December 13, 2008

Obama’s Dangerous Appearance As Community Organizer in Chief

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:57 am

Note: This column originally appeared at Pajamas Media on Thursday.

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His statement in support of law-breaking workers has undermined his attempts to appear economically moderate.

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You’ve got to hand it to Team Obama. Politically, when under control and on message, they are very good.

Take the economy (please). The president-elect has lowered the bar, telling us that itis going to get worse before it gets better.” He’s talking tough about imposing conditions (“We are not going to simply write a bunch of checks”) on any bailout of Big 3 automakers General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. The statements themselves may or may not be sincere, but they play well.

But in spontaneous moments, Obama blows it. This occurred several times during the campaign, and it happened again Sunday. In another one of those “off the teleprompter” moments that became infamous during the presidential campaign, Obama may have undone all of his team’s market-mollifying efforts.

First, though, let’s look at where we are.

It became very clear last Friday that the architects of what I have been calling the POR Economy since early July — Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and Harry Reid — have created a doozy of an economic debacle. Since June, when it became obvious to employers and investors that, deliberately or not, the POR Triumvirate were driving an economic downturn with their willingness to starve the economy of energy and their grim determination to raise taxes in the face of sluggish conditions, the economy has deteriorated terribly, and, along with it, the employment situation.

The following two charts from Uncle Sam’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows just how bad the decay in Joe Biden’s three-letter word — J-O-B-S — has been. The first shows monthly seasonally adjusted job losses:

JobsLostIn2008thruNov.jpg

Since June, when Pelosi, Obama, and Reid began working their “magic” in earnest, the economy has lost over 1.5 million seasonally adjusted jobs. What had been an employment slump turned into a quagmire as the prospect, and then the reality, of an Obama win became ever clearer.

As bad as the seasonally adjusted results are, they actually mask the how extreme the deterioration has been, as the following not seasonally adjusted BLS chart demonstrates:

JobsLostIn2008thruNovNotSeas.jpg

This year, the economy has alternately added fewer or lost more jobs in every month compared to 2007. But what had been a troubling trend clearly became alarming in September and October, and simply awful in November. This occurred as the energy starvation, high-tax postures of Pelosi, Obama, and Reid continued, and the decades-in-the-making crackups at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac became obvious. Those Democratic-driven failures at Fan and Fred marked the beginning of the bailout mania, otherwise known as the SUCKUP (the Seemingly Unlimited Cash Kitty Under Paulson), that appears to have no end in sight. It is no coincidence that November’s wrong-direction swing of 947,000 — the worst since the early 1960s, even after adjusting for smaller workforce sizes — occurred in the month Barack Obama was elected.

But maybe the markets have misread him — or, more correctly stated, maybe Obama as president will bear no resemblance to Obama the candidate.

It’s easy to make too much of this, but there have been a few hopeful signs:

  • Team Obama has deferred its plans to dramatically increase Social Security and other taxes. Abandoning them would be better, but it’s a start.
  • The president-elect’s economic nominees, while not necessarily ardent free-market cheerleaders, are mostly not the socialist flamethrowers some had feared.
  • It appears that the Big 3 bailout of General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford, which to be sure shouldn’t be happening at all, will “at least” not be the open-ended $125 billion nightmare that some advocate.
  • The domestic economic mess they have created, the need to ensure that the Big 3 somehow survive if bailout money is disbursed, and the growing worldwide resistance to extreme measures designed to combat so-called global warming that hasn’t been occurring for about 10 years, may all cause Obama to back away from the worst elements of his fossil fuel-curtailing agenda. He has already reneged on his promise to impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies.

But in one statement Sunday, reacting to the factory sit-in at Republic Windows and Doors in his native Chicago, Obama set off alarms in the offices of entrepreneurs, businesspeople and investors everywhere:

Obama: Workers staging sit-in ‘absolutely right’

President-elect Barack Obama is weighing in on behalf of workers staging a sit-in on the factory floor of their former Chicago employer to protest abruptly losing their jobs last week.

Obama told a news conference Sunday that Republic Windows and Doors should follow through on its commitments to the 200 workers, who say they won’t leave the plant until they are assured they’ll receive their severance and vacation pay.

“The workers who are asking for the benefits and payments that they have earned, I think they’re absolutely right and understand that what’s happening to them is reflective of what’s happening across this economy,” Obama said.

Regardless of the facts and circumstances, Obama’s statement is a dangerous, de facto endorsement of lawlessness that has the potential to shut business owners’ wallets nationwide. As IBDeditorials.com noted:

If he believes the workers deserve the pay they are demanding, he is free to say so. He has no place, however, to support anyone’s decision to trespass on another’s property. To advocate offenses against society is to legitimize them.

It won’t take very much of this before businesses conclude that putting employees on the payroll must be avoided as long as possible, if it’s to be done at all. They will more frequently use temporary agency employees as long as they legally can. They won’t replace employees who retire or leave. They’ll have more work done in other countries. They won’t pursue business ideas that require US employees. The trend toward Professional Employment Organizations (PEOs, or “leased employees”) will accelerate.

More such appearances by Obama as rabble-rousing Community Organizer in Chief will go a long way towards ensuring that his “get worse before it gets better” prediction about the economy becomes tragically true.

Couldn’t Help But Comment (121308, Morning)

The most accurate interpretation of the breakdown in the GM-Chrysler bailout talks in the Senate is that the UAW chose bankruptcy for its employers over concessions. The about-face being considered by Bush and Paulson to (probably illegally) use TARP funds to bail out the two companies would thus be a total sellout to a bunch of crybabies.

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British kids won’t be learning as much about their rich heritage, thanks to the dictionary cleaners (“Words associated with Christianity, the monarchy and British history have been dropped from a leading dictionary for children”):

Oxford University Press has removed words like “aisle”, “bishop”, “chapel”, “empire” and “monarch” from its Junior Dictionary and replaced them with words like “blog”, “broadband” and “celebrity”. Dozens of words related to the countryside have also been culled.

The publisher claims the changes have been made to reflect the fact that Britain is a modern, multicultural, multifaith society.

But academics and head teachers said that the changes to the 10,000 word Junior Dictionary could mean that children lose touch with Britain’s heritage.

Read the whole thing. This is no innocent enterprise in improving learning.

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We have eyewitness proof that my POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid Economy appellation is accurate:

I caused part of this job loss and I know precisely why; the election. The results portend big trouble for small business.

….. Atlas has shrugged all over the country.

Like many business owners, we are no longer willing to take all of the financial and legal risks and put up with all of the aggravation of owning and running a business. Not with the prospects of even higher taxes, more regulation, more litigation and more emboldened bureaucrats on the horizon. Like others we know, we are getting out while the getting is, well, tolerable. Many who aren’t getting out are scaling back.

….. Entrepreneurs instinctively understand the danger posed by larger liberal majorities in power. The risk-reward equation and fierce independence spirit of start up businesses are anathema to the class warfare, equality of outcome and spread the wealth mentality of the left.

We have very little appetite to have our lives run by elected or un-elected officials like Barney Frank and Jamie Gorelick. We have no appetite to be taxed even more by the likes of Charlie Rangel. These clowns destroyed Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and our entire economy as a result. Congress, by their own admission, cannot even run their own damned dining room with a captive customer base!

….. We got into business to be independent. We will get out for the same reason.

The fact that Obama is not in office yet is irrelevant. Businesses must see “around the corner” and plan accordingly.

Read the whole thing. I would only add that the fact that Obama hadn’t yet won election in June is also irrelevant for the same reason. Business people saw what Pelosi, Obama, and Reid were doing to the economy with their energy-starvation stances and would likely do once in full control, and acted accordingly.

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I remembered that “someone” at the end of the Clinton Administration destroyed computer files and deleted hard drives in defiance of legal orders.

Michelle Malkin remembered that this “someone” was Obama’s designated “energy czar” Carol Browner:

On her last day in office, nearly eight years ago, Browner oversaw the destruction of agency computer files in brazen violation of a federal judge’s order requiring the agency to preserve its records. This from a public official who bragged about her tenure: “One of the things I’m the proudest of at EPA is the work we’ve done to expand the public’s right to know.”

Asked to explain her track-covering actions, the savvy career lawyer Browner played dumb. Figuratively batting her eyelashes, she claimed she had no clue about a court injunction signed by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth on the same day she commanded an underling to wipe her hard drives clean. Golly gee willikers, how could that have slipped by her?

According to testimony in a freedom of information lawsuit filed against EPA by the Landmark Legal Foundation, a Virginia-based conservative legal watchdog group, Browner commanded a computer technician on Jan. 19, 2001: “‘I would like my files deleted. I want you to delete my files.” Not coincidentally, the Landmark Legal Foundation had been pressing Browner to fully and publicly disclose the names of any special interest groups that may have influenced her wave of last-minute regulatory actions. Two days before she told her technician to purge all her records, EPA had gone to court to file a motion opposing the federal court injunction protecting those government documents.

Plausible deniability? Not bloody likely.

This is over and above the problem that Brown is an enviro radical of the worst kind. The last thing this supposed “energy czar” cares about is producing energy.

If the GOP Senate can’t filibuster this nomination, they might as well go home and tell their kids, and constituents, that crime pays.

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It’s hard to work up a lot of sympathy in reaction to Newsweek’s job cuts given their irresponsible support of flat-out heresy. Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, in a hard-drive saver, kicks to the curb Judith Miller’s breathtakingly irresponsible essay.

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IBDeditorials.com had a great editorial and accompanying graph on the middle class tax burden and real incomes:

tax burden

Willisms emphasized the valid point that the middle-class tax burden has gone down under Bush.

Of course, the long-term consequences of the bipartisan SUCKUP (Seemingly Unlimited Cash Kitty Under Paulson) could ruin all of that in the coming years.