Radio - before television - was referred to as the theater of the mind. The audience used imagination to fill in the thin plot lines. Fear, love, hate, humor were all unique to the listener who interpreted each show from personal emotions. "The War of The Worlds" was especially terrifying because each listener had a separate boogy man that was more fearful than what was portrayed on the radio.
The Obama campaign and administration can be likened to a presidency of the mind. Ask a liberal to describe why they like Obama and his policies and you will hear wide ranging and mutually exclusive dissertations that spring forth more from individual wishes and hopes than from actual policies and laws that he has enacted. President Obama is an "ideas" person who leaves the specifics to others. President Regan could move people - both pro and con - with his oratory while leaving the cooks alone in the kitchen. He had an opposite agenda to Obama, reduce and simplify government. That reduced the need to push complicated laws and agendas. He took power when the country was in a similar economic malaise, but had beneficial demographic trends in his favor. Obama favors complicated government mandates that require significant input on his part, but he does not have the personality to get dirty in the details. He suffers because he can't have it both ways.
The economy, recession, slow growth and high unemployment will be the campaign issue faced by Obama.
His prospects of stimulating the economy and gaining reelection appear bleak. Quantitative easing, cash for klunkers, homebuyer incentives all gave temporary boosts to GDP, but have not been long lasting. Why? Increasing government deficits and debt to GDP are as scary as the imaginary monsters of "The War of the Worlds" but unfortunately are real. The public and investors refuse to spend when they fear an economy that is fragile and may get worse. In September the president will unveil his jobs program, but it is likely to be too little too late, and likely counterproductive.
Is there anything the president can do? Even his opponents have to hope he is successful because another recession lowers the lake for all boaters. That said - no. Regan enjoyed a demographic nation that was the opposite of Obama. Baby boomers were entering the job market by the mid 80's in record numbers and earning more each year. Their huge numbers gained momentum so that by 2000 the country had greater prosperity than at any other time in our history. As a rich nation, the government portion of GDP was 20%. The military budget was almost half what it is now, interest on the debt was lower, prescription drug and other medical costs were lower and many other government agencies were smaller. Today we are a nation facing recession, but spending like we were as rich as 2000. We have to go on a serious spending diet, but a recession and liberal president argues against a policy to cut spending.
The baby boom topped out between 1960-1964 which meant that after 2006-2010 these high earners were starting to wind down their income and spending. The decade of the 2010's will see huge numbers of boomers reaching retirement age and scaling down their stimulus to the economy. In fact they will do the opposite - take social security and create more medical expense. Faced with this demographic fact, President Regan and his reduced government credo would have struggled to enable a robust economy. The U.S. is Japan of 1990. The Japanese reached their demographic peak twenty years before us and have been increasing debt since. They offer a scary vision of what our debt and economy will be over the next ten years.
Regardless of the effort President Obama puts forth, he is swimming upstream at the rate of a mile per hour in a river flowing at five miles per hour. Yet, if he loses, his republican successor will find an economy that will stubbornly refuse to perform much better with spending and debt reductions. As we increase our efforts to pay off any remaining mortgages, pay down credit cards, and reign in other discretionary spending, we are doing the things that will prolong a slow growth economy.
“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won't hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover. I really hope that someone can agree with me on that. You want people who don't worry about the next election.”
Donald Trump Bolts Republican Party, Eyeing Other 2012 Options
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