Obama Administration

The Powerless President

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Whitehouse.gov

President Obama's gave a big speech on the economy this afternoon, one that was hyped as a preview of the White House's pivot to focusing on jobs and the economy. If you didn't watch, here's the short version: All the stuff he favored before? He's still in favor of it. And he's irritated that Republicans are blocking him from doing all the things he still wants to do.

I say "stuff" because that's roughly as specific as Obama got. This was a policy-light speech, heavy on broad ideas, but incredibly light on details or plans, particularly new ones. (Indeed, in that sense, it was practically Romneyesque.) Instead, it was a preview of the economic themes Obama has in mind for the remainder of his second term: inequality, education, economic stagnation—and, most of all, congressional gridlock and inaction.

One way to interpret the speech is as an announcement that the administration is making congressional opposition enemy number one. "Over the past six months," Obama said, "gridlock has gotten worse." And he vowed to use every resource at his disposal to fight back.

Yet Obama's insistence that he would do everything he could to break congressional gridlock only underscored how little there is he can do in response. "I will not allow gridlock, inaction or willful indifference to get in our way," he said. "Whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I'll use it. Where I can't act on my own, I'll pick up the phone and call CEOs, and philanthropists, and college presidents – anybody who can help – and enlist them in our efforts." That's right: The president is willing to pick up the phone and call philanthropists and college presidents, if that's what it takes.

There isn't, in other words, much he can do—or at least not much he can do that he also wants to do. And in Obama's view, that seems to be the real problem. The speech was billed as a big reveal of the administration's economic agenda—the New York Times preview article this morning was headlined "Obama Plans to Unveil his Agenda for Economy"—but in many ways it was just an extended complaint about presidential powerlessness in the face of political opposition. What it actually revealed was the president doesn't have much of an agenda, except old ideas that have already failed to go anywhere. So in place of new policy ideas, he gave a speech blaming Republicans. That's politics, and it will probably please many of the president's supporters. But it's not likely to weaken congressional opposition. If anything, this speech was a recipe for more gridlock, not less. 

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  1. Speaking of powerless –

    Federal bankruptcy judge to Michigan state judges: Go Fuck Yourselves.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07……html?_r=0

    Wow, that judge REALLY didn’t honor the President.

    1. That whole supremacy clause thing is like hundreds of years old and written in Sanskrit. Ezra Klein told me so.

    2. So is Judge Aquilina gonna go whining to Obozo? Did he read her oh, so well thought-out decision?

      1. It’s the thought that counts. She will be rewarded.

    3. How often does a state cite the Supremacy Clause as an argument for why their own laws should be overridden by the Federal Government? This has to be rare.

    4. Libertopians in the 80s and 90s: this is unsustainable. At some point, we’re going to see something unprecedented. We’re going to see whole cities declaring bankruptcy. The spending problem is a death-spiral!

      Rest of ‘Murrica: You’re a total crackpot!

      1. Except that it was libertopianism that destroyed Detroit, try and keep up. Too much freedom to move away from a shithole.

  2. President Obama’s gave a big speech on the economy this afternoon, one that was hyped as a preview of the White House’s pivot to focusing on jobs and the economy

    I have it on Shrike’s authority that he sewed this bag up in early 2008. What’s there to focus on?

  3. Whirling, whirling…

  4. Obama just has no idea how to function as President. You can give these kind of vague speeches when you are a candidate. But when you are actually in charge, you have to come up with some ideas. You job as President is to keep your party united while co-opting just enough of the opposition to get things done. Obama has no idea how to do that. As a Chicago machine politician, he knows two things; strong arm shit over the objection of the opposition and steal from your opponents to give to your supporters. That is it. And that doesn’t work in Washington. He is just fucking hopeless. I mean Jesus, the entire GOP establishment has been dying to sell out to the guy for five years now. And Obama is so arrogant and so stupid he hasn’t been able to outflank them by co-opting one of their ideas yet.

    1. I remember when Obama won re-election I was distraught and pretty angry. Romney sucked but voting for Obama is unconscious-able. You know what? I’m glad he won. No doubt Romney would’ve derped up by now on guns and Ocare and would’ve run the exact same script as Obama has regarding Snowden and probably Syria. The GOP and conservative movement would be all TEAM all the time and would chide Rand and Amish for taking a stand.
      I much prefer Obama doing a perfect encore of Bush’s second term except more so. And I think Rand Paul does too.

      1. I think you are right. Romney would have worked with Reid and sold out the whole country. Obama could work with Boehner and do the same but he is too fucking stupid to do it. He is thus really much less of a threat to making things worse than a Romney Administration would have been. Romney has an IQ above 100 and even fewer principles than Obama has IQ points.

        And Obama is such a comic tragic figure. Really, justice wouldn’t have been served by him losing re-election. No, justice demands something much worse. And he may just get it.

      2. When did the Amish take a stand? I’m starting to like those guys. Maybe cracking down on unpasteurized milk is finally getting some blowback.

      3. *Cue Tulpa entering the comment thread*

  5. He’s not powerless enough.

    1. But a little powerlessness goes a long way.

  6. “”a preview of the White House’s pivot to focusing on jobs and the economy””

    Like a trailer for a movie that never actually gets released. I seem to recall ‘jobs and the economy’ being a crucial problem since 2009. Is this a suggestion that he’s a) done nothing about it, or b) everything he has done has sucked balls and achieved nothing?

    ANSWER = either works.

    I hope this doesn’t distract from the ‘outline’ for a plan for Afghanistan.

    1. How many “recovery summers” have we had?

      Poor Obama, just so much unexpectedly bad news, so much bad luck.

      1. Longest, deepest recession of my life.

        The share prices in my 401K are finally back to 2009 levels.

        Of course, obamacare is going to wipe out any raise I get for the next couple of years.

        1. Worst economy since the 1930s. But the media says things are great and the Zimmerman verdict was a real travesty wasn’t it?

          1. I don’t quite go back to the 30’s, but my father does.

          2. People forget the song “We’re in the money” was an economic recovery song from 1935. After FDR created prosperity for everyone.

        2. Of course, obamacare is going to wipe out any raise I get for the next couple of years.

          *squints*

          Your optimism knows no bounds.

          1. It’s either that or slit my wrists.

      2. “How many “recovery summers” have we had?”
        Listening to this twit, it feels like twenty or so. Tiresome!

  7. Maybe he should raise payroll taxes, inflate healthcare costs so much that new hiring stops, block the keystone pipeline, and impose massive, complex new regulations on the financial services world so that capital flows dry up. Maybe that will help.

    1. He could also blow billions of dollars on “green energy” and let the EPA do everything in its power to raise the cost of gas and electricity. That should really kick the economy into high gear.

    2. don’t forget making sure businesses have an incentive not to hire full-time workers

    3. And Syria, let’s not forget to wade deeper into the Syria quagmire.

    4. Don’t forget bailing out Detroit with tax payer money, shutting down coal plants, and continuing to do more of the same.

      If we just send him all of these ideas, maybe he can save us, after all.

  8. First Carney; now Obama.

    How will we know when *full* panic mode kicks in? Martial law?

  9. Obama should send the girls out to run a lemonade stand somewhere in suburban Virginia, on the condition that they explain to him the concept of “operating a business for profit” afterwards. Maybe the presentation will include such elementary but essential concepts as, “revenue minus expenses = our salary”.

    1. Are you trying to get us to drink the koolade lemonade?

    2. “revenue minus expenses = our salary

      Oh, oh, I see!!

      Typical evil capitalists, keeping all the profits for themselves. Did they ever ask: “How could my business even exist without ROADZ!!? How you gonna drive to work without a ROAD to drive on, eh? eh? Where is my taste? Huh?”

    3. Obama should send the girls out to run a lemonade stand

      He’s afraid that the swat team sent in to shut them down, will mistake them for ordinary citizens, then we all know the rest of the story.

    4. Obama should send the girls out to run a lemonade stand

      He’s afraid that the swat team sent in to shut them down, will mistake them for ordinary citizens, then we all know the rest of the story.

      1. No one else said it, so ‘They didn’t build that lemonade stand!’

        1. And, damn squirrels!

    5. that would just lead to an individual mandate to purchase lemonade through a public exchange.

    6. Obama should send the girls out to run a lemonade stand somewhere in suburban Virginia,

      Sugary drinks! Obesity!

    7. That’s microeconomics. We all know at the macro level what is good for individuals personally is bad for the economy. Haven’t you ever heard of the composition fallacy? So, if you want to do good for the economy, you have to do the opposite of what constitutes good microeconomic behavior. Raise taxes, boost public employment and public spending, unfetter the printing press, and regulate the Hell out of everything. That will give us the growth rates we need to get out of the doldrums.

  10. A preview of the White House’s pivot to focusing on jobs and the economy

    He’s made three big speeches in the last few months: one on the War on Terror that completely fizzled when more and more Snowden leaks revealed what a lying sack of shit he is and the speech on climate change that went nowhere and no one talks about anymore.

    I doubt third time will be the charm.

    1. i was just wondering about that. What happened to his focus on renewable energy to distract from the NSA and Benghazi scandals? Big speech then….crickets.

      You know what Mr. President, I havent forgotten about Fast and Furious, and neither have a lot of other people.

      After the king of platitudes leaves office the flood of info on all of these scandals will be delicious. I hope he ends up having a breakdown and then dies a lonely old raving, drooling lunatic.

  11. I will not allow gridlock, inaction or willful indifference to get in our way

    I am sure you will try any dirty, unconstitutional, illegal, tricks that you can. But we already knew that about you, no need to boast.

    But it’s not likely to weaken congressional opposition. If anything, this speech was a recipe for more gridlock, not less

    Well, in that case, give him back the teleprompter, we need more speeches that I will never listen to.

    1. No gridlock gave us the Obamacare monstrosity. I say thank God for gridlock.

    2. Just think, this is only the first summer of his second term. He has three more of them. Not even the great Presidents get more powerful as their second term goes along. He is just going to become more and more irrelevant and more angry and bitter about it.

      1. Obama is America in 1965 and everything around him is Vietnam.

  12. BTW, where’s my HT for this story?

  13. Curse those damnable Republicans!! When will people wake up and give the President the absolute, unquestioned power he needs in order to guarantee every one of us a high-paying, full time job? He would do it, if the do-nothings would just stop whining about limited government. What did limited government ever do to put Government Cheese on anyone’s table?

  14. I think it’s been at least 6 months since I paid attention to what Obama says. probably longer.

    1. Even his supporters have stopped listening. They just mouth whatever talking points the media instructs them on. I have never seen the country completely tune out someone like this.

    2. You haven’t missed anything.

      The man has a childlike vision of what the Presidency entails. If you just give MORE SPEECHES the People will rise up and eliminate the opposition to the LIGHTWORKER.

    3. Saw a poll that has the moderate/conservative Democrats giving up on ObamaCare now.

  15. You missed a bit:

    “Even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, nearly all the income gains of the past 10 years have continued to flow to the top 1%,” the Democratic president said on Wednesday.

    Continue reading the main story

    Start Quote
    Washington hasn’t just ignored the problem; too often, it’s made things worse”
    End Quote
    Barack Obama

    US President

    What can Washington learn from California?

    “The average CEO has gotten a raise of nearly 40% since 2009, but the average American earns less than he or she did in 1999.

    “This growing inequality isn’t just morally wrong – it’s bad economics.”

    1. Clearly we need to put a man like Obama in the White House to put a stop to this. What the hell have those damned Tea Baggers in the White House been doing for the last five years?

      1. “The most important lesson I’ve learned is you can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside.”

        The fact that he said that after being the HNIC for four years just slays me. Dude.

        1. Maybe this is why he wants to arm al Qaeda?

    2. Over any 10 year period, the set of people who have the most wealth will correlate very highly to the set of people who made the most income gains. It is this thing called ‘math’ (often confused with ‘economics’, especially by economists).

      If I make the highest income gains over the course of a decade, I should be rich by then end of the decade. Unless the government steals the money from me, of course.

    3. Wow. So he is doubling down on the politics of envy and class warfare. Brilliant.

      1. It’s the only thing he knows how to do well.

  16. Meh, sure it’s a sign of his powerlessness (or more accurately, inability to compromise). But it’s calculated to establish a narrative (and I guarantee this will be the talking point for the next 1.25 years) and that narrative is to propel his party to election day success come 2014. I mean, it’s not like his party can run on accomplishments or anything like that. Plus, in watching all this Trayvon coverage, he’s realizing how useful an invented boogeyman is.

    1. I think he already knew the usefulness of invented boogeymen. He is a fascists. And all fascists operate on the hate of some “other”.

      1. John, stop othering Barry with your otherness, you Otherer.

        1. He’s just collectivizing all Barrys here, that’s the real crime.

  17. Hasn’t Barry pivoted to jobs and the economy three times now? Does he know any other moves besides the pivot?

    Here’s Barry trying to handwave the myriad scandals of his administration as a “GOP distraction.”

    They’ll talk about government assistance for the poor, despite the fact that they’ve already cut early education for vulnerable kids, they’ve already cut insurance for people who’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

    Or they’ll bring up Obamacare — this is tried and true — despite the fact that our businesses have created nearly twice as many jobs in this recovery as businesses had at the same point in the last recovery, when there was no Obamacare.

    That’s what we’ve been fighting for, but with an endless parade of distractions, political posturing and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball. And I am here to say this needs to stop. This needs to stop.

    Yes Barry. Using the Department of Energy as a slush-fund, sending arms to the Mexican drug cartels, starting wars without Congressional approval or even notice, using the IRS to harass and intimidate your political enemies, using the NSA to spy on the public and perform corporate espionage on behalf of your donors, all of it is just “distractions” and “posturing.”

    1. “… twice as many jobs in this recovery as businesses had at the same point in the last recovery, when there was no Obamacare.”

      What the hell is he talking about?

      1. “twice as many jobs [created or saved] in this recovery”

        1. They should add a new verb to that: “twice as many jobs [created or saved] or invented in this recovery”

  18. I wonder if we will ever have another POTUS who can talk without a teleprompter, and who has some understanding of economics?

    At least one who doesn’t say such unbelievably stupid things, as you didn’t build that business.

    The guy is pathetic, period.

    1. Who was the last one who understood economics?

      I’d guess Coolidge, but if I were really cynical, I’d say FDR.

      1. …”but if I were really cynical, I’d say FDR.”

        Easy sentiment to understand, but it takes about 5 minutes of reading to figure that there was no ‘conspiracy’ there either; just massive stupidity backed by idiots like Keynes.
        For real giggles, his ‘analysis’ of WWII bombing of Germany is amusing; ‘It made the rubble bounce’.
        Yes it did; and by doing so, it kept the plant from being reconstructed, you asshole.

  19. As long as it’s possible to build a successful and healthy economy and society on the basis that sloth and corruption are rewarded and hard work and innovation are punished, then we are headed in exactly the right direction. Otherwise, we’re totally screwed.

  20. Captain Willful Ignorance goes on the warpath against job destruction.

    My money is on an unanticipated uptick in the unemployment rate.

    1. For the 80th week in a row!

  21. “President Obama’s gave a big speech on the economy this afternoon, one that was hyped as a preview of the White House’s pivot to focusing on jobs and the economy. ”

    I forget – how many times is it now that Obama has “pivoted” to focus on the economy since he first took office?

    He must be up to about 3,000 RPM’s by now with all that “pivoting”

    “Whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I’ll use it. Where I can’t act on my own, I’ll pick up the phone and call CEOs, and philanthropists, and college presidents ? anybody who can help ? and enlist them in our efforts.”

    Complete economic bullshit.

    The federal governemnt never had anything whatsoever to do with creating or sustaining the middle class to begin with.

    In fact the federal government is the primary culprit in holding the middle class down.

  22. I suspect Barry still has plenty of power over what he cares about:

    (1) Spending OPM on a lavish lifestyle.

    (2) Spending OPM on fluffing his massive ego.

    (3) Greasing his friends and supporters with OPM.

    All this “change the world” stuff that he can’t do was never more than a pretext for getting to a place where he can do the above. Sure, actually putting some of that lefty claptrap in place would contribute to (2), but he’s getting his knob polished plenty as it is.

    1. Just flat:
      Other Peoples’ Money
      On whatever the shitbag thinks will buy votes.

  23. I do not feel sorry for him. As pathetic as he must be feeling every night when he turns out the bedroom light and tries to go to sleep. If only he was a politician instead of . . . Whatever he is.

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