecard©: Job Creation, Unemployment, Not in Labor Force, GDP

Obama’s Jobs Fig Leaf Falls to the Ground

Paul Craig Roberts | Jun 03 2016

Employment Lies

Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the US economy only created 38,000 new jobs in May and revised down by 59,000 jobs the previously reported gains in March and April.

Yet the BLS reported that the unemployment rate fell from 5.0 to 4.7 percent, a figure generally regarded as full employment.

The May jobs increase only covers a small fraction of the monthly growth in the labor force and, therefore, cannot account for the drop in unemployment.

Moreover, the BLS reported that the labor force participation rate fell by 0.2 percentage points, bringing the decline to 0.4 percentage points over the past two months. Normally, a strong labor market, such as one represented by a 4.7% unemployment rate, causes an increase in the labor force participation rate.

The question becomes: How real is the 4.7% rate of unemployment?

The answer is: Not at all.

Continue reading Obama’s Jobs Fig Leaf Falls to the Ground

Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?

RODRIGUE TREMBLAY | May 30 2016 | Counterpunch

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LaMarr McDaniel | Shutterstock.com

“The evil that men do lives after them.”

— William Shakespeare (1564-1616), ‘Julius Caesar’

“The Constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the Legislature…

—No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

— James Madison (1751-1836), in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1798, (and, in ‘Political Observations’, 1795)

“Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This, our [1787] Convention understood to be the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions; and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us.”

— Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), in a letter to William Herndon, 1848

“…War is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly.”

— Barack H. Obama (1961- ), Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Dec. 2009

“As a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act… today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

— Barack H. Obama (1961- ), in a speech in Prague, Czech Republic, on April 5, 2009, [N.B.: On May 27, 2016, Pres. Obama repeated essentially the same commitment at Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park, in Japan, calling for a “world without nuclear weapons”.]

“As commander-in-chief, I have not shied away from using force when necessary. I have ordered tens of thousands of young Americans into combat…

I’ve ordered military action in seven countries.” [Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia]

— Barack H. Obama (1961- ), in a speech at the American University, Aug. 5, 2015

Ever since Neocons de facto took over American foreign policy, after the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991, rejecting the ‘Peace Dividend’ that many had expected, the cry in Washington D.C. has been to impose an America-centered New World Order by military means.

Successive administrations, both republican and democratic, have toed the line and dutifully pursued the same policy of world domination by launching a series of direct or covert wars of aggression around the world, in violation of international law. This explains why the United States has over 1,400 foreign military bases in over 120 countries, and why they are being expanded.

First there was the Iraq war of 1991, when Saddam Hussein’s regime felt into a trap, thinking it had Washington’s tacit go ahead to integrate Kuwait, a territory that had been part of Iraq throughout the nineteenth century and up until World War I. Then there was the 1998-1999 U.S. military intervention in Yugoslavia’s ethnic conflicts, in order to undermine Russian influence. The “Pearl Harbor” type attack of 9/11, 2001, was a “god-given” event on the march to the New World Order, since it justified huge increases in the U.S. military budget and served as a justification to launch the 2001 war inAfghanistan, eventually leading to a U.S.-led “preventive war” to “liberate” Iraq, in 2003.

All this was followed by a string of covert operations to overthrow governments, elected or not, and to impose regime changes in independent countries, such as in Syria, Libya, Ukraine, Honduras, Haiti, Somalia… etc.

Continue reading Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?

The Presidential Scorecard©: GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and Total Employment

In March I added The Presidential Scorecard© along with a look at the unemployment numbers and how they appear to be counted (or not counted).

 

The Presidential Scorecard©: Truman to Obama

A Critical Eye on Obama’s Jobs and Unemployment Record

 

This time I focused on GDP (from the BEA, the Bureau of Economic Analysis) and  total employment (from the BLS, the Bureau of Labor Statistics) for each president.

Here is the updated The Presidential Scorecard© (through 2015):

THE PRESIDENTIAL SCORECARD©: HOOVER TO OBAMA SUMMARY WITH TOTAL EMPLOYMENT & GDP

PRESIDENTYEARSAVERAGE NUMBER OF PEOPLE EMPLOYED DURING TERMJOBS CREATEDJOBS LOSTNET JOBSAVERAGE U-3AVERAGE LABOR PARTICIPATION RATENOT IN LABOR FORCE AT END OF TERMAVERAGE DISCOURAGED WORKERSAVERAGE MARGINALLY ATTACHED WORKERSGDP AVERAGE BY PRESIDENTIAL TERM
Sources:Source: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BLSSource: BEA
HOOVER1929 - 1932-9.3% (* see note below)
ROOSEVELT1933 – 1944 37,417,000 (* see note below)9.3%
ROOSEVELT-TRUMAN1945 - 194842,773,000-2.4%
TRUMAN1949 - 195246,486,0008,357,0001,070,519,8245,135,0004.4%5.1%
EISENHOWER1953 - 196051,830,00010,142,0001,067,179,8243,580,0004.9%3.0%
KENNEDY-JOHNSON1961 - 196456,231,0006,067,0001,073,351,8245,677,0005.8%4.7%
JOHNSON1965 - 196864,716,0009,983,0001,073,583,8249,825,0003.9%5.2%
NIXON1969 - 197271,660,0007,404,0001,072,361,8246,024,0005.0%3.0%
NIXON / FORD1972 -197677,966,0007,473,0001,071,446,8245,178,0006.7%2.6%
CARTER1977 - 198087,474,00011,714,0001,072,522,82410,495,0006.5%63.2%61,531,0003.3%
REAGAN1981 - 198896,290,00019,273,0001,070,431,82415,963,0007.5%64.7%62,780,0003.5%
GHW BUSH1989 - 1992108,703,0004,372,0001,071,959,8242,590,0006.3%66.4%65.780,0002.3%
CLINTON1993 - 2000121,617,00023,420,0001,073,556,82423,235,0005.2%66.8%70,488,000359,0008.8%3.9%
GW BUSH2001 - 2008133,824,0008,702,0001,067,152,8242,113,0005.3%66.2%80,380,000408,0009.2%2.1%
OBAMA2009 - 2015 (so far)134,998,00013,730,0001,068,313,8248,302,0007.8%63.8%94,103,000873,00014.3%1.4%
* FDR: partial data starting in 1939* Hoover: partial data starting in 1930

 

GDP (Gross Domestic Product)

I took the detailed data from the BEA and averaged it by presidential term. The data is from 1930 – 2015, so data for Hoover’s term captures only 3 of 4 years of his term since his presidency was from 1929 – 1932.

With the exception of  Truman’s time from 1944 – 1948 where the GDP average was -2.4%(considerations include the end of WWII and troops returning home), Obama has had the weakest showing of any president since Hoover on the GDP.

Through 2015, Obama is the first president since Hoover who has not had a single year with the GDP being over 3%.  The two other presidents with the weakest GDP growth averages are GHW Bush (2.3%) and GW Bush (2.1%)

The three presidents lasix water pill online with the strongest GDP growth averages are Roosevelt (9.3%), Johnson (5.2%), and Truman (5.1%).

GDP by President ChartGo
Source: BEA      Note: BEA GDP data for Hoover is partial starting with 1930. (Right-click for larger image in new tab)

 

GDP Data for 1930-2015 from the BEA (Bureau of Economic Analysis)

PresidentYearGDP (%)Average GDP (%) for Term
* BEA data begins in 1930 , only 3/4's of Hoover's term in office is shownSource: Source: BEA
Hoover (*)1930-8.5
1931-6.4
1932-12.9-9.3
Roosevelt1933-1.3
193410.8
19358.9
193612.9
19375.1
1938-3.3
19398
19408.8
194117.7
194218.9
194317
194489.3
Roosevelt-Truman1945-1
1946-11.6
1947-1.1
19484.1-2.4
Truman1949-0.5
19508.7
19518.1
19524.15.1
Eisenhower19534.7
1954-0.6
19557.1
19562.1
19572.1
1958-0.7
19596.9
19602.63.0
Kennedy-Johnson19612.6
19626.1
19634.4
19645.84.7
Johnson19656.5
19666.6
19672.7
19684.95.2
Nixon-Ford19693.1
19700.2
19713.3
19725.2
19735.6
1974-0.5
1975-0.2
19765.42.8
Carter19774.6
19785.6
19793.2
1980-0.23.3
Reagan19812.6
1982-1.9
19834.6
19847.3
19854.2
19863.5
19873.5
19884.23.5
GHW Bush19893.7
19901.9
1991-0.1
19923.62.3
Clinton19932.7
19944
19952.7
19963.8
19974.5
19984.5
19994.7
20004.13.9
GW Bush20011
20021.8
20032.8
20043.8
20053.3
20062.7
20071.8
2008-0.32.1
Obama2009-2.8
20102.5
20111.6
20122.2
20131.5
20142.4
20152.41.4

Total Employment

I took the detailed data from the BLS and averaged it by presidential term.  The data is from 1939 – 2016, so I only averaged it through 2015, which means data for Roosevelt’s term (1933 – 1945) is partial.

Continue reading The Presidential Scorecard©: GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and Total Employment

Despite Obama’s claims, the Korea-US free trade agreement has cost American jobs

Geoffrey Cain | August 08 2013 | Global Post

SEOUL, South Korea — Although the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) has been in effect for little more than a year, it is already drawing vehement condemnation from both sides of the Pacific.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

The Obama administration feted KORUS as a veritable job-creation machine, a remedy for the tepid post-crisis recovery. When the US Congress voted in favor of the deal in October 2011, the president called it “a major win for American workers and businesses.” Some proclaimed that KORUS was the most significant trade agreement since NAFTA in 1994.

The US forecast an additional 70,000 American jobs from exports alone. The International Trade Commission estimated the pact would kick-start some $10 billion in US exports to Korea, improving the trade balance by a net $4 billion or more, a boon to the economy.

But already, it’s not clear that the agreement is living up to its promise.

In the US, critics claim that KORUS, which went into force in April 2012, is costing American jobs.

Continue reading Despite Obama’s claims, the Korea-US free trade agreement has cost American jobs

New Data Show U.S. Trade Deficit Doubled, More Jobs Lost Under Obama Trade Deal That Was Template for the TPP

Lori Wallach | May 05 2016 | Trade Watch

2016-05-04-1462387225-7586866-ABANDONED_FACTORY_IN_RIVERSIDE_A_SUBURB_OF_DULUTH_ON_THE_ST_LOUIS_RIVER__NARA__5515861-thumb
New report dissects U.S. – Korea Free Trade Agreement losing 106,000 American jobs

Today’s alarming fourth-year trade data on President Obama’s U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) arrived just as the Obama administration has started its hard sell to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). And that is a real problem for the White House.

The Korea deal served as the U.S. template for the TPP, with significant TPP text literally cut and pasted from the Korea agreement. And the Obama administration sold the Korea deal with the same “more exports, more jobs” promises now being employed to sell TPP.

And since then, our trade deficit with Korea more than doubled as imports surged and exports declined. The increase in the U.S. trade deficit with Korea equates to the loss of more than 106,000 American jobs in the first four years of the Korea FTA, counting both exports and imports, according to the trade-jobs ratio that the Obama administration used to promise at least 70,000 job gains from the deal.

Today’s Census Bureau trade numbers provide the grim data fueling the nationwide bipartisan trade revolt now underway as public opposition to more-of-the-same trade policies surges and presidential and congressional candidates spotlight the problems with the TPP and the failure of U.S. trade policies.

And the Korea trade debacle shuts down Obama’s oft-repeated mantra that TPP opponents are somehow stuck in a past fight over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Today’s job-killing trade data are the result of a 2011 trade agreement pushed passionately by Obama himself, which he sold as “fixing” NAFTA.

If you review the Obama administration sales pitch for the Korea pact, you will hear the same exact claims now being made for the TPP.

Continue reading New Data Show U.S. Trade Deficit Doubled, More Jobs Lost Under Obama Trade Deal That Was Template for the TPP

The Selling of Obama: The inside story of how a great communicator lost the narrative.

Michael Grunwald | May-June 2016 | Politico

static2.politico
Illustration by Peter Strain

President Barack Obama insists he does not obsess about “the narrative,” the everyday media play-by-play of political Washington. He urges his team to tune out “the noise,” “the echo chamber,” the Beltway obsession with who’s up and who’s down. But in the fall of 2014, he got sick of the narrative of gloom hovering over his White House. Unemployment was dropping and troops were coming home, yet only one in four Americans thought the nation was on the right track—and Democrats worried about the midterm elections were sprinting away from him. He wanted to break through the noise.

Obama’s strategists, led by his longtime political guru David Axelrod, had always warned him against “dancing in the end zone.” Their polling suggested that gloating about the recovery would backfire when so many Americans were still hurting. But Obama thought it was time to spike the football, and in a speech at Northwestern University, he tried to reshape his narrative. If the presidential bully pulpit couldn’t drown out the echo chamber, he figured nothing could.

“Sometimes the noise clutters and, I think, confuses the nature of the reality out there,” Obama said. “Here are the facts.”

The facts were that America had put more people back to work than the rest of the world’s advanced economies combined. High school graduation rates were at an all-time high, while oil imports, the deficit, and the uninsured rate had plunged. The professor-turned-president was even more insistent than usual that he was merely relying on “logic and reason and facts and data,” challenging his critics to do the same. “Those are the facts. It’s not conjecture. It’s not opinion. It’s not partisan rhetoric. I laid out facts.”

The Northwestern speech did reshape the narrative, but not in the way Obama intended. The only line that made news came near the end of his 54-minute address, an observation that while he wouldn’t be on the ballot in the fall midterms, “these policies are on the ballot—every single one of them.” When Obama boarded Air Force One after his speech, his speechwriter, Cody Keenan, told him the Internet had already flagged that line as an idiotic political gaffe.

Continue reading The Selling of Obama: The inside story of how a great communicator lost the narrative.

Obama’s legacy: Politics of anger, fights, division

Anita Kumar | April 29 2016 | McClatchyDC

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 11.13.00 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama salutes as he enter the government house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Obama is on a two day official visit to Argentina. It is the first visit to Argentina by a U.S. president since George W. Bush came here in 2005. David Fernandez AP 

WASHINGTON Fist fights at campaign rallies. A major presidential candidate called a bigot and bully by members of his own party. Gridlock in Washington. And Americans downright pessimistic.

This is America’s politics today, seven years after Barack Obama was elected president with a promise to change it all.

The political change he predicted never appeared. Instead, partisanship and dysfunction have grown worse. His legacy on policies is more mixed. He did accomplish things, notably the Affordable Care Act. But his legacy on politics is another story.

Republicans and Democrats refuse to compromise, sometimes even talk. Congress has become more unproductive with lawmakers failing to pass budgets or even consider presidential appointments. And most Americans have little to no confidence in the federal government to tackle the problems facing the nation in 2016, according to a poll released in January.

Just Thursday, about 20 people were arrested after hundreds of protesters blocked an intersection and vandalized a police car outside a rally for Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump at the Orange County Fairgrounds in California. Several fights broke out.

“It’s fair to say that President Obama entered office as chief executive of a divided country, and he’s done nothing noticeable to heal those divisions in his seven years,” said William Galston, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton and now a senior fellow at the center-left Brookings Institution.

Barring an unexpected change in the country, the political legacy of the 44th president will be that he left office with the atmosphere in the United States in worse shape than when he was elected.

That failure is all the more disappointing, Democrats and Republicans say, because he raised expectations so high.

Continue reading Obama’s legacy: Politics of anger, fights, division