Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Credit for Creating Jobs

Obama has proposed an income-tax credit of $3,000 for each new job above a company’s current employment level in the next two years.
We did something very similar in 1977 with the New Jobs Tax Credit (N.J.T.C.).
Unlike inefficient subsidies that provide funds for an activity that would have been undertaken anyway, this kind of marginal tax credit only subsidizes new activity. The benefit per dollar of credit is greater with this approach; it is more target-effective.
Indeed, a number of studies evaluating the old N.J.T.C. suggested it had substantial effects in stimulating employment.
Moreover, the jobs created especially benefited low-wage workers: not surprisingly, since the cap on the credit per worker made it a more attractive percentage subsidy for hiring lower-skilled, lower-wage workers.
Theoretical work suggests it is especially likely to be successful in an economy that is sliding further away from full employment, as we now are.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Conservative's Case For Supporting Obama

I have, admittedly, been rather silent lately with regard to politics. Although I have been closely following the election, I have been certainly unimpressed with many aspects of both campaigns--almost to the point of apathy. Almost.

A good friend sent me this article, and I feel that the author clearly articulates some of my reasons for "leaning" toward voting for Obama. Regardless of what anybody says, Obama is a pragmatist. He is a contemplative, thoughtful politician (not so much can be said for his running mate, Joe "loose-lips" Biden). I think the author is correct in his analysis of the differences between Obama's and McCain's respective approaches to foreign affairs.

Although I also do not agree with many of Obama's platform planks, I agree that it is time to elect a cool-headed pragmatist to lead us through uncertain times.

(Below is the text of the article)

A Conservative for Obama
My party has slipped its moorings. It’s time for a true pragmatist to lead the country.

Leading Off By Wick Allison, Editor In Chief

THE MORE I LISTEN TO AND READ ABOUT “the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate,” the more I like him. Barack Obama strikes a chord with me like no political figure since Ronald Reagan. To explain why, I need to explain why I am a conservative and what it means to me.
In 1964, at the age of 16, I organized the Dallas County Youth for Goldwater. My senior thesis at the University of Texas was on the conservative intellectual revival in America. Twenty years later, I was invited by William F. Buckley Jr. to join the board of National Review. I later became its publisher.

Conservatism to me is less a political philosophy than a stance, a recognition of the fallibility of man and of man’s institutions. Conservatives respect the past not for its antiquity but because it represents, as G.K. Chesterton said, the democracy of the dead; it gives the benefit of the doubt to customs and laws tried and tested in the crucible of time. Conservatives are skeptical of abstract theories and utopian schemes, doubtful that government is wiser than its citizens, and always ready to test any political program against actual results.

Liberalism always seemed to me to be a system of “oughts.” We ought to do this or that because it’s the right thing to do, regardless of whether it works or not. It is a doctrine based on intentions, not results, on feeling good rather than doing good.

But today it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly don’t work. The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.

Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world “safe for democracy.” It is John McCain who says America’s job is to “defeat evil,” a theological expansion of the nation’s mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth.

This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.

Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.

Most important, Obama will be a realist. I doubt he will taunt Russia, as McCain has, at the very moment when our national interest requires it as an ally. The crucial distinction in my mind is that, unlike John McCain, I am convinced he will not impulsively take us into another war unless American national interests are directly threatened.

“Every great cause,” Eric Hoffer wrote, “begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” As a cause, conservatism may be dead. But as a stance, as a way of making judgments in a complex and difficult world, I believe it is very much alive in the instincts and predispositions of a liberal named Barack Obama.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Obama on Palin's daughter's baby


Good for Obama to release the follwing statement yesterday regarding Governor Palin's daughter being pregnant (

"I have said before and I will repeat again: People's families are off limits ... And people's children are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president. So I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories. You know my mother had me when she was 18 and how a family deals with issues and teenage children, that shouldn't be a topic of our politics."

That is a great thing to say and I think that he, personally, means it. But that will not stop his supporters, the media, and his campaign from trying to use it is an attack. I am interested to see what "lunch bucket Joe" (barf!!!) has to say about this and how he uses it.

Nevertheless, Obama is right on with his comments and I am certain that he is very sincere.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Giving credit where credit is due

While there seems to be a lot of rewriting of history going on these past couple of days, I must give credit where credit is due here to the Democrat party.

It is a wonderful thing that a black man can gain the nomination of a major American political party. The Democratic Party, which didn’t admit black delegates to one of its conventions until 1936 (the GOP did nearly a half-century earlier) has done a great and historic thing. It's another example of America's greatness many fail to appreciate: We are better at racial and ethnic reconciliation and assimilation than pretty much all of these countries that are supposed to be more enlightened than we are. I sincerely doubt the French, British, Germans et al. will be considering a candidate of African descent like this for quite a while.

And, if Obama is elected president, on this narrow but important criteria, it would be a wonderful thing for the country to elect a black man.

Now, I don’t think we should elect the guy, for all the obvious reasons and a few less-than-obvious ones. I don’t think you should vote for a man just because of the color of their skin (just as I don’t think you should vote against someone because of the color of their skin). And I don't think having our first African-American president be a failed president (which I think he would probably be) would be a wonderful thing for race relations either. I've long thought the first black president would be a Republican. I still think it would be better for the country if that were the case, and if Obama loses I'm sure the next African-American with a shot at the job will be a Republican.

But it’s worth taking a moment to say this is an exciting benchmark in racial progress. Congratulations to Barack Obama, the Democratic Party and the United States.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Supporting the Mrs. Obama

What a great speech from Mrs. Obama last night at the convention. Given many of her previous statements and comments about the country that her husband hopes to lead, last night was very different and very interesting.

If I am not mistaken, she sounded an awful lot like a very strong and sound Republican. If that is the direction that they are headed, than all the best to them. I do not believe that that was what she was going for and I am a bit appalled by her re-branding as a middle of the road American to try and sell us a bill of goods, but it was a fine speech.

Have a read of the transcript and see the video:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"Prosecuting Terrorists": In Defense of the Obama Doctrine

In early July, the terrorism issued reared its head as the country debated whether we should allow terrorists their "day in court" and access to the American justice system. As these enemy combatants are not US citizens, the McCain camp had much to say. From Senator Obama, we heard the following:
What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks - for example, the first
attack against the World Trade Center - we were able to arrest those
responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in US prisons, incapacitated.
And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a
situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on
trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all
around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries
that say, "Look, this is how the United
States treats Muslims."

While it is very debatable that we have indeed arrested even half of those terrorists (lead prosecutor on those cases Andrew McCarthy talks at great length as to how we failed in this case in a new book and on National Review ( ) McCain would find issue with the portion of his speech where Obama talks about "prosecuting terrorists". McCain understands (in the Republican mind) the evil of terrorism at the gut level and wants to fight it with the military, using big guns and bombs. Democrats like Kerry and Obama are accused of a wimpy approach by Republicans and of preferring to send nerdy prosecutors to "serve our enemies with legal papers," as President Bush would like to say, rather than being "tough on terror".
McCain and his allies accuse the Obama camp of trying to treat terrorism as a law enforcement issue rather than as a "clear and present danger" to the United States. They throw out the accusation of a "September 10th" mindset and accuse the law school educated Obama of favoring lawyers over the Marine Corps.
However, looking deeper at Obama's doctrine reveals some odd inconsistencies for McCain. First, Obama never said, or even implied, that legal prosecution should be the sole method of preventing terrorism. Second, terrorist often operate in our country, and in friendly countries, which makes military action against them tricky. But, when the terrorists are holed up in New York City as they were in 1993, simply arresting them seems more efficient than leveling their apartment or town-house with a drone-fired missile.
Third, when terrorists have been found outside the reach of law enforcement, Obama has explicitly proposed to strike them militarily. Last summer, he commented in the New York Times after a cancelled attack on Al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan that such a failure was "a terrible mistake," and promised, "that if we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will." McCain criticized Obama for this, too, saying he "once suggested bombing our ally, Pakistan."
Lastly, none other than Rudy Giuliani once prosecuted terrorists. In 1994, Giuliani said that the conviction of World Trade Center bombers "demonstrates that New Yorkers won't meet violence with violence, but with a far greater weapon - the law." This could be pre-September 11th jargon that would be different today, and, if he caught terrorists again, he would use tactical weapons against them. The problem here is that he continued to tout his prosecution of terrorists during his presidential campaign and was became the face-man and representative of being "tough on terror".
Despite Giuliani's tough talk on using the law and nerdy prosecutors, against the tough talk of his campaign, McCain often trouted out Giuliani to talk to reporters and support the campaign whenever talk of 9/11 came up. Oddly enough, Giuliani's own lasting legacy to the political culture may be taking a concept (9/11) that was freighted with the strongest emotional and patriotic overtones and relentlessly milking it. He did so because, as McCain himself pointed out during the primaries, he had no foreign policy experience and repeatedly demonstrated his ignorance of basic facts about his alleged area of competence. The same situation that led the Bush administration into action and that the administration continually brings up everytime support for anti-terror measures are questioned.
McCain has a very credible line of foreign policy attack against Obama: that Iraq is improving and could be imperiled by a pullout. It's as if, by invoking 9/11, he can summon the return of the mentality that prevailed in the years after the attack.
It seems that Obama has talked some good talk that has been supported by McCain and some of his supporters in the past. His pursuit of prosecution for terrorists within our borders and behind the borders of our allies sounds like good policy, and policy that the Republicans have used in the past. If McCain's hawkishness in the Middle East and Obama's hawkishness on actionable intelligence can be comingled, we might have something. Add to it Obama's insistence on prosecuting these disgusting people and getting them in prison and not in Guantanamo, we might be able to take away one of the terrorists selling points that we do not uphold the law and do not unfairly treat Muslims. Holding the higher ground, even against the scum of the earth, is not such a bad idea.

Colin Powell Endorsing Obama

According to this Fox News article Colin Powell will endorse Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention.

Colin Powell is a member of the Republican Party, and his endorsement of Obama could do good things in Obama's effort to woo disaffected Republicans and centrists. If Powell did officially endorse Obama, it would certainly boost Obama's foreign policy credentials. Certainly, by offering his endorsement to Obama, Powell would be securing a place in Barack Obama's Presidential Cabinet or Administration. Secretary of Defense? Secretary of State? or even VP?

I don't know if Powell would be interested in pursuing such a course, but he could secure any position in the Obama administration that he desires. A Republican, Colin Powell is well respected by members of both political parties, across every spectrum. He brings bona-fide military experience, while having a rich diplomatic resume as well. Having Powell on his side, Obama could potentially silence many of the nay-sayers about his lack of administrative experience. Indeed, Powell endorsing Obama would be a very interesting development.

Powell's office, of course, denies any reports that he will officially endorse any candidate.