Friday 16 July 2010

The Fall of Barack Obama

Obama offered Americans a free and easy pass to a better future: now they see it was an empty promise

Interesting piece on obama's woes on the First post here. Unusually for a U.S. President Obama has dissapeared from the radar here. I believe that's partly what this piece is alluding too. He set the bar too high and has now disappointed everyone. While I only agree with some of the post there are some comparisons about the different approaches the two new governments have taken getting to, and being in office.

Obama promised change. Change from the past. And hope. Hope for a better world. He didn't really say how he was going to do that, but then he didn't have to. He was left an even worse situation than Cameron's coalition. 10% unemployment, two seriously expensive wars, manufacturing shut downs and a housing and bank collapse, and all the other financial catastrophe that that brings.
When Gordon said it started in America he was right. The USA has been about six-nine months ahead of us in the credit crunch. So the Bluey-yellers should be watching what is going on there very carefully. US GDP +3.2% Q1, third solid growth 1/4 in a row, for example was bound to have influenced Osborne's optimistic treasury forecasts.

But, as the article says, Obama has not done the hope and change that people wanted. They wanted jobs. Jobs and credit. Not stimulus jobs, but real jobs. They haven't materialised.
The unemployment rate in the United States was 9.50 percent in June of 2010

Where I really do agree with the article is that the economy should have been the number one priority for his first term. That, and that alone, will win him a second term. You can't offer 'more change and more hope,' from yourself. You must deliver.

In contrast the Tories, almost alone, tried to discuss the recession and the debt. So when they sort of won, they already had set expectations of bounty at nought. They are mentally well placed to carry out necessary reforms to the state and spending. the public expects them to do it.

But they should focus on achieving growth FIRST.The credit crunch must be ended before the campaigning begins. If it isn't, then its all over.
Obama wanted health Care reform. It was necessary, it was fairer,possibly end up cheaper and it has been a Democratic platform for decades. But it was a big fight. Ideological as well as politically. As Alexander Cockburn wrote;

Obama had his window of opportunity last year, when he could have made jobs and financial reform his prime objectives.
That's what Americans hoped for. Mesmerised by economic advisers who were creatures of the banks, he instead plunged into the Sargasso sea of "health reform", wasted the better part of a year and ended up with something that pleases no one.

The lesson for the coalition is clear. Interesting as Vince's 'university fairly paid for by all' and Gove's very welcome new school schemes, they are distractions now. The schools policy, one I wholeheartedly support, is in particular a second term policy.

Economy and debt first. Because if it isn't fixed, there won't be a second term, no matter how many new schools are opened.


Mark Wadsworth said...

That's because Obama was completely taken in by the US Home-Owner-Ist alliance, i.e. the Big Banks and did everything they wanted him to.

He actually claimed once that giving a bank $1 increased the amount of credit by $10. As we know this is rubbish, because the bank can only lend that $10 if it takes in another $9 as deposits first.

He probably spent more on bailing out banks that GWB did.

Old BE said...

I hope that Cameron manages to make the "under promise, over deliver" mantra work.

From where I'm sitting, it looks like most people have accepted an "age of austerity" and now expect there to be tough decisions to be made. Balls et al with their "oh we don't need these cuts" talk just look out of date.

Nick Drew said...

on the subject of Obama vs Cameron, here's an interesting piece

in other news ... I recall that, immediately after Obama's election, Trevor Phillips said something interesting (for once) - that in his heart of hearts Obama knew his election would set back the cause of race relations for a generation

Diane Abbot didn't approve of this delphic utterance, but there you go

Budgie said...

Cameron won't deliver either. He thinks he can "cut waste" within government. But no government has done that. Only by cutting government functions (departments, projects etc) can government expenditure be reduced.

Selling the BBC (and anything else); closing DfID; scrapping Working and Child Tax Credits (and Child Allowance); rolling NICs into IT; leaving the EU; scrapping all Quangos; etc are the only way to really save money. The poorer and lower paid must be compensated by reducing their taxes, and the rest used to reduce the deficit.

Cameron is trapped because he won't contemplate any of the above. He will go the way of Obama.

Anonymous said...

I can't see how the Heir to Blair and and his cosy coalition mates are going to achieve much more than the shower that preceded them.

Pepito said...

According to John Williams at Shadow stats, US unemployment is close to 16%. With housing continuing to crash it can only get worse.

Bill Quango MP said...

MW: Obama has always been on the side of big business. The USA IS capitalism after all. But his opponents say he is a communist.

BE: I hope so too. But the libcon are tackling education and health the two graveyards of political parties. Healthcare reform alone won't help the president come election time.

ND: Hmmm.. agree with the comments. Can't see how what we do makes much difference to the USA. Still a lot of division over there about 'cuts' vs 'spending'.

Budgie: There is a commentator in Nick's link that says Regan was a failure as he never rolled back the state. The issue must be to keep it manageable. DC is chopping around 500,000- 750,000 PS jobs. That would reverse 13 years of adding to the nation's bill.

Anon: Its going to be tough. Watch any question time or listen to Any Questions and see the huge numbers of people who believe everyone should have everything. Yesterday George Galloway got a huge round of applause when he suggested that the Tories were privatising the NHS. Those same audience members have to be won over if anything is to be achieved. A big, big ask.

Pepito: I believe that their 10% unemployment works like ours. It excludes huge numbers of recently signed on, recently out of work, on training schemes, with temporary jobs etc.
The real figure could easily be 20%.

We state 2.5 million out of some 50 million working age. But we know that the economically inactive figure is more like 8 million or 15%ish for us.

Demetrius said...

To clean an Augean Stables you need a Hercules. And there aren't any like him around any more.

Electro-Kevin said...

I think much of what Cameron is saying is bluff. He has to convince foreign investors that he's serious about spending control - he has to do this more than he has to alay the fears of the British public.

Mark Wadsworth said...

What Budgie says.

@ BQ, if the Lib Cons got rid of 500,000 - 750,000 public sector people (without simply shuffling them off into the taxpayer funded Third Sector), then they would reverse less than half the increase of the past 13 years. And it's not like the state was undermanned 13 years ago, is it?

Andrew B said...

I think we are in the middle of a generational shift away from provision of services by the state towards self reliance (like it or not).

Before the war, if you had no job, charities/government paid for your food and nothing else. If you fell sick and had no money, you died

Until the mid 90s we increasingly gave each other benefits, from unemployment benefit that you could just about live on, to a proper NHS, a universal state pension, housing and a mass state-funded university system (add in your favourite luxury).

Now the money has run/is running dry, we look around and are busy removing the benefits that other people get.

So, the council houses have mostly gone, disability benefit is being swiped at, university education is not free, government pensions are being cut back.

I forecast that someone will set up something like NICE that will stop the NHS providing some things it currently does - like removing tattoos or IVF.

We now have to take responsibility for our own pension provision (something I would argue the govt should do, but in real life no-one would trust it to), healthcare (how many of you use a NHS dentist), our childrens education (no, not just the 7% who send their children to private school, but the 50% who send their children to Uni)

Somehow the range of services the state provides seem to be rolling back, to some satisfaction on the right wing, but I have a felling that the 'frontiers' and overall cost will not

Thud said...

'think obama is ca communist'....he makes a passable excuse for one, at least to a majority of American voters now.

Budgie said...

BQ, 500,000 to 750,000? I will believe it when I see it. You're on - one year from now there will not be 500,000 jobs gone in the PS simply by 'cutting waste'. Quangoising or outsourcing do not count because they are still taxpayer funded.

The list I provided before are some of the more obvious for an outright chop. They do not hit 'front line' services and give no excuse for PS managers to target cuts to produce a public outcry. Why won't the Tories touch them? They would be immensely popular.

Bill Quango MP said...

Demetrius: There don't seem to be any Conan types around, but its early days.

EK. I doubt it's all bluff. If he can cut spending he can cut taxes.
If can cut the middle classes from the state handouts and make them more aware of low interest rates and low taxes instead of tax credits and child benefit then he will have bought off a million of labour's vote.

Mw: Oh, I agree. But if the Labour or Lib/Lab pact was in another 500,000 added easily, with all the debt that that brings.

More later...