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Top Ten Reasons To Re-elect Barack ObamaNot!

Fans of the Obama administration frequently justify his re-election by saying he averted a second Depression, he restored our image abroad, or he reformed the health insurance system and reduced medical costs. Let's review these and some related claims.Claim #1-Obama averted a second Great Depression. The policy the Obama administration followed is the same one the Bush administration initiated: bailout the banksters with unlimited loans and line their pockets by keeping interest rates below market levels. they even used some of the same folks to implement it (e.g., Timothy Geithner and Ben Bernanke). All this has accomplished was to kick the can down the road. It would have been messy for a year or so had we let the Too-Big-To-Fail (TBTF) banks go, but by now we all would have been better off except for those responsible for the fiasco (some of whom would hopefully have been incarcerated). Instead, they are enjoying the opportunity to line their Swiss bank accounts with more gold purchased with their latest tax-payer-subsidized bonuses while the rest of us steel ourselves for the postponed crash.Claim #2-Obama saved the domestic auto industry, and all the loans were paid back with interest. Well, first of all, thanks to the price of oil it is uneconomic to build cars overseas and ship them here to sell, so ultimately most of those jobs, including suppliers, would have survived under a regular bankruptcy process due to ongoing demand. Secondly, it is misleading to say the loans were paid back when in fact [a] the $8.1 billion repaid-$6.7B principal plus $1.4B interest-is a faction of the $52 billion we shelled out (the rest was invested in new-GM stock) and [b] the money that was paid back came from a taxpayer-funded escrow account GM management had control of and thus the maneuver amounted to a shell game. The 61% stake in GM common that the government bought cost us approximately $38.50 per share ($45.3B divided by 1.17B shares). We sold over half the shares at the IPO for $33/share, so the billions in losses there far outweighs the interest on the repaid loan. And currently GM stock is going for $25/share so our remaining stake is even further under water.Claim #3-Obama stabilized the banking industry. Anyone who believes the TBTF zombie banks such as Citicorp and Bank of America are now safe from collapse is in for a rude awakening. We allow the banksters to simulate solvency by suspending mark-to-market accounting rules and thus enabling them to overvalue their tons of toxic assets. Worse still, our Robin-Hood-in-reverse fiscal policies of artificially 0% interest rates in perpetuity continue to effectively steal wealth from the 99% (by cheating us out of interest on our savings whilst the money is devalued) and transfer it to the banks who finance our consumer purchases with it and then earn usurious rates when we fail to pay our credit card bills on time. And despite Dodd-Frank, there is still no reform of the unregulated and opaque derivatives market that sparked the crisis.Claim #4-Obama has improved the economy. Granted corporate profits and the stock market are both up under the Obama administration, economic growth has hung in there, and unemployment, while first rising, appears to be trending down now (although the way the stats are compiled these days, part of that decline is attributable to people who have give up looking for work). These favorable trends might be enough to re-elect the President, particularly against a weak opponent. However, while the "weather" has improved, nothing has been done about the "climate." We are still piling on debt that will long haunt us-and our progeny. There has been no serious effort to address structural deficits in entitlement programs. We are no closer to energy independence. The two major initiatives of the Obama administration have been disappoints from an economic perspective: health care reform addresses cost issues with an aggressive regime of price controls (which historically have a weak track record) and financial reform failed to address and of the central problems that lead to the 2008 meltdown (TBTF institutions, fraudulent mortgage practices, out-of-control GSEs, and opaque, unregulated derivative markets). On balance, the "improvement" we have experienced is part luck and part illusion.Claim #5-Obama enabled persons with pre-existing conditions and young adults under 26 to obtain health insurance. This is a good resultbut at what cost? We have now provided the Insurance/Big Pharma lobbies a huge anti-competitive moat protecting them from market competition while at the same time making it harder for entrepreneurs and corporations lacking the leverage to lobby for a MacDonalds-like Obamacare exemption to conduct business and create jobs. And the expenditure of political capital to achieve this amounted to a huge opportunity cost in the failure to deal with more pressing problems such as structural deficits, over-extended entitlement commitments, serious financial services reform, and energy independence just to name a few.Claim #6-Obama bent the curve on health care costs. While it is true that the rate at which health care costs have risen has declined slightly in three of the last four years, this is a ludicrous claim. The main provisions of Obamacare do not take effect until 2014. The decline in the rate of cost increases we have seen lately is due to a falloff in demand for serviceswhich in turn is due to the overall reduction in the rate of growth of the economy and increased unemployment.Claim #7-Obama ended the war in Iraq. Better late than never. However, the so-called "war on terror" persists, ruinous to our finances, spilling the blood of our citizens and others to no good end, riling up millions against us, and serving as an excuse to dismantle our own hard-won liberties, all at the behest of the military industrial complex and Big Energy interests. Again, differences between the Obama administration policy and the Bush administration policy here are hard to discern.Claim #8-Obama had the courage to authorize the raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden. It was gutsy to commit an unconstitutional act of war against a putative allybut that doesn't make it the right thing-or the smart thing-to do. We should have demanded Pakistan arrest and extradite him, and we should have tried him as we did the Nazi war criminals. This would have been the just and legal course of action and as a bonus it would have forced Pakistan to confront some of their own internal issues.Claim #9-Obama restored America's image abroad. Somehow, it seems doubtful that quasi-legal assassinations of thousands of civilians in other countries-including significant numbers of innocent bystanders-has done all that much for our image. We certainly don't look either smart or in-the-right in Afghanistanit's no wonder our poor marines are too frustrated to dig proper latrinesis anybody from the Obama administration (or the Bush administration) familiar with what happened to the British and the Russians there? It is insane to engage in "nation building" in a place that isn't even a bona fide country in the first place, but rather a collection of tribes. Aside from boosting military-industrial complex profits, what have we accomplished in ten years? (Oh, yeahand when is Guantanamo Bay closing?)Claim #10-Obama toppled Qaddafi without losing a single American life. LOL another unconstitutional adventure that could well turn into a misadventure; the jury is still out here. The only reason anyone would be counting these chickens before they are hatched is to score points in a re-election campaign. Whether that is a good reason or not depends on your point-of-view.Re-electing Mr. Obama may still be the better choicebut to the extent that is likely, it more reflects the lack of quality among the likely GOP nominees than his own qualifications.By Brad Hessel - Brad Hessel is an investment advisor registered with the state of North Carolina (USA). With a background in history and simulation design, he worked in information services for First Boston and Credit Suiss...  

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