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Tag: barack obama

As Markets Rise, Biden Takes A Bow (And Trolls Trump)

"Biden's Stock Market Returns Continue to Trounce Trump's" reads a recent Forbes headline. Sophisticated investors know this, but most of the public may not because Democrats have this self-defeating aversion to boasting about bull markets during their watch.

That seems to have changed under President Joe Biden.

Recall how former President Donald Trump tied every record high to his alleged brilliance as an economic manager. "The Dow Jones Industrial just closed above 29,000!" he tweeted about six weeks before the 2020 election. "You are so lucky to have me as your president. With Joe Hiden' it would crash."

Not quite. Ten months after Biden was declared winner, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was over 34,500. As for the broad-based S&P 500, that stock index has closed at at least 40 all-time highs since Biden has been president.

Happily for Democrats, Biden has claimed his bragging rights. Even better, he's trolling Trump with Trump-like swagger. "The stock market is surging," Biden crowed in a speech honoring labor unions. "It's gone up higher under me than anybody."

Actually, presidents don't have nearly as much control over the stock market as they may claim. New technology influences economic developments, as do black swan events, such as the September 11, 2001, attacks. Then, there was COVID-19.

That said, stocks have certainly done better so far under Biden than under the previous guy. From the last election to late August, all three major indexes — the Dow, S&P 500 and the NASDAQ — had produced higher percentage gains under Biden than in the same period under Trump, according to Forbes.

Stocks did great under President Barack Obama, too, but you heard nary a peep from him about the Dow. And until recently, Biden didn't talk about it either.

Democrats had reasons, not all good ones, for their reticence. In downplaying gains in stock market wealth, they often note that ownership of shares is heavily weighted toward the richest Americans.

That is true. About 92 percent of stocks owned by Americans reside in the top 10 percent of households. We're including stakes in 401(k)s and other retirement plans, and mutual funds.

Nearly half of all Americans own not a single share of stock. And of the households that do, the median stock value is only $40,000.

But these Democrats often underestimate how many Americans rejoice over a rise in stock prices delivering gains of even a few hundred dollars. And many who don't own any stock associate booming markets with general economic prosperity.

Some liberals, meanwhile, have this sourpuss idea that there's something not quite wholesome about making money in the stock market. After the Trump-era tax cuts favoring rich investors, they want to raise taxes on those with very high incomes, and that makes sense.

But then they must also recognize that stock market rallies produce more taxable income. And the sweet part is that proposals to raise tax rates on capital gains and very high incomes have evidently not depressed Americans' lust for stock investing.

Complicating the messaging for Democrats is that well-to-do Americans account for more and more of their voter base. In 2020, 59 percent of counties with a median household income over $80,000 went for Biden, whereas only 39 percent favored Trump.

Biden later swerved back to his party's earlier talking point that the stock market is not the economy. He complained about some people "seeing the stock market and corporate profits and executive pay as the only measure for our economic growth."

But did Biden use the word "exponentially" to describe rising stock prices under his presidency? He sure did. "I'm glad it's gone up," he added, "no problem." Good for him, and if this change in tone continues, good for Democrats.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com

On 9/11 Anniversary, Trump Will Do Ringside Chatter For A Boxing Match

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., and permanently altered life in the United States and the world.

And former President Donald Trump plans to spend that evening providing four hours of ringside commentary for a pay-per-view boxing event in Hollywood, Florida.

"I love great fighters and great fights," Trump said in a news release from FITE TV, the streaming network on which he'll provide commentary for a match between Evander Holyfield and Vitor Belfort. "I look forward to seeing both this Saturday night and sharing my thoughts ringside. You won't want to miss this special event."

There has been no word on what else Trump might be doing on Saturday.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will spend the day at memorials in remembrance of those killed during the attacks, in which hijacked passenger planes were crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth plane, intended by its hijackers to hit a target in Washington as well, crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers learned about the other hijackings and fought back.

In 2020, the final year of his only term in office, Trump spent the anniversary of the attack at a memorial at Shanksville, where he gave a speech. Biden visited Shanksville later in the day, as well as the annual ceremony at the 9/11 memorial in New York City.

Biden is scheduled to visit all three sites on Saturday, as did former President Barack Obama on the 10th anniversary of the attacks in 2011.

Harris will attend the ceremony in Pennsylvania, as well as the one at the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, two other former presidents will also be part of the commemorations.

Obama will attend the ceremony in New York along with former first lady Michelle Obama, CNN reported.

George W. Bush, who was president at the time of the attacks, is scheduled to make a speech at the ceremony in Shanksville.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Political Dysfunction Holds Innocent 'Dreamers' In Purgatory

Someday, many years from now, historians will use the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program as a case study in the monumental dysfunction of American democracy in the early 21st century. But there is no guarantee that the issue will be consigned to the history books by then. Many of the "dreamers" could pass on to the next world before our political institutions have settled their fate in this world.

DACA was initiated in 2012 by President Barack Obama after he gave up on persuading Congress to pass legislation that both Democrats and many Republicans — including President George W. Bush — thought was wise and necessary. The program allowed foreigners brought here illegally as children to remain in the United States and eventually gain citizenship if they met certain criteria.

Broad public support for legislation was not enough to overcome irresponsible fearmongering and partisan gridlock. The blameless became the victims of the feckless.

Obama resorted to executive authority to grant a reprieve to hundreds of thousands of young people who were American in everything but citizenship documents — having grown up here, attended school here and even served in the U.S. military. But DACA was quickly mired in litigation that cast the intended beneficiaries into a perpetual purgatory.

Last week, a federal judge in Texas struck it down as a violation of federal administrative law. "The executive branch cannot just enact its own legislative policy when it disagrees with Congress's choice to reject proposed legislation," wrote Judge Andrew Hanen. At the same time, he specified that his decision does not "require DHS or the Department of Justice to take any immigration, deportation, or criminal action against any DACA recipient, applicant, or any other individual that it would not otherwise take." The "Dreamers" remain in limbo.

Americans can reasonably disagree on how to combat undocumented migration and what to do with foreigners who choose to break our laws in coming here. But the point of expelling those who didn't make that choice is beyond comprehension.

It would amount to punishing children for the sins of their parents. It would also amount to punishing grandchildren: DACA recipients have given birth to 250,000 U.S. citizens.

It would mean wasting the investment Americans have made to educate these members of our community. It would mean forfeiting their productive skills, to the detriment of the economy. It would deprive companies of workers and destroy small businesses founded by people pursuing the American dream.

But it would not deter migration. The Central Americans now waiting at our southern border didn't embark on a death-defying 1,000-mile journey because of an executive order issued nine years ago that may not survive. They did it out of a desperate desire to escape violence and poverty. Expelling every "dreamer" wouldn't keep a single migrant away.

On Monday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recognized as much, ruling against environmentalists and ranchers who said DACA violated the law mandating an environmental impact review for some major federal actions. The unanimous panel rejected the ridiculous claim that the program entices more foreigners to sneak in.

Wrote Judge Jay Bybee: "Plaintiffs ask us to assume that aliens outside the United States who are, by definition, ineligible for DACA relief would learn about the policy; mistakenly believe it applicable to them or that they might obtain similar relief from a future administration; come to the United States based on their misconceptions; and permanently settle near Plaintiffs, thereby increasing the population and straining environmental resources. The attenuation in this chain of reasoning, unsupported by well-pleaded facts, is worthy of Rube Goldberg."

Republicans in Congress have long criticized DACA as an illegal use of executive power. But the logical response would be for them to usurp this presidential decree by passing a bill to protect the "Dreamers." Many GOP members say they can't abide such legislation until the border is "secure," which is the equivalent of not going to confession until you're sure you'll never sin again.

A Pew Research Center poll last year found that 74 percent of Americans, including 54 percent of Republicans, support legislation to grant permanent legal status to the "Dreamers." The support has been there for a long time. But the state of our democracy is such that the solution the American people want is one they may forever be denied.

Follow Steve Chapman on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Trump Organization Accused Of Abusing U.K.’s COVID-19 Furlough Program

The Trump Organization has received up to £575,000 -- about $811,000 -- through the U.K. job retention program, with at least £110,000 claimed while the former president was still in office. Critics see this as an abuse of the U.K.'s coronavirus furlough program. Union officials are calling for an investigation of the scandal by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), and have lodged complaints about Trump Turnberry's “all-out assault on jobs and conditions." The former director of the Office of Government Ethics under the Obama and Trump administrations called the Trump Organization “disgraceful" for making U.K...

Attacking Obama Over Vaccine Ad, Carlson Hit With #CreepyTucker Backlash

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

When Fox News' Tucker Carlson leveled an attack on former President Barack Obama following his public service announcement about the COVID-19 vaccine, social media users were quick to turn the tables on him.

According to The HuffPost, the former president took to TikTok to encourage his followers to consider taking the COVID vaccine. In response to Obama's PSA, Carlson attempted to spread doubt about the COVID vaccine as he has done on multiple previous occasions. He also described Obama as "creepy" for releasing the video to encourage younger Americans to consider getting vaccinated.

In the quick TikTok video, Obama said, "The vaccine is safe, it's effective, it's free. It's the only way we're going to get back to all the things we love from safely spending time with grandparents to going to concerts and watching live sports."

@yahoonews

Obama to the youth in new PSA: Get your COVID-19 vaccine. #news #politics #obama #covid19 #vaccine #psa #health #covidvaccine #yahoonews

During his primetime broadcast on Monday evening, Carlson attempted to stoke fears about Obama's announcement. "Some creepy old guy telling your children, your little kids to take medicine whose effects we do not fully understand," Carlson said. It's totally normal, yeah, that happens every day. Don't ask questions, just do it."

Some Twitter users noted that there is only a 8-year age gap between Carlson and Obama.

However, Carlson did not stop there. He went on to stoke more fears about authorities being able to "control" intimate healthcare decisions.

"What next? And anything is the answer to that question. If the authorities are permitted to control a health care decision this intimate, if they can force you and your children to take a vaccine you don't want and are afraid of, then what can't they do? Nothing. They will have total power over your body and your mind forever. What's the limit to their power? There isn't one."

It didn't take long for social media users to fire back in Obama's defense. Shortly after Carlson's show aired, the hashtag #CreepyTucker began circulating on Twitter as users criticized him for the destructive rhetoric he spews.

"#CreepyTucker needs to be held accountable for the death and destruction he promotes," one Twitter user wrote.

Why Hasn't The Tea Party Returned To Protest Biden's Big Spending?

Writing for the HuffPost,, reporter Igor Bobic published a fascinating piece finding that Republicans are optimistic that President Joe Biden's generous spending policies will trigger a second wave of the Tea Party that erupted under President Barack Obama. But as of yet, no such movement has emerged, despite the strong parallels between Biden and Obama's first days in office.

So what explains the difference? Bobic picks up on several plausible reasons, but I think he leaves some out.

For many, the most plausible explanation is the fact that Obama's race inspired a bigoted backlash that Biden has avoided:

Another reason why Biden may not face as much resistance as Obama did is the fact that he's a white man in his 70s who has been in the public spotlight for decades. The Tea Party movement was fueled by race as much as economics ― a trend that continued into the Trump years. The election of a Black president for the first time in U.S. history galvanized a segment of the Republican Party, leading to the racist "birther" conspiracy theory that Obama wasn't born in the U.S., a false notion that eventually put Trump, a top birther, into the Oval Office.

This is undoubtedly a big part of the explanation, but it's not the complete story. After all, many argued persuasively that racism was a big factor in Donald Trump's 2020 win, and that happened against Hillary Clinton, a white opponent. So even if we believe racism was the primary motivation behind the Tea Party, that doesn't rule out that such a movement could arise in opposition to a white president.

Obama and Biden differed in many ways apart from race (though it may be a factor in explaining some of the other differences.) Obama's 2008 candidacy was sold and recognized as a major turning point in American politics. He promised "change" and argued for upending the Washington order. That was a welcome message to many in the country, winning him the presidency and broad popularity early on, but it made many of his detractors uncomfortable and wary, perhaps especially those who were already prejudiced toward him because of his race.

Biden, on the other hand, ran as a return to normalcy. And not only was that his message, but the media, much of the country, and even his critics seemed to believe that's what he was offering. The central narrative of the 2020 Democratic primaries was that Biden was the most moderate (and perhaps electable) of all the candidates, and that image stayed with him even as he surprisingly tacked left on policy during the general election campaign. It's true that being a white old man helped Biden sell the idea that he represents a return to the status quo, but that's the message he was intentionally offering to the public, in stark contrast to Obama.

The circumstances of the crises that Biden and Obama faced are also vital to understand. Like Obama, Biden took over the presidency in the midst of a deep economic crisis and pushed through a largely partisan spending package to help the country recover. But while Republicans were able to mock and demonize the 2009 stimulus package, their opposition to Biden's 2021 American Rescue Plan has been negligible. Perhaps as a result, it's highly popular — as are Biden's other taxing and spending plans.

Bobic pointed out one key factor to explain why the American Rescue Plan is more of a political success than the Obama stimulus — it helped the vast majority of Americans directly by sending them checks or direct deposits:

Turns out, people are less displeased with spending when it puts dollars in their pockets, as Republican Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) acknowledged to HuffPost this week.
"Even my counties back in Indiana are happy, which is a very conservative area," said Braun, a deficit hawk. "They're asking, 'How can I spend $15 million in a rural county?' I think the spending part of it was smart politically because they put a sugar high out there and put a smoke screen to how radical some of the legislation may end up being."

(Biden's ARP is also bigger and better attuned to the crisis at hand than the Obama stimulus was in 2009, which makes it more likely that the economy will recover better this time around and reduce the risk of backlash going forward.)

Another important factor, though, is that big spending in the face of the coronavirus pandemic was already a bipartisan success story. Democrats and Republicans jointly passed a series of bills at the start of the pandemic, pumping trillions of dollars into the economy, and then they passed another nearly trillion-dollar package at the end of December 2020. While Republicans opposed ARP under Biden, it was hard for them to make a principled stand against it, because they had largely supported previous bills that looked quite similar. They could say the new bill was excessive, but they couldn't argue it represented the road to tyranny.

Meanwhile, Trump himself had objected to the fact that the direct payments in the December package had only been $600 per person — he wanted them to be $2,000. Congressional Republicans largely opposed this change, but it ended up in Biden's plan — forcing any Republicans who would strongly oppose the provision to stand in opposition to Trump, still the de facto leader of their party. And when he was president, Republicans didn't shy away from deficit spending — most notably with $2 trillion in tax cuts — even when the economy was doing well.

Bobic noted that Trump's positioning with the GOP generally makes it hard for Republican officials or the party base to take a stand against Biden's spending agenda:

The biggest obstacle to the rise of another conservative political movement may be Trump, who as president repeatedly prodded his party to embrace higher government spending. The former president continues to suck up oxygen among the right, dangling endorsements to 2022 candidates and issuing threats to campaign against Republicans who crossed him in the past.

Few Republicans want to lead an opposition movement to Biden that ends up putting them crosswise with Trump, who is more important to many party members than any particular policy position.

Obama's predecessor, President George W. Bush, had been a profligate spender too, of course. But this didn't bother the conservative activists in 2009 claiming they were opposed to Obama's spending. As mentioned, much of the Tea Party was a thin cover for racism. But to the extent they felt obliged to criticize government deficit spending on principle, they weren't constrained by a need to hold the Bush party line. His popularity was in the gutter, his legacy was in tatters, and his political career was over.

And one policy from the Bush years likely plagued Obama in a way that has no parallel for Biden: The Troubled Asset Relief Program, a.k.a. TARP, a.k.a. the bank bailout. The bailout of financial institutions that had heavily invested in subprime mortgages was deeply unpopular and seen as a corrupt giveaway to the very people who caused the 2008 financial crisis. And though it was passed with bipartisan votes through Congress and signed by a Republican president, it hung over much of Obama's response to the crisis, likely dragging down support for other actions he took that might otherwise have been more popular. There was a widespread sense, not unfounded, that the bankers had been saved while ordinary Americans were left out in the cold. Obama declined or was unable to take steps that would have directly helped families in more tangible, concrete ways, and the economy took longer to recover as a result.

Biden benefitted from having nothing like TARP to cope with, and as explained, the direct spending provisions of ARP ensured that the American people were personally benefiting from the federal government's actions. That makes it harder to gin up opposition than if people believe others are unfairly benefiting from the government's largesse.

And despite the rampant failures of the previous administration and Trump personally to respond appropriately to the coronavirus pandemic, most people actually seem prone to view the crisis as no one's fault in particular. This is a major difference with the 2008 crisis, which was seen by many as the fault of the big banks, the financial industry, and government regulators. Elements of this populist and even leftist anger made their way into the Tea Party rhetoric, even if they served the larger purpose of a right-wing movement. There have been some leftist and populist critiques of the U.S. economic response to the coronavirus crisis, but they haven't gained nearly as much traction.

There is a signficant caveat to this whole argument, because in one way Biden is facing his own version of the Tea Party. But this time, it doesn't come in protesters wearing funny hats, but the large group of people, primarily on the right, who are opposed to getting the coronavirus vaccine. It's not clear yet how large and formidable this segment of the population is, and how much it will impact the road to life beyond the pandemic, but it does seem to descend from many of the same strains of anti-government sentiment that came out of the 2009 Tea Party.

But the anti-vaccine movement isn't as welcome to the Republican Party as the Tea Party was, and it isn't likely to have as much staying power — assuming the pandemic recedes and becomes a less significant political issue. It's hard to see how one could build a governing agenda around anti-vax ideology, especially if the coronavirus fades.

None of this means, however, that Biden is in the clear. He may avoid a Tea Party-style backlash, but political perils abound. Republicans may well find issues of Biden's own making, or unforeseen events, that they can successfully weaponize against him and quash his political ambitions. It's possible the economy could recover and the public will turn against Biden's spending, though this largely seems like right-wing wishful thinking. At this point, following the GOP's Obama-era playbook doesn't show much hope of success.


How Biden Is Reversing Four Decades Of Reaganism

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Four decades after the Reagan era, the United States has embraced another president who could reshape the ideology behind the size of the American government. A new op-ed published by The New York Times highlights the similarities and differences between President Joe Biden and former President Ronald Reagan.

While Reagan aimed to drastically alter the size of the American government and its spending, it appears Biden plans to embrace the same type of changes — but in reverse. The former senator spent his younger years working with Republicans and other Democratic lawmakers to bring down the government's deficit by curbing spending. But, things are quite different now.

According to the essay by columnist Lisa Lerer, Biden has "put forward a very different approach, one that historians, political scientists and strategists in both parties believe could signal the end of fiscal conservative dominance in our politics"

During Biden's recent speech before Congress, he signaled that his agenda would be "packed with "once in a generation" investments that would touch nearly every corner of American life, everything from cancer research to child care to climate change."

"It's time we remembered that 'we the people' are the government. You and I," Biden said. "Not some force in a distant capital."

When former President Barack Obama took office in 2009, he made it clear that he was completely aware of how Reagan's policies influenced lawmakers' perspective on spending and deficits.

"Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not, and in a way that Bill Clinton did not," Mr. Obama said during his 2008 campaign. "He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like, you know, with all the excesses of the '60s and the '70s, and government had grown and grown, but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating."

But despite his awareness, Obama faced a substantial number of hurdles and was ultimately unable to gain bipartisan support for many of his proposed legislation and policies. Subsequently, he too began adjusting his presidential agenda.

However, the silver lining is that the Biden administration may be able to close in the gaps and accomplish some of the initiatives the Obama administration could not.

Younger Voters Favor Biden And Democrats By Historic Margins

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A new poll of younger voters reveals that they strongly back President Joe Biden and the Democratic congressional majority, while more than two-thirds of them disapprove of congressional Republicans.

For 21 years, the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School has surveyed young Americans through its Harvard Youth Poll. The results of its spring 2021 poll, released Friday, reveal adults under age 30 "overwhelmingly approve of the job President Biden is doing, favor progressive policies, and have faith in their fellow Americans."

Three-fifths of voters aged 18-29 approve of Biden's overall job performance, 59 percent to 38 percent — slightly higher even than President Barack Obama's numbers in the institute's 2009 poll.

Among college students who are registered to vote, 63 percent approve of Biden's performance, a higher level of support than any attained in the poll by George W. Bush, Obama, or Donald Trump.

The results show growing support for progressive policies, including double-digit increases over the past five years in support for climate action, government spending to reduce poverty, and universal health care. Young voters identify with the Democratic Party over the Republican Party by a 41 percent to 22 percent plurality; 40 percent say they lean more liberal, contrasted with 27 percent who lean more conservative.

While just 36 percent of participants say they consider themselves "politically engaged or politically active," 41 percent say they will definitely vote in the 2022 midterms, and another 19 percent say they'll probably do so.

This would be good news for the Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate. Younger voters approve of Democrats in Congress by a 52-45 percent majority, while they disapprove of congressional Republicans by a 69-28 percent supermajority. By a 53-14 percent spread, they view the Republican Party as "too extreme."

They also say they have an unfavorable view of Trump, by a 65-28 percent margin; 54 percent say that history should evaluate Trump as a "bad president," "terrible president," or the "worst president ever," while just 26 percent say he should be deemed "good" or better.

This growing progressive sentiment among younger votes comes as young people have taken the lead on issues of racial justice, climate action, and gun safety — and been attacked by prominent Republicans for doing so.

Trump and his team repeatedly bullied teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, raging after she was named Time magazine's Person of the Year. Trump said the then-16-year-old in December 2019 had "anger management" issues and needed to "chill."

Last October, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) attacked David Hogg, a 20-year-old survivor of the 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, and an activist against gun violence, calling him "functionally illiterate" for criticizing Trump's separation of immigrant kids from their families.

In January, footage resurfaced of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) confronting Hogg in March 2019, accusing him of "using kids" to "attack the Second Amendment" and branding him a "coward" for not responding to her taunts.

Republican lawmakers around the country have also sought to suppress student voting by shutting down early voting sites on campuses, refusing to accept student IDs as valid for voter identification, and prohibiting students from registering at their college addresses.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.