Day: March 29, 2009

Wise Decision of President Obama on Afghanistan Limits

President Obama on Sunday’s Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer reassured the nation as to his limits on commitment to the war in Afghanistan.

Having earlier announced 17,000 more troops and now an additional 4,000 to be sent over the next number of months, he made it clear that it was not an open ended commitment, and that a  point might be reached of diminishing returns, which would then lead to a reassessment of the mission.

In so stating, Obama is letting the nation know that he has no intention of making the Afghan War another Vietnam quagmire.  We can only hope that the mission will work out, but it is reassuring to know that Obama has learned from our history in Vietnam and will not continue to invest over time in Afghanistan IF the effort  is failing and seems beyond retrieval.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Restores Confidence

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner went on the Sunday news shows today and the effect was to restore confidence in the future of the American economy,  after an early sense that he might not be the right person to lead the effort to revive the economy.

Basically a shy person, Geithner came across this weekend as a person who was finally communicating better the plans of the Obama Administration to restore the economy.  He made it clear that the only answer was to have an activist government that does more, rather than less, to resolve the economic mess left to the new government leaders upon taking power in January. 

Geithner said expecting the private sector to resolve the issues at hand would not work, and that whatever had to be done would be pursued by the government in the coming months.  I have always believed that this is the right, if not popular, strategy.  Even if a portion of the American population has its doubts, and even if talk radio and the opposition party disagree, this is the only alternative to avoid long range suffering for the rapidly growing number of people who are losing jobs and homes, as well as to restore the banking and auto industries.

The Positive Impact of Vice President Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden has been a positive factor in the new Obama Administration, using his experience and knowledge to be a non-obtrusive adviser to the President, according to the NY Times.

Biden has adjusted well to his role, controlling his verbose nature, but also being readily available for the President’s ear and attending and participating actively in many meetings, stating his viewpoints clearly,  but also recognizing that the President has the final decision in all matters.

Biden has developed a role of support and openness, and has been close to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, therefore using his well known foreign policy expertise in a positive way through her and the President.

The key point is that Biden is NOT acting in the dominant role that Dick Cheney had under George W. Bush, and that is all to the good.  The Vice President understands his place in the administration, and he is seen as re-establishing the Vice Presidency in the kind of image it had under Walter Mondale and Al Gore.

The Issue of the National Debt and Deficit Spending

Ever since the Obama Administration began just a little over two months ago, we have been hearing about the horrors of increasing the national debt during the economic crisis that we face.  Also, as Obama has promoted new initiatives in energy, education and health care, we hear the conservative right screaming and yelling how irresponsible we are and how Obama is promoting socialism.

One would think that the Democratic Party is primarily responsible for this $10 trillion national debt that we are now saddled with as the new administration began.  Of course, the facts tell us otherwise.  If one looks at the statistics on the growth of our debt, we discover that it is the Republican party and its hell bent defense spending and tax cuts for the wealthy over the past thirty years that is the primary villain in this regard. 

When Democrat Jimmy Carter left office at the beginning of 1981, the nation had approximately a $1 trillion national debt.  Under Ronald Reagan, it tripled to $3 trillion, most of it spent on defense and on tax cuts to the wealthy which did not trickle down to the masses, as the rich got richer and the poor got poorer.  Under the first President Bush, it became more than $4 trillion.  With the administraition of Bill Clinton, the only Democrat in the period since 1980, the debt grew due to interest constantly being added, but Clinton actually created a balanced budget a number of times and added less to the debt than any Republican, and in that regard, he joined Jimmy Carter, whose earlier increase in the national debt was miniscule when compared to the future under the GOP.

So when George W. Bush became President in 2001, the debt was more than $5 trillion.  With the realization that September 11 added to the national burden, it is still a fact that Bush, by following the Reagan tax policy, ended up doubling the national debt to over $10 trillion, including the "socialistic" intervention in the financial crisis in his last few months in office. 

So from Reagan through the second Bush administration, Republican administrations added close to EIGHT trillion dollars to the debt, while Bill Clinton presided over a little more than ONE trillion added to the growing problem, but again avoiding massive increase in spending during his time. 

So who is to be criticized on the issue of the national debt and deficit spending?  Anyone who tries to be objective will recognize that talk radio and FOX News are creating their own propaganda, at a time when the country needs social and economic reform if the American dream is to be fulfilled after years of focusing only on defense and tax cuts on the wealthy!