I was going to hold off on this and give President Obama the benefit of a doubt – at least for a few months. Nevertheless, after reading the magnificent piece by Barry Ritholtz, entitled: “The Tragedy of the Obama Administration”, I decided that it was time to start discussing leadership alternatives for the next Presidential term.
On October 30, the Associated Press published the results of a poll it conducted with Knowledge Networks. Forty-seven percent of the Democrats surveyed expressed the opinion that Obama should be challenged for the 2012 Democratic Presidential nomination. In the wake of the mid-term election massacre, I expect that more Democrats will be anxious to find a new standard-bearer for their party in 2012. The AP article concerning the AP-KN poll, mentioned the theory that the public’s opinion of Obama could change if the economy improves. Unfortunately, most American consumers will not observe any significant improvement in the economy during the next two years. There is a greater likelihood that the Chicago Cubs will win next year’s World Series.
We currently find ourselves bombarded with a wide spectrum of opinions, which purport to explain what the results of the 2010 elections really mean. The most obvious conclusion to be drawn from this event is that the voters resent being taken for chumps. Obama’s supporters were promised change they could believe in by a President and a party that sold its soul to the Wall Street megabanks at the cost of America’s future economic health. When he had the opportunity to do so in early 2009, Obama refused to put those too-big-to-fail, zombie banks through temporary receivership. As a result, we are now approaching a situation which – according to financial risk management expert Chris Whalen – will necessitate another round of bank bailouts. When President Obama had the opportunity and the public support (not to mention Democratic control over both houses of Congress) to enact an adequate stimulus program to save the economy from a decade(s) – long, Japanese-style recession, he refused to so. If an extra $600 billion had been added to the $787 billion in 2009 (as part of a better-thought-out, infrastructure-based stimulus program) we would be experiencing significant economic growth and a recovering job market right now. Australia keeps reminding us of this. (Oops! Australia just did it again!) Instead, America finds itself in a situation wherein the Fed is now appropriating that $600 billion toward another round of quantitative easing, which will serve no other purpose than to push investors into the stock market. According to economist Andy Xie, those stock investors will have an unpleasant experience when Chairman Bernanke’s latest asset bubble pops in 2012.
While many Senate Democrats (along with operatives from the Treasury Department) were busy removing all of the teeth from the financial reform bill, Maria Cantwell was fighting those efforts as one of the few advocates for the American taxpayers. Back on May 19, Arthur Delaney and Ryan Grim of The Huffington Post described how Senator Cantwell stood up to the efforts of Harry Reid to use cloture to push the financial reform bill to a vote before any further amendments could have been added to strengthen the bill. Notice how “the usual suspects” – Reid, Chuck Schumer and “Countrywide Chris” Dodd tried to close in on Cantwell and force her capitulation to the will of the kleptocracy:
There were some unusually Johnsonian moments of wrangling on the floor during the nearly hour-long vote. Reid pressed his case hard on Snowe, the lone holdout vote present, with Bob Corker and Mitch McConnell at her side. After finding Brown, he put his arm around him and shook his head, then found Cantwell seated alone at the opposite end of the floor. He and New York’s Chuck Schumer encircled her, Reid leaning over her with his right arm on the back of her chair and Schumer leaning in with his left hand on her desk. Cantwell stared straight ahead, not looking at the men even as she spoke. Schumer called in Chris Dodd, who was unable to sway her. Feingold hadn’t stuck around. Cantwell, according to a spokesman, wanted a guarantee on an amendment that would fix a gaping hole in the derivatives section of the bill, which requires the trades to be cleared, but applies no penalty to trades that aren’t, making Blanche Lincoln’s reform package little better than a list of suggestions.
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“I don’t think it’s a good idea to cut off good consumer amendments because of cloture,” said Cantwell on Tuesday night.
Senator Cantwell has proven herself worthy of our trust. Her nomination as the 2012 Democratic Presidential candidate will revive the excitement and voter enthusiasm witnessed during the 2008 campaign. On the other hand, if President Obama decides to seek a second term and wins the nomination, we will likely find a greater enthusiasm gap than the example of November 2. As a result, by January of 2013 we could have a new administration in the White House, espousing what economist Nouriel Roubini describes as “the economic equivalent of creationism”.
Here’s to a bright future!