Be My Guest

Be My Guest Column by Jacques Gaspard

“Death by Tea Party” – A Commentary

While I agree with the premise of your article, the President has to step up his game and stop reacting to his adversaries. President Obama has to understand the gravity of the hostile environment toward his presidency, and take proactive actions to minimize the dire consequences. He ran a flawless campaign to get elected but seem to be underperforming in his management of the Presidency.

The president seems to always be two steps behind in this game of political chess; he was outmaneuvered during the last impasse where he had to back away from his objective of not extending the Bush tax cuts for all income groups just so he can extend unemployment benefits to the long term unemployed.

While his decision was humane, he allowed himself to be backed into a corner and did something that further contributed to the deficit and not benefit the long term economic health of the country. In this latest debate over the debt ceiling, he assumed that his adversaries would do the right thing and raise the debt ceiling to keep America from defaulting on its obligations to its creditors, again he underestimated his opponents desire to make him look weak and destroy his presidency.

The President was once again outmaneuvered this time around by caving in on an agreement that pleased no one. The President and his advisors have to get ahead of the game and not allow themselves to get cornered by his adversaries in addressing these critical policy issues. The President had two third of the American public backing him up on moving forward with a balance approach towards debt control which is to reduce spending and raise revenue.

This approach would have allowed the United States to reduce a bigger chunk of the deficit; instead he chose to follow congress’ lead and punt this very important debate to a committee that more likely will end up making more cuts and not fully accelerate the rate of debt reduction or invest in job creation. I hope I’m wrong in this assessment, but watching the turn of events over the past few years, I’m not betting on black.

Furthermore, with unemployment still at 9.2% and about 20% in the African-American community the President cannot afford to sit on the sideline and wait for the next election for him to take action in addressing these challenges. More tax cut policies and trickle down economics doesn’t seem to provide enough incentives for companies to stop hoarding cash and put people back to work.

Similarly, the Keynesian approach seems to have limited success in today economic environment, so logic would dictate a more balance approach to addressing our economic challenges. Rather than more deficit expenditures on new government programs, the President should work to raise more revenue through tax reform and invest in critical infrastructure projects that will create jobs. This deficit neutral approach would provide certainty to taxpayers regarding the tax code; address the unemployment challenges; thereby, creating more consumer demand that should contribute to the long term growth in the economy.

Finally, it’s important to note that President Obama’s adversaries will not go away and will more likely continue to work toward his demise. Therefore, the President must stick to his convictions and lead in a manner that requires cooperation more than compromise.

Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – August 12, 2011

One of the (many) definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and getting the same result while expecting a different result. Rick Perry, Governor of Texas and Lieutenant Governor while serving with Governor George W. Bush, is now going to run for president. Sound familiar? Could this country actually elect George Bush’s lieutenant governor? The G.O.Tea Party had a debate in Iowa yesterday, and the theme song “Send in the Clowns” played in the background. And finally, Mitt Romney has announced that “corporations are people”, confirming his belief in the lousy Citizens United Supreme Court decision as well as confirming his permanent confusion regarding the reasons why corporations even exist in the
first place.

Déjà vu?

One of my favorite Yogi Berra quotes is “…it seems like déjà vu all over again”. The much anticipated entry of Texas Governor Rick Perry into the G.O.Tea Party presidential race is one more sign that the Republicans are determined to do their very best to re-elect Barack Obama.

Let’s see…..Rick Perry was lieutenant governor when George W. Bush was governor. President George W. Bush presided over multiple disasters – 9/11, Katrina and the collapse of the American economy come to mind. Former Texas Governor Bush led this country into not one, but two misguided and mismanaged wars costing trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. Rick Perry has never breathed a word of dissent regarding the policies of President Bush.

Let’s see, Governor Rick Perry declared that Texas should seriously consider seceding from the United States. The last time that was tried 600,000 Americans died. Clearly secession is not a term that should be bandied about, even for rhetorical effect.

And, it should be noted that Governor Perry has stated on numerous occasions that serving as governor (and presumably as president) is part of a plan to fulfill his Christian mission. While we should respect any person’s religious beliefs we should be wary of anyone seeking to advance their Christian, Jewish or Muslim mission through holding public office.

Barack Obama is certainly losing sleep (and gaining grey hairs) over the many challenges his Administration has been facing. He shouldn’t lose any sleep over facing Rick Perry in a presidential election.

Would You Like a Clown with that Pie?

A veritable gaggle of G.O.Tea Party presidential candidates showed up for a “debate” in Ames, Iowa yesterday. The word “debate” is in quotes because it was really not a contest of ideas, rather it was a competition for who could blame President Obama the most with a sub contest for catchiest sound bite. Mitt Romney muttered something about not eating “Obama’s dog food” – a real head scratcher.

Newt Gingrich railed against “gotcha questions” from the media. Presumably he is growing weary of explaining how he served his former wife with divorce papers as she was waking up from cancer surgery – and how he and his wife managed to get a $500,000 line of credit at Tiffany’s and still be part of the middle class – and how his entire senior campaign staff just got up and walked out after working for him for………2 weeks.

Michelle Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty had a veritable Twin City Smack Down, but it was very hard to imagine any of the candidates on the Ames stage actually being on the world stage – without a clown suit.

Corporations Are People?

Campaigning in Iowa last week Mitt Romney stated that “corporations are people”. I guess it is now official. In the Citizens United case the United States Supreme Court led by G.O.Tea Party stalwarts Alito, Scalia, Roberts and Thomas ruled that corporations have First Amendment rights including the right to contribute unlimited amounts of money to political campaigns.

Now the former governor of Massachusetts has gone a step further by stating that entities that only exist by reason of law are actually people. Presumably he means that corporations have rights and are entitled to safeguards that were previously reserved for human beings.

During my first year at Harvard Law School we were taught that corporations are simply a creation of the law. Clearly Mr. Romney, the G.O.Tea Party stalwarts on the Supreme Court and the right wing of the right wing intend to rewrite law to suit their own purposes.

Have a great weekend!