Obama's Undeclared War on America

Republican US House Speaker John Boehner, and US Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking minority member Richard Lugar, are both obsessed with bringing President Obama to account under the War Powers Act for his intervention in Libya. 

Libya is typical of Obama's foreign policy: timid, tardy, aloof, and counterproductive.  Accordingly, the outcome from Obama's Libyan humanitarian adventure has been predictable, needlessly adding over  $1 billion to the US federal deficit while emboldening a stalemate benefitting Gaddafi, who continues to inflict civilian casualties with impunity. 

Whatever Obama's disposition of the War Powers Act concerning Libya, it is still trivial stuff compared with Obama's undeclared War on America.  Boehner and Lugar need to stand down from the snipe hunt over Libya and pay attention to Obama's destruction here at home.

Obama's undeclared War on America has been as intense, unrelenting, costly, and devastating as any undeclared war since Korea.  Obama's carpet-bombing through taxes, regulations, energy policies, and pledging to do more of the same has paralyzed and bankrupted the nation, plunging it into a despondency not seen since eight decades ago. 

Apart from James Buchanan, no president has been so ill-prepared and willfully ignorant as Obama when presented with an unprecedented national crisis.  We are now mired in the 21st century Great Gloom, our nation's 2nd Great Depression, having identical features with the first one: millions of Americans are out of work with few prospects for any; millions more Americans have lost their homes with even more facing foreclosure and owing more on their mortgages than the homes are worth; the private sector is calcified; high taxes and regulations frustrate capital formation and job creation.

Obama's inability or unwillingness to read history, compounded by his stubborn big government ideology, has led him to adopt or advocate for the single most devastating tactic that doomed Herbert Hoover when the Great Depression began and plagued FDR as the wretchedness of the 1930s persisted for nearly another decade: higher taxes. 

The Great Depression's illiquidity closed thousands of banks, wiped out savings, and obliterated home and farm ownership.  High tariffs choked international trade, idling more businesses and spoiling more stockpiles of foodstuffs.  

Today's analog -- regulatory fever -- has strangled job creation, demolished the real estate markets, and crushed any hope to restore self-confidence by heaping nearly $2 trillion of unrelieved costs on American business.

Except for taxes and tariffs -- as David M. Kennedy argues in his Freedom From Fear-The American People in Depression and War 1929-1945, at least President Herbert Hoover didn't deliberately make the Depression worse.  Hoover was physically exhausted and mentally drained in tirelessly applying any remedy that would ease the suffering and stop the economic bleeding. 

Says Kennedy ( p. 94) "He kept up a punishing regimen of rising at six and working without interruption until nearly midnight. His clothes were disheveled, his hair rumpled, his eyes bloodshot, complexion ashen.

"By the fall of 1932 he had lost all stomach for political campaigning...seemed to campaign more for vindication of the historical record than for the affection in the hearts of voters.

"Just four years earlier he had won one of the most lopsided victories in the history of presidential elections...The Great Engineer, so recently the most revered American, was the most loathed and scorned figure in the country."

Contrast that scene with Obama on another golf outing, wolfing down chilidogs and cheeseburgers, and launching his 2012 re-election campaign eighteen months in advance. 

Hoover gets a bum rap for allowing a recession to turn into the Great Depression.  He tried everything at his disposal that contemporaneous economists and banker/financiers thought would work.  But as Kennedy further observes, through the lens of economist Herbert Stein, the federal government at the time was too small to be leveraged; state and local governments had collective budgets five times larger than the federal government and some states had statutory restrictions on incurring more indebtedness.  According to Kennedy, even Pennsylvania by its own constitution could not borrow more than $1 million.

The federal budget in 1929 was only 3% of GDP.  Obama's 2012 budget would approach 25% of GDP.  Obama sees no limit to bloated bureaucracies, the size of government tenfold larger and growing even more immense than Hoover could ever have imagined, and the debt to go with it flirting with sovereign default. 

In the beginning Hoover, not gregarious by nature, engaged every politician and business leader who he thought could be enlisted for advice or action.  Only after exhausting all possibilities, while the nation's fortunes plummeted further, did Hoover become isolated and withdrawn.  Kennedy relates a dark joke circulating at the lowest point of Hoover's presidency: "the president asked for a nickel to make a telephone call to a friend, an aide flipped him a dime and said  'call them both'."

Hoover was a man of broad and deep intellect, a voracious student of economics and finance.  Kennedy (p 94) recounts a quote from Theodore Joslin, a secretary to Hoover:

His was a mathematical brain...Let banking officials for example come into his office and he would rattle off the number of banks in the country, list their liabilities and assets, describe the trend of fiscal affairs, and go into the liquidity or lack of it, of individual institutions, all from memory.

What a contrast to Obama's teleprompter presidency, uttering shopworn political clichés with it, occasionally unable to string together anything coherent without it. 

Prior to becoming president, Hoover was regarded as the most experienced organization titan, ironically owing to his single-handed leadership in the acclaimed Belgian food relief program upon the outset of WWI.  As Kennedy notes, at the end of the War, Hoover was President Wilson's personal advisor, "as much as any one man could he got the credit for reorganizing the war-shattered European economy." 

Yes, Hoover is tagged with failure.  Yet he was serious, purposeful, and above all, even willing to abandon his own ideology in search for a cure.  Hoover's acquiescence to the formation of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation capped a sequence of measures harnessing the potential power of government intervention when it was clear private means were insufficient.  In fact, as Kennedy continues, noted Columbia University economist Rexford Tugwell, FDR's behind-the-scenes architect for much of the New Deal, "later conceded that practically the whole New Deal was extrapolated from programs that Hoover started[.]"

Obama shares but two likenesses with Hoover.  The first one in public utterances prone to underestimating the severity of the crisis. 

Remarked Hoover in his famous understatement in May 1930, "I am convinced we have passed the worst and with continued effort we shall rapidly recover...the depression is over[.]"  Last week we heard from Obama that "the economy is taking a while to mend...and faces bumps on the road to recovery."

Hoover's comments were accidents of timing, Obama's deliberate obfuscations. 

And second, not unlike Hoover's (and later FDR's) addiction to tax hikes, Obama has overseen piles of costs heaped on everyday Americans from deliberately high energy prices to environmental regulatory roadblocks on energy production to $1 trillion in taxes and mandates under ObamaCare.

Who can objectively deny Obama has made the extant condition worse?  Whether he has purposefully made things worse is up for some debate; after all he has no expertise in anything from which to conjure a sinister plan.  Yet economic destruction derived from ignorance, folly, and neglect is still destruction.  At least Hoover, by contrast, was a self-made economist who understood capital formation and liquidity, monetary and fiscal theory, and international trade, debt, and currency flows. 

Arguably, international isolationism contributed to and prolonged the Great Depression.  Obama's own personal isolationism, evidenced by his contempt for regular Americans and standoffish relations with foreign leaders, handmaiden to the scorn and hostility he shows towards Republicans, is a continual roadblock in finding solutions.

Even Obama's own erstwhile cheerleader for doomed Obamanomics, Austan Goolsbee, chief economic advisor to the president, has found either the task overwhelming or the companionship insufferable -- take your pick -- after only 10 months on the job. 

Temperamentally Obama is a drone unleashing as much destruction on the American psyche as his drones have done to destroy military targets in Afghanistan.  Devoid of honest analytics, Obama continues to issue phony reports from the domestic battlefront.  Even the Washington Post, fiercely loyal to Obama's personality and politics, has had enough of his lies about the success from the auto industry bailouts.

If Obama's game is to perfect an undeclared War on America, he is succeeding.  It remains to be seen whether the Republicans can summon enough nerve to reprise Gen McAuliffe's famous retort to the German demand for surrender at Bastogne in December of 1944, "Nuts."

Only Congress can now do what the voters sent them to do -- disarm and defund Obama's undeclared War on America.  And for 2012, who shall be the Republicans' Gen Patton, coming to America's rescue?