Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Review from Docstoc.com

Monday, August 9th, 2010

This is from:

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/48011405/The-Audacity-of-Help

The United States confronts its greatest economic crisis since the 1930s. President Obama has taken quick and decisive action to enact an economic stimulus package strong enough to address problems of historic proportions. What does this new package mean for American families, businesses, investors, and taxpayers?

The Audacity of Help unrolls the blueprints and offers insights on how the economic stimulus package–as passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama–will affect healthcare, education, the environment, energy, taxes, and more. The book includes analysis of sectors and industries that will benefit, as well as those that will not. Wasik’s conclusions are firmly grounded in a comprehensive and enlightening evaluation of the final economic package passed into law. Extensive study and interviews with experts from each economic sector support his analysis.

MSMDC Reviews Audacity

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

This is from MSMDCNews.com:

President Obama has taken quick and decisive action to enact an economic stimulous package strong enough to address problems of historic proportions. What does this new package mean for American families, businesses, investors, and taxpayers? The Audacity of Help unrolls the blueprints and looks at how the packages passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama will affect healthcare, education, the environment, energy, taxes, and more. The book includes analysis of sectors and industries that will benefit, as well as those that will not. Wasik’s conclusions are firmly grounded in a comprehensive and enlightening analysis of the final package. Extensive study and interviews with experts from each economic sector support his analysis.

How Obama Handled Health Summit

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

The Health Care Summit 2/26/10
Now That Health Myths are Busted,
It’s Now or Never for Reform

By John F. Wasik

Remember that old Elvis song “It’s now or never,” a cheesy version of “O Sole Mio?” That should be the Democrats’ theme song after the Feb. 25 health-care summit.
Top Democrats made their case for the umpteenth time. The Republicans somewhat agreed with them on the need for expanding markets across state lines and consumer protection, but differed in the way to approach reform.
I watched most of the proceedings, which was neither a debate nor deal making. If both parties eventually decide to do something together, this forum will have laid the groundwork for a compromise.
One thing was crystal clear: Republican leaders wanted to tear up both the House and Senate versions and start over, a move that would surely wreck any progress and set legislation back years. It makes no sense since the basic principles of why reform is needed are in place on both sides.
“The nature of the industry is terrible,” noted Senator Jay Rockefeller, who was disappointed there was no public option on the table. “Insurers are looking for reasons to kick you out — 44 of 50 states deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.”
How bad are industry abuses? Insurers can deny coverage, clip benefits and raise rates for any reason. In one state, even being a victim of domestic violence is considered a pre-existing condition.
As long as claims are viewed by the industry as “losses,” patients and insurers will have an adversarial relationship. This is immoral. Health care should be a human right that we recognize and protect. No profit should be made on human suffering.
The situation is getting worse by the day, so Democrats need to act quickly before they get sucked into the maw of election-year politics. Some 6 people daily are dying due to lack of insurance. About 14,000 lose their insurance every 24 hours. Nothing in the private sector is going to help these folks. Only if you are desperately poor, a veteran or old will you get any help. The indigent now get better care than working, middle-class Americans who don’t have employers offering health care.
At the very least, President Obama and his Democratic colleagues did a good job at myth busting and established a clear path forward:
• There are no free-market solutions in the Democrats’ plans. In lieu of a public option that would offer competition, creating insurance exchanges across state lines would create a true national market — if companies are regulated closely. Democrats and Republicans both agree on this.
• No government entity will take over health care. The feds won’t run clinics, scrutinize treatments, deny coverage or run hospitals. The private sector remains in place. Ironically, though, more people get their health care from government agencies now than from for-profit companies.
• Simply offering better health-savings accounts “to create better health consumers” (as the GOP suggests) is dead on arrival. It does nothing to reduce costs and individuals have no bargaining power. This scheme works best for the wealthy as supplemental savings vehicles.
• Creating more “high-risk pools” for the sickest and most vulnerable is also a bad idea. In states where these “insurance ghettos” are offered, the costs are sky-high and the most chronically ill are segregated. You need a broad, national pool to spread out the costs.
• Reining in medical malpractice claims is worth studying, but it’s largely a red herring. As Senator Dick Durbin pointed out, one-fifth of 1% of total health care costs involve malpractice costs. That’s a drop in the bucket when Medicare itself is expected to be insolvent in just 8 years.
• Health reform costs too much. It will be too costly to do nothing. Medical bills are the reason for 62% of bankruptcies, according to the American Journal of Medicine. Even if a new entitlement program is created, if it’s not set up to reduce costs and cover more people, our global competitiveness will continue to decline and more of the federal budget will be spent on health care.

Even if Democrats have to push reform through a reconciliation measure with 51 votes, they should do it. Inaction will cost them much more at the polls in November. It’s now or never. People are dying over this.

John F. Wasik is the author of The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome: Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream (www.culdesacsyndrome.com).

Obama’s Green Deal and Economic Human Rights

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Shortly before he was assassinated, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began what was known as the “Poor People’s Campaign.” The goal was simple, but the reality daunting: Create jobs for every able-bodied person. That was in 1967.
It’s still a noble goal for this century. Provided that we can offer affordable, accessible health care to every American, the next step is jobs. The statistics are not encouraging — more than 10 percent unemployment, more than 20 percent in inner cities.
Why is getting a decent job a human right? Because it’s about dignity and productivity. You can’t subscribe to the “pursuit of happiness” without gainful employment. I don’t think any of the founding fathers would disagree with that. Working people pay taxes, support schools, build a solid social fabric. It’s the American Dream.
How did we get sidetracked from the promise of Dr. King’s dream? How did we get stuck in two wars and land on the precipice of economic ruin? Was it cultural hubris or a form of social madness? I would argue that we got drunk on the punchbowl of false prosperity, but it was a hallucinating elixir. The rabbit hole was deep, but we’re still climbing out.
We genuinely thought that bigger cars, houses and perks would make us better people or give us longer lives. We believed Wall Street when it told us that they had our best interests at heart. We believed charlatans like Phil Gramm and Robert Rubin when they told us that financial de-regulation would actually liberate markets to create more jobs without adding catastrophic risk. We were listening to the wrong people.
While I’m not going to jump on that dais that says that God is punishing us for our affluenza, it’s clear that not sharing prosperity with all walks of life has hurt us. If you want to get a laser-focus on how much the financial sector has damaged our economy, read Kevin Phillip’s Bad Money or my Cul-de-Sac Syndrome.
Despite all of that wealth creation on Wall Street (up until the crash at least), it only created a handful of jobs and concentrated capital in only one sector of the economy. How much of the money that traders made on complex derivatives and mortgage securities went to building affordable housing, lightweight/long-term vehicle batteries, fixing infrastructure or just creating jobs where they were most needed? Just take a walk through downtown Detroit, Chicago’s West Side, or South Central LA and you have your answer.
And where were the great institutions of our republic when the looting of our economy occurred?
The Federal Reserve, which is mandated by the Humphrey-Hawkins Act to create full employment, was enabling Wall Street, which eventually led to high unemployment. Not one, but three crashes ensued due to the Fed’s bargain-basement funding of financial manipulators (dot.com, housing and credit). No matter what the business headlines say now, the $13 trillion bailout will be hurting us for decades.
Yet here we are, with the poverty rate hovering near 13 percent — about where it was in 1967. Now, due to the recession, the middle class is backsliding into the economic doldrums. Due to inflation, middle-income families made no progress in the first decade of this century. Their retirement funds and home equity were battered.
Despite the economic gloom, I think we need to return to Dr. King for inspiration and guidance. There are some ways to actively turn around our malaise and make a stab at full employment:

• Social Capitalism Holds the Key. This is not giving a handout to anyone. It has nothing to do with welfare and everything to do with entrepreneurism. President Obama’s “Green Deal” (see my “Audacity of Help”) is the single-best first step. His Department of Energy is now the biggest venture capital entity in the country. Provide the money to researchers and the private sector and let them create the jobs and build social and intellectual capital!
• Reform the Federal Reserve. You can’t have a central bank that is constantly making the wrong decisions, is a pathetic watchdog and is the bailout king for errant bankers. Open up and audit the Fed’s books. If they’re going to be the source of cheap money, make sure it flows to people creating jobs and not speculators.
• Tax Speculation. President Obama has a proposal to tax banks. I think it’s unfair and it reeks of some kind of punishment. Believe me, you can dole out plenty of lashes for what the banks did to this economy and it will never be sufficient. You can tax them all you want and it still won’t replace the jobs that were lost. Tax speculation instead. Any transaction that closes in less than a year should be penalized.
• Bring Back New Deal Protections. The trading operations and mainstream banking backed by federal insurance should not be in one company. Split up the banks so that speculative trading and investment banking desks are completely separate entities from the lending/credit arms.
• Make The Green Deal Bigger and Permanent. The mother of all stimulus plans is money flowing from the government into the private sector for decades — not a year or two. We need a new energy, telecom, transportation and building infrastructure. Let’s tax pollution, gambling, drugs (non-medicinal) and alcohol to build what we need to provide jobs everywhere.
• Kill the Filibuster. The archaic Senate rule that kills any legislation not garnering 60 votes has to go. It’s the death knell for any progressive reforms and is championed by a scant 10 percent of the US population. The filibuster is not in the constitution. Let’s get rid of it and move on.

So let’s revisit Dr. King’s prophetic and pragmatic words:

“America is at a crossroads of history, and it is critically important for us, as a nation and a society, to chose a new path and move upon it with resolution and courage. It is impossible to underestimate the crisis we face in America. The stability of civilization, the potential of free government, and the simple honor of men are at stake.”

It’s time to reinvent ourselves. Instead of the me-centered Jeffersonian concept of individual prosperity, it’s time for a collective prosperity. The time has never been more right.

John F. Wasik is an activist and author of The Audacity of Help: Obama’s Economic Plan and the Remaking of America).

Featured in “Green Builder Magazine”

Friday, January 1st, 2010

I was interviewed in “Green Builder.” See page 25: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/0c4402a3#/0c4402a3/26

Obama’s Utopian Economics

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

This blog post cites Audacity:

Since the start of the finical crisis, banks and insurance companies have been begging for government bailouts. Does the U.S government have the money to save them? No. Now the need is for money from the working-class taxpayers to stay alive.

Along side all this is the fact that middle class America may not be able to survive this kind of finical pressure. What the “American dream” consists of is credit cards and monthly payments. People live large but can’t even afford it. With new high taxation coming from the Obama administration to pay for all the debt, people still spend as if there was no increase taxation. The Economist magazine wrote in May 2009, “Having spent a fortune bailing out their banks, Western governments will have to pay a price in terms of higher taxes to meet the interest on that debt. In the case of countries (like Britain and America) that have trade as well as budget deficits, those higher taxes will be needed to meet the claims of foreign creditors. Given the political implications of such austerity, the temptation will be to default by stealth, by letting their currencies depreciate. Investors are increasingly alive to this danger”.

Wall street has come back according to Nomi Prins, former investment banker turned journalist, who worked at Goldman Sachs. Prins wrote a book called, Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street. Her book points out that the current crisis did not happen because ordinary citizens were able to borrow money or put money they could not pay back on their credit cards, for example, but because Wall Street converted loans into assets that allowed it to borrow much more than it could afford. Prins does not stop there. In an article called Obama Banking Too Much On Banks, she looks at the problems of Obama’s economic plan and says, “Obama’s reforms do not strike deeply enough”. The article shows that Wall Street has been able to come back but is that enough? No. Prins told Amy Goodman of democracynow.org in an interview that, “Obama is making the grave error of mistaking the health of Wall Street for the health of the American economy.”

Obama said a lot while campaigning for office. He talked about change and hope. But how does that change and hope play out for the people that voted and stood by him, mostly students and youth? On the subject of Obama’s promise to make college affordable, John F. Wasik said in his new book, The Audacity of Help: Obama’s Economic Plan and the Remaking of America, “While Obama proposed an American opportunity tax credit of $4,000 toward free college education, Congress actually adopted that name for the former Hope Scholarship, offering only as much as $2,500/year, just through 2010. Eligibility stipulations include an income limit. Congress also did nothing to simplify the cumbersome financial aid process, which Obama promised to eliminate.”

On a similar note, the United States faces a Zimbabwe-style economic collapse, says South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Sanford has compared Zimbabwe’s economic collapse to what is happening to America today. He has said Zimbabwe attempted to stimulate the economy by printing money, exactly what Obama is doing. Zimbabwe even created a $100 trillion bill. The governor has compared America to Zimbabwe’s 11 million percent inflation rate which might be a bit extreme, but in reality, the U.S is going down a hard road if Obama keeps printing and spending money that does not in reality exist. Sanford has said, “What you’re doing is buying into the notion that if we just print some more money that we don’t have and send it to different states, we’ll create jobs,” he then said. “If that’s the case, why isn’t Zimbabwe a rich place?”

Another issue on this topic of the financial crisis is China. China has the U.S in an economic headlock. As a world power, gaining almost all control, China has bought more than 1 trillion dollars of American debt. Barack Obama himself has predicted the possibility of trillion-dollar deficits as he said “for years to come,” which basically means Obama will be taking it in the rear from his counterpart Hu Jintao. Beijing is starting to keep more of its money at home, a move that could have painful effects for American borrowers. China in the last five years has spent as much as one-seventh of its entire economic output buying foreign debt, mostly American which primarily was to finance the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Economists have said that huge deficits have raised worries about the enthusiasm of foreigners like China to keep purchasing US Treasury debt. This fret alone has contributed to recent falls in the value of the US dollar.

The United Nations (U.N.) view of the dollar is that it should be replaced with a global currency. The U.N. has planned the largest service of the world’s monetary system since World War two In are port by the The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). China is on bored with replacing the dollar as the world’s reserve currency since they know they will not be effected especially since China now has America in an economic headlock because of it’s trillions of dollars in debt. Detlef Kotte, one of the report’s authors, said “Replacing the dollar with an artificial currency would solve some of the problems related to the potential of countries running large deficits and would help stability”. But on the other end of that the deficit nations such as the UK and US would have to take the main burden of adjustment . Of course economists have yet to come up with another alternative and even major institutions, including the G20, are at a loss for ideas. Unfortunately, no one else has come up with another substitute. So now we wait and watch history be made.

Sources:

Economist Magazine-A New Global System is Coming Into Existence

Nomi Prins, It Takes a Pillage: Behind the Bailouts, Bonuses, and Backroom Deals from Washington to Wall Street, Publisher: Wiley (September 22, 2009 http://www.amazon.com/Takes-Pillage-Bailouts-Backroom-Washington/dp/0470529598

Motherjones.com, Nomi Prins, Obama Banking Too Much On Banks, Mon Sep. 14, 2009 http://motherjones.com/politics/2009/09/obama-banking-too-much-banks

Democracynow.org, September 15, 2009

http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/15/nomi_prins_obama_banking_too_much

John F. Wasik, The Audacity of Help: Obama’s Economic Plan and the Remaking of America, Publisher: Bloomberg Press; Original edition (August 26, 2009)

http://www.amazon.com/Audacity-Help-Economic-Remaking-America/dp/1576603563

johnQIII

Audacity Reviewed by California Bookwatch

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

This is from California Bookwatch:

THE AUDACITY OF HELP covers the basics of what the new president has promised and how Congress is thwarting his plans, offering chapters clear on ‘what Congress passed’ and ‘who benefits most’ on all Obama’s issues. Obama wants more shared responsibility on all levels–something Congress isn’t willing to allow. His success or lack thereof reflects how much Americans really wish change, and is analyzed in The Audacity of Help.

Obama and Copenhagen

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Yes, We Can Copenhagen!

“I love the smell of carbon dioxide in the morning. It smells like…victory.”

Have you wondered what’s going on in Copenhagen? Are the usual suspects hopelessly protesting and government officials pining for some global accord that will only protect the Maldives and Banglasesh? What’s it all about, Alfie?

It’s about capitalism. Oh, remember that nasty thing that supposedly was killed by the greed of investment bankers, real estate brokers, hedge fund managers and mortgage companies?

Yes, that thing. It’s still alive and kicking, infused with the vigor of climate change steroids. One argument is that climate change treaties and regulations will snuff economic growth wherever it’s implemented. The other side will tell you that no, climate change is good for business. Let’s start with the killjoy side.

Climate Change Will Depress Economic Growth. Well, yes, it will cost industry more to reduce carbon dioxide production. That’s bad news for coal-fired power plants, steel, cement and transportation, among many others. But it’s not a zero-sum game. More growth will be created in the Eco-Tech sector, that is, industries that clean up dirty enterprises like diesel engines or coke ovens. Ultimately, a clean-tech national policy creates jobs. For every job making solar panels, there are 8 to 10 jobs produced for workers who install them. So mandating clean energy is going to spin off capital investment and jobs on a scale we haven’t seen since the Internet boom (which is still going on by the way).

Climate Change Will Boost Economic Growth. I’m backing this horse. Once you create a market for something, capital flows to it like rain. The Obama Administration has committed$11 billion to modernize the US electrical grid. That will enable electrons generated by wind power in the Plains and solar energy from the Southwest to go to population centers. Another $8 billion in loan guarantees and tax credits are going into clean technologies. That could generate some $60 billion in investment, according the The New York Times. For every innovation in a solar cell or wind tower, jobs and opportunities are created.

Of course, the climate change agenda will be stuck on commitments to carbon reduction. Nobody really knows what is possible because we’ve never sat down at a table with everyone from China to Bolivia to hammer out such a massive agreement. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done; it should be broken down into pieces.

1) Carbon should be taxed directly. The proceeds should go into Eco-Tech trust funds to build up clean technology infrastructures. Part of that money should go into re-training grants for displaced workers and into elementary and secondary education. This isn’t just about reducing global warming. We have to warm up everyone’s brains to the possibilities and rewards of reducing all of the garbage going into the air, water and earth.

2) Every nation needs a national renewable energy portfolio standard. I think Al Gore’s US goal is 20% from renewable energy by 2020. It’s ambitious, but doable if all levels of government from the Department of Energy to local school boards are required to reduce carbon dioxide production.

3) Every country needs green buildings and transportation. Most of the carbon dioxide generated comes from these two sectors. Implement green national building and zoning codes. Stop building developments away from public transportation and creating “spurbs” or sprawling urban areas only reachable by highways. Revise zoning codes for mixed-use development and higher-density housing. Start a massive campaign to convert buses, trains, ships and trucks to non-diesel engines — or at least clean up the emissions from those engines.

Climate change is good for business! Once the major commercial powers realize this, global climate change reforms will be as simple as eating a Danish pastry. Well, maybe not, but at least it will be a sweeter business proposition.

For more ideas, see my book The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome: Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream (www.culdesacsyndrome.com)

An “Eye-Opening Book”

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

This is from the blog “In Another Country:’

Sunday, November 22, 2009
The Audacity of Help

Benito Beck is quite right–President Obama does want to transform the United States with his policies. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times laments that a political system such as ours with so much special interest money blocking up the works may actually thwart our ability to solve large global issues. Unlike Beck who seems to believe in a libertarian utopia devoted to Jesus Christ, Friedman is extolling the current Chinese system with its authoritarian capitalism. We’ ve been here before, folks, when people get all weak in the knees about democracy. That’s why I support Eric Holder’s decision to try the 9/11 perpetrators in New York City. He matter-of-factly defended the strength of our constitutional system and our ability to deal with terrorists using our own laws.

John Wasik has written an eye-opening book about Obama’s Economic Plan and the Remaking of America called The Audacity of Help. ( 2009, Bloomberg Press) Anyone watching the health care debate might sympathize with Tom Friedman’s remarks since the financial forces aligned against making any reforms have been awesome. In his book Wasik outlines the basic assumptions of Obama’s economic plan and analyzes what has been promised and what Congress has or has not delivered. His previous work The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome: Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream gives you some idea where he comes from. He has a keen eye of what Obama was and is trying to do with the Stimulus Plan and notes the pitfalls in stimulating a bottom-up financial recovery but sees there are not alot of alternatives.The most rewarding sections of his book concern the making of a Green, Digital Economy and the initial seed money the Administration has allotted for the development of alternative fuels and technology.

For my money, the most important speech given by President Obama was his MIT address where he outlined the transformation he envisions for the American economy. I would rank it up there with JFK’s Moon speech. But that may be the problem–Obama takes a long view of our problems which he should but the short term hurt of the recession may slow if not stall the long term objectives entirely. Like Bruce Bartlett in another entry of mine, Wasik also is keen on a single-payer solution to health care, something that is off the table now. But as Wasik notes, Obama has taken on some of the most divisive issues in our political economy and contrary to his critics of the Left have stepped on alot of toes of entrenched interests. To make it to the Green Deal, Obama has to show that his stimulus package does heal the economy and help the unemployed and has made an impact on starting the transition to a more Green economy.

In a way, the whole healthcare issue is not only essential to resolve but also to build momentum for the other initiatives outlined in the book. As Wasik points out President Obama has vowed to cut the national deficit in half by the end of his term in office. While plans have been started from the first days in office to tackle this issue, President Obama will have to use his ability to explain complex problems to address frontally and fully the nature of our national debt. This will lead him into the territory of the third-rail of American politics–entitlement reform.

Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare all need funding overhauls and no recent administration has even come close to addressing this urgent issue. In addition, there is no consensus solution. Not only will the tax code have to be reformed but also the Administration must develop new revenue sources to maintain these programs at the present level just as the Baby Boomers are about to swamp them. This is the Administration’s Herculean task if the American dream is going to be revived at all.

The Audacity of Help is an excellent primer on the Obama Economic Plan as well as its emphasis on the needs of people in an economic system. The format of the book lends itself well to following the different aspects of the plan and what needs to be done. The Economic Plan is ambitious and unfortunately it appears to be necessary in all its aspects. For those who want the President to fail, it is a challenge to them to present an alternative view of how to maintain and sustain the American dream.

Bookpleasures on Audacity

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Here’s a condensed review from Bookpleasures.com:

The Audacity of Help Reviewed By L.A. Little Of Bookpleasures.com

Reviewer L.A. Little is a professional trader, author and daily contributor to the trading site www.tatoday.com where L.A. strives to help others take control of their financial destiny. His book, Trade Like the Little Guy (on Amazon) champions the idea that small traders can be successful. With a Masters in Telecommunications and undergraduate degrees in Philosophy, CIS and Computer Science, L.A.’s interests are greater than the time he has to pursue them.

Author: John F. Wasik
Publisher: Bloomberg Press
ISBN: 978-1-57660-356-7

Author: John F. Wasik
Publisher: Bloomberg Press
ISBN: 978-1-57660-356-7

John Wasik tackles a huge task in The Audacity of Help, taking it upon himself to both outline and follow up on all the campaign promises made by Barack Obama. Wasik divides the book into chapters covering each of the major thrusts of this administration’s policies such as infrastructure, small business, energy, health care and home ownership. Within each chapter, a preface to the scope and what Wasik sees as the need for the spending are reviewed then a list of promises and outcomes (at the time of the writing) are covered.

After having read the book, I must say that the gargantuan scope of the policies and initiatives of this administration are even broader and more costly than most can imagine. When the numbers expand into the trillions of dollars, as these numbers do, there is a real danger in becoming somewhat detached from reality. Yes, the numbers are real and the money is being spent. There are companies that are benefiting from this spending (as outlined in the book) although their stock prices most likely already reflect these expectations so the possibility of discovering a great investment through this effort is not realistic.

What is more useful, although sobering, is the state of the nation that we live in. Since this book is all about spending, you naturally read about project after project that is needed and the implication that many, many things that are broken. From schools, to water pipes – bridges to lack of health care coverage. It is an endless presentation of so many broken systems in need of repair. After reading the book you are left with a sense of wonderment as to how this nation continues to function!