josh rosner

Posts Tagged ‘Obama’


In United States of America on September 9, 2011 at 3:18 am

Below my opinion piece – Obama Has Two Months To Convince Americans – published today on The Drum. On Thursday evening (7pm Wasghington time, 9am Friday AEST), Obama delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress in which he outlined a comprehensive (and very expensive) package designed to – finally – save the U.S. economy and create jobs. With his approval rating sinking and record disapproval of Congress, not to mention that a majority of Americans now feel there is no way he can turn it all around before the next election, Obama has a huge fight on his hands. The Republicans, for their part, are lapping it up.

Some are already suggesting to me that Obama’s day has come and gone. That may well be true. But I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. This package, if passed – the American Jobs Act – is his last chance to save his hide. He has, by my reckoning, just a couple of months in which to convince Congress to pass the bill and sell it to the American people before he must begin campaigning in earnest. If not, Obama is assuredly a one-term president.

Obama Has Two Months to Convince Americans

Two and a half years into his presidency and right before he must devote more and more of his time and energy to running for re-election, the American people are deserting Barack Obama at a rapid pace.

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll reveals 1 in 6 Americans believe Obama is doing a bad job managing the economy. His dismal standing in the polls at the start of the primary season has given an already-large Republican field, vying for the right to challenge him at the 2012 election, plenty of ammunition.

In a recent speech in Nevada – a state hit hard by the economic troubles – Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said of Obama’s handling of the economy: “And the reason is president Obama’s strategy is a pay phone strategy and we’re in a smart phone world.”

Even Obama’s spokesperson, Jay Carney, has found it difficult to sell the president’s achievements: “Nobody is arguing that the growth we’ve seen this year is anywhere near robust enough or that the job creation we’ve seen is enough.”

Obama has a myriad of challenges ahead of him, both domestic and international. Most, like Afghanistan and the economy, have been on his radar since the day he was sworn in.

As promised, he has announced the return of 38,000 of 100,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the next northern summer, with the Afghans taking full responsibility for their own security by 2014.

The United States has paid a heavy price in realising its goal of dismantling Al Qaeda and removing the Taliban from power. In the 10 years since Operation Enduring Freedom began, the United States has lost 1,700 lives to the cause and spent $450 billion. But let’s not be fooled into believing that withdrawal isn’t without great risk – both for the Afghan people and Obama personally.

To have any chance of success, Washington will need to work much harder to help Afghanistan build a government that can deliver security and govern effectively without the corruption that is currently rooted deeply within the Western-backed Afghan government. Many Americans I have spoken to are sceptical the Obama administration has a comprehensive strategy designed to assist in the building of a government Afghans would be prepared to support and fight for.

Obama’s two and a half years have been far from smooth sailing. The soaring rhetoric of his campaign and the high hopes placed in him by voters has, mostly, failed to translate into significant policy achievements.

To add insult to Obama’s injuries, a string of centrist appointments, bank bailouts, the debt-ceiling standoff and the threatening double-dip recession have begun to alienate the left.

Obama rode into Washington promising to do whatever it takes to fix the US economy. He’s faltered, if not failed, so far. An American colleague of mine, who voted for Obama, told me that he couldn’t recall ever being this disappointed in a president he voted for. But all is not necessarily lost. Obama has one last opportunity – and by my reckoning about two months to achieve it – before all is irreparably lost.

In a rare speech to a joint session of Congress on Thursday evening, Obama proposed the American Jobs Act – a plan pitched distinctly at moderates and independents; the two camps he must court, and bring onboard, if he has any chance of winning next year’s election.

In the opening words of his speech, Obama demanded the Congress immediately pass the package, telling them there is nothing in his jobs plan that hasn’t previously been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. Over and over during his speech Obama called on the Congress to “pass this bill”. This package is a last-ditch effort by Obama to rebuild the US economy and put more money in the pockets of middle-class working Americans, while projecting a focus on fiscal responsibility.

In his speech, Obama proposed to significantly increase spending on schools and major infrastructure projects, and to overhaul social security. Overall, Obama’s proposed $447 billion in stimulus money is considerably larger than many commentators were expecting.

At the centre of Obama’s American Jobs Act is a $240 billion extension and expansion of existing cuts to payroll taxes, cutting the tax paid by employees in half during 2012. In addition, small businesses would receive a cut in payroll taxes and a “tax holiday” for hiring new employees.

Predicting a Republican backlash to his plan, Obama said in his speech, “The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy.”

Obama’s proposals must now pass Congress. He can – and no doubt will – blame Republicans if it fails to pass. But with the election in November 2012, Obama’s only hope of success lies in three areas. First, with a continued record disapproval rating of Congress, with 82 per cent of Americans disapproving of the way it does its job, particularly in the wake of the debt ceiling debate. Second, with Obama presiding over some economic growth in 2012, which might fairly be described as a miracle. And third, with the American public continuing to sour in their opinion of the Tea Party movement.

Obama has failed to translate his soaring rhetoric into equally soaring achievements, adding fuel to his Republican opponents’ cries that he never really had the experience needed to succeed in the job.

Failure to reduce unemployment from its current level of 9.1 per cent and failure to turn around the 60 per cent disapproval rating of his handling of the economy – alongside a New York Times/CBS News poll indicating 54 per cent of Americans believe it is unlikely Obama can now reverse his fortunes – Obama is assured of being a one-term president, regardless of who wins the Republican nomination.

In two and a half year he has shown more ‘No We Can’t’, than ‘Yes We Can’. The next two months will determine his future.



In Australian Culture and Society, United States of America on January 20, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Yesterday – the 2nd anniversary of President Obama’s inauguration – I had a piece published by ABC Unleashed arguing that Obama should consider not running for a second term. Although I have only read about a dozen of the 239 comments left online in response to my piece, it is fair to say that most people who left a comment missed my point. It also reaffirms an opinion I have long held: too many people adhere strictly to a political ideology (what was once called Left and Right – definitions well-and-truly outdated) without consideration, reflection or thought about WHY.

The irony of my piece and comments left by readers – many of which are vitriolic and personal attacks on my character – is that they accuse me of being a right-wing-Fox-News-loverĀ  who is merely trotting out the conservative talking n0tes. An ironic assertion, because I am liberal. Not a Liberal, but liberal. Very liberal. I consider myself the most liberal-minded person in my social circle. But does that mean I shouldn’t think about issues and their consequences? Of course not. Does it mean I should only write pieces that reaffirm beliefs and opinions already held by the Left? Of course not. I believe my job is to challenge those who see the world in a similar way to me, in order that we all think about the world around us.

It’s easy to become complacent and convinced of one’s ideological moral superiority. Both liberals and conservatives are guilty of it. I won’t do it – not on this blog and not in my published work.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt – once of the great U.S. presidents – was hated bu his political opponents who didn’t understand him. FDR never gave in. He once said, “I welcome their hatred.” Not to compare myself with a great man like FDR, but I can relate to the sentiment.

You can read my ABC Unleashed piece here, and decide for yourself.