Shhh. The president is sleeping

By Keith Koffler
January 31, 2014

President Barack Obama is out of gas. Pooped out. Gone fishing. Or rather, golfing. He’s just not that into it anymore. The republic is safe from any further vast left-wing legislative prescriptions for our ills.

But Obama’s increasing job fatigue is, paradoxically, cause for serious concern. While he sits back, aides in the White House and in the agencies are busy enacting a stealth agenda of rules and regulations. And on the world stage, Washington’s withdrawal threatens national security.

The president on display at Tuesday’s State of the Union is one who has shrunk from the pretension of becoming a president on the order of Ronald Reagan or Franklin Roosevelt into the purveyor of a list of puny policies that tinker at the margins.

Instead of offering “fundamental change” and inspirational hope, Obama made increasing the minimum wage for federal contractors the centerpiece of this year’s address. The increasingly disinterested president even had trouble pronouncing the name of his other “big idea,” a limited savings vehicle the White House is calling a “MyRA.”

Major issues like debt, deficit and entitlements? Fuhgetaboutit, way too much bother.

Obama had entirely unremarkable tenures in both the Illinois and the U.S. Senate, angling almost immediately after entering each to move up. But now he has the same problem as lots of working stiffs. After five years in the same job, the thrill is gone — and the grunt work is to be avoided.

It’s not the State of the Union, but Obama’s recent golf excursion to Hawaii, that may serve as the template for the president’s proclaimed 2014 “year of action.”

Obama played nine times during his 15-day vacation. What’s more, in a not insignificant indication of where his mind is at, he golfed 46 times in 2013 — easily an annual record for him as president and more than twice the 19 times he went out in 2012, when there was the serious work of getting reelected to be done.

You will likely search in vain for a world leader who accomplished significant things in the same year he or she went golfing nearly four dozen times.

For some perspective, President George W. Bush, who was known as a golfer, played only 24 times in more than two and a half years as president before stopping in October 2003, because he felt it wasn’t appropriate to play during wartime, according to White House chronicler Mark Knoller of CBS News.

Obama and his advisers grieve to a sympathetic press that Republicans are to blame for the impasse in Congress. This even as “moderate Democrat” has become an oxymoron and the president touts his crowning left-wing achievement, Obamacare, which he jammed through Congress without convincing a single Republican — they can’t all be right-wing “extremists” — to vote for it.

A republic is intended to be a fractious form of government. Successful legislators, like Reagan and Bill Clinton, knew how to hold their own party’s ranks while picking off enough of the opposition to pass laws.

Obama was never particularly interested in building the relationships needed to curry favor, call in chits and twist arms. But now, he’s finished even pretending.

He’s not going through any halfhearted motions — like he did last year, when he took some Republicans to dinner in a widely celebrated “reaching out” offensive that ended almost immediately after it started. It’s not clear who Obama’s close friends are on Capitol Hill now, or if he even has any — on either side of the aisle.

As if to highlight the point, Obama recently brought back to the White House his former liaison to Congress, Phil Schiliro. But Schiliro won’t be trying to pass new legislation. He’ll be working on implementing the Affordable Care Act and beating back Republican attempts to undermine it.

Republicans are interpreting Obama’s vow to step up his use of executive orders as a play by a leftist president to undemocratically expand his power and unilaterally make policies he sees as inarguably enlightened. And they’re right.

But it’s also the default position of a tired president who would rather have his aides come up with a policy than grind out something more important and far-reaching on Capitol Hill.

So the hired help will do the work. An ever-vigorous John Podesta was brought in for at least a year, to see exactly how much legislation can be passed by the executive branch alone.

Podesta is the perfect person for this job. As a former White House chief of staff for Clinton, he knows how to move both the White House and the agencies. He also created the Center for American Progress, a politically astute left-wing think tank that can serve up endless helpings of ideas for regulatory action.

But Obama’s effeteness is even less reassuring when it comes to foreign policy — where benign neglect can look like a dangerous abdication of duty.

After failing to negotiate a U.S. military presence in Iraq, where al Qaeda is now snatching up real estate, Obama may be on course to do the same — or nearly the same — in Afghanistan.

Having avoided seriously taking a side in Syria, Obama has now ceded diplomatic ground there to the Russians and allowed the festering battleground to become a new magnet and training ground for jihadists of several stripes.

Most frightening is the possibility that Obama’s self-disengagement will lead to an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Few have faith that Obama has the stomach for a war with Iran. He’s already dropped a longstanding U.S. demand, and acquiesced to a “peaceful” Iranian nuclear program. How can he be trusted not to embrace a flimsy final agreement that allows Iran to cheat its way into a nuclear weapon?

Republicans should not be reassured by the passive new Obama. Because while he’s sleeping, his aides at home and U.S. enemies abroad will be filling in for him.

 

PHOTO (TOP): President Barack Obama prepares to depart Andrews Air Force Base aboard Air Force One, in Maryland, January 29, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing

PHOTO (INSERT 1): President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 28, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing

PHOTO (INSERT 2): President Barack Obama and Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) talk during a round of golf at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, May 6, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

62 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Avoiding ad hominem, idiotic article… :-)

Posted by juggernaut | Report as abusive

I didn’t know pieces from Drudge got posted on Reuters…

If the author hadn’t noticed the deficit has gone from $1,400B in Bush’s last year to $250B this year, or from 9% to 1.6% of GDP – an 80% reduction. GDP Growth is forecast at 3.5% this year; effectively that is a DEBT reduction of 1.9% in the main metric of sovereign debt, debt:GDP.

Take a look at how Europe and China are struggling while America is back in 4th gear, and ditto-heads STILL insist on babbling about socialism and the destruction of America. If they pulled their collective heads out of the sand they might realize they’d like what they see after all!

And of course, everyone’s personal favourite, Obama is disengaged on foreign policy because he doesn’t want to have to invade Iran. What in God’s name is wrong with you people! I agree he could’ve been more active in the Syrian civil war, but any direct US involvement would have made Syria a nesting ground for al Qaida – as it is now all the al Qaida there are foreign ‘freedom fighters’. What I see is that he’s forcing Israel and Palestine towards an agreement, so far made peaceful progress on Iran’s nuclear program (the election of Rouhani being the biggest evidence of his influence), and did just enough in Libya and Egypt. Arguing that NOT honouring the formal wishes of the elected Iraqi govt was a mistake is folly. Afghanistan is still a problem only in the sense that it still is not fully controlled by any one group, like it never has been or possibly never will be. The Taliban couldn’t take over again if it tried; every assault they plan is a bloodbath for their ‘soldiers’ – they are reduced to suicide attacks and mining roads… hardly a control and conquer strategy.

I honestly can’t find one piece of intelligent or interesting reportage in this piece and it pains me to realize that tens of millions of Americans think it is the plain and obvious truth.

Posted by CDN_Rebel | Report as abusive

This is the most straight-forward, accurate, and honest analysis of Obama’s performance that I’ve read in many months. Thank you, Keith, for nailing this guy down for us. The damage his attitude, as you describe it, may cause the U.S. in coming months is scary.

Let’s hope someone will come forward to take up the slack caused by Obama’s early retirement. Unfortunately, many House and Senate members are already out on the links, also.

Posted by Plinius | Report as abusive

So many people rushing to Obama’s defence… Where is Obama’s own defence? The author is only voicing what many people have been thinking! It’s not as though he is alone in pointing out how frequently the President goes golfing during major political crises!

Posted by matthewslyman | Report as abusive

He is still campaigning, though – 4 stops after the SOTU speech. And now prepping for a trip to Saudi Arabia. No word on getting out of Afghanistan yet. Iraq is in what most would consider a civil war. No progress on the Israel/Palestine talks.

There is just too much going on and he has to pick his battles – now it is the MyRA so the feds will have control of your savings.

Posted by AZreb | Report as abusive

This author didn’t notice that the President condoned NSA spying on all citizens, whether or not we are suspected of any crime???

Posted by Oma | Report as abusive

Are you for real? What a piece of junk!
Go work for FOX!

Posted by Ultramayan | Report as abusive

Mr. Koffler has presented a poor article here. Under Obama, the debt has decreased significantly, and is continuing to decrease, there is nothing left to do there but to keep steady. His foreign policy is a good one: don’t invade other countries and deplete the treasury. He signed a bill cutting food stamps and ending long term unemployment payments (a republican dream yet Mr. Koffler is still unhappy). The highest priority now is to focus on getting money in the hands of working people (by raising the minimum wage), and protecting the patient bill of rights (by continuing to work on implementing the ACA). I doubt he would ever get any republican to go along with these things.

Posted by pantathalos | Report as abusive

Crappy article. The Author has obviously never been invited to play Golf in Corporate America. That’s were all real decisions are made. SO I hope the President plays a lot and knows how to lose gracefully.
I don’t think he’s given up either, just on Congress. I’m glad he did. It’s a waste of time as they long ago before he even took office publicly stated they would not work with him and would counter his every request.
What an embarrassment this congress has been.

@matthewslyman, the President does not own nor control any media outlets and no one listens to the weekly radio address. So he, or any president, can defend themselves without it being tainted or ignored by the media. Also, the president is there for blaming everything on anyway. That way congressmen that have no term limits can continue to do evil things.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive

@Oma, didn’t you notice that all presidents, and all congressmen have condoned the NSA? Only a few token votes against it once in while.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive

Have to agree with the other posts. This is a forgettable op-ed. It almost sounds as if Mr. Koffler is upset that Obama didn’t offer up any major policy initiatives for him to attack. It also reflects the disturbing rightwing notion that we should be at war at all times, otherwise we’re guilty of international “disengagement.” Silly.

Posted by flashrooster | Report as abusive

America is back in 4th gear? We must have a 12 speed transmission, right? CDN, I’m no ditto head but I must point out that comparing federal deficit spending under Bush vs. Obama without factoring in $1 trillion per year in Fed QE is a little disingenuous. Deficit spending or money printing, it’s all pretty much the same to me.

Posted by Missinginaction | Report as abusive

@Missinginaction,
And how many billions for war efforts and Halliburton that never made it “on the books” during the Bush administration? Really you can’t trust the figures from any administration or agency of the government or Congress. Goes for State level too.
Also, the Fed decided to do QE’s. They are a private group of banks, not a government agency. Supposedly it went on their balance sheet.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive

There sure was a lot of sour grapes remarks about Keith Koffler’s artaicle. I, for one,
thought the article was inciteful and on topic. We need more columnists like Mr Koffler.

Posted by auntym | Report as abusive

It is distressing to see an article take such a light tone when this country is clearly approaching some sort of breaking point unless things change rapidly for the better.

This article is far more appropriate, both in specific reasons for this crisis and tone as to how dangerous these times have become.

I am including my comment to that article, which is quite compelling.

“Obama’s small steps won’t fix inequality”

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/20 14/01/30/obamas-small-steps-wont-fix-ine quality/

You are correct, of course in stating what you did about the problems the US is experiencing today is due SOLELY to the rising wealthy class. And, obviously, “bad things can happen in this sort of environment. Obama needs to take it on. If he can’t get Congress to take action, he needs to explain to the American public the consequences of inaction. Small steps are unlikely to be enough.”

———————-

I have a problem with the ending of your article in that, having set up a prima facie case for strong immediate action by the American people you argue that the president should take his case directly to the American people, explaining clearly and concisely why this nation is in serious trouble. Unfortunately, most of whom haven’t a clue as to what is really going on or why.

What we are seemingly lacking is a president who has the capacity to do what you are asking.

He was elected and reelected by a coalition of minority groups, including primarily Blacks, Hispanics and young voters by making vague promises that could in reality never be met (e.g. “change we can believe in”). He never tried to reach the white voters in any way whatsoever, thus further dividing an already divided nation.

Since then, he has ignored his political base, continued to alienate white voters with changes that were highly controversial (e.g. Obamacare, and championing increased immigration). Worse yet he has fashioned an administration that caters mainly to the whims and desires of the wealthy class, even though many of them openly despise him, both personally and as president. For example, his council of economic advisers are composed of some of the wealthiest people in this country.

It is indeed difficult for Obama to convince the rest of the nation that he has the best interests of the whole nation at heart, which is why his ratings are plummeting.

Yes, I agree, that bad things can happen in this environment, but Obama is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Posted by EconCassandra

Posted by EconCassandra | Report as abusive

Obviously, I meant to say a “prima facie case for strong immediate action by Obama” … in the first paragraph above.

This is, of course, the crux of the problem is that we have a president incapable of taking strong immediate action on his own to force Congress to act in the best interests of this nation, or failing that, to go directly to the American people with the truth of what is destroying this nation.

Posted by EconCassandra | Report as abusive

Cassandra, consider that the problem isn’t just the wealthy or politicians. Consider that in the aggregate the problem is society overall. Based on my personal experiences people just plain do not want to hear that we’re on the economic highway to hell. I’ve been told more than once that I have a “bad attitude”. Who wants to be Debbie or Dan Downer?

Look at the surveys that show people clearly dislike congress. When it comes to their own congressman or woman though, well, that’s different and they generally approve. The same holds true for economics, which is part math, part psychology and part sociology. We want a sustainable economy, we realize that our policies (as a nation and world) are not sustainable. Don’t do anything that effects me though. Don’t raise MY taxes, or cut MY benefits or do anything to devalue my stocks or home. Take it from someone else.

Before the “largest downturn since the great depression” has breathed it’s last, we’re all going to give something. Some of us already have. Sadly, some will give their lives.

Posted by Missinginaction | Report as abusive

Oh, please!!

Not the “confused society, NIMBY excuse”, which is usually offered by the wealthy class and their sycophants as a “reason” for not taking action.

The argument generally goes something like this. “Well, if you people could make up your mind, the (wealthy-run) government would know better what the people want”, thus neatly shoving the problem back at the people for not wanting to hear bad news or being wishy-washy, as though the entire electorate is nothing more than a thoroughly confused teenager, not to be taken seriously.

In reality, it is little more than a pat on the head from the wealthy class to an errant servant.

Lastly, I resent your blatant attempt to patronize me in your last paragraph.

Your comment, taken as a whole, is actually incredibly stupid and insulting.

I normally wouldn’t bother responding to a comment like this, but I have heard this same tired BS so many times before, and I didn’t want you to think I swallowed one bit of your wealthy screed.

Posted by EconCassandra | Report as abusive

Dear EconCassandra,
Maybe he was too scared to tell the American people the truth or maybe he’s only a golf club marionette.

Posted by seafloor | Report as abusive

Ummmm…..so we blame the politician(s). OK, then what should we do?

Cassandra, your response to my post is a text book example of a large part of the problem. If I understand you correctly you’re angry because I believe that generally speaking (you are certainly an exception) voter apathy and ignorance is at the center of the nations problems. I wouldn’t go as far as you regarding the wealth inequality but I do lean in your direction. Yet, you attack me and call me names. You seem to think I’m one of the rich. Maybe so, but wealth is a moveable feast. Some would call me rich, Jamie Dimon would call me poor so it’s all relative. I’m not name calling. If anything I’m supportive of your position.

I hope that you’re right because if you are we’re in store for a much better world than I envision. If I understand you, you believe that we need a strong leader who will “level” with the people. Once that happens the people will rally around this person, right?

I hope you’re correct. But consider this….what is truth? Is truth different for different people? Heck, we spend time as a society debating creationism versus evolution. For me that debate ended long ago but currently about 1/2 of Americans have faith in creation.

It’s all about what’s in it for the individual. Look, if you’re British in the late 1700′s the people “fighting for independence” in the American colonies are nothing but a bunch of terrorists.

Back to the economic inequality. I think the solution is to revisit the estate tax. A simple fix would be to raise the federal estate tax to confiscatory levels on all estates over a fixed amount. You might, for instance allow anyone to bequeath say $10 million to whoever they want, tax free. Over that amount the inheritance would be taxed at, say 90%. Perhaps money could be given tax free to a charity (registered), so that people could have some sense that they control where their money goes. Very simple, the law could be written on one page. Now find me a politician that would support that idea and get elected after Citizens United. I’ll give that person all of my support and work for him/her for free!

Posted by Missinginaction | Report as abusive

@ Missinginaction –

You apparently have a serious reading comprehension problem, as well as an inability to focus on issues that results in mind-numbing rambling.

I don’t blame the politicians, since they are simply doing what ALL politicians do, and that is to remain in power with no consideration for what their actions do to the nation.

You might argue that the wealthy class is simply doing what “God intended them to do”, which is how they tend to perceive themselves. Unfortunately, they are also completely oblivious to the damage they are doing to this nation.

When totally corruptible politicians are openly bought by the wealthy class, what you get is a nation in dire economic and geopolitical difficulty, which is exactly where we are today.

Let me make it plain and simple for you.

It’s the wealthy class, stupid!

I hold the wealthy class responsible because they are the ones in charge of this nation and should be held accountable for their actions.

Unfortunately, that is not likely to happen in a nation that idolizes the wealthy class.

As I said, I normally do not respond to people like you because it is generally a pointless exercise in futility for many reasons. I only did so because I didn’t want you to think I swallowed you wealthy class BS.

Having done so, I see no point in continuing a conversation with someone who is either unwilling or unable to understand even the basic concepts of what I am saying.

Posted by EconCassandra | Report as abusive

Right you are Cass, I’m off to the yacht club.

Posted by Missinginaction | Report as abusive

Hard to believe anyone could deny anything in this article, as it is all happening in front of our eyes. Did he golf that much? Yes. Does he pay attention to world events? Hardly raises a finger in response to all out aggression. Does he care about the lives affected by the Unaffordable Care Act? Certainly not. Does he care that convicted felons are “navigators” for the UCA? Puh. Why?

Posted by wildwood15 | Report as abusive

All I want is the $20 back I paid for my copy of The Audacity of Hope.

Posted by BidnisMan | Report as abusive

Wow, great comments. I think both @Missinginaction and @EconCassandra are correct. We have a terrible problem with Joe and Jose six-pack voting. Though I must say, even if they did, they would not be well informed voters. In fact I think they would have an adverse affect as they are far more susceptible to being influenced by paid media barrages. This is exactly why strings were pulled and the SCOTUS was brought in. They ensured big money will always triumph.
The Wealthy class have caused virtually all of this too. But as Chrystia Freeland points out, they are not the same wealthy class anymore. The wealthy, or elites, have always run the country in most ways. But they knew they did and held some responsibility and even pride in doing so. Family dynasties and the like. But now the world has changed and the dynasties have lost their power and influence. Now the elites are young hedge funders, high tech billionaire “kids” and ruthless corporate executives and investors. And they are all fighting amongst themselves and feel they have no social responsibility at all.
@BidnisMan is also right, I want my $20 bucks back too.

Chrystia Freeland – Ted Talk http://www.ted.com/talks/chrystia_freela nd_the_rise_of_the_new_global_super_rich .html

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive

The guy is a lame duck and done. At some level he knows it and will just continue to give speeches that mean nothing but make him content because that is the only thing he does well. Pretty discouraging that we will have 16 years of failed presidencies by the time he is gone. I wonder if we’ll ever have a decent one again.

Posted by Steve851 | Report as abusive

He’s more concerned with his legacy than with doing what is necessary to help the country, that is IF he had any idea what to do to help the country.. Obama is a narcissist, pure and simple. And while he has done harm and will do more harm to the country in the next 3 years he is NOT the real problem in the US.

The real problem is that we have an electorate who are so uninformed and stupid they put this guy in the WH and then reelected him.

Posted by pj1020 | Report as abusive

Eisenhower played a lot of golf. He was a great president. Eight years of peace and prosperity; and his papers show that he was very active behind the scenes. Kept the generals in check, kept us out of new wars, built the interstate highway system.

Obama is worthy of criticism, but how many times he plays golf is irrelevant.

Posted by fishfry999 | Report as abusive

Any article that drones on about Obama’s inability to work with Republicans in Congress without acknowledging the GOP’s announced policy to deny him any wins whatsoever in order to make him fail so they can regain the White House should be seen as right wing propaganda.

If it looks like Fox, sounds like Fox and reaches the same conclusion as Fox, can’t we just assume its a bunch of BS?

Posted by M3Man | Report as abusive

I Goggled Keith Koffler. The first article I saw had this headline.

Keith Koffler lets loose…
and I couldn’t agree more.
The Tea Party is Both Sensible and Victorious”

No need to say anything more, except to wonder how Reuters published this without an “opinion piece” label.

Posted by M3Man | Report as abusive

Commenting on the comments: The “cdn rebel” said the deficit has shrunk under Obama. Even a mere knowledge of budgetary matters would know that to be false. In 2012 $1200 billion, in 2008 458 billion. Obama spent 1 trillion on stimulus whose effects lasted about one and a half years but whose debt is still on the books. This president has been personally profligate, ethically irresponsible, socially divisive. These are not “ad hominem” attacks (so over-used) but time and space limits me on a multitude of examples. Stop the partisan wars and start voting for what is good for the country as a whole.

Posted by emer83 | Report as abusive

@Steve851 – I think we have a “decent” President now. What I think we desperately need, no matter who the President is now or in the future, is a “decent” Congress. Across all voters on both sides of the aisle, Congress is a failure. Republicans in Congress openly stated that it was their goal to make Obama’s first term a failure. They kept up their efforts after his second election, and because it didn’t work either term, their new cry is “Obama won’t work with us.”

And now, he’s abandoned any hope of a functional relationship with Congress. I, for one, don’t blame him. Congress is a failure because they are bought and sold on the open business market. When we change THAT, we change American government, and I think for the better.

And, Steve, all Presidents on their way out are “lame ducks”. You state that as if it’s Obama’s own personal failure again. It’s just an exit phase, so to speak, of all Presidencies.

Voter apathy is, indeed, a major problem in our country, but it’s two-pronged. They either don’t vote, or they don’t bother to understand what/who they’re voting for or against, and why. Politicians know this about us all. That’s why they all talk about “family values” and “the hard-working American” with nice paragraphs about how it’s their goal to raise the standards of education and create jobs. It’s called pandering. It’s telling us what we want to hear and then doing what their REAL constituents (the wealthy) want behind closed doors.

There are so many problems in the U.S. today that no one can point to one and say, “This is the reason.” Everything from foreign policy to immigration to healthcare to globalization holds a piece of this very problematic pie. So where do I think we start? Get big money out of politics. End lobbying, raise tariffs and give tax breaks to corporations who develop full time jobs on U.S. soil. Oh, and some term limits wouldn’t hurt.

Posted by JL4 | Report as abusive

This is what you get when half the country elects a part time college instructor and “community organizer”. His only qualification is that he half black….Wendy Davis has as much “experience” as your president.

Posted by c2183rdcav | Report as abusive

Obama is the most arrogant, ego driven, partisan, divisive, uncompromising, ideological, INCOMPETENT, Negligent, inept, dishonest, whiny, failed President in all of U.S. history. His economy killing, job killing policies have done terrible damage to the nation, and he’s been aided and abetted in the nightmare’s he’s inflicted on our nation by the democrat in the Houses and Senate who joined him in his LIES to cram Obamacare down our throat. Obama has clearly checked out, and would rather play Golf. However, I disagree that we are in more danger because he has checked out and would rather play Golf. Obama is more dangerous in both foreign policy and domestically when he is trying to accomplish his extreme left wing, job killing, America humbling policies. Yes Iran will get a nuclear weapon, and yes the Russians and Chinese and N Koreans, and Syrians are all playing Obama for a fool, but that’s not dangerous because he’s checked out, its dangerous because he is a fool!

Posted by valwayne | Report as abusive

You’d be tired to if you’d spent 5 years trying to clean up the mistakes of an beard for fascist neo-cons, and had to do that against anti-American insurgent teabaggers who have conned the conservatives in this country into helping with their traitorous insurgency.

The problem in this country isn’t Obama being president, it’s the masses of uneducated/gullible, ideologically blinded, right wing fascists who no longer give a damn about the United States.

Posted by taggert | Report as abusive

Ironically, most of the comments supporting the President are reinforcing the points in the article. Namely, that it’s everyone else’s fault. When that’s the excuse, then you have poor leadership, regardless of what party the leader comes from.

Taking credit for cutting a deficit is pretty rich though. So blame the other party for shutting down the government over lack of money, and blame the other party for the painful cuts of the Sequester, then take credit for the deficit going down. Only in Washington.

Posted by southcentral | Report as abusive

A little agenda on behalf of a little man. Who cares.

Posted by Berndh | Report as abusive

obama is fundamentally a lazy person, who has coasted thru his ‘profssional’ politician life with his excellent oratorical skills.

Obama has no substance…and hence is not prepared to do much of anything. If any European readers want obama… you are welcome to come get him and get him out of the Unites States. Outside the liberal media, and a few liberal large Metropolitan areas, he is detested.

Posted by Bill_Sanford | Report as abusive

Major issues like debt, deficit and entitlements, even immigration reform are primarily the domain of Congress. It isn’t up to the president to write bills.

The president has urged Congress to address those issues, bring their ideas to him for discussion or bring him a bill so he can consider whether or not it is worthy of his signature.

Congress has addressed these issues by doing exactly… nothing. Our current Congress is a sorry substitute for a functioning government and we should vote the non-performers out in the next election.

Posted by breezinthru | Report as abusive

Hilarious! The Chosen One can’t fix things after 5years? Even after controlling both the House and Senate for two years?! The “obstructionists” couldn’t stop him then, so why such failure? The GOP is surely flawed, but why won’t Obama tell Reid to at least allow votes on any of their proposed bills? So much for “the spirit of bipartisanship.”

Bottom line is, the guy is in over his head. To exacerbate the problem, his leftist policies just don’t work. It’s the difference between the real world and the faculty lounge.

Posted by JoePike | Report as abusive

Fundamentally changing America, one crisis at a time.

Posted by cristo52 | Report as abusive

“Major issues like debt, deficit and entitlements?”

Gosh, don’t you get tired of being a broken record?
Read a few economists, Mr. Koffler. Austerity is not the problem.

Jobs, wages, productivity, money in circulation …

Posted by BP64 | Report as abusive

Rebel wrote:
“If the author hadn’t noticed the deficit has gone from $1,400B in Bush’s last year to $250B this year,…”

I. Hate. When people are this dishonest.
Its always what people leave out.
Let’s take a look at the record… shall we?

Year—-Revenue–Spending–Difference
2005—2,153.6—-2,472.0—-114.78%
2006—2,406.9—-2,655.1—-110.31%
2007—2,568.0—-2,728.7—-106.26%
2008—2,524.0—-2,982.5—-118.17%
2009—2,105.0—-3,517.7—-167.11%
2010—2,162.7—-3,456.2—-159.81%
2011—2,303.5—-3,603.1—-156.42%
2012—2468.6—–3,537.1—-143.28%

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/His toricals

That’s from the past 8 years. (Its not really fair to say what 2013 is, yet, because its always revised up to several months after.)
If you’ll note… the deficit was going down under Bush. And then it suddenly spikes in 2007.
Huh.
Soooo… who took control of congress in 2007?
I’ll give you a hint. There was no FY2009 budget… because they were afraid that Bush would veto it. So congress – run by Democrats at the time – passed spending piecemeal. They literally saved the last part of FY2009 spending until Obama came into office.. so that he could sign it. Which makes sense, since as a Senator, Obama voted for the non-binding fiscal resolution to spend additional money.

Has the deficit gone down?
Yes. From 2009 onwards, we spent more then 150% of our revenue for 3 years in a row. So from there on, the “reduction” of the deficit is kinda like a really fat person bragging that they’re only eating 3 cakes a day.

Posted by ChicagoJohn | Report as abusive

Good article. Hopefully the next president will be someone who works well with other people, and is not a shallow, intellectually lazy, political ideologue like Obama.

Posted by ExDemocrat | Report as abusive

“they can’t all be right-wing “extremists”. No they can’t, but they CAN AND ARE controlled by them and deathly afraid of them.

Posted by possibilianP | Report as abusive

Sorry. Your web site hung, up and I clicked multiple times.

Posted by possibilianP | Report as abusive

Excellent article.
Congratulations.
I am scared how many Obamabots is trying to censor you. Go ahead with good journalism.

Posted by pedroerik | Report as abusive

@ JL4 –

You state, “There are so many problems in the U.S. today that no one can point to one and say, “This is the reason.” Everything from foreign policy to immigration to healthcare to globalization holds a piece of this very problematic pie. So where do I think we start? Get big money out of politics. End lobbying, raise tariffs and give tax breaks to corporations who develop full time jobs on U.S. soil. Oh, and some term limits wouldn’t hurt”.

——————————

Actually, I can (and have many times), but people simply are not listening.

“This is the reason” ==> It’s the wealthy class, stupid!

Why?

Simple. Follow the money to see who is profiting from all of this insanity.

Posted by EconCassandra | Report as abusive

The comments to this article make it crystal clear that Americans are deeply divided with seriously irreconcilable differences. No resolution possible. I don’t know when, but the union will eventually divide politically in some way that I hope will be a peaceful separation. People are already starting to move to states more sympathetic to their ideology. Nobody to blame really. It is what it is. I hope the worst of it will be “goodbye and best of luck”. Strong states’ rights protection could potentially avert a complete separation.

Posted by sarkozyrocks | Report as abusive

@taggert: do you realize how repulsive your comments probably are to the people you claim to represent; i.e. the educated, open-minded, and sophisticated?

Posted by sarkozyrocks | Report as abusive

@EconCassandra, I agree with you that the wealthy class has earned a large share of blame for the state of the U.S. economy. I believe the place to start is to eliminate their ability to buy Congresspeople. Lobbying should be eliminated. My thought is, if we start there, a domino effect might take care of some of the rest. Meaning that the word “Constituents” returns to its original meaning – the people who vote for you, rather than the real constituent of today – the lobbyist/corporation who pays for a re-election campaign.

You know the answer to how one eats an elephant…

Posted by JL4 | Report as abusive

Internal squabbling demeans America. A Congress that will halt government as a political stunt needs to feel the wrath of people of goodwill – if there are any left.

A hegemonic power that is crippled by the posturing of a bunch of tough-guys in its legislature is a global laughing stock. You can do better America.

Posted by Colmery | Report as abusive

shhh…you might wake him up…!

Posted by rikfre | Report as abusive

I generally read with interest the conservative opinion pieces that appear at Reuters. But this is the worst kind of propaganda. Please do no waste my time again by highlighting such pap on the front page.

Posted by OkieRedux | Report as abusive

I am retired US Soldier. I spent most of 2005-2007 dodging flying metal in Afghanistan. 26 years of service. I came to Cleveland in 2012. 30% of kids here do not finish High School. Now that is a real problem.
Honestly, what will America be like in 20 years after this kind of sickening problem is left to fester?

What I see is that America is deteriorating.

Right now there are some guys in a prison in Cuba, and they are locked up without hope, and they did not do a single thing wrong. And there they sit. Some people might think that I am strange to pick out a prisoner at Guantanamo as a subject for complaint. Not so. We are only as free as that guy who has lost all his rights and no one cares a wink about him even though he has done nothing wrong against the US. Every day that people like that suffer is just one more nail in the coffin for our precious freedoms and everything noble that the US previously stood for.

The President likes to play golf and have a great time. Meanwhile, the nation is carrying on with several disgraceful mistakes, and nothing is being done about them. Drone war needs to stop. Killing women and kids all over the place needs to stop. Guantanamo needs to be closed. The NSA needs to reverse course and obey laws and common sense, and not be eager about tracking people on Angry Birds. The Congress needs to not be lied to. If the President is not doing his job well and wants to vacation and rhetoric in place, then we have to turn to the Congress. They, along with the rest of us, are being squeezed out. Robert Gates says that Obama detests Congress. Well, that is not good for any American. Our country needs some real leadership before we see some kind of crash that ruins our futures.

Posted by Cleveland999 | Report as abusive

@ JL4 –

You said no one could point to a single reason and say “this is the reason for all our problems”. Well, I did exactly that, but you will not accept the answer.

THAT is the underlying problem of the American people. We seem to have an inordinate amount of difficulty in understanding that a strong wealthy class is NEVER good for this nation. Most other nations have a more realistic concept of what the wealthy class can do to a nation. But we tend to idolize the wealthy class.

THIS is the real underlying problem. You can say “it’s the wealthy class, stupid!” until you are blue in the face, but no one will accept what is literally the “elephant in room”.

This attitude has allowed the wealthy class to run rough shod over the American people since our beginning.

It is the reason why this country has a history of massive boom and bust cycles (more than 50 recessions and depressions since 1790), basically without any restraint over the wealthy class whatsoever.

And they are the direct cause of our economic and social problems today, because beginning in 1980 they once again began to rise to their former positions of power that they last held during the 1920s.

This nation’s economy is about to crash again as it did in 1929, SOLELY because of wealthy excess and unending greed.

US history documents ALL of this, yet the American people bristle when you say “it’s the wealthy class, stupid!” because they simply CANNOT seem to make the connection between the power and stupendous wealth of the wealthy class and the problems that means for the rest of the American people.

If we cannot understand the problem, we cannot find a solution for it.

Clearly, we will never understand that it is the wealthy class that is directly responsible for all of the economic and social problems we have today.

Equally clearly, we are doomed to continue the boom and bust cycles that will eventually destroy this nation.

In fact, this next bust could easily be our last.

I think we have finally reached a breaking point in this nation’s history where we as a nation cannot survive these people any longer.

Posted by EconCassandra | Report as abusive

I find it interesting that a mixed-race guy, raised by a single-parent, graduates from Columbia and Harvard law, and moves up the political food chain to the highest office in the land, has a core grievance with the country that offered him so much opportunity.

Then he uses his power and influence to attempt to radically transform the country form one of a meritocracy to one not of equal opportunity, to one of equal outcomes–based primarily on ones status within the protected classes, and not on their individual skills and motivation.

Something is wrong, when success is positioned as a zero sum game, where no one gets ahead without someone else giving something up.

This President is has been privileged. He was able to take advantage of opportunities not available to most Americans. Was he an honor student, or the beneficiary of affirmative action and school quotas. We do not even know how he paid for his Ivy League education. We know less about this guy than any President in the recent past (even GWB and Al Gore’s college grades).

So this President is not tired, nor is he out of gas. He’s just not up to the job. He wanted the visibility, power and influence, but was not prepared, nor more importantly, motivated to do the work required to excel in the job. He is incapable of building relationships at any level–even within his own party. (Remember, during the build up to the passing of ACA, when Reid and Pelosi effectively removed him from the process?) One cannot expect execution when the foundation is built on platitudes.

America drank the kool-aid, replacing substance with a facade, defined primarily by his physical appearance. And, this is the end result. Expecting anything more is the domain of fools.

Posted by COindependent | Report as abusive

@CO

I generally agree with you but “replacing substance with a facade,”…

He followed Bush, that’s why we have him. His opponent hired a Hail Mary Bimbo to maintain interest in his campaign. I give BO a C-/D+, but I rate his opponents D+/D-. ‘Rape as its own contraceptive’ deserved crucifixion.

Posted by ARJTurgot2 | Report as abusive

ARJ Bush was a known quantity, as was McCain. Whether one agreed with their policies or not, each has a documented history. As for this President….not much, as the press did (and continues) a poor job of vetting his man. We still know very little about him.

Perhaps after he leaves office only then we might learn who is really is and where he came from.

Posted by COindependent | Report as abusive

@ COindependent –

Excellent comment!

Absolutely the best analysis of Obama I have ever read!

Posted by EconCassandra | Report as abusive

That was damned good COindependant! I never quite looked at it that way, but it sure did make a lot of sense. The truth shows thru.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive

Though thinking about it, I would understand his approach. If he indeed did get to where he is based on advantages, would he not think that others should also get those same advantages? Hence his apparent policies? If he did not get those advantages, and truly worked his way to the top by merit, then I would expect what you do, that he would support meritocracy? I think that true meritocracy leaves the large majority behind so to speak. Jealousy and other feelings abound… And when the gap in economic status and standards of living widen too, one in the “lower” wrung would not care much about the theories and more about the outcome. When the gap is narrower, those feelings are less important and meritocracy OR Oligarchy work well. I think history would support this.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive