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Franklin Delano Obama

Updated on January 16, 2012

The "Old Deal"

[Obamaphiles, rest easy: I’ll give an equal-opportunity bashing to the GOP’s cynical economic proposals. I’m not a “Birther”; I voted for Obama and laugh when Fox news types call him a “Socialist.” But I’d like to smack him silly right now.]

For Obama context, please also read:

My friend was really drunk. He’d been hitting the Jack Daniels & Coke Zero for the better part of a Chiefs-Chargers game. Eyes bulging and glassy red, words twisted and garbled, he pointed an accusatory finger at his nephew, a slightly less inebriated, moderately liberal student at Butler University, and called him out: “If you knew then what you know now, would you still have voted for Obama?”

“Probably not,” the browbeaten nephew admitted, through a groaning sigh.

The promise of election night in Chicago’s Grant Park in November, 2008 was, in retrospect, the highlight of the Obama administration to date. A savvy campaigner – highly adept at fundraising and obviously possessing the gift of gab – Obama may actually be what one NPR commentator labeled, “A brilliant amateur,” who gained the keys to the White House without a hint of the boldly insightful leadership qualities needed to steer the US through its current economic nadir.

Both FDR and Obama inherited financial calamity from a GOP predecessor. The hands they were dealt by economic carnage clearly called for some strategic, innovative thinking. In FDR’s case, this led to the New Deal, a package of relief and reform, which created jobs in various arenas, from forestry conservation, large-scale dam construction, and a spate of small-scale, infrastructure improvement gambits. The SEC, which is supposed to prevent Wall Street rip-offs, and the FDIC, which insures savings deposits, were also created, among other oversight agencies.

Fast forward some 75 years and Obama seems to be doing pretty much the same thing. Under W. Bush, the TARP [Troubled Asset Repair Program] bailout was passed by Congress, doling out $500 billion to about 300 different banks and insurance titans; you know – the Citibanks and AIGs of the world: the “too big to fail” entities, as they were called by then Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson. Under Obama, Congress followed suit, passing a “stimulus” bailout for the Big Three automakers, among others. (Ford declined after further review.) Other than repaying the hefty taxpayer loans at their leisure, GM and Chrysler were given no conditions regarding hiring quotas, electric car production, plant re-openings, sales targets, nothing. In retrospect, both the Bush and Obama bailouts undoubtedly limited job losses to an unknown extent, but neither came close to truly stimulating the economy. Driving to New York from the Midwest, I repeatedly crossed bridges that were hailed as part of the stimulus package. Big woo: the bridge got repaired/ rebuilt, some concrete workers got paid for awhile, and the bigger economy most certainly was not revitalized.

Now comes Obama’s American Jobs Act proposal. The bill calls for $175 billion in infrastructure spending and aid for local governments to avoid further lay-offs of government workers, such as teachers. More bridges would be repaired, and a spate of inner-city public schools are to be repaired and revamped with wireless, new science labs, etc. Worthy ideas that should have occurred well before now, but highly unlikely to jump start a moribund economy. To help pay for all this, the act comes with a tax hike for millionaires but also offers a payroll tax cut for small businesses. With the Republicans holding control of the House and tepid support for this act in the Senate, the American Jobs Act is DOA. Obama is now trying to sell individual components on a skeptical, and often hostile, Congress as well as on the beleaguered American people.

Republicans look at Obama and think, “He just doesn’t get it.” The moderate left looks at Obama and increasingly agrees, but for widely different reasons. While the right dreams its laissez-faire dreams of deregulation and gutting all tax obligations on the wealthy, the moderate left wonders if any imaginative economic philosophy exists within the current White House brain trust. Reheating Depression-era strategies hasn’t cut it and at best seems like putting a band-aid on an amputation.

The New Deal programs occurred during an industrial age. We’re in a post-information age now, so no surprise that propping up Wall Street pariahs and death-bed corporations who manufacture unpopular products hasn’t revived the American/global economy. [Gallup polls reveal that 44 percent of American consumers prefer a Japanese or Korean made car, with 29 percent claiming a preference for a Big Three production, and the remainder opting for a German-made car.]

Looking around, one notices that the American businesses that have taken off during the last 15 years have been largely in the IT genre. See Apple, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, Verizon, the GPS providers, et al. None of these companies have received bailout funding and all apparently have a bright future with a reasonable expectation of providing decent jobs. Maybe just maybe, the Obama cadre should look at this trend and see if they can’t find a way to promote budding entrepreneurs in these fields. At the very least, I’d rather see taxpayer money plowed into making wide swaths of America wi-fi ready than to see Interstate 70 get 15 miles of newly repaved lanes. Likewise, I’d prefer to see the next Steve Jobs subsidized than to see Chrysler propped up to make fifteen more years of forgettable sedans and minivans.

Obama also talked a good “green game” during the ’08 campaign. Here’s another area he could have thrown substantial government aid toward as a visionary segue from the old housing-starts-and-car-sales pardigm to something innovative, necessary and sustainable. Given specific targets – and corresponding jobs in related industry – toward wind generated energy production, for instance, the American public could have rallied around the effort in a similar vein to the Apollo moon mission. Aside from obvious targets such as electric car production, solar and wind power, more ambitious projects like the “greening” of older urban structures, which has been pioneered in Canada and Australia, could have been pursued with public money. Seems far more savvy than rebuilding bridges.

But coal miners voted for Obama, didn’t they? And UAW workers. And Exxon-Mobile, the Wall Street banks, and the Detroit automakers are all campaign contributors for both major parties, ensuring that their bidding is done no matter who is in the White House.

On that crisp Chicago night in 2008, when Obama and family thanked the American voters for their faith and good will, we envisioned so much more than this and deserved far better. If BHO gets called back for an act II, let's hope he finds "better deal" than the shop-worn economic chicanery he's trotted out thus far.


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    • keithmitchell5 profile image

      keithmitchell5 6 years ago from Indianapolis

      I think we are kidding ourselves if we don't think that a monied "power elite" cabal selects and is behind every president, actually running things, determining policy, propping up their benefactors/ interests. Obviously, George W. Bush wasn't wise enough, intelligent enough to truly 'manage' that office-position himself, so the "elite" (I call them 'monied interest' and who they are exactly is the parlor game, who they represent) deigned him 'appropriately manageable' to their interests as opposed to a McCain in 2000. They did the same w/ Obama as opposed to Hillary, etc. Currently, they seem to be doing w/ Romney v. Newt. Cynthia McKinney? I'll educate myself here. Thanks, again.

    • Laura McKinney profile image

      Laura McKinney 6 years ago

      I agree. I was disappointed to have been right about Obama in '08. Although he seemed to genuinely believe a lot of the things I yearned to hear from a politician, he was chosen by the power elite. His pairing with Brzezinski confirmed that. I threw my support behind Cynthia McKinney. She is the real deal.

      I try to live as much outside their system as possible and will continue on that path. I educate myself and share information with others so when the time comes for revolution we see the true cage and know how to break through.

    • keithmitchell5 profile image

      keithmitchell5 6 years ago from Indianapolis

      Thanks much, Laura. I would say definitely, but the politicians - @ least as we know them (GOP/ Dem) are playing parlor if "budget cuts" are going to jump start, let alone fix, this mess any more than stimulus.

      Paul: I imagine he'll make a third-party run and garner maybe 8-10% of national vote. I hope he runs, although GOP will pressure him not too. The thing is, he won't 'take' votes from Romney, as they'll claim. He'll get otherwise non-voters to vote. He is realistic, different, a grown up ought to be, unlike Newt, et al. In that vain, pls. read

      [It's linked above @ right already.]

      Thanks for reading and for the comments.

    • Laura McKinney profile image

      Laura McKinney 6 years ago

      Insightful and true article. Great ideas! Paul Hawkins said it well. We "have to figure out what it means to be human at a time when every living system is in decline. The planet needs a new operating system. We are the programmers and we only have a few decades to do it". It's a shame that our government is a hindrance. We need to elect someone to go in with a wrecking ball. I hold some hope for Ron Paul. I honestly believe issues are most effectively governed at the smallest level possible. The corporate oligarchy and welfare for the banks and insanely rich must end. We are the majority. I'm ready for an evolution.

    • keithmitchell5 profile image

      keithmitchell5 6 years ago from Indianapolis

      Bobby Beef: Your comment is accurate - only Chrysler and GM took that moolah, so my apologies to Ford and I'll go up and re-edit to make it correct. Good eye. And did you recognize yourself and a certain Kyle Orton look-alike anywhere in this story? Third choice,'s what we need to keep those jokers from doing what they've done/ what they're doing.

    • profile image

      bobby beef 6 years ago

      EASY! B.T.W Ford did not take the money, they were not built on your tax dollars.

    • keithmitchell5 profile image

      keithmitchell5 6 years ago from Indianapolis

      Big Lebowski: Thinking of Obama as "The Government" is, as you allude, entirely incorrect and misleading. Some would say, and I increasingly entertain, that he is merely a puppet of powerful interests who decided, for whatever reasons, that he fronted their agenda better than Hillary did. I'll tell you one thing we share: a belief that neither of the major can or will fix this mess. There has to be at minimum, a third option. Or at maximum, a revolution.

    • profile image

      thedude 6 years ago

      I, like you, am pretty disappointed with Obama, but the thing is that I more and more think that it doesn't matter who is in the White House, the results will always be heavily constrained by lobbyist, the military industrial complex etc. I imagine Ralph Nader in the White House (I've been voting for him) and I think "shit, if he didn't get shot within the first couple of months, he would simply be stuck, unable to do a thing that he promised to attempt." Nader's policy would probably end up looking like Obama's...better than nothing but a far cry from what he and I would want.

    • keithmitchell5 profile image

      keithmitchell5 6 years ago from Indianapolis

      Chris, thanks for the analysis. Many thoughts...nice counterbalance to earlier comment.

    • profile image

      chirsbear97 6 years ago

      read your article -

      The occupy movement is showing some steam for change . . . but their dissatisfaction with government is really marginalized to the masses. . . as the majority of the people out there who do watch politics are watching through the corporate filters supplied by Fox or some other untrustworthy source. Really - coverage didn't begin to heat up until there was some violence involved - and this is because violence is good entertainment - peaceful demonstrations are not - unless they are falsified proof of Hippies and Socialists creating dents in our wonderful capitalistic system.

      Obama came onto the scene as a political Jesus. This he is not. But I would say that his presidency deserves a C grade. A vast improvement from what was the worst modern day presidency ever. Consider the alternative. A McCain Palin Presidency. . . and consider the real accomplishments of Obama. He is holding true to bringing the troops home from Iraq by the end of November (though this was an initiative set in the Bush Presidency and late according to his campaing calculations). He killed Osama Bin Ladin - that is an accomplishment that must secretly make Bush blush. He has deployed more drones in the war effort - minimizing our deaths (though collatoral deaths on the other side have been high). He didn't jump the gun and send troops into Libya - he asked for help - and through a collabrative effort the despot was found quickly. I believe that his diplomacy has helped to heal the bitter taste the rest of the World must have from the childish cowboy bully Bush.

      He has pushed forward a bill for Health Care - by initially trying to compromise and play nice. By playing nice he has exposed the Republican party as a power mongering enterprise. Health Care is important - and unfortunately with a conservative lacky supreme court the billl he passed may at some point be deemed unconstitutional as it forces 100% coverage - which may be an infringement on some odd interpretation of Constitutional rights like the Citizens United atrocity.

      He has created a Jobs Act - which is not great - but it is a step - and though it will not be a slam dunk or may not pass it has put pressure on the movement. (and that step still favors banks as refinancing pays the banks again).

      He has opened up discussions about how it is not right that rich people/corporations don't pay their taxes in relative equality. He has brought forth the Warren Buffet arguement - and I believe this was impetus to the 99% protest.

      Dissatisfaction in a bad economy is guaranteed. I liken the economy to a basketball game. Two teams go on the court. One is great - and the other is not so great. The great team at the end of the first quarter finds that it was not prepared - that its players have fucked around - that shots have been forced - and therefore they are down 20 to 5. At the second quarter the coach has a choice. He can say - start jacking shots - or he can say - back to basics. If he starts jacking shots the other team will take advantage of this and keep the lead. If its back to basics at the half it is 25-15. At the end of the third quarter it is 30-25. And somewhere in the 4th quarter the good team takes the lead and wins. This is not what our country is used to. It wants the new easy cash bubble. But what seemingly occured in a financial meltdown actually took 20 years to happen. Deregulation and government compliance with a get rich quick mentality that went through internet and housing bubbles without any long term vision have put our country behind. So if it took 20 years to get in the hole - guess what - its going to take a long as time to get out. So what do we do in the meantime? Prune the tree - and burn the rotten wood. But I don't have faith in America's leadership to do this. The lure of quick riches is too tempting. The narcotic of a new bubble will emerge soon. We may be doomed.

      As for Obama - he has his failures. His biggest failure I believe is his naivity. Naivity in the belief of compromise. Naivity in the belief that Geitner and Bernaky had nothing to do with the Financial meltdown. Naivity in the belief that if he bailed out the banks by giving the crooks money that they would use the money correctly and not pay themselves. His naivity has exposed something though. . . and this is the major gripe that I hope that he is able to understand in re-election with tough minded policy. That exposer is that we already have class warfare. That is what the Republicans fear most - that the stupid fucks in Oklahoma, Texas, and throughout the country who they have been fucking over for so long wake up and realize that they have been duped by the lure of Christian ethics and Blind Patriotism. This country was founded on informed Patriots who didn't allow their government to fuck them. Today compliance is patriotism. Class Warfare should be Obama's real platform after re election - and if it is not - then the gap in our economy will swallow us all hole - rich and poor. . . as the working class becomes disenfranchised - and the screws work for a new bubble that bursts - sinking this ship deeper into the unretrievable abiss.

      Things that need to happen.

      Regulation, Regulation, Regulation: price fixing

      Jobs, Jobs, Jobs: wage reductions at the top and wage increases through the middle

      An end to the idea that Wars create a good Economy - the false idea that this was what saved the US from the great depression.

      Social Democratic Capitalism

      Paid Taxes - not only for the rich - but also for those profiting corporations that have not paid taxes for three or four years

      NO raises in taxes - but a reliquishing of Tax loopholes and crazy benefits for the rich - not the middle class or poor. 35% is a good tax - for the rich - if that is what is paid. We all know that with loop holes - deductions - etc. . . it is not.

      And. . . a cultural revolutions in what it means to be an American. That is - we can't all be rich - with the big house - the big car - and the big tits. But. . . most of us can - with the American ethic can be middle to upper middle class.

      In short - were fucked.

    • keithmitchell5 profile image

      keithmitchell5 6 years ago from Indianapolis

      A battalion of angry seniors w/ Hover-Rounds won't solve our fiscal meltdown, but I'd still like to see it. Yeah, your point about WW II truly ending the GD is absolutely valid. Maybe we can claim Iraq has Weapons of Mass Destruction, invade and then magically, our economy will...never mind.

    • profile image

      Sandra Wallace 6 years ago

      Faced with the horrors of right wing republicans, I, too, voted for Obama. Faced with widespread economic collapse in the 1930's I would have voted for FDR, who my father deemed a "communist". I agree with you, however, that what worked for FDR won't work for us today because what really, and truly, worked for FDR was WW II. The "socialist" programs of the New Deal like social security are in part responsible for our current economic problems. Not that I'd advocate against them, I don't want a cadre of over-entitled seniors chasing me down on Hover-Rounds. Besides, like everyone else my age I think I'm entitled to cash in too! A third world war definitely wouldn't end our economic troubles. It doesn't take enough men or materials to fight a war now-a-days to stimulate the economy. Contemporary war is incredibly expensive without creating a comensurate number of jobs.

    • keithmitchell5 profile image

      keithmitchell5 6 years ago from Indianapolis

      Guru: I like the 1st Amendment. I'm pretty sure our politics are miles apart but some Illinois insight on BHO is very welcomed. I'd just like a real alternative to either major party and to me, that's the revolution we now have to wage...Independent CFO would still have to work with Congress but maybe they'd drop their inherently gridlocked stance toward the "other party" occupant of the White in now GOP w/ Obama and previously, Dems w/ W. Bush. Thanks for being a loyal reader and for commenting...and for rooming w/ me @ ISU. Later, Bro.

    • profile image

      Richard Petty 6 years ago

      It is too late to go back and change history. This country was snookered by this family. During his tenure as a Senator, he rarley voted. The guy was too busy lining his pockets with campaign contributions. He did nothing for this shithole state of Illinois I have had the pleasure of living in since 1991. This man is single handedly killing our country. His first issue when getting into office? Buying an expensive dog for his overprivleged kids. Second, shut down Guantonomo Bay and stop torturing terrorists for information. How do you think we got the info on where Osama was? Bush had the balls to waterboard a courier for Osama's wearabouts. Third, you have never done anything else except drive us further into debt, take vacations on our tax dollars and do nothing to fix the economy. His latest idea. Lower student loan interest rates so grads can pay off their loan to the government. What about the families losing their home to foreclosure. How about working with them? The other week, my local paper reads "OBAMA DECLARES WAR IN IRAQ OVER. TROOPS TO BE HOME BY CHRISTMAS" Isn't that convenient when Obama's numbers are in the crapper before an election. What are these men and women who scarificed their lives for our freedom going to do for a job when they come home? My last rant. Just read in the Chicago Tribune that Obama administration may have to get involved with the BCS on how to legally declare a national champion this January. I believe we can only fix our problems by electing an independent CFO from the private sector to balance this countries budget, keep jobs, and production in the USA. It is about time that we finally take care of our own for once.


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