Obama’s New Populism: Crumbs for the Peons


As reported in the above-linked Reuters article, President Obama is unveiling the next phase in his shift toward populism, designed to blunt his plummeting poll numbers, the defection of independents and a rising tide of anger over his failure to address unemployment. 

This second phase, following the initial salvo fired at Wall Street and big banks last week (a good move, in my opinion), is far less impressive.  In fact, it’s downright insulting, attempting to placate angry Americans by tossing them a few crumbs. 

In announcing these intiatives, the president got off on a good foot: 

“Creating good sustainable jobs is the single most important thing that we can do to rebuild the middle class,” Obama said …

But then, among the laundry list of proposed initiatives he announced, not a single measure to stimulate job growth was anywhere to be found.  What we get is a mixed bag of increased child care tax  credits, incentives for savings, new requirements to bolster 401k’s, and some help for those over-burdened with student loans. 

Doubling the child care tax credit?  The biggest reason that people incur child care expenses is because families can no longer make it on one income.  Keep your tax credit.  Bring our manufacturing jobs home!

More requirements for employers to provide 401ks?  Mr. President, have you heard a big outcry about a shortage of 401ks?  It’s employment we need! 

Breaks for graduates burdened with student loans?  They’d much rather be able to land decent jobs and start earning an income! 

This isn’t “fighting for the middle class.”  It’s an elitist approach to playing us for fools.  Frankly, Mr. President, we’re sick of it.  We’re sick of gimmicks; we want real fixes for the economy.   We want to make the things we use.  We want jobs making microchips, cell phones, computers, autos, kitchen appliances, clothing, tools, housewares, machinery, pharmaceuticals – you name it.  We’re sick of your platitudes and fed up with kicking our economic problems down the road, to be dealt with by our children and grandchildren. 

During the election, you promised to fix our trade problems and bring our manufacturing jobs back home.  It’s time to deliver.  It’s time for you to stand up to the parasitic economies that have been feeding on our market and jobs and sucking the life blood from our economy.  If you won’t, we’ll find someone who will.


8 Responses to Obama’s New Populism: Crumbs for the Peons

  1. Mark A. Hall says:


    Are “crumbs” and “scraps” the same thing?

    The notable phrase from Tiny Tim in the new 2010 version of “A Christmas Carol” should be:


    Right now, the slogan appears to be “ease-the-burden” versus “eliminate-the-burden”.

    Totally Clueless!!!!!!!!!

  2. Mark A. Hall says:

    The new talk is that “Main Street” vs. “Wall Street” needs a “Champion”. More Smoke????

    The word “CHAMPION” has two definitions.

    Definition #1: Advocate, Defender, One that does battle for another’s rights or honor.

    Definition #2: Winner of first prize or first place in competition.

    I’m afraid that our current “champions” in Washington ALL lean toward Definition #2.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      It’s really amazing to me that, in spite of every talking head on the Sunday morning political shows making the point that it’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs, the president comes out with something so devoid of any mention of jobs that he seems like he’s deliberately ducking the subject. Is he and his economic team completely deaf? Don’t they care? Are they bereft of ideas? It calls into question their competence on dealing with the economy.

  3. mtnmike says:

    Pete, I applaud you for changing your stance on Obama.

    Here is the question: Why is the Chinese economy growing in double digits while the U.S. is in extended contraction?

    Here’s the answer: Our leadership (Bill Clinton) GAVE our sustainable economy to the third world while retaining the phantom economic platform of “Services and Information.”

    Here’s the solution: Not ONE DAMN THING that can be made in the U.S. including clothing, textiles, food products, steel, building materials, autos, farm equipment, etc. etc. etc., gets imported until such time that ALL Americans are back to work.

    Of course the Chinese can make it cheaper, they live in abject poverty; does our leadership suppose that there may be a connection? Charity starts at home.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      It started before Clinton and it’s not just the third world. When GATT was signed in 1947, it’s real purpose was to provide Germany and Japan a means to rebuild their economy through manufacturing for export. To this day, two of our largest per capita trade deficits – far larger than China’s – is with Japan and Germany.

      But you’re correct that, when Clinton paved the way for MFN status for China, he signed the death warrant for American manufacturing. He took the same trade policy that was a proven failure with Japan, Germany and a host of other overpopulated nations and applied it to one fifth of the world’s population. In less than ten years, our economy was brought to its knees.

      I wouldn’t go so far as to cut off all imports, but clearly we need to restore a balance of trade, which undoubtedly would mean a significant reduction in imports. (Or a boost in exports, but we all know that’s not going to happen.)

  4. mtnmike says:

    I have used the Japan and Germany examples many times and understand those consequences. But Clinton did in fact sign both NAFTA and the WTO with 47 years of clear evidence that the old GATT rules alone was killing the American worker. It is only fair to say that Bush supported that measure.

    My comment above was that I would cut off all imports UNTIL SUCH TIME that Americans are once again employed. We need an economy that is not limited to war, power shopping, and slight-of-hand financial magic.

    Boosting exports is energy negative as it incurs the use of massive energy inputs to ship the finished goods half way around the world. If in fact, we manufactured those products that we consume daily, the economic state of the U.S. would be very different today.

    That being said, until we abandon the impossible premise of growth capitalism, we are just kicking cans with Obama.

  5. Mark A. Hall says:


    The unprecedented recall and sales suspension by Toyota for most of it’s U.S. produced models seems “extremely strange”.

    According to news reports, their recall and suspension of sales DOES NOT affect vehicles produced and sold in Japan or in Europe because they use different parts.

    Is it different parts or is it different suppliers of parts?

    Dare we hope that the parts in question were sourced and outsourced to a “cheaper” supplier in China?

    Everything else is!!!

    • Pete Murphy says:

      Mark, I believe I read that Toyota was blaming the problem on a U.S.-based supplier who manufactured the parts in a plant in Ontario.

      Nevertheless, the whole thing smells fishy to me, too. It’s not as though an accelerator pedal is rocket science. A couple of levers, a cable and a return spring. C’mon, how hard can this be? I’m suspicious that Toyota, desperate to keep its people employed, is using this as a ploy to shift sales away from U.S. plants and back to Japanese plants.

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