The Deconstruction of Barack Obama

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The first two years of the Obama Administration have been historic and eventful. The first openly liberal president in a generation has dramatically increased government spending and intervention in the nation’s economy. The federal deficit soared to $1.65 trillion dollars and 35% of Americans now receive some type of government assistance.

The President seems to view the American economy through the prism of an academician. His vision of America held that his New Economy would be supported by the troika of plentiful Green jobs, new federal employment, and a revitalized and robust union based economy.

Give him credit. President Obama has held true to his vision even if the economy, and the American people, did not.

The “Green Jobs” of Mr. Obama’s new economy have not materialized despite huge government incentives. The president's New Energy for America plan called for a federal investment of $150 billion over the next decade to catalyze the private sector to build a clean energy future.

Obama’s plan is to:

  • Provide short-term relief to American families facing pain at the pump
  • Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.          
  • Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined    
  • Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars – cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon – on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America
  • Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025
  • Implement an economy-wide cap‐and‐trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050

The President’s plan called for renewable energy to supply 10% of the nation's electricity by 2012, rising to 25% by 2025. The problem with his vision was that America was already generating 11.4% of its electricity from renewable sources when he delivered his speech. Ironically, most renewable energy comes from hydro-power, a source disdained by many greens. (US Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly, June 2010.). T. Boone Pickens’s plan to build wind farms across the Great Plains was the most publicized private response to Obama’s vision never materialized. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported on March 10th that 351 “shovel ready” energy projects were stalled nationally due to “a tangle of state and local regulations”. These 351 projects were to create 1.9 million jobs and infuse the economy with “a $1.1 trillion short-term shot in the arm”. William Kovacs, senior vice-president of the chamber said, “In fact, there weren’t any shovel ready projects.”

In the end, the outpouring of new technologies and jobs in the new “green” economy simply never materialized. 

Indeed, despite the grand vision of a Green economy, America remains deeply dependent on others for its energy.

The second leg of Obama’s troika was new government employment. He was successful in signing his health care reform into law but delayed implementation to 2014. The 2010 election that changed 63 House seats to the Republicans, has acted to unwind much of this legislation. If not repealed outright, Obamacare will likely face starvation from Republican cuts in funding necessary to implement the 2,900 page law with its hundreds of new federal regulations. Federal civilian employment in the president’s 2012 budget, will be 15 percent higher in 2011 than it was in 2007. This effort is also likely to be stymied.

Union workers, the third leg of Obama’s troika, were well served in the first two years of the Obama Administration. The United Auto Workers inherited ownership in General Motors and Chrysler, and obtained federal protection of their relatively high wages and Cadillac health care benefits.  Had GM and Chrysler been allowed to enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it’s likely both would have been drastically reduced. Under the health reform act, union workers received exemptions from taxation for their Cadillac health care plans – unlike those of private companies.

According to the most recent Employer Costs for Employee Compensation survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of December 2009, state and local government employees earned total compensation of $39.60 an hour, compared to $27.42 an hour for private industry workers - a difference of over 44 percent. This includes 35 percent higher wages and nearly 69 percent greater benefits. (Adam Summers Reason Foundation - Comparing Private Sector and Government Worker Salaries May 10, 2010).

Will union members be able to hold their ground or be forced into major concessions during the coming deconstruction? State governors like Christie (NJ), Daniels (IN), Kasich (OH), and now Governor Walker of Wisconsin are taking on the unions head-on for the first time in generations. New conservative majorities in state house around the country are deconstructing collective bargaining agreements, above market wage gains, and Cadillac fringe benefits. Labor’s gains, and political clout, may have peaked in 2008. 

Will President Obama adhere to his academician’s vision of the New Economy or will he be forced to succumb to the realities of the coming Great Deconstruction? Congress is arguing whether it can afford $4 billion in cuts to a $3 trillion budget in order to avoid an imminent government shutdown.

Overlooked and more momentous is that for the first time since World War II, both houses of Congress – and some in both parties – are debating how to enact massive cuts in government spending. This is the beginning of the Great Deconstruction. Like the proverbial snowball rolling downhill, the $4 billion cuts of March 2011 could eventually canonball into hundreds of billions of actual spending reductions as the federal government deconstructs.

The Government Accounting Office released a report on March 1st entitled 'Opportunities to Reduce Potential Duplication in Government Programs, Save Tax Dollars, and Enhance Revenue.' The report identified $200 billion in annual waste from duplicative federal programs. The agency found 82 federal programs to improve teacher quality; 80 to help disadvantaged people with transportation; 47 for job training and employment; and 56 to help people understand finances. Finding ways to cut billions in federal spending is not be the problem. Finding politicians with the political will to withstand the barrage of criticism from impacted constituents is another matter.

The Great Deconstruction has already begun. Will President Obama, clearly a savvy politician, recognize this inexorable reality of this gathering force, leap in front of it, and claim ownership? Or will he stick to his academician’s vision and allow the snowball of deconstruction to roll over him? 

Robert J Cristiano PhD is the Real Estate Professional in Residence at Chapman University in Orange, CA and Head of Real Estate for the international investment firm, L88 Investments LLC. He has been a successful real estate developer in Newport Beach California for thirty years.

Other works in The Great Deconstruction series for New Geography
Deconstruction: The Fate of America? – March 2010
The Great Deconstruction – First in a New Series - April 11, 2010
An Awakening: The Beginning of the Great Deconstruction – June 12, 2010
The Great Deconstruction :An American History Post 2010 – June 1, 2010
A Tsunami Approaches - Beginning of the Great Deconstruction - August 2010
The Tea Party and the Great Deconstruction – September 2010
The Great Deconstruction - Competing Visions of the Future – October 2010
The Post Election Deconstructors - Mid-term Election Accelerates Federal Deconstruction – November 2010
The State Government Deconstructors – November 2010



















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I guess what bothers me most

I guess what bothers me most about the state of politics today is that its no longer about politics: Its totally all about a few select issues. Both sides solidly and absolutely adhere to a handful of ideological hot topics and in turn apply these broadly to anything and everything- even if the issues have nothing to do with it.

I would probably put a lot of the blame on commercial media. Media has been intentionally divided up and fed to very specific and carefully studied political demographics. I'm not trying to take sides, but I have to say that right wing media is probably the most carefully engineered, lucrative, formulaic , well-oiled money-making machine as far as media goes. The subject matter is overwhelmingly the same because there is a clear understanding of what their target consumers want to hear- which they then repeat verbatim further cementing a belief around an ideological system. That isn't to say left-leaning media isn't the same thing. But the numbers don't lie and right wing media takes the cake.

But I digress. I grew up in a divided house. My Father tended to vote Republican. My Mother was a Democrat. Both are logical, level-headed people. My Dad could probably lean either way and has voted for Democrats in the past. In fact, many of the people in my family were like this. Fairly moderate, reasonable people. It was generally considered impolite to bring up politics at the dinner table. That was sort of a given and I think many others at that time adhered to that rule. The fact that we disagreed on some issues was not a big deal.

What I'm getting at is that I believe most people are fairly moderate. Given a chance I believe most people would agree with about 95% of the issues. The rest is compromise. I would hope that someday everyone- no matter what party of interest- can learn to see this and stop putting blanket labels on anything and everything. Otherwise political gridlock is totally counter-productive and not good for anyone.

Government uber alles

Obama has been a disaster, but what did anyone expect from a far-left radical. To Obama, America is great because of government, not the people, and he's intent on making sure government keeps growing and growing and growing. Forget making adult choices on spending (Bush miserable at this at well), that's laughable to the left, and will get groups like the tea party derided as racist, xenophobic, homophobic or any other mud that could be slung at them merely for wanting some adult supervision on the spending matter. And to keep beating the drum that Obama inherited the mess is laughable (remember who was in charge of congress when we started circling the drain...and who championed Fran & Freddie, etc.), it's almost sad and pathetic. Obama was to get us out of wars and Gitmo, and has refused to do so - and now has Libya in his lap - so, all that spending is his. Plus, the stimulus (seriously, nobody believes that did anything to spur the economy)just maintained his government union jobs for his buddies and gave his favored cities some walking around money. The guy has no experience running anything - his resume was paper-thin and consisted of voting present, why is anyone shocked he's done so poorly in the office.

Right Wing Propaganda

This opinion piece is right wing propaganda. Is newgeography now in the business of promoting and publishing the misinformation, disinformation and false information of right wing ideologues? Are we now seeing newgeography for what it really might be, just another purveyor of the propaganda and distortions of the far right? During the Reagan Presidency the national debt tripled and during the G. W. Bush Presidency the national debt doubled. No other Presidents in the last 50 years have even comes close to having the national debt double or triple during their administration. Fully half or perhaps more of the deficit spending which has occured since Obama took office is a direct result of the Bush legacy of war and simultaneous tax cuts. Along with the financial crisis which actually had its begining in the winter of 2005-06 with the softening of the real estate market and then the July 2006 peak in the value of housing. This financial crisis has reduced federal government revenue by as much as 800 billion in a single year and revenue continues to be off by hundreds of billions of dollars. Let's not forget when Obama took office the economy was in a free fall and most economist believe the money the government "pumped" into the economy is responsible for stopping the economy from descending into a depression. Where was the writer of this opinion piece when G. W. Bush was adding nearly 5 trillion dollars to the national debt?

You can do better

I've enjoyed reading the commentary on NG almost since the site's inception. Unfortunately, with more and more posts like the one above, it seems to have gone from presenting an interesting contrarian view on issues to instead repacking right-wing drivel, devoid of facts and any pretense of intellectual rigor.

We need more thoughtful debate,not another version of fox news.

First of all, I for one

First of all, I for one along with many others think Mr. Obama is doing a fantastic job- especially given the economy he inherited- and yes I said inherited- from the previous administration.