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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

President Downgrade Suggests Romney’s Too Focused on Profit



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President Obama, yesterday:

And when you’re President, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits.  Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot.  Your job is to think about those workers who got laid off and how are we paying for their retraining.  Your job is to think about how those communities can start creating new clusters so that they can attract new businesses.  Your job as President is to think about how do we set up a equitable tax system so that everybody is paying their fair share that allows us then to invest in science and technology and infrastructure, all of which are going to help us grow.

And so, if your main argument for how to grow the economy is I knew how to make a lot of money for investors, then you’re missing what this job is about.  It doesn’t mean you weren’t good at private equity, but that’s not what my job is as President.  My job is to take into account everybody, not just some.  My job is to make sure that the country is growing not just now, but 10 years from now and 20 years from now.

1) While the job of the president is not to maximize profits, a president would ideally be attempting to instill within the government some sense of efficiency, cost-effectiveness, budgetary discipline, waste reduction and elimination, and other ways of avoiding runaway spending; with $5 trillion in new debt run up in less than four years, all of these traits have been absent from Obama’s presidency.

We’re not worried about profits, Mr. President. We’re worried about stopping an endless string of catastrophic losses.

2) “Your job is to think about those workers who got laid off and how are we paying for their retraining.” Indeed, Mr. President, and the vast majority of federal retraining programs are expensive, ineffective, and redundant: “A newly released Government Accountability Office (GAO) report exposes a broken web of federal job training and employment programs. Nine federal agencies spent approximately $18 billion annually to administer 47 separate employment and job training programs. Many of the programs are duplicative, but GAO‘s most shocking revelation is that ―little is known about the effectiveness of most programs.”

3) “Your job is to think about how those communities can start creating new clusters so that they can attract new businesses.” But those decisions are best made by local communities, not having the federal government selecting the sites for those clusters with earmarks and preferred companies like Solyndra (which just coincidentally donate a lot of money to your reelection campaign). As Obama’s economic adviser Larry Summers pointed out, the federal government makes a lousy venture capitalist.

4) “My job is to take into account everybody, not just some.” Except that Obama likes to forget about some people, like GM bondholders, the taxpayers who footed the bill for the GSA junkets, Catholic institutions who are forced to violate their principles, competitors of firms that get big contracts after making large donations to the president’s campaign, competitors of firms and institutions that are granted waivers under Obamacare, the coal industry, potential Boeing employees in South Carolina, the privacy of donors to groups that disagree with him…

5) “My job is to make sure that the country is growing not just now, but 10 years from now and 20 years from now.”

Well, the country’s economy is barely growing now, and it has stagnated for the entirety of your term. Unless you would have us celebrate 2.2 percent growth, there’s not much reason to believe your policies will ensure better growth 10 years from now and 20 years from now.

Quarter-to-Quarter Growth in Real GDP

For contrast, in the second quarter of 1983, GDP grew 10.9 percent, third quarter 6.5 percent, fourth quarter 7 percent, first quarter of 1984 7.4 percent, second quarter of 1984 5 percent. That’s what a real recovery looks like; under Obama, we’re still struggling to hit 4 percent quarterly growth.


Tags: Barack Obama , Economy , Mitt Romney


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