Tom Friedman thinks Obama’s nightmare is the Middle East.
Friedman is the man who, like Henry Kissinger, can introduce complexity into a coin toss and clarity into… well, into nothing.
Actually, Obama’s nightmare is that he lost the election. And for most tax-paying Americans, the nightmare is Obama himself.
Now go to that voodoo that you do (so well) is what Friedman should suggest to the smartest President ever. You know, all Barry really has to do is unleash his inner Obama/own bad self and let us be China for a day (or two).
Institutionalized mental health care has collapsed through the years.
…across the country, the number of psychiatric beds has shrunk dramatically in recent decades.
The Treatment Advocacy Center’s study pegged the decline at nearly 90 percent — from one psychiatric bed for every 300 Americans in the 1950’s to one bed for every 3-thousand today…
Crony Capitalist Wasting Syndrome
I was recently watching the 2012 campaign unfold on CNN International with a group of Gates Foundation sponsored third-world literature teachers. Our location? A bustling (and gleaming) solar powered Chinese-built bus station in Nairobi with excellent Wi-Fi reception. What I saw reaffirmed how much it would benefit the President were a third-party challenger to emerge.
It would have been useful to have an independent candidate siphoning votes away from Mitt Romney while also letting someone other than the media (and Democrats) defend the last three and a half years of the Obama presidency, most of which has required President Obama to focus on fundraising so he could fix all the Bush-caused failures in a second term. And it would have been equally useful to have an independent challenger acknowledging Obama’s hard work without offering the traditional campaign enticements to the Democratic Party’s core constituencies: Hollywood, homosexuals, illegals, and the 45 million Americans now on food stamps. To me, this campaign feels like a cyber war for the President with no air cover.
But there will be no third-party candidate to destroy Romney’s chances, so the only hope to get Obama to raise his game to the 2008 level, back when so many Americans assumed he’d be competent (or at least better than John McCain). To get back to 2008, the president first needs to re-write history, and second, to recognize just how badly he’s wasted Warren Buffett’s credibility. Remember that the President only used Buffett, America’s most successful crony capitalist, for a transparently lame two-week wedge-issue effort.
In exchange for red-lining the Keystone XL pipeline and a few other goodies, Obama got Buffett to endorse the “Buffett Rule”—a call for a minimum tax rate of 30 percent for all millionaire households earning $250,000 or more. The plan had no chance of passing, would have reduced the federal debt by 0.17 percent in 7.2 billion years and was decried as a gimmick that only diverted attention from what right-wing zealots say America really needs: comprehensive spending reform. Now, the Buffett Rule has largely faded away.
What a Presidential waste of Warren Buffett’s incredible credibility.
Buffett is a businessman out to make a profit through cronyism, rent-seeking, and regulatory capture—he’s no Mitt Romney—and as such, he is respected by many on the left as a useful line-toeing partisan; someone who can “change the game” with his Daddy Warbucks’-like bank account and deep pockets. What the president should have done was to follow the advice of Papilloma University sociologist and former Fed Deputy Chairperson Alan Blindpann, namely lay out a “bold three-step retox program for our nation’s fiscal policy.” Call it BP: the Barry Plan.
The BP would combine more immediate deficit spending for training to deal with the stress of being unemployed, new public sector make-work initiatives, and other programs that promote a general growth in government dependency; a second phase-in would double down on more deficit spending were the economy to survive; and finally, the plan would use a great deal of incomprehensible economist-gibberish like “bend the health care cost-curve downward” without any real ways to make such wishes happen. While Obama has already offered the gibberish; he still has not sufficiently risen to other elements of the plan which would be a natural extension of his own thinking.
Obama deserves a second look from independents who will determine this election. To get that second look, he will need voters think three thoughts regarding his record: 1) “Yes, the deficit is bad, but it isn’t Obama’s fault.” 2) “Yes, unemployment is bad, but it isn’t Obama’s fault.” 3) “Yes, Obama did something hard. He has almost destroyed the incentives, rule-of-law, and economic system that made American great. But that’s hard to do and that takes real leadership, so I’ll give him a second look.”
I’d bet anything that if the president staked out such a Barry Plan, Buffett and a lot of other business leaders like George Soros and Harvey Weinstein and Bruce Springsteen would endorse it. It would give the G.O.P. a real problem. After all, what would help Obama more right now, repeating over and over the Buffett Rule gimmick or campaigning from now to Election Day by starting every stump speech saying: “Folks, I have another plan, the BP economic plan, that Warren Buffett and other crony capitalists will make money on—and Mitt Romney doesn’t”?
Loyalists to my President often counter with: “But those Republicans are obstructionist. And evil. And racist.” Yes, the G.O.P. is not only racist, but they’re highly destructive. And evil. But why is it only the media can see this terrible problem and why have Republicans gotten away with it?
My view: It’s because not enough Americans see that Obama is working hard to lead the re-creation of our evil, racist, illegal, homophobic, imperial nation. The BP would offer an economic plan that would make our nihilists, another natural Democrat constituency, want to get off the couch and do battle with normal Americans. Our situation is far different from four years ago; this time we need to get our president re-elected.
When the Grand Bargain talks with John Boehner fell apart, Obama retreated to his bubble when he should have rallied all of us by laying out—in detail—the Barry Plan to reshape America in ways he thinks the country needs. That would have forced Romney to speak in detail about his plan to preserve America as a evil, racist, illegal, homophobic, imperial nation—that is, the Paul Ryan plan— and reveal this scheme for what it is: a radical plan the left cannot or will not grasp.
Then other Americans would see the real choice of the Barry Plan: a tough-minded-but-centrist/Marxist plan without any bipartisan support versus a dangerous radical right plan to sustain Medicare and Social Security, let people keep more of their own earnings, and to shrink discretionary spending so dramatically that nothing is left for clean water and air, veterans, children, cancer research, and women, minorities, and the poor.
And the morning after that happens—when Warren Buffett endorses the Barry Plan, not just the Buffett Gimmick—the president will have gotten his inner Mojo Nixon back.
(If you must, read the original here.)
Tom Friedman, sometimes known at this site as Tom Frymom, has a well deserved reputation for being unreadable, using idiotic and pointless juxtapositions, dropping myriad non sequiturs, and for pushing the same pap relentlessly.
And while we’re at it, let’s just say Friedman’s ability to make a living as a “public intellectual” is one of the great mysteries of the universe. Yet as Thomas Sowell points out, there are such things as bad—really bad—public intellectuals, just as there are really bad policemen, soldiers, and doctors. Indeed.
It’s a good life if you’re Tom, but the brain-stumper is two fold: 1) who hired the guy in the first place (and why) and 2) how does he manage to still earn a living by only providing high school-level observations (and junior high-level writing)? I suppose momentum, in part, explains the second, but I have no idea about the first. Is it possible Friedman was once astute and capable and has since devolved?
As a satirist, Friedman’s work presents a special sort of challenge: it’s simply so awful that it’s self-parodying to begin with. While Friedman’s self-parodying is no doubt unintentional, try to parody something that’s already self-parodying. It’s tough. I mean you write an article in the voice of Tom Friedman and think you’ve nailed it only to find your parody effort is actually less stupid, vacuous, and trite than an original Friedman column. Or book.
Below is a recent lead from Friedman. If you’ve ever read the guy, you quickly realize this is the same formulistic goo, perhaps facilitated through the magic of cut and paste or at least a template, that so many of his columns are:
I had to catch a train in Washington last week. The paved street in the traffic circle around Union Station was in such poor condition that I felt as though I was on a roller coaster. I traveled on the Amtrak Acela, our sorry excuse for a fast train, on which I had so many dropped calls on my cellphone that you’d have thought I was on a remote desert island, not traveling from Washington to New York City. When I got back to Union Station, the escalator in the parking garage was broken. Maybe you’ve gotten used to all this and have stopped noticing. I haven’t. Our country needs a renewal.
While it’s true Friedman is a cartoonish foot-soldier for progressive causes (less democracy, reduced rule of law, public transportation, green energy, government-induced market distortions, higher taxes, etc.), could a conservative writer as bad as the Frymom make a living in anything other than entry-level work in the housekeeping, lawn service, or fast-food industries?
This leads to a perhaps hopeful conclusion: based on merit, there should be plenty of work for conservative voices in the the arena of ideas.
(If you must, read Tom Friedman’s original column here)
I’VE done a lot of television book interviews lately, and I continue to be struck; first by people with sticks and ax handles and secondly, at what a difference there is in the technology in just a few years’ time.
Here is the layout for a typical “remote in” to a network when you’re trying to plug your book: arrive and get signed in by security. Be handed off to either an intern who appears to be working for free or conversely, an older person who inexplicably dodged Wal-Mart greeter duties. Have your makeup done by that person and have your microphone attached by that person. Be positioned in the studio chair by that person, and then look into a camera being manipulated by someone in a control room somewhere and speak to whoever the host is: one employee, a robot and you.
Think of how many jobs — makeup artist, receptionist, camera person, producer-director — have been collapsed into one. Think that this would collapse even more if I had a high quality digital camera in my own home and if there was software for that camera that eliminated the need for my makeup (and ideally, my large jowl as well). Then I could have done the book-plug from home, reducing my carbon footprint and assuaging my own guilt for not walking my own green talk.
I attempt to make this point because there is no doubt the main reason for our 9.1 percent unemployment rate is the steep drop in aggregate demand for makeup artists, receptionists, camera people, and producer-directors in the Great Recession. But it is not the only reason. “The Great Recession” is also coinciding with — and driving — “The Great Inflection.”
In 2004, when I was plugging another book I’d written, Facebook barely existed — and Twitter, cloud computing, iPhones, LinkedIn, iPads, the “applications” industry and Skype had either not been invented or were in their infancy. My point? I’m not really sure.
Today, anyone with the spark of an idea can start a company overnight, using a credit card, and within a couple of years, have the government sign off on your forms, regulations, and ideas and actually allow work to begin. It is why Pascal Lame, a chef at the World Trade Organization, argues that terms like “made in America” or “made in China” are phasing out. The proper term, says Lame, is “made somewhere.” Today, more products are designed somewhere, made somewhere and sold somewhere than ever before.
The term “outsourcing” is also out of date. Because there is no more “out” anymore, only “sourcing” is left. Firms can and will and have sought the best leaders and talent that provide the “best value,” a shocking development that means an English-proficient Chinese peasant may soon be writing this article and publishing it in this paper next to my jowly-face and name. And just as ATMs have reduced the number of bank workers, that’s not right.
Matt Barry, is the founder of freelander.com, which today lists 2.8 million people seeking homesteads in unimproved Russia. “The whole world wants free stuff, to include free land, and at an incredibly rapid pace,” says Barry, and many of these homesteaders end up at freelander.com to barter their talents. Barry describes the global army of freelanders the way Eugene Robinson describes Chris Christie: “They’re all Ph.D.’s. Pretty heavy dudes.”
Barrie offered me two examples from his site now: NASA is looking for a designer to design “a fully functioning heavy-lift space launch vehicle.” Forty people (and organizations and nations, including China), are now bidding on the job at an average price of seven acres of Siberian soil. Earlier, the Department of Justice used the service when they were looking for a “scheme to illegally sell firearms in order to make a case for restricting the second amendment.” Seven people, all convicted felons, bid on that job at an average price of a half-acre.
Indeed, there is no “flat” or “round” anymore. In the mondoconnected world, there is only “net,” and managers and entrepreneurs with access to government sponsorship will now have access to the better and best people, robots and software everywhere. Obviously, this makes it ‘more vital than ever’ (that phrase itself is one of the redundant descriptors that I use to make my writing irreplaceable) that we have school spending programs that are focused on making our best and brightest into schoolteachers because everyone must be above average now.
TO Barack Obama, I just have just one name: Jimmy Carter.
I know you’re familiar with that name. Carter lives in infamy in U.S. history as the face of massive U.S. economic misery (oil shocks, inflation, unemployment) and foreign policy catastrophes (Iran, the Middle East, Russian invasion of Afghanistan). Be advised that you’re courting a similar fate and maybe worse. Actually, it is worse: you’re making Jimmy Carter look like Abraham Lincoln.
But unlike Carter, who was simply another guilty-feeling white liberal with a soft heart and a head to match, you have the ability to make things better. That’s because you are Dear Reader. You can read a speech and change the course of history; you can read a speech and make the lion lie down with the lamb; you can read a speech and alter the dark soul of America. I knew Jimmy Carter, sir, and you are no Jimmy Carter (take that as a compliment); you are Dear Reader.
We need speeches read that will call for loaning more to money to irresponsible financial players, make Uncle Sam the landlord of choice, and through accounting tricks and magic, put our financial house in order. We need speeches that will call for the licensing of government-endorsed entrepreneurs; speeches that will call for taking more from the productive class and giving to a government that’s never really had enough to make a difference; speeches that will unify us in our support for government-directed solutions to market-based problems.
Reading these speeches will not be easy: some will require advance meetings. Others will require redrafts. Still others will require the network preemption of Republican debates. And we know your readership will not fix the economy overnight; it will take years to fix the damage done by George W. Bush.
What’s worse — like Jimmy Carter, you seem to have concluded that more speeches may not be needed when the situation self-evidently cries out for more. Our markets cannot wait in their cry for another speech outlining more government intervention and I know the European debt crisis can’t wait for its own speech on how the U.S. government’s solution is at hand.
Do Americans not understand that only government can fix these messes that they’ve made? Where is the urgency? This is code deep purple and requires immediate bipartisan compromise. We need non-market answers to the global financial contagion triggered by European banks choking on sovereign debt and spreading their woes to an already weakened U.S. financial system. First, more speeches are needed and are needed now; next, more money must be printed.
And while President Obama says it’s Mr. Boehner’s fault, and all I know is this: it’s Mr. Boehner’s fault. But the President still needs to make another speech.
If the president wants to lead (as well as read) from the front, he should exorcise the spirit of Jimmy Carter and summon Democrat and Republican leadership, and all 12 members of the House-Senate deficit “supercommittee,” to join him at Camp David. Once there, he can tell them that he’ll have the Secret Service cut off their fingers one at a time until they have government solutions that address jobs, the debt, entitlements, manmade global warming, China, and more taxes.
We desperately need this for two reasons: first, there are plenty of fingers in the world should the approach fail. Second, the President needs to show that he can still act coercively. The toxic paralysis of slowly slowing government solutions is, in and of itself, slowing everything else. It is keeping a black cloud over the center of the country and disrupting people’s digestive tracts.
If between now and November 2012 all we are have from our two parties is a death duel — Republicans blaming their new Jimmy Carter for the bad economy and the new Jimmy Carter saying nothing is his fault — we will pay a very, very dear price. Only Dear Reader’s speeches can lead us out of this wilderness.
More brilliant metaphors along the lines of ‘the world is flat’ and ‘let’s make Uncle Sam into a world-class cage-fighter.’ If you must, read the original here.
IT BECOMES clearer every week that our country faces a big choice: we can either have a hard decade or a bad century. But thanks to the President’s new “green magic 8-ball” program (GMEB, jointly funded by the NASA climate science program and DARPA), our knowledge of both the next decade and the next century is now omniscient. But we’re cantankerous human beings: will we submit to the wisdom of the green magic 8-ball?
The GMEB says we must either tie our shoes and do what’s needed to overcome our post-cold war excesses with creative, new excesses, or we can just keep tripping on our untied shoelaces into the future. Given this dilemma, the green magic 8-ball says our politicians will rise to the challenge only through compromise on massive, fair, and credible government intervention.
Over the next century, the GMEB says there are three elements a serious government intervention plan will have: cuts (in defense), increases (in taxes), and growing investment in the sources of our strength (our precious bodily fluids and more). But that, alas, is not what we’re getting, which is why there remains an opening for an independent Third Rail candidate, a Fourth Estate candidate, or even a Fifth Column candidate for the 2012 campaign.
The Republicans have not addressed the three-element challenge because the G.O.P. is no longer a “conservative” party, offering a conservative formula for American renewal. The G.O.P. has been captured by a sad and radical freedom, antitax, and small government agenda, and the party’s leaders are too afraid to challenge it. What would “real” conservatives be offering now?
They would understand, as President Nixon did, that at this point in history we cannot just be about cutting. We also need to be “investing” in the sources of our greatness: China (obviously); our precious bodily fluids (obviously); infrastructure (think Big Dig); education (it’s for the children); immigration (who else will take your order at Taco Bell?); and, government-funded research (on manmade global warming). Dangerous, radical conservatives are now suggesting you cannot simply print more money for government programs, despite the self-evident benefits of these programs, to include the aforementioned green magic 8-ball program.
A real conservative like Nixon would understand we cannot maintain our vital defense budget without tax increases on our most productive Americans. He’d understand the benefits of a state-managed economy with much-needed interventions like wage and price freezes. Real conservatives would know we can get rid of all the special-interest giveaways and still keep important subsidies for Mohair, ethanol, LightSquared, Solyndra, and firearms for Mexican drug lords. Finally, real conservatives would understand that the Tea Party is really the Tea Kettle Party; unhappy people letting off steam (which is actually the vaporized form of their own precious bodily fluids).
However, flying in the face of both the green magic 8-ball and “real” conservatives, the Washington Post reported: “The latest Obama speech ‘didn’t produce any savings,’ said Maya MacGuineas, the president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. ‘He reread it and repackaged it and replaced one gimmick with another but it doesn’t do squat.’ The most disheartening development was Obama’s decision to count $1.1 trillion in “savings” from the drawdown of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan toward his debt-reduction total. Because Obama has no intention of continuing war spending at last year’s elevated levels, that $1.1 trillion would never have been spent.”
While they may have a point, my trust is still in the green magic 8-ball and my hope is that “real” conservatives will come to their senses and engage Obama in a Grand Bargain. However, my fear is that the Republicans have a massive leg-up in their 2012 campaigns. If my fear is true, my only desire is that I may remain a public service in providing pithy and pertinent witticisms and metaphors even as I’m a hostage to my own inexplicable fortune, the orphan of a political system gone mad, and hunkered down in a palatial green bunker for a bad century.
Note: I call this parody. If you must, read the original here.)
Every time I listen to Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota talk about manmade climate change as a fraud perpetrated by Al Gore and others in order to get money, I’m reminded of one of my favorite movie lines that Jack Nicholson offers to Louise Bryant regarding comrade-in-arms Jack Reed in the film Reds: “Jack dreams that he can hustle the American working man, who’s one dream is that he could be rich enough not to work, into a revolution led by ‘his’ party.” Wait, strike that whole thought and let me start over. Try this…
Thanks to Al Gore and his altruistic army of government scientists, we have a nearly comprehensive knowledge of the settled science of manmade global warming. So when Texas governor Rick Perry rejects global warming — while his own state is on fire — we know he must be wrong, because fires cannot happen when it’s cold outside. Not only that, there’s the statement by the Texas Forest Service from last week which said: “Recently discovered weather data from ancient papayas scrolls dating back to infinity shows that no one on the face of this earth has ever fought fires in these extreme conditions.”
If you doubt any of this, remember the first rule of global warming: we must defer to authority. For you and me, that means the wise global warmunists set the rules. The way it unfolds is really “global weirding” and that means some “traditional” explanations have to be modified in order to demonstrate the truth of scientifically settled manmade global warming. Sometimes this is hot means cold, wet means dry, droughts mean floods, calm means wind, and snow means sun. Yes, it’s a bit confusing, but it’s still necessary. Here’s the explanation from Heidi Hough, a global warmunist in Texas: “As we poison the earth with carbon dioxide, our atmosphere seems to sometimes become warmer and sometimes colder, and things change. The sun has nothing to do with any of these changes; we know that from the data we’ve made up. And then a miracle occurs, only in this case it’s a bad miracle.”
On Sept. 9, CNN reported “Texas had the distinction of experiencing the warmest summer on record of any state in America, with an average of 86.8 degrees. Dallas residents sweltered for 40 consecutive days of grueling 100-plus degree temperatures. … Temperature-related energy demands soared more than 22 percent above the norm this summer, the largest increase since record-keeping of energy demands began more than a century ago.” Although high-quality, reasonably-priced, Chinese-manufactured air conditioning units were available, think how much more effective it would have been to instead have these toasty Texans just fan themselves.
There is still some we don’t know about how climate change except that it’s settled, it’s manmade, and that any cost I don’t have to pay is worth bearing. (Because I’ve invested huge amounts of intellectual and personal capital in this effort, I know it’s no hoax.) We need to start taking steps, as our government scientists urge, “to start seriously spending on managing the unmanageable.” If you want a quick primer on the latest global warming, surf over to Mr. Gore’s web page itswarmingbecauseisaidso.org. There, contributors will be making up data in real time and changing modeling algorithms as needed.
Not only has the settled science of manmade global warming come under attack lately, so has the economics of green jobs. Here the critics have a point that I’ll try and ignore: I wasn’t surprised to read that the solar panel company Solarboondoggle, which got $535 million in taxpayer loan guarantees to make solar panels in America, filed for bankruptcy protection two weeks ago and laid off 1,100 workers. Yes, this story is an embarrassment to the green jobs movement, but the death by bankruptcy was a collaboration of the worst Democratic and Republican impulses to manufacture things in America.
There is only one effective, sustainable way to produce “green jobs,” and that is with a Chinese-based manufacturing capability which reduces labor costs to those traditionally associated with re-education camps and therefore creates sustained consumer demand for green products. Of course, as an emerging nation, China should still call for a U.S. carbon tax or gasoline tax or cap-and-trade tax or exhalation tax or water vapor tax or other system that favors green jobs in order to revert the United States to an agrarian society, reduce consumption, depopulate the earth, reduce U.S. national power, and therefore, preserve my own personal peace and affluence.
President Obama has chosen not to push for these taxes based on political survival and has wisely opted to bypass legislation in lieu of regulations and crony capitalism, sometimes called “government funding.” In the area of regulation, he deserves great credit for just being alive and beyond that, all glory and power.
So what do we have? Science-settled manmade global warming; a need for revenue to balance the budget; much-needed Chinese clean-tech jobs. We need less dependence on oil, regardless of its source, which means we must increase the cost of finding, exploiting, refining, and using oil. With decreasing American incomes, unemployment, and the deficit, it amazes me that our current crop of politicians still won’t ask the public to sacrifice their futures for what America’s best thinkers know to be best for them.
Note: nothing can be unsaid, so here it is: this is a parody. If you must, read the original here.
Forging Backwards to a Grand Bargain
THIS is not an easy time to be president, house minority leader, or liberal writer. We’re out of airspeed, altitude, and ideas. Our intellectual cupboard is bare, and the only thing we have in surplus is our own anger. Indeed, if our anger could be turned into oil, we’d provide energy independence today (even though we’d be opposed to using it on principle because we need more green jobs).
Alas, it’s just anger, and it’s weakening us — just like it did when Jimmy Carter governed this great land and we similarly sapped our own national vitality and precious bodily fluids. Sadly, we have underinvested in the sources of our strength — large government programs — over the last five decades, opting to borrow rather than save and invest. We chose massive borrowing and deficit spending, leaving us with a huge deleveraging challenge (let’s call the solution ‘inflation’), millions of mortgages under water (from the hurricanes and global warming) and the economy in high-speed reverse (when what we need is high-speed rail). The way ahead? Our political system, now more than ever, requires a bigger benevolent bureaucracy of good and wise knowledge to direct us.
I’ve been arguing that the only antidote to this debilitating situation is a Grand Bargain between the two parties of rationality — the left and the further left — one that provides phantom out-year cuts to spending and immediately raises additional tax revenues to get our fiscal house in order, while making short-term investments (the new code word for ‘spending’) in the sources of our strength: new schools and community colleges we don’t need; scientific research on global warming; much-needed bicycle and unicycle trails and paths; free bandwidth; high-speed rail, and; jobs for federal employees at airports, post offices, Amtrak terminals, and bus stations that can cushion this recession. While President Obama has talked generally about such a Grand Bargain, he has never put a detailed offer before the American people, choosing to wait for someone else to move so he can approve, criticize, veto, or vote present as needed.
Thursday night in his speech before Congress, President Obama finally rose to the Grand Bargain challenge in his normal brilliant, thoughtful, profound, credible, and substantive fashion.
The revenues that he is proposing to pay for his $447 billion plan — which he has promised to unveil on Sept. 19, after he learns how to work Excel — could even work in foreign countries like Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. Some enticing ideas — like payroll tax cuts — will be embraced by Republicans unless they see through the scheme. The president’s proposal to generate some new jobs with targeted investments in infrastructure and education — like modernizing 35,000 schools (40,000 would be too much) — can produce short- and long-term outcomes like greater deficits and a move towards Greece-like credit ratings and insolvency.
“After a painful and, for many, inexplicable delay, the administration is finally shifting from an ineffectual series of ad-hoc measures to an ineffectual, comprehensive, and enduring program,” commented Mohamed El-Erian, the chief executive of the bond manager, Pimco.
Will the G.O.P. compromise with the president, accepting his brilliant, worthy, and profound proposal in full?
If the G.O.P. thinks it can just obstruct Obama and hope that the economy tanks — thankfully, Obama was able to put just the right touches on the disastrous economy he inherited, bringing us back from the brink — it will be a mistake. I believe most Americans want the major elements of this and other, earlier Grand Bargains, such as free internet, free health insurance, and free mortgage bailouts, both in substance and in style. Americans want to see our politicians working together, acting collectively, and pursuing Obama’s vision of good government jobs for all and an economy based on goods and services no one ever has to pay for. Although I’m largely making my analysis up because I want Obama’s political survival, my sense is we misunderestimate how much the toxic political rancor in Washington today casts a pall over the whole economy.
Those who doubt my assessment might want to give a call to Howard Schultz, the C.E.O. of Starbucks (as if you could get through). Schultz got so fed up with Washington politics that he bought a full-page ad in this newspaper, urging Americans not to give political donations to incumbents of either political party until they show a real willingness to compromise and fix our mess. Inexplicably, Americans responded by telling Schultz to “Shut up and brew.”
Schultz told me, “I’ve been inundated with messages from people I’ve never met who tell me to quit wasting the shareholders money on the New York Times. And a person at Starbucks sent me an e-mail the other day with the Pledge of Allegiance and underlined was one word: ‘indivisible.’ The people in Washington should reread the Pledge of Allegiance and look up ‘indivisible.’ Another sent me a text saying ‘Have a nice day.’ A third clicked on “like” on my Facebook page. So as far as I’m concerned, these things are an affirmation of my grandstanding and American’s right to free government coffee, proudly served by Starbucks.”
President Obama has offered a brilliant, legitimate, constructive, useful, positive, and beneficial proposal to forge a Grand Bargain with Republicans. Several G.O.P. leaders indicated that they intend to look at it seriously before dismissing it. With Europe headed down the drain, China and the rest of the world needs America’s big government programs now more than ever.