Tyler Goodman: Lack of leadership

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President Barack Obama’s lack of effective leadership is more apparent now than ever before Paul Krugman, The New York Times columnist and Keynesian economist, came out last week and said the economic policy of the past five years has been “an astonishing, horrifying failure.” The same can be said for this administration’s leadership (or lack thereof). Whether you agree with a strike in Syria or not, one thing you cannot avoid is the observation that Obama now stands on an island with very little support.

He’s gotten himself there through a number of embarrassing failures. The administration lost its grip on foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, a long time ago. In 2008, Obama campaigned on the premise that America had some sour relationships it needed to mend. Enter the “Apology Tour.” Fast forward to the present, and Edward Snowden has won. The international community balked at the revelations of overzealous spying tactics of the NSA, nevermind emboldening countries like Russia at the same time. How can one man make the president of the United States look so small? International relations haven’t been worse in recent memory.

Let’s review a few more: intimidation and targeting of journalists exercising their First Amendment right; allegations of IRS targeting of grass-roots opposition groups during the 2012 elections; a nice little hip, swoop and fabrication of the order of events in Benghazi; the ATF’s botched Fast and Furious operation, which basically armed Mexican cartels; and let’s not forget General Services Administration’s more than luxurious spending. Whether individually or together, where does the buck stop? Who ultimately is in charge of these areas? Open enrollment for Obamacare starts in three weeks; shall we prepare for it to really hit the fan?

Anybody remember the “Washington is broken, I’m here to fix it” promises in the 2008 elections? Oh yeah — that worked out. And don’t sit there and tell me it’s all the tea party’s fault. Is this the first time in history there has been a strong opposition to a president? As an executive, it’s the president’s job to bring people together and figure out how to make it work. Unfortunately, he’s allowed his supporters to not let him do so, and his goal appears to be more to divide than unite.

Obama said Thursday that Congress should approve a retaliation attack against the Assad regime even if their constituents don’t support one. Really, Mr. President? Our leaders should ignore the people that put them there? Is our government not for and by the people? This Washington arrogant attitude of “we can run your life better than you can, we know better than you, and you just shut up and listen to us” never has been more disgusting.

Back to the point: What has occurred in Syria no doubt is a humanitarian tragedy. It’s a perfect example of why ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. Too little, too late, Mr. President. If we wanted to do something, we should have done it when Assad was so close to falling on his own — before terrorists hijacked the rebellion. The president and his administration’s ineffective, hesitant, from-the-back-seat leadership never has been more apparent. What is going well right now? Can you think of anything?

Tyler Goodman

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Tyler Goodman 1 year, 3 months ago

Since I composed this over the weekend, we have had some positive developments in the Syria situation. Coming from an offhand comment by Secretary of State Kerry it could be an opportunity for the international community to compromise (again coming from an off the cuff remark as apposed to an official proposal from the White House). More details continue to emerge as the situation is highly liquid but this could be a way to get something done without sending our boys and girls to war. The President's national address tonight will be interesting as to how he intends to play out the proposal to put Syria's chemical weapons under international control.

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cindy constantine 1 year, 3 months ago

Thanks, Tyler! 100% right on the mark. The only downside is there is a leadership vacuum in both parties. Perhaps good timing for an independent party to emerge . . .

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Tyler Goodman 1 year, 3 months ago

The soil is very fertile for a party in the middle and the timing couldn't be better. Only thing we need to figure out is what to call it; any suggestions?

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Mark Rueff 1 year, 3 months ago

I think there needs to be clarification on Krugman's quote used out of context. In the article he was saying that politics is causing bad policy, not the presidents policies. He even states that had we had more stimulus, not less, it would have helped the economy and therefore job creation. Leadership is not the problem (on this issue), it's total obstruction from the right. Yes there have been leadership failures, but less so than the previous president.

More of Krugman's text below:

"The Obama stimulus, inadequate as it was, stopped the economy’s plunge in 2009. Europe’s experiment in anti-stimulus — the harsh spending cuts imposed on debtor nations — didn’t produce the promised surge in private-sector confidence. Instead, it produced severe economic contraction, just as textbook economics predicted. Government spending on job creation would, indeed, have created jobs."

"Still, I think it’s important to realize how badly policy failed and continues to fail. Right now, Washington seems divided between Republicans who denounce any kind of government action — who insist that all the policies and programs that mitigated the crisis actually made it worse — and Obama loyalists who insist that they did a great job because the world didn’t totally melt down.

Obviously, the Obama people are less wrong than the Republicans. But, by any objective standard, U.S. economic policy since Lehman has been an astonishing, horrifying failure."

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Robert Huron 1 year, 3 months ago

Not all leadership is good even Conservative leadership. Look where this country was on Jan.1, 2001 and where we were on Jan.1, 2009. We had leadership that ran the country right off the cliff with 2 unfunded grossly mismanaged wars costing the lives of over 6000 American troops and almost $ 3 Trillion, massive deficit spending, allowing the Banks to do anything they wanted that gave us the worst recession since the Great Depression causing massive unemployment . It has been quite awhile since we had what I would call good leadership.

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John Fielding 1 year, 3 months ago

The real problem with being a moderate is everyone thinks you're on the other guys side. I was approached by a friend today, an aficionado of this forum, who said he didn't want to be my campaign manager but I was going to reduce my electability by giving so much of my opinion herein. In our discussion we came to realize that the fringe elements are actually very similar, left and right meet in the middle and at the ends. We discussed the shape of the political spectrum, clearly not simply linear, perhaps a circle, I think a helix.

I said I certainly don't want to be elected if I have to pretend I hold views that I do not, nor to remain silent hoping to avoid alienating someone.I honestly believe both of the fringes have some real good in their positions, if we can only separate it from the other baggage.

I support the "Occupy" movements criticism of the corporate interests, especially Wall Street Banks. But I also support the "Tea Partiers" criticism of government regulations, including the ones on the Wall Street Banks.

I support the protection of the environment from those who would despoil it. The creation of the National Forest system for example, protected a resource from depletion to a level from which it would have sustained unthinkable damage. But I support the ability to utilize resources wherever they may be if it can be done with due regard for the long term consequences. I have cut down many thousands of trees, and I have hugged quite a few too. (I always like to cut the stump off flush to the ground before I'm done, makes the remaining forest look less like a graveyard full of headstones.) I have worked with wood most of my live, the turning point of my career was from reading Eric Sloane's "A Reverence for Wood", about how earlier generations both used and abused the primeval forest. I try to recycle almost everything, but don't want to force others to do so

I support a progressive tax structure. The rich paying more makes sense to me, you can't get much more from the poor. I also support the right to keep most of what you earn, however you earn it.

I support the inclusion of a moral code in our governmental affairs. The family is the fundamental unit of humankind and deserves protection and support from society. Thus I support welfare for moms and kids as well as making fathers financially responsible for their progeny. I do believe private charity is the way to accomplish the former, how to bring irresponsible fathers to task I don't know. I support human love and affection in all its myriad forms, but recognize the propagation of the species will always require traditional male/female coupling, and that the father/mother based rearing of children has served our species very well for countless generations.

I could go on, but probably shouldn't. So I define myself as a moderate, on the wrong side of every issue, according to the experts in those things.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 1 year, 3 months ago

Krugman would spend this country into oblivion. That is the Keynesian way. The problem becomes who will pay. Taxes go up, those with money drop out. Who is John Galt

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Mark Rueff 1 year, 3 months ago

Dan, The macroeconomic theory is that government needs to spend in times of recession because the private sector is unwilling or unable to do so. The government must step in to avoid an elevated recession or depression. This is exactly what just happened to us. The govt stimulus kept us from a deeper recession and possibly another great depression. And many economists say that we did too little and politics kept anything bigger from happening. In Europe, where the governments were acting as the Tea-party wanted to act here, they imposed harsh austerity during a recession and the situation is much worse now. If nobody including the government spends, then the entire economy contracts, reducing GDP, taxes and govt as well as private spending. Businesses stop hiring or layoff people, those people cannot find work because of high unemployment, they require more government assistance and have less to spend in the local economy. This in tern hurts local economies - and if the local govt is laying off people (teachers, police, etc) it again only causes a bigger problem. The sooner the economy rebounds, the sooner people get back to work, tax receipts go up, local and national businesses recover, GDP goes up and the govt can easily payback the debt incurred during the recession.

Instead we had elected officials, many of whom don't understand these basic ecominc principles, crying wolf that inflation and debt were the problem in an attempt to disable the social safety nets that make this country progressive. Now here we are with a high-unemployment rate, many of whom have been looking for work for years, some dropping out of the work force all together, no end in sight (and relying on govt assistance through no fault of their own).

Paul Krugman is one of the smartest people in the country. I would recommend that everybody read his op-ed in the NY times every Monday and Friday. He does a good job of calling it like it is with regards to the economy.

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Mark Rueff 1 year, 3 months ago

Dan, One more thing. People with money don't drop out of the economy as taxes increase. If anything, those at the bottom do and are left behind. Last year the US set a record for income gap: ->The top 1% of US earners collected 19.3% of household income, breaking a record previously set in 1927. ->The top 10% of richest households represented just under half of all income in the year. Since our tax system is progressive, only an incremental amount of earnings in the next tax bracket gets taxed. So if you make $250,001 and $250,000 is the next tax bracket, that $1 gets the higher tax. If you went from 25% to 28%, the on that dollar you would take home $.72 instead of $.75 . You are still making $.72 of every dollar for your hard work - hardly a reason to drop out of the economy .

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Dan Kuechenmeister 1 year, 3 months ago

Yep - To the liberal media and the Keynesians Paul Krugman is one of the smartest men in the country and here is proof. "Consider Paul Krugman, America’s most reliable Keynesian economist and a beloved figure among mainstream journalists. He recently wrote an article about the debt limit issue, in which he discussed a controversial proposal to have the federal government simply create a platinum coin with a face value of $1 trillion:"

Regards the Krugman cult followers of Keynesian economics have you checked in with Japan lately. They followed the Keynesian economic plan and last I checked they have been struggling for 20+ years. The Nikkei Index currently sits about 65% off it's all time high made 20+ years ago. How would we feel if Dow is at 5300 20 years from now. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Regards taxes - the top 10% of wage earners in 2009 made 43% of income earned in US and paid 71% of all federal income tax. How much is "enough"? Should they pay 80%, 90% - all of it. I believe I recall hearing that approximately 45% or so of Americans pay no federal income tax. That is approximately 140 million people. Obviously not all are in position to pay income taxes as they are young children etc, but what if an additional 75 million people paid $300 - $500 per year in federal income tax. we all benefit from this great country. Shouldn't we be willing to contribute.

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cindy constantine 1 year, 3 months ago

Perfect, Dan!! A modified flat tax is where it's at!!

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jerry carlton 1 year, 3 months ago

Read the article in today's printed paper on how the income gap has increased since the economic recovery began. I might be in the top 25% of the income in the country since I worked 51 years, saved my money, and bought my first stock when I was 14 years old. When this govenment can no longer return the social security payments that I gave them for 51 years, I will promptly fall into the bottom 25% in income. There will be no money for anything but basic survival. Multiply me by millions and then you will see another "great depression".

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