THE SCORE CARD FOR OBAMA

অতিথি লেখক's picture
Submitted by guest_writer on Wed, 12/09/2012 - 12:47am
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Barack Obama the poster boy for liberals who rode on his message of change that appealed to voters of US and mass people around the world is facing lukewarm response in the upcoming election of US. His presidency of last four years have failed to keep the same momentum that drove masses of people out of their couch to vote for the first black president of US, with a middle name Hussain.

No other leader divides opinion more than Barack Obama in US politics. In the far right spectrum, Obama is the dangerous pseudo- Muslim who has seized power through deception and who is willing to sacrifice US national interest for appeasing the Arabs. The far left admonishes Obama for making too many concessions to the liberal agenda that was the heart of his presidency bid. His failure to reduce the unemployment level has disheartened the independents who expected Obama to lead them to a period of economic boom. Caught in between this quagmire Obama expected to face backlash from independent voters and lukewarm response from his own supporter base.

The republican nominee Mitt Romney who denies to open his tax records and maintains offshore accounts in tax heavens is still maintaining a neck and neck competition in most polls. Obama is fortunate to have such weak opponent in the election from republicans and it is a surprise that Romney is still on the money for next presidency with such soft targets in his resume.

But, what about his achievements in last four years? Does his scorecard reflect on a total failure? Is his hard work and enthusiasm and genuine efforts in multiple ground accounts for nothing ?

Some analysts differ. They point out to the fact that, in these four years Obama has made some sweeping changes in few important issues that would put his reign in the bracket of few revolutionary presidents of the past.

Barack Obama was destined to fail on his first major hurdle- matching up the huge expectation that he had created in the build up to his election. The universal message that Obama echoed throughout his campaign accounted for a wish list of a progressive daydreamer - shackle wall street to contain its greed, ensure jobs for every lazy Americans, end Iraq war, free the world from hunger , bring peace to middle east and make the world a better place. Most people almost believed in the hype and almost believed that his man can make all these possible. So, they came in hordes. They camped beside the polling stations. The first black president of America was destined to fail on such huge expectation and now predictably he is fighting what media now terms as “Enthusiasm Gap” amongst the democratic base though nobody is accusing him for not trying.

The biggest obstacle to Obama credibility comes from the weak economy. While Obama came to power, America was reeling into a recession. He pumped an unprecedented 700 billions of tax payers money into the private sector to save the failing banks and he succeeded in stopping the recession. American economy is now growing and recession has been averted. But, the rate of recovery is very slow and the economy is not producing enough jobs. The unemployed mostly consists of the core supporters of Obama. When their livelihood is at stake they are struggling to keep the support of the messiah alive.

Obama has delivered his premise of ending the Iraq war. Although the war is by no means over but Obama has brought back majority of troops. He has shown courage and determination to correct a wrong that Bush inflicted on the world and the Iraqi people . And, this was not an easy journey. Like all other nations, most American’s take pride in their super power status. The grim face of relatives of the dead US soldiers and the billions of dollars spent on troops are insignificant to the acrimony of losing a war by the world’s biggest super power. Amongst the partisan and divisive tactics of US politicians Obama showed great courage and simple common sense in bringing the troops back from Iraq. As usual when something is done it looks inevitable. Ending a war that GW Bush or John McCain would have continued for another 10 years is no mean feat.

Many people tend to forget the time when Obama ascended to presidency. A prolonged depression engulfed US and the world. It is Obama who guided US out of the depression. Though unemployment figure is still high, the US economy is growing. Most American’s like us the Bangladeshis are keen to point out to their president for their own personal and wide scale economic failings.

The fact that US has lost its economic competitiveness to china, the fact that US economy is now consumption oriented instead of production oriented, the fact that intellectual workforce is now more distributed around the world due to the use of internet and communication technology is often overlooked by US economists . America as country has not yet comprehended the fact that it is not the great economic mega power it once was and everyday a slow attrition of jobs are happening to another Chinese company. Only in the secretive arms industry, aerospace, high tech and some capital machinery industry US is still competitive amidst international competition.

Twenty years back many of the consumer products were labeled as Made in America. Now those labels proudly projects, Made in China. It is a historical shift. And no president whether democrat or republican would have been able to change its course. It is a transformation of age. Bush and Obama will possibly bear this burden of being the president during this universal transformation. But, he or anybody else were powerless to stop this. This was the time of the dragon to swallow the eagle. Keeping this aside, Obama should be credited for averting the recession, through his economic recovery initiatives.

Obama also succeeded in saving US auto industry. At the height of the recession when GM and Chrysler was going bankrupt, Obama took the initiative to invest 8 billion dollars into Chrysler and 50 billion to GM on US tax funded money. At that time this move was highly unpopular. But, it now appears both this company are gaining their financial stability back and soon will be paying back the money. This was a very risky move by Obama and had he failed on this he would been the biggest and the only looser of the gamble. But, Obama made his call. Had Obama not intervened with the money , there would have been much more catastrophic collapse down the chain and some economists believe another half a million jobs could have been lost.

In domestic ground, changes in healthcare sector is the most profound transformation made by Obama. His reforms will affect the lives of all American in years to come. His policies divided the whole nation, republicans fought tooth and nail to annul this initiative. But Obama prevailed. And, his policy now covers another 32 million Americans who were without any healthcare insurance coverage. An open and must cover all insurance policy now exists for the lowest income group of people who in the earlier system could have been denied from life saving medicine or medical facilities based on some pre existing condition.

Most radical changes by Obama is visible in the international politics. And due to his genuine efforts, America now has much a better standing amongst the nations. America is now seen as much fairer nation. This is mostly visible in the Middle East peace process. Obama and Netanyahu was in collision course number of times in last four years. This was a welcome to change to all other presidency who otherwise succumbed to the ways Israel conducted its blood thirst on the unarmed Palestine population. Obama was very steadfast in opposing the illegal settlements in west bank though he failed and ultimately it looks like Obama has accepted the status quo. But this clear, Obama didn’t want to raffle too many feathers in the election year and if he gains next presidency Obama will be far more adamant in putting pressure on Israel to make way for a independent Palestine state.

It was never easy for Obama to put pressure on Israel against powerful Zionist lobby in US. But, mere the fact that Obama have not tried to deceit the Palestine people and have not supported the apartheid is a welcome change from a US president. For the first time in American history for a long time, Obama looks like a president who can be an honest broker for Middle East peace. Obama has been steadfast in bringing both the parties to negotiation table and for the first time there are some pressure on Israel to show some deeds instead of spouting empty rhetoric’s.

And it is only for Obama Israel has not yet launched another war in Iran. Israel war drums are still beating and they are also waiting for the result of the next election. It is clear that, Israel will be hesitant to launch a full scale offensive without the support of America. And, it is very clear the hawks of Republican Party will simply oblige to the desire of the Israel war machine.

From the perspective of US, killing of Osama Bin Laden is a great achievement. This has improved his standing in the domestic ground it has some how redeemed the stigma attached with his middle name. Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan differed significantly from the policies of Bush. Obama’s military policy was to disengage from difficult provinces where US was regularly loosing personals and a lot of emphasis were put on building the institutions in Afghanistan so that afghan police develops the capacity to deal with the Taliban’s.

More controversial was Obama’s insistence on maintaining the drone strike. During his time the drone strikes has escalated and US has carried on with this cold blooded murder without any repentance and inspite of any perceived consequence with their relationship with Pakistan.

All these steps make Obama a serious enemy for the US far right and fiscal conservatives. Throughout his presidency, Obama’s opponents were more vocal and active in opposing him than his supporters were active in supporting his activities. The tea party movement has energized the fiscal conservative activism. They have kept the failings of Obama administration in the public eye. And, Obama has also inexplicably failed on his greatest strength- communicating with the people.

The US election on November will not be a choice between the ideals of Democratic Party and republicans. Rather it will be a score card on Obama and a call by the US people if they are ready to give their first black president another four years to deliver on his unfulfilled promises.

Blogger Armchair Economist posting as guest writer


Comments

এস এম মাহবুব মুর্শেদ's picture

I loved your "Obama biased" but well reasoned argument. The collision between Obama and Israel is far closer than we think. Democrates already tried to remove Israel clause from the manifesto. Moreover, it seems like this will be the first time in history when Netanyahu will not see the US president during his visit to US.

Keep up your good writing. I enjoyed it very much!

অতিথি লেখক's picture

This is an interesting development and it is difficult to tell how this will play down amidst independents, a lot of whom are biased towards Israel.
Thanks for the comment.
Zia

ধ্রুব বর্ণন's picture

Whether the bailed out automobile companies succeeded afterwards or not, it does not make sense to reward a failing business model with free money extracted forcefully from taxpayers, in the first place. If you allow private businesses to exist, you should allow them to correct their faults. You cannot do so by rewarding when they make a mistake. Of course we skipped the danger this time. But, it is a short-term relief. Establishing a bad market may postpone a recession, but cannot avert it.

The role of the wall street in this recession is often misunderstood. Yes, Greenspan was involved. Austrian theorists pointed out that his manipulation with the federal funds interest rate was a major cause for the crisis. But, somehow people chose the story that has an easy scapegoat. It sounds cooler to say that, "greed of wall street is what caused the recession", whether this vague rhetoric refers to any real cause or not.

অতিথি লেখক's picture

The US auto industry is a very important industry to be allowed to fall. It is now clear that, the intervention have actually worked and they have repaid most of the debt.

The alternative option was untenable. If that loan was not offered, those companies would have gone bankrupt and a farther .5 million job would have been lost and US probably would still be in recession now.

I am not sure which studies you are referring regarding the interest rate. And you are right that it is fashionable to blaim wall street for the recession. But, you can't actually disagree that sub prime crysis was something banks did to themselves and this was one of the catalyst of the recession. We should give credit to Obama for introducing the Volcker law which was enforced on wall street banks after the sub prime crisis This rule for the first time has enforced some control over speculative investment .

I do see the point you are making. The benefits could have gone directly to the customers who had the bad loans instead of saving the banks. There is some meat in this argument. However in western economic system, banks are too important institutions to fail. In Bangladesh our intellectuals don’t go to bed without bashing Yunus in every supper for his credit system

However, in west they value the importance of credit. Credit runs the economy in west. And banks give credit. So, Obama had to save the banks.

Thanks for the comment again.
Zia

ধ্রুব বর্ণন's picture

I was referring to the following study:

Symptoms of the Credit Crisis

Quote:
The benefits could have gone directly to the customers who had the bad loans instead of saving the banks.

But, I do not suggest that either. These are all short-term rescue operations. But, until US is going to remedy its current banking system, bigger problems will keep coming. And no finite amount of restrictions will bring us an efficient system. In the current banking system, banks can generate money out of thin air, so unrestricted banks will only make things worse. But, remember that they are given this immense power by a centrally powerful bank, which would not have been possible in a true free economy. Fractional-reserve banking has to be corrected. You may find the following article interesting.

http://mises.org/daily/6056/JPMorgan-Chase-and-Central-Banking

I am not pretending to see a better hope in Obama's opponent. But, we should make sure that we praise Obama for the right reasons. The recession was the right opportunity for us to start to correct the system, but he denied to even realize that. Instead, he went to resort to short-term reliefs and even went further to set a bad example for the private companies by handing out free money. Big businesses have gone bankrupt in the past, and new businesses typically arises pretty quickly with improved business models. GM and Chrysler may have been saved, but that is not a good message to the market. It says that if your business is unavoidably big, government is going to save you when you become lazy.

Thanks for your reply.

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