Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Breaking news: According to a front-page profile in the New York Times, President Barrack Obama is an extremely competitive individual who doesn’t like to lose. Imagine that! The first African-American man to climb the slippery ladder to the White House has an edge to his personality.

They make him sound like Michael Jordan.

The newspaper’s snarky tone indicates that this is a bad thing. “Even those loyal to Mr. Obama,” reports Jodi Kantor “say that his quest for excellence can bleed into cockiness and that he tends to overestimate his capabilities.” GOP White House aide Matthew Dowd compares him to George W. Bush, evidently the worst insult Kantor and her editors could imagine.

Not content to be president, Obama seeks to improve his golf game. He likes to win at cards, and keeps score when bowling! Shocking, I know.

Last February, when the governor of Montana asked him flat out if he had what it takes to win re-election, Obama talked bold. “No matter what moves Mr. Romney made, the president said, he and his team were going to cut him off and block him at every turn. ‘We’re the Miami Heat, and he’s Jeremy Lin,’ Mr. Obama said.’”

The Times sniffs that Obama had once praised the Harvard-trained point guard. Maybe they should leave sports analogies to sportswriters. Serious NBA fans had watched Miami’s guards suffocate Lin in a recent matchup, demonstrating that the multi-talented rookie’s path to the Hall of Fame might not be so easy if he had to dribble there with his left hand.

Obama’s nothing if not a serious NBA fan.

Less than a year earlier, Osama bin Laden was killed. Two months after that in July 2011, House Republicans brought their made-for-TV budget crisis to a head, threatening to make the U.S. government default on its debts, risking economic calamity unless Obama caved to their demands.

There has been no more dramatic example of the GOP elevating party over country. On George W. Bush’s watch, Congress had increased the debt limit in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007. Every GOP leader posturing against the Obama White House had voted to increase the debt level five times.

In January 2009, with the United States’ GDP having contracted 8.9 percent during the previous quarter, with 2.2 million jobs lost, and the economy shedding jobs at a rate of 750,000 a month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

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Copyright 2012 The National Memo
  • Every politician likes to win, and Barack Obama is not an exception. The key is whether they try to do it fairly and with the best insterest of their country in mind, or to be famous and powerful.
    After months of continuous debate over the economy, budget deficits, the national debt, the debt ceiling, our credit rating, the need to reduce spending and arguments about whether or not the tax rate of the super rich should revert back to Clinton era levels we find ourselves at the same point we were when the whole discussion began. Is it because our elected officials don’t have the intelligence or willingness to find a solution and compromise, or is it because none of them have the guts to tell us things we don’t want to hear?
    A combination of raising taxes and spending reductions is inevitable if we are serious about solving our fiscal and economic problems, but I doubt anything will be done until after the election when the winners may, hopefully, muster the courage to do what it takes to balance the budget and restore fiscal integrity. Let’s face it, even a hint of cutting social programs a tiny bit, or raising the tax rate of our highest earners, who can afford to pay 4% more than they currently do, would be political hara-kiri in today’s political environment and our politicians know that. Politicians have gotten away with a few DoD cuts, but that’s not enough to make a dent on the budget, and since interest on the debt is not a negotiable item, what else is left? DoD, SS, MEDICARE, MEDICAID, and interest on the debt account for almost 90% of the budget. We could shut down NASA, NOAA, all intelligence agencies, lay off all traffic controllers, all medical research doctors at the CDC, all personnel at the Treasury, State Department and every other department and agency and we would still be running a budget deficit…and there lies the dilemma for our politicians. There are simply no “easy” fixes.
    The truth is that, as a minimum, we will have to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and we must find savings in most social programs and other services provided by the Federal government. Substantial MEDICARE savings were already achieved, to the tune of $716B, without impact to benefits and based strictly on more efficient control of service provider claims and elimination of duplication brought about by ACA. Too bad Mitt Romney plans to restore excessive MEDICARE claims and duplication of benefits, if he wins. Our politicians must take a closer look at potential savings associated with agency mergers to reduce overhead costs, a more realistic civil servant/contractor ratio, suspension of all foreign aid with the possible exception of humanitarian aid, elimination of all tax loopholes, a reduction in subsidies, the closure of military bases rendered obsolete by technology and the end of the Soviet threat, dismantling NATO, discontinuance of more sophisticated and lethal weapons of mass destruction at a time when our enemies are thugs planting roadside bombs and firing guns from the bed of a pickup truck, a thorough review of all trade agreements, the creation of a work requirement for recipients of unemployment benefits, a thorough review of SSI benefit eligibility with special emphasis on limiting benefits to people who truly need help due to serious physical or mental impairments, currency devaluation to improve competitiveness and reduce imports or a return to the gold standard, and a 5% across the board budget reduction effective immediately. Possibilities such as these, which I admit lack the benefit of exhaustive analysis, are the sort of thing our politicians, and us, should be debating, and the sooner we do it the better.

    • Right Now Romney Goes As Low As He Can Go With The Lying His Way To The White House!! That’s Why I Praying Romney Loses Big Time!! Now The Are Rioting In Libya Cause Some Asshole Here Sends A Anti Muslim Movie Over There!! WTF Did He Think Was Going To Happen???? Then Romney Got The Nerve To Try To Campaign On This?? What A Low Life Thug!! If Romney Was President We Would Stay In Wars!!! With His Draft Dodging Ass!!

      • YUP! What A Low Life Thug!! If Romney Was President We Would Stay In Wars!!! With His Draft Dodging Ass!!
        CONTROLLERS – only feel safe and prosperous when they are using others for their own gain.
        FREEDOM FIGHTERS- know they are most benefited when they live for the benefit of all.
        Defeat the CONTROLLERS.
        FREEDOM FIGHTERS re-elect President Obama!

    • I Can’t Wait Till The Debates Cause There Romney Can Hide Behind His Lies Plus He Will Be Face To Face !! I Believe Obama Going To Open A Can Of Whoop Ass On Romney!! And Again You Nail It My Friend!!!

      • I believe you are right, it is going to be historical; for all the world to see!!!!!!

        • Yes, the debates will historical and hysterical. How can a man look square into the cameras and disrespect the president with some untruths like Romney. He is unbelievable.

      • Question; Does Romney have the guts to debate President Obama? His supporters know he lies and approve. They will support him if he backs out. Keep the pressure on Romney until he melts through the floor.

        • You Got That Right And There I Think Obama Going To Hit Him With Those Tax Returns!!LOL

    • SaneJane

      I usually enjoy your posts but feel you have bought into the “we are broke” propaganda. Your suggestions about cutting costs, chopping up social programs and balanced budgets are, in my opinion, dangerous in the extreme. This is exactly what we have been programmed to believe but it is a steady downhill path. Haven’t you noticed what has happened in Europe with austerity programs. While it is reasonable to suggest these things be examined, studied and evaluated, most have already been proven not only ineffective but in many cases downright harmful. What sort of work requirement would you suggest for those who have lost their jobs? They were working and lost their job and you suggest they should be forced to take some kind of make work, low paying, “job” rather than devoting themselves to the full time job of finding a job to replace the one they had. A person has to have been working for a period of time, in my state 5 quarters, before they can get unemployment. There is a tone to your post today that sounds very much like the Republican’s “punish the poor, the unemployed and the sick”. The application for any disability program is exhaustive and difficult. This isn’t just handed out to anyone who asks. Last and far from least, the gold standard, really? You disappoint me Dominick.

      • I do not believe we are broke, in fact, I believe we remain the richest country in the world, I believe our economy is not as weak as the GOP wants us to believe, our GDP is second to none, and compared to many industrialized nations our unemployment rate is rather benign. I also believe that the key to strengthen our economy and restore consumer confidence is through investment by both the public and private sectors.
        However, I also believe that there are inefficiencies in government and that savigs such as the $716B reduction in projected MEDICARE spending is not only warranted but it actually strengthens the program and ensures it remains solvent for years to come. My reference to a work program as a condition to receive unemployment benefits refers to the need to create an organization that informs unemployment recipients of job opportunities in their area. I have no problem with helping people who, because of no fault of their own lost their jobs and are having trouble making ends meet, but I believe the present system is an invitation for fraud and it can easily contribute to the perpetuation of dependence on handouts. I know a person that has been receiving unemployment checks for over a year and has no intention to look for a job, and she is not alone. One thing is to be generous and caring, another to be naive.
        Yes, I agree a return to the gold standard will not solve our problems, but supporting the status quo will not either. In fact, it guarantees our demise. That is precisely why people like President Obama championed ACA, that is why he proposed investing in alternative energies, etc. We have to think out of the box and search for solutions rather than insisting in the perpetuation of an economic model and regulatory practices that enrich a few, allow companies like Enron and AIG to rip us off, and relies on the middle class to carry the burden or supporting our way of life while the upper class focuses on personal enrichment. Again, there are ways to save money, balance the Federal government budget, and reduce our national debt, what prevents that is, to a large extent is ideological intransigence and unwillingness to compromise.

        • SaneJane

          Reducing the national debt takes money out of the economy. For every debit there must be an equal and corresponding credit. Look at the history of deficit and debt reductions and the resultant recessions. While the misnamed “national debt” is technically a liability for the US it is an investment (asset) for someone else. The majority of the “debt” is domestically held. The one true thing I have heard Dick Cheney say is “deficits don’t matter”. We need to concentrate on some of your other suggestions and ignore deficits for the present.

        • SaneJane

          You are right that our system funnels wealth to a chosen few. I am in the process of ferreting out opinions on how this can be changed.

      • Tom_D44

        Sane Jane, with 16trillion dollars of debt, much of it in T-bills which will require refinancing in 7 years you, don’t think we have a debt crisis or a spending problem? And all this “tax the rich” stuff is just more BS. I personally don’t think most rich people would mind the proposed tax increase and as a conservative I’m not really against it right now, but we all know it is a drop in the bucket as far as revenues go and is only being politicized to win an election. You are right, austerity doesn’t work when you have made promises to people that can’t be kept and those people are rioting in the streets because they can not accept the fact that they are going to be screwed. But politicians have created this mess by hiding from the truth and kicking the can down the road for another administration to deal with. And when you have a population that has become more dependent on aid then on themselves life gets tough. It’s even tougher for the billions of people living in undeveloped countries. We may, as a society, have to do with less and we will have to come to terms with the seriousness of this problem and the truth. But I can’t imagine even the worst of our problems and poverty being anything like the people living in, say, Sudan. Dominick is absolutely right in recognizing this problem and the inevitable solutions.

        • SaneJane

          The reason austerity doesn’t work is not because of people hating it and rioting. It doesn’t work because it starves the economy. Ironic that you should mention undeveloped countries since your vision of solving our problems actually takes us closer to being more like them. The United States is the sole creator of dollars in the world why would we need to borrow dollars from anyone? You and Dominick are smart guys but seem to rely on popular assumptions rather than digging deep. We all need to understand the role currency in a monetarily sovereign nation.

          • Tom_D44

            OK so let me make sure I understand you position with respect to money and the debt.

            First, it seems as though you believe that we can continue to print money indefinitely and as much as we want without consequences? Since we left the gold standard the value of our dollars is directly related to confidence the international community has in our economy and our ability to back that value for each dollar. The more dollars we print the less the value there is for each dollar. You can continue printing to your hearts content until one day your dollars are worth so little that you have to pay 1,000 of them for a loaf of bread. That is called deflation and we can’t continue printing money without facing that reality – eventually. Then, let’s not forget the tensions created with our creditors like China when they think we are intentionally devaluing our own money in order to pay back our debt – this is stuff countries get into wars over and can have very, very bad consequences. Next, in order to pull those dollars back out of the economy our interest rates will need to go up. Remember the 1980’s when mortgage rates were 17% and higher? What do you think that will do to the housing industry and the ability for those less fortunate to ever buy a home? And finally, and this is probably the worst thing that could happen, is that the international community decides to band together and choose not to accept the dollar as the international currency anymore, and look to use or create something else. So, absolutely nothing good can come from the printing of more money.

            As for austerity starving the economy, I believe that you are right in that it will have some initial negative effects – but this is inevitable. A healthy economy would be one that is based on created wealth from growth of industries and the markets and not from the illusion of wealth from government spending. Government does not create wealth, they take it from somewhere, either through taxes or borrowing, and distribute it somewhere else. This kind of spending is frivilous and is only an illusion of wealth. Worse than that we are taking our own money, redistributing it back to the people to be spent on products from China and Oil from the middle east. If this practice of borrowing and spending would not work at home for your own personal finances, then why do you think it would work for our country? The principles are exactly the same. Some debt can be good debt, but unsustainable debt is a roadway to bankruptcy. The soviets did this after being a completely developed nation and their people ended up in lines waiting for bread and toilet paper. Don’t think this can’t happen to us.

            The people in this country have lived good lives – even the very poor – when compared to many places in the world. But we have been living better than we probably should have been, because of our ability to access money easily. And our government has lived in the same way. And as a society we are so used to this that we can’t possibly fathom our lives being different. This is why the move to austerity is going to be so difficult because we will all have to deny ourselves things we have gotten used to having – the government included. But if we don’t, I believe that one outcome could actually be bread lines. Wake up people.

          • An aspect of the national debt that is seldom addressed is the fact that about one third of it involves intra-governmental holdings. Those holdings consist mostly of Government Account Series (GAS) held by government trust funds and special funds. They include, among other things all the Federal government debt held by individuals, corporations, state, local governments, and deposits such as Thrift Savings Plans, which represent a liability.
            Another faceet of this issue that is seldom discussed is the fact that well over $1T of the debt accumulated the last 3 years is interest paid on the national debt. This is far from being a trivial matter, and it is one of the reasons we can not invest in some of the things we need to strengthen our economy.

          • SaneJane

            Included in the intra-governmental holdings is approx. $4.5 Trillion in investments belonging to Social Security and Medicare.

            Hope I don’t sound like I am picking on you but you continue to use the negative side of each equation. Individuals, corporations, etc. hold DEBT when what they really hold is INVESTMENTS. If this represents a liability on one side side of the ledger then it must represent an asset on the other side. Also, who got that interest? Could it be individuals, corporations, state, local governments, Thrift Savings, pension plans, banks, credit unions as well as Social Security and Medicare and many other American institutions?

            When did you first start getting worried about our “national debt”? Do you recall hearing about this prior to President Obama taking office? Were we debt free up until then? You are on the mark about so many things but I would like to see you think out of the box a little more regarding the role and purpose of money and debt.

          • SaneJane

            It all boils down to what kind of America you want. Do we want to define a good life as anything better than living in the sub-Sahara? Do you want to erase two hundred years of progress in standard of living, health, education and security? Comparisons of the federal budget with those of families, companies and states is erroneous. Such comparisons are based on the assumption that government must get dollars by taxing or borrowing to have dollars to spend. The government doesn’t get dollars from others, it creates dollars for others to get and use. When the government pays out more than it receives in taxes it creates new base dollars. This is incorrectly viewed as a problem. It may be a liability for the government but it is a net asset for households, companies, banks and others in the private sector.

            When our government runs a deficit it creates the base money needed by banks to operate and for people to save. Base money is destroyed when the government runs a surplus.

            I was taught that inflation happens when there is too much money and too few goods. Do we have too much money to spend? Do we have a shortage of goods to buy? We have millions of people out of work who would love to have a job making goods so it is unlikely that we will run short of things to buy anytime soon. Inflation can be controlled with taxes and runaway inflation has rarely happened but this is routinely used as a scare tactic.

            Should we pass on a strong legacy to future generations that includes more base money and savings (erroneously named the national debt) or should we leave a declining economy with depleted savings and less base money by reducing the “national debt”? We are being conditioned to eagerly agree to a future of reduced income, lifestyles, education, healthcare and personal wealth. I suggest you not only ask yourself why but make an effort to find out why.

          • The key to American economic policy regarding deficits and long term debt is ‘Monetary Sovereignty.’ Don’t be fooled by those who don’t understand economics and the importance of monetary sovereignty. There certainly is a big difference between countries using the Euro and the United States.

          • SaneJane

            Well Hello Lynda!! You are absolutely right. At last someone to talk to. If only people would open their minds a bit and do some research maybe things would change for the better.

        • Justin Napolitano

          Tom, the argument about a drop in the bucket is nonsense. You can fill a bucket with drops over a period of time. The debt didn’t accumulate overnight but occurred over many years. It will not be paid off overnight either but through increased taxes AND appropriate spending cuts.
          By appropriate cuts I mean other than Medicare and Social Security which, at this time, are not contributing to the deficit at all. In fact one of the things that makes me angry is the idea that we need to cut entitlements to cut the deficit. That simply is not true at this point in time.
          Taxes are currently at the lowest they have been in most of our lifetimes and the deficit is the highest. Don’t you think there is a correlation?

      • I don’t believe we are broke; I believe our economy is in better shape than some people want us to believe and our GDP is second to none. My concern involves the fact that our national debt now matches our GDP and that if the trend continues it will mean disaster in the not too distant future. I do not subscribe to the idea that the solution to our problems is more tax breaks to the rich and the elimination of social programs that benefit the middle class. On the contrary, I believe that those programs must be preserved, but I also believe that the best way to achieve that is by eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and introducing efficiency. I see the $716B savings in projected MEDICARE expenditures a step in the right direction. I also believe that using an organization that informs recipients of unemployment benefits of job opportunities available in their area. If they don’t apply or turn down an offer for good reason, fine. The second time they do it, give them a warning, the third time cut them off. One thing is to extend a helping hand, another to be taken for a fool.
        Yes, the gold standard solution is not a good idea. My point is that we must consider every possible way to reduce spending, increase revenues, and restore fiscal integrity.

        • SaneJane

          I may be wrong but isn’t GDP a current rather than cumulative number? If I am right, how do you compare a periodic number like GDP with a balance that has been accumulating since 1790? That is like saying your mortgage balance matches one year of your salary. Wouldn’t that be nice? Doesn’t that sound manageable?

          The employment/unemployment offices in my state operate just as you suggest. It has been this way for as long as I can remember and that is quite a long time. The employment office and unemployment office are in the space and as soon as you have applied for your unemployment you are sent to the other side to start a job search. Each week you have to provide proof of jobs you applied or interviewed for. If you don’t provide proof – no check. Isn’t it this way in other states? I don’t understand why all of a sudden we have to scrutinize even the unemployed. There is a bill in the works here to drug test applicants for unemployment. These people had a job and lost it through no fault of there own and now we want to further beat them down further.

          I agree that we need to control waste, fraud and abuse. However, this may get worse as we shed more and more public workers.

        • Justin Napolitano

          Dominick, I usually like your posts but I think you have missed the mark on the unemployment subject. First, if someone losses a job that, say, pays 50 thousand a year you can not force that person to take a job paying 25 thousand a year. The reason is simple; they probably have obligations that require a 50K job. The 25K job will simply not allow them to survive. Further, they will not have the time and energy to look for the 50K job while they are working full time earning 25K. That process is commonly called a race to the bottom when someone accepts a job paying much less than they are worth. Now if we are going to have an intelligent discussion then we have to consider the job that was lost, the value of the experience that the person has and the current relevancy, in the job market, of their education.
          Sometimes it pays to continue the search for the proper job than to just take what is available. Lastly, I want to mention education. If the person does not have the education required for existing jobs then they should be given the opportunity to go back to school and collect unemployment compensation until they finish. People should be viewed as assets not liabilities.

      • I agree ! Jesus said the poor will be with him always. Cutting social programs that are helping people isn’t the answer. Everyone doesn’t want handouts, there are people that will never get rich, doesn’t have the mind to do anything, so to cut the deficit, stop helping the poor and elderly isn’t the answer. It is very selfish for anyone to think in these turns, the poor are the first the Republicans want to cut, along with education. Americans need to wake up! There isn’t anything wrong with being rich, this is what American is all about, it’s about people helping people.

    • Ed

      Well, don’t hold your breath. Lot’s of good stuff in your comment. Problem is that it would have to be done by someone whose only agenda is bettering life in the United States. A RARE species today. Couple of comments though, all that is needed to dismantle NATO, an idea whose time has passed and who have gotten us into a war FAR FAR from the Atlantic, is for the US to withdraw, and take our money with us. Regardless of what the Repubs tell you MOST people on unemployment would love getting a job. I do not understand how “putting a work requirement on unemployment” would make a big difference. The really big problem with unemployment is that most of the jobs available pay very low wages, thus making it impossible for some people to pay their bills. The only answer is to accept a lower standard of living. People tend to want to live in the type of neighborhood they grew up in, for the last three generations that has meant homes with large monthly payments(because we cannot give up our credit cards). Actually the last generation has looked for minimansions. Ever notice how many copies of South Fork, the famous Dallas ranch there are? So in the individuals mind it is not just getting a job, it is a matter of keeping what they have. But I should say that somany have so little that that is not a consideration.

    • It is the debate we should be having. Everyone will decide with their vote or lack of one. Personally, I am going to vote to invest in Americans and America. I think that the federal government has an important role to play in creating the enviroment for sucess, and in long term strategies.

    • Question; Does Romney have the guts to debate President Obama? His supporters know he lies and approve. They will support him if he backs out. Keep the pressure on Romney until he melts through the floor.

  • bcarreiro

    this is not about winning this is about achieving to the president. romney cant have a battle of wits with an unarmed person and boehner gets stalemate of the year award because they both lack brilliance and respect, dont embrace diversity and confidence in the people who make them who they are.

  • I’d hate to see a guy or gal in the white house who DOESN”T want to win. Americans ALWAYS want to win. A fighting spirit is what it takes to get ANYTHING done when facing a congress of repugs who are so hateful, always putting their idemands above the American people. Are there any grown up repugs? Can’t see any.

  • Why would the republicians make a statement like this? “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

    Is it because he is a black man?

    • BDD1951

      because they want to get a republican elected so they can really tear this country up.

      • Edsanjuan

        BDD: Vila and SaneJane were having a lively and intelligent debate (with Vila winning because of his pragmatism) until you chirped in with: “because they want to get a republican elected so they can really tear this country up.”
        Oh brother ….

  • I like to win, I am a CPA and I am very competitive in dealing with the SEC and IRS when they challenge accounting and tax difference. Any person in business wants to win that is why they struggled through college course that they actually hated and loved some. They struggled to find food and shelter with no help from our parents during those four years of h h e l l. Yes we like to win and like to be the best, we are Americans.

  • At least President Obama wants to win to help America. Romney wants to win for his, and his wealthy friend’s, wallets.

  • onedonewong

    He likes to win without ever putting any effort into it. Hence his dependence on quotas all thru his life. He’s never earned any accomplishment

  • Less than a year earlier, Osama bin Laden was killed. Two months after that in July 2011, House Republicans brought their made-for-TV budget crisis to a head, threatening to make the U.S. government default on its debts, risking economic calamity unless Obama caved to their demands.

    There has been no more dramatic example of the GOP elevating party over country. On George W. Bush’s watch, Congress had increased the debt limit in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007. Every GOP leader posturing against the Obama White House had voted to increase the debt level five times.