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Dear Mr. Harper, A Letter To The Editor

November 24, 2012

In reading your letter to the editor, Here are some facts to counter those partisan political opinions I could not help but notice a significant lack of facts or understanding of the facts presented. Please allow me to explain.

The AAA+ credit rating the US used to hold fell as a direct result of the debt ceiling crisis. In the United States, the federal government can pay for expenditures only if Congress has approved the payment. There is blame to be laid on this subject but it does not, in large measure belong to the president, no matter who he may be. The decision making process is simply beyond any president’s control. He was asked to compromise and he generally did, much to the chagrin of his partisan supporters. There is a reason that people on the left tend to refer to the end result as the debt ceiling debacle.

You are technically correct in stating that in January of 2009 the unemployment rate was 7.6 and it is now 7.8. That comparison only succeeds as an example of overall unemployment values if you ignore the intervening period of time. Let’s not do that. In fact, other than the very first month of the president’s first term, the only time the unemployment rate has fallen within .2% of it’s current rate is today. In other words, the natural result of the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression, for which the president does not bear responsibility, began to show just after the president took office. It had a strongly negative effect on all aspects of the economy including unemployment numbers and we are just now beginning to recover. This seems to be roughly the narrative presented by the administration ad most non-partisan organizations.

Passing a budget is also the responsibility of Congress. The executive branch can make recommendations but that is all. Even The Heritage Foundation,  which no one could accuse of being supportive of the president, places the blame on this issue squarely where it belongs; with Congress.

The greater number of people on public assistance (Food Stamps don’t actually exist anymore) also comes as a direct result of the financial disaster of 2008. When the economy implodes and there are fewer jobs. As a result, more people seek out assistance.

 

Let’s look at some records set on Obama’s watch: federal spending 25 percent of GDP (highest since World War II), budget deficit 10 percent of GDP (highest since World War II), federal debt 67 percent of GDP (highest since just after World War II), employment 58.1 percent of population working (lowest since 1983), long-term unemployment 45.9 percent of total (highest since 1930s), home ownership rate 59.7 percent (lowest since 1965.)

In an attempt to keep this response from overcoming the word count of the average novel I will point out that many of these things can also be sourced to the action or lack of action the legislative ranch or the previous administration.

Please understand that I am not implying that the president has not made any poor decisions or made any bad calls. He has. I have a list of my own. But none of theses things:

Now let’s look at some of Obama’s accomplishments: First president to bypass Congress and implement the DREAM Act through executive fiat; first president to force the CEO of a major corporation (Chrysler) to resign; first president to appoint more than 30 “czars” to replace elected officials in his administration; stopped the “Fast and Furious” investigation by claiming executive privilege.

are on them. Why? Because facts, is why.

Look Mr. Harper, it’s clear that you don’t like the president. I completely understand. Your reasons for that are your own, but the reasons you have outlined above are not rational.

Many presidents enact various policies via executive order. No president has enacted The DREAM Act. President Obama simply ordered the Department of Homeland Security to stop deporting people who fit certain criteria, which is well within his purview. You may not agree with that particular policy. there is an argument to be made against any type of  executive order, but it is not an aberrant piece of presidential behavior.

The resignation of Robert Nardelli, the former CEO of Chrysler, had nothing to do with the president according to all involved. The former CEO of GM Rick Wagoner, on the other hand came at the request of the president. I am unsure as to the source of the complaint. The CEO of a company who had previously been given aid returned for even more aid without enacting any of the solutions agreed upon when the initial aid was given. The request for resignation appears to be a logical response.

This too is a piece of presidential behavior with precedent. Again, there is a very strong argument to be made against the behavior over all, but let’s not pretend that it’s something that is singular to the current administration.

Thirty-three of the thirty-eight “czars” the president appointed were continued positions from previous administrations. The other five? They were direct responses to the particular challenges faced  by the nation at this time such as the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan or Af/Pak Czar or the Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation or Comp Czar. Again, there is a strong argument to be made that none of these positions should exist at all but objecting to the fact that this president created positions or appointed people to existing conditions is not logical.

The “Fast and Furious” investigation was not stopped. In fact, several different investigations continued to their conclusions. The worst the Republican controlled House Oversight and Reform Committee could conclude was that people at the higher echelons of the Department of Justice should have been aware of the program but were not.  I hope we can both agree that the Republicans of the House of Representatives are the least likely group in government to participate in any sort of cover-up or protection of the president.

The president did invoke executive privilege, the first time he had done so during his administration, on specific documents but otherwise he did not involve himself with the investigation.

cutting the deficit in half; posting all bills on the Internet for five days before signing; keeping unemployment under 8 percent; making his administration transparent; upholding and defending the Constitution.

That deficit promise was laughable. I cannot fathom what could have induced him to speak those words out loud.

The internet promise was one he should have and could have kept. This is a massive failure on his part and one that could easily have been avoided.

He never actually promised to keep unemployment under 8%. That is fiction. There was an economic projection made about what could happen to the economy without the stimulus and based on a number of other factors. However, there was no promise.

And the deficit, which you mentioned several times, is falling. The federal deficit has fallen faster over the past three years than it has in any such stretch since demobilization from World War II. If it falls any faster we will suffer negative repercussions.

 

I found all of this information in roughly twenty minutes of not particularly difficult check and cross check. Every point offered has at least one link so you can check the facts as well and I have at least three more for each link so that you can look at those too.

Why did I do all of this? Because facts are important. I would go so far as to state they are the most vital part of any thought process given that they are the keystone of a rational understanding of the world. We do not have to agree on what the facts mean. We can argue to our heart’s content about what solutions are best to address the facts but before any of that, you must come to an understanding of what the facts are. Otherwise the American right will continue to make itself more and more irrelevant in American politics.

So you see Mr. Harper, Mr. Haq was right. You and those who share your views do honestly require a return to fact based reality. Once you arrive, we can continue the very real work necessary to fix the problems our nation faces.  Everyone should b a part of that work. Our nation works best when the two parties pit their ideas against each other. Ideally, this process brings out the best solutions from everyone and ultimately the electorate wins. But if one side is not able to assimilate facts then the playing field is uneven and that side will continue to lose. those of us who find something to value in reasoned debate want  both sides involved. It’s time for the right to suit up and get in the game.

 

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