Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Can you handle the truth?

Is the Obama Jobs plan credible, or is it just another stimulus plan disguised as one?  Before we can begin to assess this plan that Obama instisted Congress pass, we need to ask another question first -- "Is Obama credible?"
The President has insisted, emphatically, his "Jobs plan" is the only plan that will be acceptable enough to bear his signature and that the Senate and House need not send a "stripped down" version or a completely different package to him.  He will not sign it!  Period...
Obama has gone on the record, ad nauseum, telling us that "he will not rest until every American who is in need of a job, gets one!"  What we see though is a different reality.  Golf, White House Parties and Global junkets/vacations fill the headlines instead.
In his opinion he believes that his Jobs plan is right and everyone else (including Senate Democrats) is wrong.
As human experience has proven throught time, those who are untruthful to us in our personal lives tend to lose their credibility in our eyes.  The old axiom "burn me once shame on you but burn me twice shame on me" goes to the heart of this experience I speak.  To get to Obama's credibility with the American public we need to be honest and objective in our assessment lest we be labeled racist, knuckle-dragging tea baggers that do not care or have compassion to those who believe he is above reproach.
To start this object process we must clear our minds of all clutter, news bites, rants by the Right Wing and Left Wing to arrive at a "Zen-like" state of mind that is free of bias.  We need to disregard things Obama has told us in the past like, lets say, "Even though I sat in Rev. Jeremiah Wright's church for over 20 years I never heard him preach those things" -- or, "Bill Ayers is just a guy who lives in my neighborhood".  Clear your mind....
So, now that we are there the first question to contemplate is -- "Has Obama lied to us or did he harmlessly embellish his estimation of his abilities when he told us we needed to pass Stimulus and if we did unemployment would stay below 8%?"  "Has Obama mislead us by believing in the advice of those around him or is it just plan and simple incompetence?"
There is a difference between a lie and embellishing abilities.  For example, if someone is caught lying vs. "embellishing" the human reaction is apt to be harsh towards the former and more nuanced towards the latter.
In a court of law a witness is impeached when found inconsistent or outright deceptive in their testimony.  Kind of like when Bill Clinton went on the record to say "I did not have sexual relations with that woman"!  The blue dress, Bill!  Again, human nature has seen that the American legal system is based upon our necessity for the truth -- thus the oath each and every witness takes before testimony pledging to "tell the truth and nothing but the truth".  We have had enough of Obama's testimony, so to speak, in the public forum for many of us to conclude that we have personally inpugned him along these lines.
Past vs. Present
Obama began his Presidency, in all fairness, in a weak economic condition.  His campaign said as much.  Unemployment was increasing, though below 8% at the time.  One can argue Obama had known there was a looming economic storm coming, but the question of how large was unknown.  The American public also knew that soon after his election, in the first 100 days, Vice President Biden admitted that "Obama would probably get things wrong 30% of the time" when making economic decisions.  The expectation bar was lowered.
The first priority of any incoming Administrations is to set in place, as quickly as possible, their Cabinet.  In spite of Obama's prior knowledge of the approaching financial storm clouds he filled his cabinet with men and women with literally zero "real world" business experience.  His Cabinet, collectively, had 8% that did which is the lowest percentage in any American President Cabinet.  His Cabinet's business experience was even lower than that of the Carter Administration.
Another prime example of the ignorance that Cabinet members appointed can be highlighted in the Solyndra scandal.  Steven Chu, Department of Energy Secretary pushed through the Solyndra loan in spite of the warnings and prediction that the Office of Management and Budget advised about the company during their "financial due diligence" of the loan documents.  The company was so heavily indebted that the OMB actually predicted the month and year the company would go broke.  This Nobel Prize winning Cabinet member may know how to split an atom, but he surely didn't know anything about business.  Obama's $38 billion loan guarantee program (part of Stimulus) promised to "save or create" 65,000 jobs and the centerpiece and first loan recipient went bust.  The reality was Solyndra added 1,100 people to the unemployment roles instead.
While it is true that his Cabinet is feckless in all things economical it could have been worse as Obama's original choice for Deputy Treasure Secretary, Annette Nazareth withdrew after it was discovered she had a problem with her personal tax filings.  Additionally, Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination to the Department of Health and Human Services for tax evasions as did Nancy Killefer.
Despite all of these individuals and their tax issues one did manage to survive to become the Secretary of the Treasury -- Timothy Geithner!  He is having trouble shaking his nickname though -- "tax cheat geithner"!
Obama's Job Council
By now everyone is aware of the much heralded "Jobs Council" that Obama put together in addressing the increasing unemployment issue.  This "Dream Team" of real world, free market titans that were hand picked reads like a "who's who" of the business and finance world.  The Council is Chaired by Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman, CEO -- General Electric (GE).  The other prominent names and companies are Kenneth Chenault, Chairman, CEO -- American Express; Ursula Burns, Chairman, CEO -- Xerox; Jim McNerney, Chairman, President, CEO -- Boeing; Paul Otillini, President, CEO -- Intel; Gary Kelly, Chairman, CEO - SW Airlines; Ellen Killman, Chairman, CEO -- DuPont; Antonio M. Perez, Chairman, CEO -- Kodak; AG Lafley, Chairman -- Proctor & Gamble; Brian Roberts, Chairman, CEO -- COMCAST; Mathew Rose, Chairman -- Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway; Sheryl Sandberg, CEO -- Facebook.
You would think that the collective experience of these individuals can be trusted to usher in the "silver bullet" of job creation, right?
Again, we must clear the clutter of our minds that have been boggled by the shear array of companies and people listed above so that we can again reach an objective state of mind to assess whether or not Obama finally did something right financially. 
Again, before we can begin to answer this question of trust and confidence of this Dream Team of idea "movers and shakers" we must consider some others who also sit on this Council with the Titans listed above.  The first name I want to mention is a man named John Doer (great name for a businessman).  His bio on the White House "Jobs Council" website lists his current background as -- Partner -- Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.  This firm is the firm that originally financed Solyndra.  If that connection doesn't raise any alarm bells then perhaps another partner in this firm where Mr. Doer works is another Nobel Prize winner -- Al Gore!
Moving along now.  Another name on the council is Lewis Hay, Chairman, CEO of Nextera.  Again, not a big name company like GE but important enough to be picked by Obama.  What Mr. Hay's bio on the Council website does not mention is that Nextera just purchased another Project that just recived Department of Energy Loans totaling $1.46 billion dollars (about 3 times more than Solyndra).  The project purchased by Nextera is named "Desert Sunlight Solar Project".  When you look at the strength of Nextera you will see similar "debt-to-capital" ration problems as did Solyndra.  The debt-to-capital ration of Nextera is 59%.  If you or I were to walk into a bank to seek a loan with that ratio, what do you think we would be told?   With Solyndra still fresh on everyone's mind and in the early stages of a Congressional investigation chaired by Darrel Issa why would the DOE take another chance on a heavily indebted company?  Because a much bigger corporate fish swam into the pool and partnered with Nextera to purchase the Desert Sunlight Solar Project -- Jeffrey Immelts, General Electric and Chair of the Jobs Council.
Perhaps GE used all that money they saved not paying any Corporate taxes last year, you think?
So, can you handle the truth?

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