Tag Archive: advisors


When legislators in Congress are appointed to a “presidential blue-ribbon committee,” their importance raises in their party. Instantly, their influence is more significant, and the media begins to seek them out for interviews. The six Democrats, three from the Senate and three from the House, and the six Republicans three from the Senate, and three from the House comprise “Obama’s Super Committee.”

The “Super Committee” is a twelve bipartisan Congressional group who will work on a debt-reduction strategy to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion by Thanksgiving of this year. The twelve member panel has a historic opportunity to overhaul the Tax Code and entitlements. If the committee fails to produce a debt reduction plan of $1.2 trillion, across-the-board cuts would kick in evenly divided between defense and non-defense spending to make up $1.2 trillion in cuts.

The committee’s co-chairs are Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). The rest of the members are as follows; Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Senator John Kerry(D-MA), Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Representative Dave Camp (R-MI), Representative James Clyburn (D-SC), and Representative Fred Upton (R-MI).

There is a good cross-section of experience and knowledge on the panel, but I wonder if anyone has the courage to significantly cut the military’s budget and funding. In the last ten years, the military base budget has increased by 80% from $302 billion in 2000 to $545 billion in 2011, says the National Priorities Project. The total cost of the Iraq war since 2001 is $869 billion, and the cost of the Afghanistan war $487 billion.

Most people ignore the nation’s security budget, but that became a new line item in 2001 with homeland security. This is a hard line item to arrive at because it flows through dozens of federal agencies. It started as a request for 16 billion, but in the last ten years the government has spent $636 billion.

When the figure for military spending for the last ten years is added up, the number is around $8 trillion. This is the number that the National Priorities Project has used, but a recent study published by the Watson Institute of International Studies at Brown University took a broader approach. By including funding for such things as veterans benefits, future cost for treating the war-wounded, and interest payments on war related borrowing, they came up with an additional $3.2 trillion.

These additional expenses increase the number for military spending in ten years to be around $11 or $12 trillion. With all the serious discussion on reducing the debt, it would seem logical to take a hard look at military funding and spending. There are some on the Super Committee who are against cutting military spending and believe that funding should be increased.

Nevertheless, the question must be raised, is our country safer with all the money being spent, and is the money being wasted? For the last ten years, the government has tries to do an audit with the military, and they haven’t had any success. There are so many secret funds, because of national security, an audit is vertically impossible.

Everyone knows that there is fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in the military’s budget. It would appear that in the military’s budget, the legislators could find $600 to $700 billion to cut over the next 5 to 10 years. Cutting another $500 billion is going to be tough and the Super Committee has its work cut out for them.

The president is finally getting the parties to sit down and arrive at a compromise. All eyes and the media will be focused on the Super Committee for the next four months.

President Obama speaks at the first White House Hispanic Policy Conference

On July 11 &12th, President Obama and his administration held the first-ever “Hispanic Policy Conference.” It was organized by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Attending the conference were 160 Hispanic leaders from 25 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico, joined by over 100 administration officials to discuss the President’s agenda and its impact on their overall community.

In the last census, it was established that there are 54 million Hispanics in the country. The Hispanic community is no longer found in a handful of states, but in every state across the country. It is the largest and fastest growing minority group and critical to the future of our nation.

The purpose of the conference was three-fold: Relationship Building – connecting national leaders to key

Breakout session 4 at policy conference

administration decision makers; “Obama Administration 101” – ensuring folks gained a deeper understanding of the multifaceted ways this administration’s agenda connects to the Hispanic community; and Working Together – allowing participants to connect with each other and administration officials to address how they would improve access and outcomes for this community.

During the two-day conference, there were interactive, informal, small group conversations driven by the Hispanic leaders and not administration officials. There were no lectures, no power point presentations, or talking points led by administration officials. This was an opportunity for Hispanic leaders to meet, talk, and initiate relationships with 35 administration officials and 19 White House office and cabinet agencies.

This was an extremely innovative approach to reach out to the largest minority group in the country. At the end of the first day, President Obama spoke and urged all the participants to take the conversation back to their communities.

 

 
 
 
 
 
In 2012, the Hispanic community will play a pivotal role in the president’s re-election campaign. Now is the time for the president to connect to the Hispanic community and understand the nuances that make their culture different. This conference was a breaking of the ice, and now the administration is getting to know who the power brokers are in the Hispanic community.
 
There will always be a language barrier in the Hispanic community, because most Americans do not speak Spanish. There is also an immigration dilemma in the Hispanic community that the Obama administration will be forced to address. Nevertheless, these initial steps make it easier to build a political infrastructure, which focuses on their community’s needs.

Black leaders meet with Obama at White House

As the Obama Administration continues to reach out to other minority groups, the question must be asked, “When will the White House specifically reach out to the Black community?” Many of the same problems in the Hispanic community can also be found in the African American community. There is a need for the African-American community to request or demand their own policy or agenda conference.

There is still reluctance for the President to specifically identify and address Black problems and initiatives. The Black community and leaders are more involved in family feuds and bickering, than reaching out to the unmet needs in our community.

The key message in the Hispanic community is that it is not a monolithic community with a diversity of issues and problems. Jobs, education, health care and the economy are the most important challenges impacting the Hispanic community.

If the White House is able to hold a Hispanic Policy Conference, then it also has a responsibility to hold an African-American Policy Conference. Our leaders and representatives should request and petition the White House and President Obama for a policy conference of our own.

President Obama meeting with CEOs for "job council"

President Obama made it clear this week that he is 100% focused on creating jobs. Even though there may be some confusion on exactly what he is doing, he has a council now working with him. The group of CEOs who are working with the president are some of the leaders of the largest companies in the world, and they have the power to make an impact.

This job council is composed of many of the Fortune 500 CEO’s such as: General Electric, American Express, DuPont, Time Warner, Eastman Kodak, Xerox, and many more. The president is elated to have these leaders of some of the best companies in the country to work with him on his job’s initiative.

President Obama this week had a meeting with the members of the council in North Carolina. At the meeting he said, “Now government is not and should not be – the main engine of job-creation in the country. But one thing government can do is partner with private sector to make sure that every worker has the necessary skills for the jobs they are applying for.”

The job council has been working since February, and their goal is to create 1 million jobs through improved worker training in advanced manufacturing skills. There is no secret that the president’s record on the economy is seen as his weak spot, and unemployment numbers are still over 9%.

President Obama meeting with CEOs for "job council"

If the president plans to win the election in 2012, the unemployment numbers must improve. No president has won re-election with unemployment numbers more than 6% except President Regan, and his numbers were over 7%. It is obvious that President has his work cut out for him, and his unemployment numbers are increasing instead of decreasing this month.

At this meeting President Obama said, “The private sectors has hired two million jobs in the last 15 months.” Even if the president’s numbers are correct, the devastating effects that the economy has had on the middle and the lower class, 2 million jobs is just a drop in the bucket compared to the suffering in many communities.

Many of the political experts and members of the media are concerned about the composition of the members on the council. Many of the leaders of these large corporations in the last decade were more concerned with cutting their workforce instead of growing it.

General Election’s domestic workforce shrank by 25,000, and the number overseas increased. American Express’s workforce has decreased by 28%, in the last decade, and, Kodak’s has only 18,800 employees compared to 75,000 in 2001. Intel has trimmed the number of workers it employs over the past decade, and this is the general rule for most large companies.

Facebook is probably the only company on the president’s job council who legitimately is growing. There are no small or midsize companies on the council, and diversity is also limited in the group.

GE CEO Jeff ImlettAmerican Express CEO Ken Chenault

Last week, GE’s Jeff Immelt, and American Express’s Ken Chenault, who happens to be Black, put out an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, where they laid out some of the council ideas on job creation. There are five steps the panel is recommending to create more than 1 million jobs in five specific areas.

They include training workers through partnerships with community colleges, cutting red tape to speed creation of construction jobs, and boosting travel and tourism by easing the visa process for visitors. They also want to offer more help to small businesses seeking funding from SBA, and concentrating on jobless construction workers by putting them to work on energy projects.

Now the work begins, because now the administration will have to find the funding to make the plans work. In the next few months, we will find out if the CEOs and the administration are serious or they are blowing hot air.

Senate Leader Harry Reid

In Washington, there is political theatrics controlling the Congress, and every politician wants to be on the news. Everyone is playing games and they know that they are not doing their job. The President ran on a platform of change and the expectation level in the country was incredible.

America was ready for fundamental changes in Washington, and President Obama initially was a politician that progressive citizens could believe. He started his term with a majority of Democrats in the Senate and the Congress, and he got passed over 60 bills. He was able to get the Healthcare Reform Bill passed that other presidents had tried but failed.

President Obama’s polls approval rating initially was in the high sixties into low seventies. Minority communities’ approval rating for the president was in the nineties. But as the euphoric honeymoon began to dissipate into reality, we found many of the problems with the Obama administration were the same as other administrations.

The political fights between the Republicans and the Democrats were the same, but in President Obama’s administration they were a little meaner and nastier. With the emergence of the Tea Party, a new ideology was initiated that wanted a smaller federal government and were extremely conservative.

President Obama and the Democratic Party underestimated the influence and the political clout of

Tea Party

 the power of the Tea party movement. It is a loosely organized nationalized movement, which is the mobilized radical arm of the Republican Party. They are dissatisfied with the direction the country is going and they are angry.

With the country $14 trillion in debt, and every state treasury in debt, the Tea Party is correct when they say the Congress needs to balance its books and control spending. The problem with the Tea Party is they want to go backward as opposed to forward. Much of their ideology is based on state’s rights, American supremacy, and the good old-boy’s system.

Nevertheless, without a doubt the Tea Party members are a major impediment, and they make it harder to get the federal budget passed. They are a divisive force, and with the election of 2010, the new 85 Republican House members are connected to the Tea Party.

But all the blame for not getting the 2010 budget passed can be blamed on the Republicans and the Tea Party. When the Democrats had a majority in both Houses, they still could not get the budget passed. Somewhere there appears to be a problem with leadership, or planning in the party. If the Speaker of the House and the leader of the Senate are both Democrats, they should be able to agree on a budget, and get it passed.

This week the government shutdown was averted with a late night deal right before the deadline. Even though the shutdown was avoided this fight was over peanuts, because the debate over the 2011 budget will soon start. With a divided Congress, who doesn’t like each other, there will probably be a major fight within the parties, and against each party.

John Boehner, Speaker of the House and Harry Reid, Senator Leader met President Obama four times in one week to finally come up with a deal. John Boehner says, “The president is not leading. He didn’t lead on last year’s budget, and he clearly is not leading on this year’s budget.”

President Obama meets with his aides

At times President Obama is not engaged and he leaves certain projects and initiatives in the hands of his administrators. It appears the president’s strategy is to remain behind the scenes and let his aides do the negotiating. No longer can the president let his aides do the negotiating.

The president must be engaged from the very beginning and be the leader of his team. Our government needs the president to get vocal, get serious, and demand results.             

Gaddafi speaking

 

Muammar Gaddafi has been the president and leader of the African nation of Libya for 41 years. His country is the third largest oil producer in Africa, and he is the African Union President and a member of the Group of Eight, (G8). Strategically, his country is a very powerful force in global politics, and his oil is very important to countries all around the world.

A defiant Muammar Gaddafi said, “I am not going to leave this land. I will die here as a martyr. All of you who love Muammar Gaddafi go out on the streets, secure the streets, and don’t be afraid of the rebels. Chase them, arrest them, and hand them over.”

Gaddafi is determined to win this political upheaval from anti-government protesters

Libya protesters in the streets

and armed rebels, who he calls “rats and mercenaries” who he says “deserves to die”. Gaddafi’s power is entrenched in every element of the society and he is not going down without a fight. In order to remain the leader of the country for 41 years, he has survived through opposition and bloodshed.

The majority of the Arab and African countries are ruled by dictators, kings and royal families. These royal families and dictators control every element of its residents’ lives and they are extremely rich and wealthy. They believe that they have a divine right to rule with an iron fist.

The price of gas in the United States continues to increase with the instability of this region in the world, and Muammar Gaddafi has ordered his security forces to sabotage the country’s oil facilities.  The sabotage is meant to serve as a message to Libya’s rebellious tribes: “It’s either me or chaos.”

With the third largest oil producer in Africa unable to produce oil, the price of oil will continue to increase, and many of the worlds most powerful countries have started to impose sanctions on Libya. The United Nations Security Council voted 15-0 to freeze the foreign assets of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and four aides, and banned them from traveling. The goal of the sanctions is to isolate Gaddafi and force him to step down.

It has been suggested that Libya has $130 billion in reserves in the treasury in the country. It also has $70 billion in foreign assets around the world and $32 billion just in England. There are $500 million in many different banks in the United States.  

President Obama

President Obama has condemned the “outrageous” crackdown by the Libyan security forces on protesters. “The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and unacceptable. So are the threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters,” said Obama. There have been pictures by the media where Libyan warplanes and helicopters have dropped bombs and fired on protestors and civilians.

The United States has closed its embassy in Libya, and supports unilateral sanctions against the country, freezing billions in government assets. President Obama and his administration have taken a harder position on Libya, once it was able to evacuate its citizens and diplomats from the country.

There are other military options being discussed behind closed doors, but at this time they are not being released to the media. Since 2008, the United States has worked to develop a friendlier relationship with Libya. There has been limited military cooperation; therefore the United States is not in a hurry to develop a confrontational strategy with Libya.

Gaddafi’s son says that ¾ of the country is under control and only certain parts of the country are controlled by armed rebels. As the Libyan protest continues and evolves, it will be interesting to see what happens.

President Obama wants the violence to end and can suggest to Gaddafi to step down. With hundreds of billions at stake, there is no way that Gaddafi will go away. For generations he has been considered a rebel leader and the entire world is waiting to see if he will win again.

In Lisbon, Portugal during the third week of November 2010, there was a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). At this summit, the leaders of 48 countries decided that there would be no pullout in Afghanistan in July 2011. There are 150,000 troops deployed in this U.S.-led war, and the United States has 115,000 to 120,000 troops in the country.

At this NATO summit, it was decided that the target date for the end of this war would be at the end of 2014. In 2011, it would be the beginning of a transitional period where the Afghan troops would begin to take a more active role in the security of their country.

Presently President Obama, U.S. officials, and NATO leadership has decided to remain vague about their departure from Afghanistan. The U.S. has decided that NATO will play a larger role in the conflict, but the bigger question becomes, “Who are the U.S. and NATO really fighting?”

The U.S. has decided to partner with the Afghan forces; the majority of the Afghan soldiers are either new or they are paid Taliban soldiers who have decided to join forces with Americans, where they know they will be getting paid. Many experts believe in the entire country, there are only 200 to 250 Taliban soldiers fighting in the country.

Since 2001, there have been 1.6 million U.S. military personnel that have been deployed in the Afghan War, with the cost in the trillions of dollars. Some American soldiers have been deployed to Afghanistan three or four times; after nine years, it is not stopping.

Many thought that the purpose of NATO Summit was to decrease the size of the troops, but instead they have decided to become more entrenched. President Hamid Karzai who is increasingly upset by the Western Troops presence will continue to get rich along with his family by remaining in power.

There has always been an allegation that the Karzai family is involved in selling drugs, but it has never been substantiated. Nevertheless, with other illegal charges surrounding the president, the U.S. remains one of the president’s prime supporters.

The Afghan country has no air force and navy, but the U.S. and the NATO forces have decided to remain in Afghanistan and train the police and troops, even though there is a trust factor. These Afghan troops and police can decide at any time they are going to quit and walk off their post. They can slip back in to their village and never be heard of again.

The U.S. and NATO can call this a war, but when there is no definitive enemy, it is hard to define if your strategy is winning or losing. For President Obama to tell the country that he is keeping our country safe by fighting the Afghanistan war is fraudulent and ridiculous.

The real reason for the NATO summit is for the countries to get on the same page and develop a strategic partnership. The world is changing and it is important that the alliance is internally cohesive, and strengthen the security and prosperity for all the member countries. By enhancing the cooperation of Europe and other Western countries, the United States does not have to stand alone, and can extend the Afghan War into 2014.

At the summit meeting in Lisbon, NATO leaders adopted a new “Strategic Concept” that will serve as a roadmap for the next ten years. The new “Strategic Concept” offers partner countries around the globe more opportunities for dialogue, and commit NATO to reinforce cooperation with Russia.

We all thought the Afghan War would end in July 2011. Maybe you can figure out why our president needs three more years to end the Afghan War, because I sure can’t.

Check out more PRESIDENT OBAMA WATCH articles at blogspot.com

With the mid-term election 20 days away, President Obama is starting to make changes with his economic team. There has been no change with the unemployment numbers, over 120 bank closures this year, and foreclosures are at an all time high. The economy is barely growing and the voters are frustrated and angry.

As President Obama’s popularity continues to decline, there are 3 major departures from his economic team that indicates that there are problems with their programs. When President Obama made four of his initial appointments to his economic team, many voters expected that the economic conditions in the country would improve. No one expected drastic changes, but expected a feeling that we were starting to rebound and there was confidence in the economy.

In stead of a reversal, the situation is not changing, and Peter Orszyg, budget director, and Christine Romer, head of the council of economic advisors have left the administration. These two advisors have been replaced by Jack Lew and Austin Goolsbee, but Larry Summer is also leaving at the end of the year. That means that three of the four of the president’s initial appointments have left or are leaving.

Larry Summer is the Director of the Economic Council and the top White House Economic Advisor to President Obama. Larry Summer was the Treasury Secretary during the Clinton administration days, and is the architect of the recovery act, the job creation measures, and the financial stability programs.

It appears that Obama’s administration is busy congratulating themselves that they didn’t have a second Depression, instead of developing programs that are making significant changes in the economy. Many economists think that Larry Summer and Timothy Geithner is too busy protecting Wall Street and bailing out large corporations, instead of working for every American. Summer has always been tied to Wall Street and hedge funds, where he made millions of dollars as an advisor.

Some believe that President Obama should also give our present Treasury Secretary his walking papers, because Geithner is the chief architect of the administration’s failed economy policies. The present economic plan is not working, and the majority of citizens are still struggling to make ends meet.

It is time for a major shake up in the Obama administration. Polls show that angry and frustrated voters are moving away from Democrats, which could shift control in one of the houses in Congress. President Obama’s economic team must do more to improve the economic recovery and tackle the critical financial problems facing the country.

The government needs to act and stop sweeping problems under the rug, and bailing out our banking system with bailout funds. It’s time to address the toxic assets on the banks balance sheets, so there can be confidence in the economic system. Until banks are healthy, they will continue not to lend money and the financial system will remain paralyzed.

The issues facing the country must be confronted with progressive economists, who are working for the entire country. High joblessness, toxic assets on the banks balance sheets, negative real estate markets, and slow economic growth is creating a major gap between the rich and the middle class.

With Larry Summer leaving, President Obama has the opportunity to bring fresh ideas to the table and move the country forward. We need economic leaders who understand the entire financial landscape and align themselves with more than just large corporations and Wall Street.

Forcing the rich to share more of their income through taxation makes sense. Income and wealth in America is concentrated in the hands of a few and Main Street needs a helping hand. It is time to shake up our economic advisors and make them come down from their glass ceilings.

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