The independent voters who voted against the the last two years on Tuesday were and are children — little people feeding off emotion (i.e., lethargy) and unconcerned with hard facts. Because “no matter your view of President Obama, he effectively saved capitalism,” N.Y. Times columnist Timothy Egan pointed out on 11.2. “And for that, he paid a terrible political price.”
It was Obama’s fault, yes, that he and his spokespersons failed to convey pertinent facts. You can’t expect children to engage themselves, buckle down and seek out facts — they have to be told and shown. But facts are still facts.
“The banking system was resuscitated by $700 billion in bailouts started by Bush (a fact unknown by a majority of Americans), and finished by Obama, with help from the Federal Reserve. It worked. The government is expected to break even on a risky bet to stabilize the global free market system. Had Obama followed the populist instincts of many in his party, the underpinnings of big capitalism could have collapsed. He did this without nationalizing banks, as other Democrats had urged.
“Saving the American auto industry, which has been a huge drag on Obama’s political capital, is a monumental achievement that few appreciate, unless you live in Michigan. After getting their taxpayer lifeline from Obama, both General Motors and Chrysler are now making money by making cars. New plants are even scheduled to open. More than 1 million jobs would have disappeared had the domestic auto sector been liquidated.
“Yes, an industry was saved, and the government will probably make money on the deal — one of Obama’s signature economic successes.
“Interest rates are at record lows. Corporate profits are lighting up boardrooms; it is one of the best years for earnings in a decade.
“All of the above is good for capitalism, and should end any serious-minded discussion about Obama the socialist. But more than anything, the fact that the president took on the structural flaws of a broken free enterprise system instead of focusing on things that the average voter could understand explains why his party was routed on Tuesday.
“Obama got on the wrong side of voter anxiety in a decade of diminished fortunes.
Nobody gets credit for preventing a plane crash. ‘It could have been much worse!’ is not a rallying cry. And, more telling, despite a meager uptick in job growth this year, the unemployment rate rose from 7.6 percent in the month Obama took office to 9.6 today.
“Billions of profits, windfalls in the stock market, a stable banking system — but no jobs.
“Of course, the big money interests who benefited from Obama’s initiatives have shown no appreciation. Obama, as a senator, voted against the initial bailout of AIG, the reckless insurance giant. As president, he extended them treasury loans at a time when economists said he must — or risk further meltdown. Their response was to give themselves $165 million in executive bonuses, and funnel money to Republicans this year.
“President Franklin Roosevelt also saved capitalism, in part by a bank ‘holiday’ in 1933, at a time when the free enterprise system had failed. Unlike Obama, he was rewarded with midterm gains for his own party because a majority liked where he was taking the country. The bank holiday was incidental to a larger public works campaign.
“Obama can recast himself as the consumer’s best friend, and welcome the animus of Wall Street. He should hector the companies sitting on piles of cash but not hiring new workers. For those who do hire, and create new jobs, he can offer tax incentives. He should finger the financial giants for refusing to clean up their own mess in the foreclosure crisis. He should point to the long overdue protections for credit card holders that came with reform.
“And he should veto, veto, veto any bill that attempts to roll back some of the basic protections for people against the institutions that have so much control over their lives – insurance companies, Wall Street and big oil.
“They will whine a fierce storm, the manipulators of great wealth. A war on business, they will claim. Not even close. Obama saved them, and the biggest cost was to him.”