In Ohio, Obama Proves He’s Learned Nothing

Speaking today in Elyria, Ohio (which, incidentally, is the birthplace of LSU football coach Les Miles), President Barack Obama showed that he and his White House inner circle have learned absolutely NOTHING from this week’s events foretelling the downfall of both his party’s congressional governing majorities and his presidency in general.

That Obama hasn’t a clue what is happening in the country is hardly a surprise, and it’s certainly not something the punditocracy has missed (for examples, see pieces today by Charles Krauthammer, Jonah Goldberg and Michael Barone). But it’s rare to see such unmistakable signals of obtuseness from a president as we saw today when Obama went to Ohio and sounded virtually every wrong note in front of a hand-picked audience of Democrat constituency group members.

The speech went as follows, with our comments interspersed:

It’s great to be here in Elyria. It’s always nice to get out of Washington. For two years, I had the privilege of traveling across this country, talking with folks like you about the challenges you face in your own lives, and the challenges we all face together as a nation.

In fact, the hardest part of being President, as great an honor as it is, is not being able to do that as much anymore. The White House is a wonderful place to work. You live above the store. I can see my kids when they wake up every morning and eat dinner with them every night, and that makes everything else so much better. But the truth is, being President is also a little confining. I can’t just walk around and visit people like I used to. I can’t just go to the barber shop or sit at a diner.

The good news is that Obama meets far fewer plumbers these days.

So, I appreciate the chance to come out here and spend a day – to visit plants like EMC Precision Machining and the clean energy job training program here at Lorain County Community College. I appreciate the chance to spend a day with all of you.

I know these have been difficult and unsettling times for people in Elyria, in Ohio, and across our country. I walked into office a year ago in the middle of a raging economic storm that was wreaking devastation on your town and communities everywhere. We had to take some difficult steps to deal with that mess, to stave off an even greater economic catastrophe. We had to stabilize the big banks, which, given their role in creating this mess, was a tough pill to swallow.

I knew it would be unpopular – and rightly so. But I also knew that we had to do it because if they went down, your local banks would have gone down, too. If the financial system had gone down, it would have taken the entire economy and millions more families and businesses with it. We would have been looking at a Second Great Depression.

Obama has an interesting memory, as we seem to recall that TARP was initiated prior to his inauguration. Why, yes, as it turns out the vast majority of the bank bailouts did, in fact, take place before he became president. What Obama was a lot more responsible for was bailing out GM and Chrysler with TARP funds – and as it turns out, those bailouts represent the majority of the TARP loans which look like losers. The banks, in fact, have mostly paid the TARP money back.

Or maybe the problem isn’t with Obama’s memory at all, but with his ability to tell the truth. Naw, that can’t be right.

In my first months in office, we also helped save two of the big three automakers from collapse. Some people weren’t happy about that, either. They felt that if you make a bad decision, you ought to reap the consequences, just like any business would. But if we had let GM and Chrysler simply go under, hundreds of thousands of Americans would have been hurt, not just at those companies themselves, but at other auto companies and at their suppliers and dealers, here in Ohio, up in Michigan, and all across this country.

Playing to the crowd, of course. No word on how many tickets to the event were doled out at the UAW local. But since Obama’s auto company bailouts and explosion of long-established bankruptcy laws had a hand in introducing the concept of political risk into investing in the American economy, while he might get a little applause from the union members at the community college basketball gym this kind of rhetoric will fall a little flat with the 10 percent of the country currently unemployed because nobody wants to start a business or get financing for one in any event.

So, we said, if you’re willing to take the tough and painful steps to make yourselves more competitive, we’re willing to invest in your future. And earlier this week, we heard that the auto industry planned to make almost 3 million cars and trucks here in North America in the next three months – up 69% from the first three months of 2009.

GM and Chrysler were almost out of business in 2009. Does this man really purport to tell us that the auto companies he took over with our tax dollars are on the mend?

We also passed a Recovery Act to pull our economy back from the brink. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working Americans – 15 different tax cuts for working families and 7 different tax cuts for small businesses so they can start up, and grow, and hire. We extended and increased unemployment insurance. We made COBRA cheaper. We gave aid to states to help them through these tough times. We made the largest investment in infrastructure since the creation of the Interstate Highway System, putting Americans to work rebuilding our roads, bridges and waterways, doing the work America needs done.

You have to be a partisan Democrat to see 10 percent unemployment and the loss of 2.8 million jobs since the passage of Obama’s Porkulus bill and conclude that it “pulled our economy back from the brink.” Does he really believe that the average American will buy his line that he’s cutting taxes? As for the rest of this paragraph, he’s hopelessly out to lunch if he thinks that spending Chinese money making COBRA cheaper, shoveling money to state governments and extending unemployment benefits will create any jobs at all. He’s been peddling this crap for about a year now, and it hasn’t worked for him yet – does he think things will change?

Today, because of the actions we took, the worst of this economic storm has passed. But families like yours and communities like Elyria are still reeling from the devastation left in its wake. Folks have seen jobs you thought would last forever disappear. You’ve seen plants close and businesses shut down. I’ve heard about how the city government here is bare bones. And how you can’t get to work or go buy groceries like you used to because of cuts in the county transit system.

In other words, I’ve done all these great things but you rubes out here in the sticks haven’t gotten anything out of it. Stick with me, you bitter clingers – I’ve got your back.

And this, after one of the toughest decades our middle class has faced in generations. This has been a decade where some Americans made huge amounts of money, while many others pedaled faster and faster, only to find themselves stuck in the same place, or even slipping behind. Even as you’ve found your paychecks shrinking, even as you’ve found the value of your biggest asset – your home – falling, the cost of everything has gone up. The cost of groceries. The cost of sending your kids to college. The cost of saving for retirement. And another pressure you’ve faced is the breakneck, unrelenting climb of costs for the health care you need.

Actually, the decade was going along OK economically until Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid took control of Congress and drove us into the take. Look up GDP growth, unemployment rates and the Dow from January 1, 2001 through Dec. 31, 2006 – and then from Jan. 1, 2007 to the present. Tale of Two Cities.

I didn’t run for President to turn away from these challenges. I didn’t run for President to kick them down the road. I ran for President to confront them – once and for all. I ran for this office to rebuild our economy so it works not just for a fortunate few, but for hardworking people in this country. To create good jobs that can support a family. To get wages growing and incomes rising. To improve the quality of America’s schools and lift up great community colleges like this, which are so important to our future. To make that higher education affordable for the children of working families. And, yes, to deal with the problem of runaway health insurance costs that are breaking family budgets, breaking business budgets, and breaking our national budget.

He ran for President to transform America into a socialist nanny-state. Take that entire paragraph above, boil it down, and that’s what you get.

No, I had no illusions when I took on health care. It was always going to be hard. I knew from the beginning that seven Presidents had tried it and seven Presidents had failed. But I also knew that insurance premiums had more than doubled in the past decade, that out-of-pocket expenses had skyrocketed, that millions more people had lost their insurance, and that it would only get worse.

He knew that the American people have rejected socialized medicine for decades and decades. But he didn’t respect our decision. Nor has his party, which simply will not get the message that this country isn’t interested in trashing the free market elements of our medical system.

I took this up because I want to ease the burdens on all the families and small businesses that can’t afford to pay outrageous rates. I want to protect mothers, fathers, children from being targeted by the worst practices of the insurance industry.

Funny how he rips into the insurance industry when Medicare has been shown to deny more claims than any major insurance company in the country.

Now, we’ve gotten pretty far down the road, but I have to admit, we’ve run into a bit of a buzz saw along the way. The long process of getting things done runs headlong into the special interests, their armies of lobbyists, and partisan politics aimed at exploiting fears instead of getting things done. And the longer it’s taken, the uglier the process has looked.

It is breathtaking that Obama would decry the “special interests” after the deals he has cut with the AMA, AARP, drug companies and others – not to mention the lobbying he and his minions on the Hill have not just tolerated but encouraged during a process he says looks ugly. Physician, heal thyself.

I know folks in Washington are in a little bit of a frenzy this week, trying to figure out what the election in Massachusetts the other day means for health insurance reform, for Republicans and Democrats, and for me. This is what they love to do.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about you. I didn’t take up this issue to boost my poll numbers or score political points – believe me, if I were, I would have picked something a lot easier than this. No, I’m trying to solve the problems that folks here in Elyria and across this country face every day. And I am not going to walk away just because it’s hard. We’re going to keep on working to get this done with Democrats, Republicans – anyone who is willing to step up. Because I am not going to watch more people get crushed by costs, or denied the care they need by insurance company bureaucrats, or partisan politics, or special interest power in Washington.

It’s not about Obama? Really? He’s either as dumb as a doornail or he thinks we are. The guy can’t read a poll? Obamacare gets beat 2-to-1 basically across the board. So if it’s not about him, who is it about? Does he think this rhetoric is going to improve his standing with the American people?

Let me tell you – so long as I have the privilege of serving as your President, I’ll never stop fighting for you. I’ll take my lumps, too. I’ll never stop fighting to bring jobs back to Elyria. I’ll never stop fighting for an economy where hard work is rewarded, where responsibility is honored, where accountability is upheld, where we’re creating the jobs of tomorrow.

That’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass a jobs bill to put more Americans to work rebuilding roads and railways, to provide tax breaks to small businesses for hiring people, and to offer families an incentive to make their homes energy efficient, saving them money while creating jobs.

I thought the stimulus bill last year would rebuild roads and railways, and I thought Obama said he’d cut taxes. But now he wants a jobs bill built off weatherizing houses? He thinks that’s going to bring back a recovery? Seriously?

And that’s why we enacted incentives that are beginning to give rise to a clean energy economy, that are starting to translate into real jobs making solar panels, making windmill blades, making cutting-edge batteries. In fact, almost $25 million of our investment went to a plant right here in Elyria that’s helping produce the car batteries of the future.

Solar panels and windmills are boondoggles already being tried elsewhere. In Spain, they found that for every job created in their “clean energy economy” they killed 2.2 already-existing jobs. Obama apparently somehow thinks that the laws of economics work differently in North American than they do in Europe. Either he’s stupid, or he thinks we are.

So long as I’m President, I’ll never stop fighting for policies that will help restore home values, to redeem the investment that folks have made. I’ll never stop fighting to give our kids the best education possible; to take the tens of billions of dollars we pay banks to act as middlemen on student loans and invest that money in the students who need it.

I’ll never stop fighting to give every American a fair shake. That’s why the very first bill I signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Act to uphold the principle of equal pay for equal work for men and women alike. Especially in this age when so many families need two paychecks to get by.

Seizing the student loan industry doesn’t really appear to be a good prescription for economic recovery, and it’s of dubious constitutionality in any event. And the Lily Ledbetter Act is a job-killer, just like every other policy this man is touting. He went off script at this point and mused that he can’t understand why “we’re even still having this discussion” about equal pay, in light of the fact that one in five married households has the wife as the primary breadwinner – when that’s actually an argument that the government ought to leave people alone, not regulate who can pay what.

So long as I’m President, I’ll never stop fighting to protect you from the kind of deceptive practices we’ve seen from some in the financial sector. That’s why I signed a Credit Card Bill of Rights into law to protect you from surprise charges, retroactive rate hikes, and other unfair rules. And that’s why I’m fighting for a tough Consumer Financial Protection Agency to protect you against those hidden overdraft fees that can make a single ATM withdrawal cost thirty dollars or more.

Maybe if Obama would cut taxes and regulation, people would have the disposable income not to have to carry credit cards or become overdrawn at the bank. Intrusive policies which encourage people to get into debt and stay there are exactly the wrong way to an economic recovery – and Obama is either too ignorant to realize this or thinks the American people too ignorant to see through what he’s saying.

I’ll never stop fighting to open up government. That’s why we put in place the toughest ethics laws and toughest transparency rules of any administration in history.

Yeah, right. Let’s go to the instant replay, shall we?

So long as I’m President, I’ll never stop fighting to cut waste and abuse in Washington; to eliminate what we don’t need – to pay for what we do; to rein in exploding deficits we’ve been accumulating for too long.

Hoo, boy.

And I’m going to keep up the fight for real, meaningful health insurance reforms. That’s why we expanded the children’s health insurance program to include four million more kids. And that’s why I’ll continue fighting for reform that will hold the insurance industry accountable and bring more stability and security to folks in our health care system.

Again with the insurance industry bashing. Does he think the last several months have brought stability and security to the health care system? Does he really think he’s moving the country forward?

These are some of the fights we’ve had. And I can promise you, there will be more fights in the days ahead. We’re having one of them right now – because I want to charge Wall Street a modest fee to repay taxpayers in full for saving their skin in a time of need. You can rest assured, we’re going to get that money – your money – back, each and every dime.

Almost all of the banks Obama is talking about assaulting with that “modest” fee – some $90 billion per year, by some estimates – have already paid back the money they got from TARP with interest. Whose money is he talking about? And does he have any idea what the effect of pulling $90 billion from the asset portfolio of the banking industry every year will have on the banks’ ability to loan money? Or does he think the American people don’t understand it?

You know, I said at the beginning how much it means to me to travel this country; how much it means to me to be here in Elyria. That is more true now than ever before. Because it’s easy to get a pretty warped view of things from Washington. But when I get out here and talk with folks like you, I’m reminded of the strength – the resilience and perseverance – of the American people. I’m reminded of the fundamental character of the Americans I am so privileged to serve. It’s that character that has borne our nation through seas far rougher than the ones we face today. And it is that character that will carry us through this storm to better days ahead.

That last part is true, of course, but only in the sense that the American people can survive Obama through resilience and perserverance. The part about Obama having a warped view of things is true with no reservations whatsoever.



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