Tag: Barack Obama (page 2 of 4)

Amerikansk recovery?

Obama-administrationen kæmper i disse dage med at få hævet det amerikanske gældsloft. Problemet er ret enkelt: Man har brugt så mange penge på bailouts af banker og den gigantiske stimulanspakke, at den amerikanske stat rammer loftet for, hvor stor gælden må blive, medmindre man gennemfører nogle drakoniske nedskæringer. Så man må håbe, at stimulansen har virket. Figuren nedenfor indikerer ret klart, at det har den ikke (hattip: Greg Mankiw). Interventionerne ser umiddelbart ud til at have skabt permanente problemer. Nogle amerikanske økonomer taler for eksempel om ’policy uncertainty’ som det store problem: Stimulansen virkede ikke – den blev bare modsvaret af reduktioner i privatforbrug og investeringer – men Obamas reguleringsiver har skabt et politisk klima, hvor mange virksomheder holder igen med at ansætte, fordi uforudsete og uforudsigelige, politiske indgreb gør fremtiden for usikker. Lyder det som en rimelig grund til at frygte S-SF’s Fair Løsning eller måske en stadig mere tung, offentlig hånd i 202-Planen? Det lader vi læserne om at vurdere.

Lidt klip fra efter-valg analyserne

Hermed kommer (i spredt fægtning og opdateret lidt efter lidt) nogle fortolkninger af det amerikanske midtvejsvalg, som jeg personligt finder interessante. (Update: Peter Wehner fra Commentary har en faktuel opremsning af, hvor stort Demokraternes nederlag var i historisk perspektiv. Josh Kraushaar fra National Journal vurderer, at det kan gå endnu værre i 2012.)

Først den konservative Washington Post-kommentator Charles Krauthammer, der stort set altid er velskrivende, snusfornuftig og med begge fødder plantet på jorden:

Tuesday was the electorate’s first opportunity to render a national verdict on this manner of governance. The rejection was stunning. As a result, President Obama’s agenda is dead. And not just now. No future Democratic president will try to revive it – and if he does, no Congress will follow him, in view of the carnage visited upon Democrats on Tuesday.

This is not, however, a rejection of Democrats as a party. The center-left party as represented by Bill Clinton remains competitive in every cycle. (Which is why he was the most popular, sought-after Democrat in the current cycle.) The lesson of Tuesday is that the American game is played between the 40-yard lines. So long as Democrats don’t repeat Obama’s drive for the red zone, Democrats will cyclically prevail, just as Republicans do.

Nor should Republicans overinterpret their Tuesday mandate. They received none. They were merely rewarded for acting as the people’s proxy in saying no to Obama’s overreaching liberalism. As one wag put it, this wasn’t an election so much as a restraining order.

The Republicans won by default. And their prize is nothing more than a two-year lease on the House. The building was available because the previous occupant had been evicted for arrogant misbehavior and, by rule, alas, the House cannot be left vacant.

Den altid lige så kloge og snusfornuftige Wall Street Journal lederskribent havde bl.a. disse ord:

One lesson of the big GOP victory is that voters are again open to a message of limited government, but they want messengers with the savvy and smarts to implement it. Voters swept dozens of newcomers to power on Tuesday, but they also rejected prominent tea party candidates who didn’t seem up to the task. This cost at least two seats in the Senate, and it ought to chasten tea partiers who want House Republicans to perform immediate miracles. It should also inform the 2012 GOP Presidential nominating debate.

By all means, tea partiers should hold Republicans to their promises, while recognizing that Harry Reid still has a Senate majority and Mr. Obama still has his veto pen. Republicans did not win a governing majority on Tuesday. They were given a chance to build one in 2012, if they can show they deserve it over the next two years.

Fhv. WH-vicestabschef & chef-strateg Karl Rove sagde næsten det samme på samme sider:

Tuesday’s results mean Mr. Obama no longer has the luxury of jamming through legislation solely with his party’s support. A week after saying it was “time to punish our enemies,” the president will have to find ways to reach common ground with them. In yesterday’s press conference, the president mentioned earmarks and energy policy as two places to start.

Republicans must not delude themselves: The voters didn’t throw out the Democrats because they are enraptured with the GOP. The polling data suggest that many voters, while warming to the party, still remain nervous about it. Republicans are on probation. And whether they get off of it depends on whether they do what they said they would on the campaign trail.

Voters want Republicans to press for reform—regardless of the obstacles placed in their way by Mr. Obama. They understand Mr. Obama is president for two more years and retains the veto, but they will insist Republicans at least fight for change.

Republicans should be willing to compromise on details. Ronald Reagan was right when he said, “I’d rather get 80% of what I want than to go over the cliff with my flag flying.” But voters will not tolerate compromise on fundamental principles.

Den sejrrige de facto leder af Tea Party-bevægelsen–nej, ikke Sarah Palin eller Glenn Beck, således som danske journalister gerne vil fremstille det–senator James DeMint (R-SC) var derimod allerede dagen efter valget ude med den ideologiske rive i en hilsen til de mange nyvalgte TP-kandidater:

Congratulations to all the tea party-backed candidates who overcame a determined, partisan opposition to win their elections. The next campaign begins today. Because you must now overcome determined party insiders if this nation is going to be spared from fiscal disaster.

Many of the people who will be welcoming the new class of Senate conservatives to Washington never wanted you here in the first place. The establishment is much more likely to try to buy off your votes than to buy into your limited-government philosophy. Consider what former GOP senator-turned-lobbyist Trent Lott told the Washington Post earlier this year: “As soon as they get here, we need to co-opt them.”

Don’t let them. Co-option is coercion. Washington operates on a favor-based economy and for every earmark, committee assignment or fancy title that’s given, payback is expected in return. The chits come due when the roll call votes begin. This is how big-spending bills that everyone always decries in public always manage to pass with just enough votes.

But someone can’t be bribed if they aren’t for sale. …

When you are in Washington, remember what the voters back home want—less government and more freedom. Millions of people are out of work, the government is going bankrupt and the country is trillions in debt. Americans have watched in disgust as billions of their tax dollars have been wasted on failed jobs plans, bailouts and takeovers. It’s up to us to stop the spending spree and make sure we have a government that benefits America instead of being a burden to it.

Tea party Republicans were elected to go to Washington and save the country—not be co-opted by the club. So put on your boxing gloves. The fight begins today.

Og her lidt af Dr. Conservative, George F. Will:

Unwilling to delay until tomorrow mistakes that could be made immediately, Democrats used 2010 to begin losing 2012. Trying to preemptively drain the election of its dangerous (to Democrats) meaning, all autumn Democrats described the electorate as suffering a brain cramp, an apoplexy of fear, rage, paranoia, cupidity – something. Any explanation would suffice as long as it cast what voters were about to say as perhaps contemptible and certainly too trivial to be taken seriously by the serious.

It is amazing the ingenuity Democrats invest in concocting explanations of voter behavior that erase what voters always care about, and this year more than ever – ideas. This election was a nationwide recoil against Barack Obama’s idea of unlimited government.

The more he denounced Republicans as the party of “no,” the better Republicans did. His denunciations enabled people to support Republicans without embracing them as anything other than impediments to him.

I sin næste klumme, fortsatte Will i samme spor:

As he promised it would be, Barack Obama’s presidency has been transformative, but not as he intended. Whether it lasts two or six more years, it is an exhausted volcano because its biggest consequence may already have happened: It has resuscitated the right, making 2010 conservatism’s best year in 30 years – since the election of Ronald Reagan.

Republican gains were partly a result of the “shock-and-awe statism” (Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’s phrase) of the health-care legislation passed in March. Seven months later, a federal judge in Florida, hearing arguments about the constitutionality of penalizing Americans who do not purchase health insurance, was bemused.

Lawyers defending the legislation said that the fee noncompliant Americans would be forced to pay is really just a tax. But during congressional debate on the legislation, Democrats adamantly denied it was a tax. So, in a rehearsal of an argument that will be heard by the Supreme Court, the judge said:

“Congress should not be permitted to secure and cast politically difficult votes on controversial legislation by deliberately calling something one thing, after which the defenders of that legislation take an ‘Alice-in-Wonderland’ tack and argue in court that Congress really meant something else entirely, thereby circumventing the safeguard that exists to keep their broad power in check.”

Midtvejsvalget 2010, IV: Sidste kik & prognose

Så er dagen oprunden for det, der meget tænkeligt kan blive et af de mere interessante amerikanske midtvejsvalg i en generation eller to (sammen med 1994 og 2006).  De sidste meningsmålinger på landsplan og i delstater er nu offentliggjort, og jeg vil hermed komme med mine bud p.b.a. dels lidt statistisk hokus-pokus med udgangspunkt i de sidste meningsmålinger for “likely voters” (N =  10.884  14.574!), dels de lokale meningsmålinger, og dels lidt erfaringsbaserede tommelfinger-regler.

Stemmeandele på landsplan (afrundet):

  • Demokraterne: 42%
  • Republikanerne: 51%
  • (= andre: 7%)

Senatet:

  • Demokraterne: 50 (-9)
  • Republikanerne: 50 (+9)

Repræsentanternes Hus:

  • Demokraterne: 190 (-66)
  • Republikanerne: 245 (+66)

Altså med andre ord: Republikanerne vinder Huset overbevisende og går markant frem i Senatet men mangler reelt én stemme i et flertal.

Et sådant “bud” ligger i den højere ende for Republikanernes vedkommende sammenlignet med andre iagttagere, men på linje med hvad jeg har “prognosticeret” i mine to tidligere poster om emnet.  Til sammenligning ligger RealClearPolitics.com’s gennemsnit for “generic congressional vote” i skrivende stund på lidt over 8%, og de fleste kommentatorers bud på 48-49 senatorer og ca. 230-35 i Huset (til Republikanerne).  Bevægelsen i meningsmålingerne på landsplan har dog den sidste uge været så næsten systematisk til fordel for Republikanerne, at meget tyder på, at en “bølge” er ved at forme sig.

Viser dette bud sig at være korrekt, vil det være det største sving til fordel for noget parti ved et midtvejsvalg i cirka 100 år, den største stemmeandel ved et sådant for Republikanerne siden 1940erne og det største antal kongresmedlemmer for partiet i lige så lang tid.

Skal man krydre med lidt forskning på området, kan man pege på, at ved sidste midtvejsvalg (2006) tabte Republikanerne 30 sæder i Huset, hvilket svarede næsten nøjagtigt til gennemsnittet for de seneste årtier, samt at Douglas Hibbs’ model for midtvejsvalg forudsiger–på rent strukturelle faktorer–at Demokraterne på økonomien m.v. alene skulle tabe ca. 45 sæder i Huset.  Holder Demokraternes tab sig på 30 eller derunder (og dermed magten med Huset), vil de med god ret kunne fremstille det som en sejr.  Jo mere tabene er over 30–og især over Hibbs’ 45–desto mere vil det være en målestok for Demokraternes nederlag.

Midtvejsvalget 2010: Et første kik

USA’s midtvejsvalg er nu kun to måneder væk.  Det ser ud til at kunne blive et af de tre mest spændende–og vigtige–af slagsen siden 1970erne (med de to andre værende 1994 og 2006).

Historisk set sker der aldrig det helt store i meningsmålingerne før slutningen af august–eller efter slutningen af september.  Indtil sommeren er forbi, er vælgerne ikke rigtigt “tunet ind”–og mange af dem er det heller ikke efterfølgende–men særligt ved midtvejsvalgene, hvor der ikke er nogen markante personligheder, der tegner fronterne, er der ikke så meget, der rykker sig, når først folk ovenpå primærvalg og ferie har zoomet ind.

Det er ikke så godt for Obama & Demokraterne.  I denne uge kunne Gallup således registrere den største partitilslutning blandt “registrerede vælgere”, som man har målt, siden man begyndte at lave meningsmålinger.  Det var i 1942 vel at mærke …

G.O.P.s forspring er p.t. på 10 pct.point i Gallups måling.  Gennemsnittet af samtlige målinger viser et lidt mindre spænd på typisk 3-5 pct.point–men udviklingen siden 2008 er ganske klar, især siden sundhedsreformen.  Til sammenligning førte partiet med Continue reading

Fusk eller sjusk? Mere om Poul Høi (4)

Berlingske Tidendes Cavling Pris-vindende korrespondent Poul Høi fortsætter i den vante skure med en særegen type blanding af journalistik, politisk kommentar og fri fortolkning af fakta. I den forgangne uge kunne man fx læse hans udlægning af en række primærvalg og et enkelt suppleringsvalg forrige tirsdag. Det fik – ikke så overraskende hvis man kender Modus Høi – en udlægning, der var ganske speciel: “Obama vandt uden at stille op”. Altså en sejr til den Demokratiske præsident. Det kunne måske overraske folk, der følger amerikansk politik og derfor ved, hvordan andre udlagde valgdagen – og hvor presset Obama og Demokraterne er i meningsmålingerne. Så hvordan når Høi denne konklusion?

Den ene er, at økonomien vil kunne arbejde for Obama ved midtvejsvalget til november. Amerikanske valg afgøres som regel af økonomiske konjunkturer, og noget tyder på, at de er (svagt) opadgående. Dét er sådant set godt nok. Men hvordan kan det lede til den konklusion, rubrikken lægger op til? Formodentlig kun ved at vælgerne i givet fald har kunnet rejse fra fremtiden tilbage til nutiden. Ellers er der ikke rigtigt noget ræsonnement, der giver mening.

Den anden er, at Republikanerne har en tendens til at selvdestruere. Den er også god nok. Og igen kræves kun en tidsmaskine, for at rubrikken giver mening – med mindre, naturligvis, at Republikanerne allerede har destrueret sig selv. Det sidste kan godt nok ikke ses i meningsmålingerne – men nu foregriber vi fornøjelserne.

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Amerikansk tillid til regeringen i bund

En ny survey fra the Pew Center viser, at amerikanernes tillid til regeringen er faldet drastisk, og er tæt på at være historisk lav. Undersøgelsen tegner unægteligt et andet billede af den politiske situation i USA, end europæiske medier bringer for tiden. Her er et par pluk fra NPR’s dækning:

Only 22 percent of Americans surveyed by Pew say they can trust government in Washington “almost always or most of the time” — among the lowest measures in the half-century since pollsters have been asking the question. And an increasing number — almost 1 of every 3 people — say they believe government is a major threat to their personal freedoms and want federal power reined in.

Pew asked people to say whether they were content, frustrated or angry with the federal government — and 3 of every 4 people said they were either frustrated or angry.

The proportion of Americans who say they are “angry” with the federal government has doubled since 2000, increasing from 10 percent to 20 percent.

Independents who are highly frustrated with government are highly committed to voting this year, and they favor the GOP candidates in their district by a margin of 66 percent to 13 percent.

Pew gentog undersøgelsen hele tre gange for at være sikre på, at det ikke bare var en tilfældighed, at de fik disse dramatiske resultater, men fik det samme resultat igen. Som centerets leder Andrew Kohut konkluderer: “The public wants a less activist government.” Det kan godt være at danske og europæiske mainstream medier elsker Barack Obama og den kurs, han har lagt for USA, men amerikanerne er uenige. Kunne vi måske få det dækket i danske medier?

Er Obamas sundhedsreform forfatningsstridig?

I forlængelse af min kommentar ovenfor om forfatningens centrale men oversete 10. tillæg:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
–har min gamle ven gennem 23 år, Randy Barnett (professor i jura ved Boston University og næppe én, der kan ses som værende ude i et partipolitisk ærinde), argumenteret for, at sundhedsreformen meget vel kan være forfatningsstridig.  I et indlæg i Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/19/AR2010031901470.html) skriver han bl.a.:
“Can Congress really require that every person purchase health insurance from a private company or face a penalty? The answer lies in the commerce clause of the Constitution, which grants Congress the power “to regulate commerce . . . among the several states.” Historically, insurance contracts were not considered commerce, which referred to trade and carriage of merchandise. That’s why insurance has traditionally been regulated by states. But the Supreme Court has long allowed Congress to regulate and prohibit all sorts of “economic” activities that are not, strictly speaking, commerce. The key is that those activities substantially affect interstate commerce, and that’s how the court would probably view the regulation of health insurance.
But the individual mandate extends the commerce clause’s power beyond economic activity, to economic inactivity. That is unprecedented. While Congress has used its taxing power to fund Social Security and Medicare, never before has it used its commerce power to mandate that an individual person engage in an economic transaction with a private company. Regulating the auto industry or paying “cash for clunkers” is one thing; making everyone buy a Chevy is quite another. Even during World War II, the federal government did not mandate that individual citizens purchase war bonds.”

I forlængelse af min kommentar (i kommentar-sektionen her) om, hvorvidt Obamas sundhedsreform i virkeligheden måske er forfatningsstridig, er det vigtigt at være opmærksom på USA-forfatningens centrale men oversete 10. tillæg:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

I den forbindelse har min gamle ven gennem snart 23 år, Randy Barnett (professor i forfatningsret ved Georgetown University og næppe én, der kan ses som værende ude i et “konservativt” eller partipolitisk ærinde), argumenteret for, at sundhedsreformen meget vel kan være forfatningsstridig.  I et indlæg forleden i Washington Post skriver han bl.a.:

“Can Congress really require that every person purchase health insurance from a private company or face a penalty? The answer lies in the commerce clause of the Constitution, which grants Congress the power “to regulate commerce . . . among the several states.” Historically, insurance contracts were not considered commerce, which referred to trade and carriage of merchandise. That’s why insurance has traditionally been regulated by states. But the Supreme Court has long allowed Congress to regulate and prohibit all sorts of “economic” activities that are not, strictly speaking, commerce. The key is that those activities substantially affect interstate commerce, and that’s how the court would probably view the regulation of health insurance. But the individual mandate extends the commerce clause’s power beyond economic activity, to economic inactivity. That is unprecedented. While Congress has used its taxing power to fund Social Security and Medicare, never before has it used its commerce power to mandate that an individual person engage in an economic transaction with a private company. Regulating the auto industry or paying “cash for clunkers” is one thing; making everyone buy a Chevy is quite another. Even during World War II, the federal government did not mandate that individual citizens purchase war bonds. If you choose to drive a car, then maybe you can be made to buy insurance against the possibility of inflicting harm on others. But making you buy insurance merely because you are alive is a claim of power from which many Americans instinctively shrink. Senate Republicans made this objection, and it was defeated on a party-line vote, but it will return.

At der kommer en større sag ud af det, og at sidste ord ikke er sagt, er klart.  Spørgsmålet er så blot–hvis Barnett m.fl. har ret–hvorvidt forbundshøjesteretten vil have mod nok til at erklære en så stor lov forfatningsstridig?  Historien taler imod det, og det forudser Barnetts kollega og med-blogger, Orin Kerr, også.  Efter min mening desværre.

Barnett er mere optimistisk:

“[Although some] of the potential constitutional challenges to health-care reform have a sound basis in the text of the Constitution, and no Supreme Court precedents clearly bar their success, the smart money says there won’t be five votes to thwart the popular will to enact comprehensive health insurance reform.

But what if five justices think the legislation was carried bleeding across the finish line on a party-line vote over widespread bipartisan opposition? What if control of one or both houses of Congress flips parties while lawsuits are pending? Then there might just be five votes against regulating inactivity by compelling citizens to enter into a contract with a private company. This legislation won’t go into effect tomorrow. In the interim, it is far more vulnerable than if some citizens had already started to rely upon its benefits.

If this sounds far-fetched, consider another recent case in which the smart money doubted there were five votes to intervene in a politicized controversy involving technical procedures. A case in which five justices may have perceived that long-established rules were being gamed for purely partisan advantage.

You might have heard of it: Bush v. Gore.”

George W. Obama II

Som tidligere nævnt begynder der at være interessante lighedspunkter mellem George W. Bush og Barack Obama.  Senest kan man vist sige Oops! til den nyeste amerikanske Gallup-tracking poll, der kommer i kølvandet på, at Demokraterne har meddelt, at de i forbindelse med den planlagte sundhedsreform ikke blot vil bruge én forretningsordens-bestemmelse til at undgå en filibuster i Senatet (hvilket er både forståeligt og lovligt, men næppe legitimt), men nu også vil bruge en anden til at gennemføre forslaget i Repræsentanternes Hus helt uden afstemning (hvilket er pænt over grænsen for et åndeligt grundlovsbrud).

I forvejen er vicepræsident Joe Biden mindre populær, end Cheney var, og sundhedsreformen er mindre populær end Irak-krigen.  Lavt at flyve–fortsat langt at falde.

Update: Som John Pitney skriver ovre hos NRO, så har Obama-administrationen i det mindste en vis sans for humor.  Måske.

Bad Bad Banks

Obama administrationens seneste påfund er lovgivning, der skal forbyde banker at foretage ”proprietary trading” – det vil sige handle for egen bog. I praksis er det et skridt tilbage til tiden før 1994 hvor Glass-Steagall loven blev ophævet. Glass-Steagall adskilte i praksis ejerskabet af ”investment banks” fra ”commercial banks”. Ophævelsen af Glass-Steagall (som var en 1930er opfindelse uden paralleler i andre lande) førte i perioden 1994-2008 til flere fusioner på tværs og dermed ”krydsninger” mellem investeringsbanker og commercial banks. Citigroup og JP Morgan Chase er eksempler. Paradoksalt nok nærmest tvang Bush administrationen (og Tim Geithner!) Bank of Americas Ken Lewis til at overtage investeringsbanken Merril Lynch i den weekend, hvor alt kollapsede i efteråret 2008. Dermed var den nuværende amerikanske finansminister med til at skabe den slags konglomerat som han nu åbenbart mener er et problem. Det er i det hele taget mærkværdigt at administrationen nu demoniserer store banker. Sidste år var den med til at skabe en del af dem via stærk tilskyndelse til fusioner. Det er dog også tydeligt at Obamas forslag ikke er groet i Tim Geithners have. Og konsistens med hensyn til finansiel reform har hidtil ikke været en af administrationens stærke sider.

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George W. Obama

Berlingske bad mig i går om at kommentere årsdagen for Barack Obamas tiltræden som præsident.  Det gjorde jeg dd. i denne kommentar, hvori jeg bl.a. skrev:

“En upopulær præsident med det overordnede ansvar for driften af to krige. Stigende arbejdsløshed. Voksende budgetunderskud. Eksploderende gældsætning. Frygt for nye terrorangreb. Undergravning af de borgerlige frihedsrettigheder. For lidt åbenhed og for megen korruption i det regerende parti.
Sådan endte George W. Bushs præsidentperiode for nøjagtigt ét år siden – og sådan er billedet af Barack Obamas første år. Altså lige bortset fra at underskud og gæld er steget yderligere, at nye skatter truer, og at Obama er løbet fra flere af sine valgløfter – og at hans relativt få resultater mestendels har vælgerne markant imod sig. … [De] fleste amerikanske vælgere ønskede ikke en nationalisering af sundhedssektoren, en altomfattende miljøregulering, en eksplosion i den korrumperende statsstøtte til alskens særinteressegrupper, og en omsiggribende politisk korrekthed. Det lod Obamas ideologi og manglende erfaring ham bare ikke se i tide.”

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