Weekly Letter to President Obama
Copyright © 2010
ofthisandthat.org. All rights
INAUGURATION, January 20, 2009
Drunk in its stale air
For two hundred years.
Fettered in mind and body,
The soul, the safe escape
To let me breathe the cries
Of my heart singing
Tears of mel-an-choly.
The tears flow free today
Washing the stains of blood
And sweat in brotherhood.
Raise the curtain then an'
Let the world look in
On this promised land --
We breathe free today.... almost.
--- Arshad M. Khan
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.
--- Native American proverb
August 5, 2011
Mr. President: The stock market delivered its verdict on the Congressional
agreement to raise the debt ceiling and prevent default. It has not been
pretty. Worldwide, the markets have dropped precipitously.
Macroeconomics has not changed. The government and the public sector
remain the employer of last resort. In a stagnant economy, the government
needs to increase spending (heaven knows our infrastructure needs it).
The new employed, paid by the government, put money back into the
economy bringing new life to small businesses (and large), who in turn begin
rehiring, and eventually the economy kicks into gear. Cutting spending, the
focus of the bill, is the exact opposite and the stock markets responded as
The Bill has zero tax revenue increases. Thus debt repayment uncertainty is
raised and the rating agency S&P responded promptly. For the first time in
history our AAA government bond rating was cut to AA+.
The most insidious clause in the legislation requires mandatory across the
board cuts if the Committee can not come to any agreement. This, of course,
is not unlikely as it comprises an equal number of Democrats and
Republicans. Such cuts would hit Social Security, Medicare, etc., the safety
net programs for the most vulnerable in our society.
Some commentators are saying this President was duped; others attribute a
more Machiavellian strategy -- and their numbers are growing. The latter
point to early comments on entitlement programs, the giveaway to insurers
and providers in the healthcare bill, the failure to let the Bush tax cuts
simply lapse, the expansion to now six wars, and conclude a conservative
agenda coupled with an ingenious plan aimed at entitlements.
Others claim a callow politician unable to master the Washington political
theater - and forced to succumb to power brokers. Yet others see an
audacious political and social climber wheeling and dealing with financial
and corporate interests while maintaining a rhetorical patter offering hope to
the hopeless. Whatever the truth, the end result for ordinary people is the
same - they are worse off.
This week our U.S. Representative held a telephone "Town Hall" meeting
with his constituents. The Congressman himself lives in one of the
wealthiest suburbs in the nation with a median income well into the six
figures but his district is economically more diverse. I can report his
constituents were not at all happy with Congress, the Executive Branch, or
politicians in general. He received most politely an earful.
At about the same time you came to Chicago to celebrate your fiftieth
birthday yesterday. It is a significant event recognizing as it does that most
of one's life is over. Your supporters had no trouble coughing up $5000 a
plate for the dinner, adding to campaign coffers -- the lifeblood of political
life in our times. It is why we have a filet mignon democracy. Bean counters
keep careful count and bean eaters do not count.
Happy birthday, Mr. President.