Pax Obama

by Ryan on February 9, 2009

in Culture,Economy,Media Bias,Politics

It’s been a long three weeks since Obama’s triumphant coronation on the steps of the Capitol Building on that cold January day.  Yet, the shine surrounding the Chosen One has not come back to Earth according to two different polling agencies.  Gallup’s “adults” have the Beneficent One hovering around 67% for his handling of the “Spendulus” package:

“President Obama would appear to have the upper hand in the current focus on Congress’ efforts to pass a major economic stimulus bill. Not only does Obama get much higher approval ratings for the way in which he is handling the stimulus issue than do either the Democrats or, in particular, the Republicans in Congress, but a majority of Americans agree with him that passing such a bill is critically important for improving the nation’s economy.”

Of course, the pollsters didn’t ask if they’d still support a “critically important” bill that curtailed freedoms through increasing government controls and left our descendants in a new Dark Ages of debt threatening the entire gamut of liabilities in our social contract, or if they had any idea what was in this package in the first place.  Like my lackluster students, it’s their perceived “effort” not their results or substance that matters most.  I never trust “adult” polls, but since this one is being reported, it’s left out for public consumption and impression-leaving, so it gains a terrible kind of legitimacy in the public sphere.

Then there’s Rasmussen.  Obama’s glow hovers around a mere 60%, down from a celestial high of 69% as President-Select.  The thing about Rasmussen is that, unlike Gallup, Rasmussen is a solid polling outfit.  So, there’s no doubt that Obama is flying high right now and that his polls can only get lower as time goes on and his decisions as President start yielding results (good or bad) for the nation.  Unfortunately, Obama is riding high at a time when the Spendulus Bill is at the threshold of harming so much in so many ways.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron February 9, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Obama is in quite a hurry to get this Spendulus passed. Could it be that he knows the recession will end by midyear and wants credit for ending it even though this bill could very well slow the recovery?


Curious February 9, 2009 at 10:41 pm

@Ron – Ron, I’m curious; how do you know that the recession will end by midyear? Obama keeps saying that he has talked to economist on both the Left and Right who agree that government intervention is needed right now. I’d like to know who you’re sources are who claim that the recession will fix itself. Just trying to expand my understanding of the situation.


Curious February 9, 2009 at 10:42 pm

your sources, excuse the typo.


alison D February 9, 2009 at 10:49 pm

While I agree the package is huge and staggering I had a bigger problem with the bill at the end of the summer. My problem with the bank bail out was that it threw $ at the banks, mostly without restrictions of its use. Now the $350Bn that has been dispersed cannot be tracked, partly because many of the banks receiving the funds refuse to disclose where the $ went. Economists said we had to do it. No we didn’t and it didn’t help the majority.
The current package spreads $ far and wide into many sectors: infrastructure, research, technology, energy, parks, extending unemployment benefits, tax cuts, college grants,
So it’s not going to create jobs for everyone, its not going to cut all my taxes, there is something to make everyone mad in that bill and something you can agree with…kind of like all the different interests in our country…its not all going to work, it’s not all going to fail, but it’s going to pass so lets hope we can bail out the debt it creates as the years carry on.


DKP February 10, 2009 at 8:29 am

Has anyone or any government ever been able to spend themselves out of debt at any time?


Angela February 10, 2009 at 8:34 am

Okay, I don’t BLINDLY trust the government to spend our tax dollars appropriately….especially if you look at how they recently just threw away $350B. All the citizens got for an explanation for that disaster was an oops, we don’t know how to track it?!!! Now we’re handing these incompetents the rest of the cookie jar and tax payers STILL won’t get much of a break in tax cuts. Instead, home owners in Georgia are going to lose their homestead exemptions and see a significant rise in their taxes. I don’t think that we (tax-paying citizens) are getting any hand outs, we’ll just be saddled with the burden of paying MORE to make up for those who DON’T! Something as significant as this should have been put to the vote (popular) to at least let Americans voice their opinion seeing how it is OUR MONEY they are haphazardly tossing about!


Daniel February 10, 2009 at 9:21 am

I think it’s interesting that Mr. Ryan writes of “curtailed freedoms through increasing government controls”. I wonder what he thought of the Patior Act?
And while we’re on the subejct, what makes Rasmussen more credible than Gallup? Everyone, right and left alike, references Gallup polls. Not that that makes Gallup more credible, I’m just wondering why “unlike Gallup, Rasmussen is a solid polling outfit”, and why you’d trust them any more, since you “never trust ‘adult’ polls”?


Sal February 10, 2009 at 11:12 am

Daniel, the simple reason is that Rasmussen has a far better track record of being right. Gallup in 2004 had Kerry winning by 10 points, and in 2008 had Obama winning by 11. In 2004, Rasmussen was exactly right, within less than a % point, and in 2008, he was dead on again the closest pollster.

Gallup changes its methodology from poll to poll, so sometimes they sample adults, sometimes registered voters, and sometimes likely voters. They also don’t weight by party-ID, which can cause problems with sampling. Rasmussen got things wrong in 2000, and then he re-evaluated his method. Since then, he has accurately predicted the races in 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008. Gallup hasn’t been right in years.

Gallup only gets all of the attention because they are the oldest polling outfit out there, and back 20 and 30 years ago, actually had a track record for being accurate. Since the 90s, however, they have been anything but.


Wayne Cook February 10, 2009 at 11:17 am

What is also a bit unnerving is the fact that we will put ourselves (USA) in such a position of weakness concerning funding for emergencies.

What if…. Iran, Israel, Russia, China, Middle East Fuel, etc.. How many other Major World Issues can you think of that could require immediate attention requiring a strong fiscal response?

We’ve let the children into the cookie jar and Boy, are they ever making a mess of it!


Marty February 17, 2009 at 12:18 pm

If your roof is leaking and water is pouring into your house it would seem like a good idea to invest in a new roof, rather than watch your house rot away, even if you have to borrow money to get it done. Those who call the Stimulus Bill a “Spending Bill” just don’t grasp fundamental principles of fiscal management. Maybe that’s why we’re in this crisis. It’s an INVESTMENT bill! It’s an investment in America.

This financial crisis did not begin last fall. It’s roots go back many decades. It was not an accident; it was created. The “government-is-the-problem-not-the-solution/trickle-down” ideology had been gaining not only in popularity but in policy implementation in the preceding decades. This ideology has been championed by the Republican Party, with only lukewarm opposition, sometimes support, from Democrats. There has been a Republican in the White House 28 of the last 40 years, and Republicans have controlled Congress 12 of the last 14 years. And over the last two years, when Democrats have supposedly been in control, Republicans in Congress have filibuster more than any other Congress in history, and the Republican president has vetoed more than any other president in history.

The essence of this ideology is that the private sector does a better job at just about anything than the government does, that they are self-regulating, and that government interference stifles entrepreneurial progress. By increasing the wealth of the wealthy, and by making it easier for businesses to increase their profit margin, even if the middle class and poor suffered a bit, prosperity would eventually spread to everyone. They looked at the wealthiest, most powerful nation in history, with the strongest middle class in the world and decided that there was something wrong with this picture, that the status-quo of American way of doing things wasn’t good enough.

Their solution:
- Deregulation and putting people in regulatory positions who didn’t believe in regulation; this applied not only to the financial industry (banks, mortgage companies), but virtually to all aspects of economic activity. Lack of government oversight (like of Enron) was the rule, not the exception.
- Privatization
- Blocking minimum wage increases (while increasing their own salaries 8 or 9 times),
- Tax cuts for the wealthy,
- Tax incentives for businesses that fire Americans and moved production overseas,
- Free trade agreements with countries that have low labor costs, minimal occupation safety standards, minimal product safely standards (lead in children’s toys, antifreeze in toothpaste, etc.), minimal environmental standards.
- Drastically reducing inheritance taxes
- Tax credits for companies that post quarterly profit statements among the highest in history
- no-bid government contracts and no price negotiations with pharmaceutical companies (no competition=no free enterprise=wasteful spending)
- Virtually no oversight of government spending, discrediting and underfunding of Inspector Generals
- An assault on the media, the justice system, scientific research, privacy, separation of powers, etc.
- Making it easier for credit card companies to raise interest rates
- Making it harder for middle class families to declare bankruptcy (health care costs are the primary reasons for filing)
- Letting oil companies write our energy policy

These kind of policy changes have been rubber stamped by Republican lawmakers and pushed by the right wing media. There has been an all-out assault on the middle class (not only of our financial assets, but of our health and safety) with an unprecedented transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy. While many of us have lost jobs, lost pensions, seen our retirement funds and investments cut in half, had our homes foreclosed, seen our expenses skyrocket, some of us have done extremely well. That is, until the collapse began. What the trickle-downers didn’t quite understand was that the middle class is the backbone of our economy.

For those who still cling to the trickle-down/emasculate-the-federal-government cult, and seem to admire China so highly, I recommend they buy a one-way ticket, join the Communist-Capitalist Party, and leave this country to those of us who still believe in justice, equal opportunity, safe products, safe working conditions, fair wages, democracy and the American way.


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