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Aug-03-2009 17:22printcomments

Obama: Now Panderer-in-Chief

I think it comes down to politics with President Obama. He would rather get re-elected in 2012, than do the right thing now and tell it like it is.

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama

(CALGARY, Alberta) - He had to do some pandering to get elected. But he doesn’t have to pander to stay elected.

Obama inherited problems on a scale that no other president has ever seen: trillion dollar problems—wars, bailouts, health care reform and deficits.

His popularity is now sliding because he hasn’t been able, in his first 200 days, to fix everything.

But the biggest issue he faces is: Who’s going to pay for it all? Two main sources—borrow more from the Chinese or increase taxes.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”

That’s the problem today. Americans, as a whole, want civilization, but they resist paying for it. California is a prime example.

My point on Obama is that he is reiterating his promise to not raise taxes on the middle-class, those making less than $250,000/year. Give me a break.

Below I reproduce a chart from my recent article on money. (see: Money's Only Something You Need in Case You Don't Die Tomorrow. (Carl Fox) - Daniel Johnson

The numbers don’t lie. More than half of families (52.3%) have incomes between 30 and 100 thousand/year.

This is the middle class!

Those making more than $100k/year should see an increase in taxes because they are the ones who have benefited most from civilization.

It should be a graduated increase, but an increase nonetheless.

I see it as a matter of fairness. President Obama inherited these problems. They were not created by him or his party.

He has to say the T word and Americans need to cut him some slack, so he can do the real work.

But to President Obama I think it comes down to politics. He would rather get re-elected in 2012, than do the right thing now and tell it like it is.

I don’t know if there has ever been a great one term president.

But with the American election cycles being what they are, politicians have far too little time to actually do anything before they have to start positioning themselves for the next election.


Daniel Johnson was born near the midpoint of the twentieth century in Calgary, Alberta. In his teens he knew he was going to be a writer, which explains why he was one of only a handful of boys in his high school typing class—a skill he knew was going to be necessary. He defines himself as a social reformer, not a left winger, the latter being an ideological label which, he says, is why he is not an ideologue, although a lot of his views could be described as left-wing. He understands that who he is, is largely defined by where he came from. The focus for Daniel’s writing came in 1972. After a trip to Europe he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. Alberta, and Calgary in particular, was extremely conservative Bible Belt country, more like Houston than any other Canadian city (a direct influence of the oil industry). Two successive Premiers of the province, from 1935 to 1971, had been Baptist evangelicals with their own weekly Sunday radio program—Back to the Bible Hour, while in office. In Alberta everything was distorted by religion.

Although he had published a few pieces (unpaid) in the local daily, the Calgary Herald, it was not until 1975 that he could actually make a living from journalism when, from 1975 to 1981 he was reporter, photographer, then editor of the weekly Airdrie Echo. For more than ten years after that he worked with Peter C. Newman (1979-1993), Canada’s top business writer (notably a series of books, The Canadian Establishment). Through this period Daniel also did some national radio and TV broadcasting with the CBC. You can write to Daniel at:

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Daniel Johnson August 6, 2009 12:04 am (Pacific time)

Dod: I think we agree more than we disagree.

Dod August 5, 2009 7:24 pm (Pacific time)

To Daniel Johnson: Some of the things that Obama has done, or not done, have both surprised and disappointed me. I'm unhappy that he has not appointed a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any Bush administration crimes. But I do not believe that getting reelected in 2012 have necessarily controlled his agenda. I DO agree with you that increased taxation on higher income earners is good public policy. I suggested in another comment submitted today that a graduated increase in income tax rates starting at about $125,000 should be considered. To have things we have to pay for them. The USA has lived beyond its means for decades. We need to quit wasting as much money as we do on our military misadventures, while providing affordable health care to all, and increase taxes so we can live within our means. We also need to start to pay the national debt down.

Henry Ruark August 5, 2009 4:54 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Not about to walk away from last comment, since I think it expresses well what many others do feel here and now. IF you have something to share adding to what we need to know, and helping in all good faith for others to understand, leading to solid sensible, rational and reasonable decision, join in the open, honest, democratic dialog offered here as their ongoing potent contribution by Tim and Bonnie. IF you find yourselves moved only to the negative nattering and politically distorted deep display of dander, mental cancer and "conservative" slander, simply sit back and tune in Congress until that mood passes and what you "see with own eyes" helps you to return at least part way to "normal" --whatever that may be these days. But let's have no more cheap shots by those whose clear motives are to denigrate, defy, delay and if possible defeat or upset what many millions clearly declared last Nov. 4 we must now do in this nation to return to what we had under way, for 250 years, now in partial ruin by the irresponsible (read: rascally) behavior of a small segment whose concepts mangled true "conservatism", costing us literally billions and far too much blood.

Henry Ruark August 5, 2009 2:13 pm (Pacific time)

"Anon": AND, meanwhile, playing games on website set up special for speculators ?

Henry Ruark August 5, 2009 2:12 pm (Pacific time)

"Anon": Appreciate your expressed concerns, but must ask where were you in past 50 years ? During that time have been berated by many for sharply focused comments on many of the same things which now disturb your sleep. During that time how many published words did you set out for others to shoot at, causing some cogitation by every such shot ? What are YOU now doing to offset same stuff ? Surely NOT assisting or contributing by cheap shots at source of some millions of urgent-words on same problems ? AND so fearful you forgot to sign even a synonymous single name ?? !! If more of you set out to shoot at situations you can recognize and less at those already at work, we might begin to make the huge effort we ALL need to DO...and cheap shots at Pres. Obama do NOT help in that desperate need. Perhaps you have perfect solution by anon/ing your way with easy absolution for self while denigrating others ?? !!

Anonymous August 4, 2009 8:36 pm (Pacific time)

one last might want to check out this graph..after obama has spent trillions of dollars..

Anonymous August 4, 2009 8:34 pm (Pacific time)

when you watch the video...just think of bush with a very dark tan...obama is doing the exact same thing. more wars, more drones killing innocent civilians..with OUR money.. you can sit and watch the deaths, but many of us dont like it and are getting a bit upset. You can sleep comfortable tonight, thats ok..I dont, and I abhor the killings and abhor that my tax dollars are paying for it. sleep well henry

Hanby August 4, 2009 5:54 pm (Pacific time)

It's amazing how some people demonize those who work hard and prosper (the American way, and why we have America, a republic and land of the free!), while sugar coating socialism by calling it equitable sharing. I find that those who have not done well financially usually opine for an income redistribution.

Henry Ruark August 4, 2009 3:27 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Let there be no question re higher taxes on those fortunate enough to profit from their wise or simply lucky use of common wealth our society provides for entrepreneurs and investors. For the duration of the Bush slashed-tax giveaway to the highest income levels, those minute few (in relation to working millions) profited in the billions. Now it is time to share more equitably, normally, and very naturally, especially in light of the huge economic collapse brought on by continuance of neocon policy begun in Reagan era, also known for tax policy profiting mostly the same few. When consequential costs for effective governmental program initiative, application and impacts are comprehensively analyzed, it is less than surprising to those understanding their purpose and management that they do as well or better than the ostensibly "free market" --always encumbered by demand for large-slice off-the-top for "profits", and very often managed by the same executives who come and go in and out of government service, as suits changing party-oriented fate. It is intriguing to compare jobs created during the two very contrasting public record for the two parties. Try it sometime...

Henry Ruark August 4, 2009 12:40 pm (Pacific time)

August: You wrote:"...a huge government that is so big, any program they come up with will cost 10 times as much as it should." That's clearly personal assertion flying in the face of public record. Without flat-fact from the easily available record, it is tantamount to subversion and unwarranted attack. Just as you assert, no reasonable person does so only 200 days into offset for 40 years of proven lying, solidly on public record, by such as Nixon, Reagan et al. Remember Nixon: "I am NOT a crook !", face-on in national tv. Remember Reagan denying, then admitting Iran/Contra illegality of impeachment level ? Happens I helped run one program which brought NINE MILLION in MATCHING fed funds to Oregon (doubling impacts), with proven 0.5 percent error in dollar allocation, from kegislation we built by 100-person group in D.C. BEFORE lobbyists descended 400-to-1, lavishly laying on "corporate campaign contributions". You know not what you do NOT know re most federal acts, despite decades of Far Right noise machine propaganda and massive political pandering of worst kind both nationally and in every state. For documentation in depth from proven reliable sources, ID self to Editor in full with working fee this time since pleasure to rebut false statement obviously from b-button feeling alone, with further report here when done. If NOT b/b/only, why not backup from many rational, reasonable, reliable national non-political sources easily findable in moments by simple Google-search ?? At same computer keyboard from which you wrote...

August 4, 2009 8:35 am (Pacific time)

1. No, we did not expect obama to fix everything in 200 days. That is impossible any intelligent person would know this. What we dont like? Is he is heading in the same direction as bush was, but at full speed. I call it, bush on steroids. 2. We dont mind paying taxes. We just dont want to pay for useless, endless good for nothing wars, so the military complex can get rich off the cannon fodder, and a huge government that is so big, any program they come up with will cost 10 times as much as it should. 3. Obama did not pander to get elected..He lied.

Henry Ruark August 4, 2009 8:48 am (Pacific time)

Friend D.J., "Anon": Your thoughtful points truly appreciated. We may be confronting some misunderstanding here changing meaning of the major term mutually applied. Current Op Ed very clearly defines pandering: "SO what’s “pandering” ? How does it occur as weapon used to distort tried-and-found/true honest and open political principle ? "The definition is deceivingly simple: “Pander: (as in "gratify") v. : yield (to); give satisfaction to ...” "(There are additional meanings, too: apply them as YOU see they fit for depravity of pander-perpetrated !) "Applied to politics, the act of pandering demands knowing distortion --and often perversion-- of value and principle." Key meanings missing somehow here are "knowing distortion" and "perversion". Many comments in most channels across the nation clearly exemplify both key words, esp. when reality is reversed purposely, as in dialog re racial incident. Despite truly American emphasis on dissent re HOW to get absolutely essential reforming changes underway, I doubt if you wish to accuse our new President Obama of personal OR political "intentional distortion" OR "perversion." His strong public statements clearly on continuous public record,combined with his prior public service record, preclude anything close to that. (As in chosen service as Chicago community organizer.) Definition of politics (as in "politic") adj. : marked by artful prudence, expedience, and shrewdness." The large consensus of published commentators in the U.S. surely shows clear, clean evidence of that reality. Given 40-years of prior and intensely destructive --and known intentional-- distortion -perversion, surely now seen so clearly (as in revelations re Cheney-role), it must be clear to most, here at least, that we in the U.S. still do have courage, conviction, confidence, and consummate skills at work for us --in contrast to what we were suckered into choosing before. Thank you both for insights stated, making this essential differentiation that much more complete and clear via any due consideration. Re progressive tax principle it is surely innovative to see "cost of living" in any area as major new component of an already far too complex tax code. Difficulties of both application and administration are so deep, distressing and denigrating as to defy clear explanation here, but will be easily grasped by those whose lifestyle demands attention. Example: How allocate costs to constantly traveling tax-payers such as CEO's, sales persons, artists, musicians, anyone whose work demands massive travel-time ? How allocate reasonable part for those whose supported family members live in other differing-cost areas, but draw support from the t-payer ? What about those whose job forces them to reside in high cost areas vs their own choice of location, temporarily or permanently ? Such radical change is real reason for representative government, including longer duration of an administration devoted to reform and change, including such as this one. That simply emphasizes the absolute necessity for effort towards second-term impacts, with precedent surely set by FDR four terms and massive re-management of American lifestyle. Re hugegrowing gap in U.S. class structure, and massive certainty of sure tax rises, that's costly consequence of ennui, apathy and inattention over past 40 years. We Americans dug this hole, and we Americans will fight our way out, and then turn to the task of filling both the hole and our continuing aspirations to become the nation our Founders invented for us. Perspective from abroad is valuable to us, but sure also to draw question: "What are YOU doing re similar questions you've raised at home ??"

Daniel Johnson August 3, 2009 11:18 pm (Pacific time)

Anonymous: You make good points. My argument is all around the issue of WHO is going to cough up the trillions? Certainly not going to be the Chinese. So, it all comes back to the American taxpayer and it only seems fair to tax those with the most, however you want to slice and dice the issue.

Anonymous August 3, 2009 8:32 pm (Pacific time)

To Daniel: If my memory serves me correctly, it seemed like Pres. Obama did not plan to raise taxes on individuals with an income below $250,000 and households with an income below $375,000. I certainly do not have a problem with raising taxes on people/households with incomes less than $250,000 per year. Math was never my strong point, but with the help of Wikipedia, I will try to explain about income distribution. A Household can be one person or many, but Household Membership is defined as including all working and non-working members above the age of 14). The median income per household member was $26,036 in 2006. In 2006, there were approximately 116,011,000 households in the United States. The Census Bureau determined that in 2007, the median annual household income was $50,233.00. Households in the middle 20% had incomes between $36,000 and $60,000.While only the top 1.93% of households had annual incomes exceeding $250,000. The aggregate income distribution is highly concentrated towards the top, with the top 6.37% of households earning roughly one third of all income. Households in the top 20% had incomes exceeding $91,705. I would think a graduated increase in taxes on households with an income exceeding $125,000 would be more than reasonable, and not limit it to only the top 1%-2% of the population. As a modifier I think an adjustment would need to be made for people living in more expensive areas. There are certainly situations where higher incomes either through higher wages or professional fees are charged in more expensive areas for people to live. The composite of living expenses is only 92 for Topeka, Kansas, whereas it is 153.1 in Los Angeles, and an incredible 212.1 in Manhattan, New York City. While it might be okay to assess the same tax rate for people living in Topeka, Kansas and Manhattan, Kansas, it would seem inherently unfair to tax someone the same rate with an income of $300,000 who lives in Manhattan, New York.

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