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Hurricane Sandy and the Myth of the Big Government-Vs.-Small-Governmen t Debate -- Matt Tiabbi


Science & Tech  (tags: animals, climate-change, CO2emissions, destruction, ecosystems, endangered, energy, environment, globalwarming, government, greenhousegases, habitatdestruction, Hurricanes, investigation, nasa, research, science, scientists, society, space, study )

Kit
- 726 days ago - rollingstone.com
Quite a shock the other day to look out my window in Jersey City, and see the Hudson River rushing over what used to be the street in front of my building. For nearly three days my dog and I played Robinson Crusoe and Friday, sleepily watching-->



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Kit B. (276)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 6:20 am
(Photo Credit: President Barack Obama speaks as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie looks on as they visit a shelter for Hurricane Sandy victims in Brigantine, New Jersey, on October 31th, 2012.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)

Quite a shock the other day to look out my window in Jersey City, and see the Hudson River rushing over what used to be the street in front of my building. For nearly three days my dog and I played Robinson Crusoe and Friday, sleepily watching from our little apartment-island while we waited for hot water, cell service, the internet, even elevators to come back on line.

When I finally got back on the internet and was able to read the news again, I saw that Hurricane Sandy, in addition to being the rare storm to live up to its televised hype, had turned into the last-minute curveball plot twist that always seems to pop up in presidential races.

Some of those twists we hear about – like the sudden appearance of records from George W. Bush's 1976 drunk driving arrest in Maine – while others, like Dick Nixon's apparent secret negotiations with the Vietnamese in 1968, or the more-likely-mythical October Surprise deal involving Reagan and the Iran hostages in 1980, remain secrets until later on.

But this massive hurricane is apparently turning into a boon for Barack Obama on a number of fronts. One, it's allowed him to be seen all over television taking charge and acting presidential, and has even allowed him to brandish bipartisan credentials through the curiously intense bromance that he has developed this week with our own New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (a Romney supporter who, somewhat mysteriously, has gone out of his way to praise the president this week).

On a deeper level, though, the hurricane has seemingly made a powerful argument on Obama's behalf about the role of government in general. The media is casting this as a stark and simple dichotomy. Romney, the rhetoric goes, is on record as having favored cuts to disaster relief agencies like FEMA ("We cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids," he said in a primary debate last year), while his running mate, Paul Ryan, has been even more hostile to FEMA ("When disaster-relief decisions are not made judiciously, limited resources are diverted away from communities that are truly in need," he said just last March).

Obama, meanwhile, has reportedly embraced FEMA in the past, and is certainly doing so now, with his comments this past week seeming to argue in favor even of an increase in FEMA spending, noting the frequency of "these kinds of storms."

The storm is also purportedly casting in a kinder light Obama's general attitude toward government, until now often described as an electoral weakness. Pre-Sandy, pundits usually raked the president over the coals for openly embracing the role of government in society during a time when anti-government sentiment is at an all-time high. In the first debate, for instance, his answer to a question about his view of the role of government was considered a dud:

"I also believe that government has the capacity — the federal government has the capacity to help open up opportunity and create ladders of opportunity and to create frameworks where the American people can succeed."

It's this kind of language that's allowed opponents of Obama to cast him as the "redistributionist-in-Chief": a man who openly believes that government can help provide "ladders of opportunity." That language is particularly annoying to pure free-market ideologues, who have often claimed the "ladders of opportunity" phrase for themselves, but only in the context of their being provided by the private sector.

Anyway, enter Hurricane Sandy. Suddenly, it seems that most of the mainstream press – as if speaking through one voice – has finally decided that the storm has settled the big-government-versus-small-government argument, with Obama coming out the clear winner. There were a number of online columns like the one by USA Today's Amanda Marcotte, who wrote that "Sandy Shows Why Romney's Wrong on FEMA," or by Catherine Poe at the Washington Times, who pitched in with "FEMA to the Rescue: Why Obama is Right and Romney Was Wrong."

But more than a few outlets used the storm to make an even bigger case for government in general. Up north, for instance, the Globe and Mail decreed that "Superstorm Bolsters Obama's Big-Government Argument". But the more striking piece was the uncharacteristically brazen editorial in the New York Times, titled "A Big Storm Requires Big Government," in which the Times harshly criticized George Bush's cavalier attitude toward disaster relief in the years leading up to Katrina, and argued generally for the necessity of a broadly strong government.

The Times headline was instantly mocked by both the Heritage Foundation, who called it "a shameless attempt to politicize Hurricane Sandy," and the Wall Street Journal ("A Big Storm Requires Big Bird"), which used the editorial as an opportunity to wittily attack the Grey Lady:

Some people prepare for natural disasters by stocking up on food, water and batteries. At the New York Times, they stockpile tendentious ideological arguments.

The editorialists at the Wall Street Journal have a lot of balls themselves calling out anyone else for mass-producing tendentious ideology, but that's another argument for another day. The point is that the storm has become a flash-point for a new media meme: Obama is for big government (which is suddenly a good thing), Romney is for small government (and wants to take rafts and blankets away from flood victims), and goodness gracious, aren't we lucky that we got to see such a clear, real-world demonstration of the important philosophical differences between these two candidates in the week before the election.

The only problem with this new line of rhetoric is that it isn't really true. The almost certain reality is that we'll end up with a big (and perhaps even a rapidly-expanding) government no matter who gets elected. People seem to forget that this time four years ago, George W. Bush was winding down one of the most activist, expensive, intrusive presidencies in history, an eight-year period that saw a massive expansion in the size of the federal government. Almost exactly four years ago, this is what the conservative Washington Times wrote about the outgoing president:

George W. Bush rode into Washington almost eight years ago astride the horse of smaller government. He will leave it this winter having overseen the biggest federal budget expansion since Franklin Delano Roosevelt seven decades ago.

Bush, it is true, consistently expanded the size of the federal bureaucracies almost across the board during his eight years in office, greatly increasing the size of government just in terms of sheer numbers and volume of spending, but that wasn't all he did.

People forget that he also took a major qualitative step forward in expanding the role of government, when in 2008 his Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, teamed up with then-Fed official and Paulson's future counterpart in the Obama administration, Tim Geithner, to design a series of financial bailouts and state-aided mergers. The bailout program that began under Bush cost trillions of dollars and left the state hopelessly and irrevocably involved in the insurance, banking and auto industries, among other things.

But within a few years, that was forgotten. Forget about the myth that the Republican Party is sincerely interested in reducing the size of government: the real myth is that the American people are in favor of reducing the size of government. And that myth was alive and well again by the summer of 2010, in the runup to midterm elections. Back then, Slate columnist Anne Applebaum described the national self-deception this way:

Americans on both the left and the right have, for the last decade, consistently voted for high-spending members of Congress and consistently supported ever-higher levels of government intervention and regulation at all levels of public life. As a result, the federal government expanded under George W. Bush's administration at a rate that was, at least until President Barack Obama came along, totally unprecedented in U.S. history.

In the abstract, most Americans want a smaller and less intrusive government. In reality, what Americans really want is a government that spends less money on other people.

Hurricane Sandy is a perfect, microcosmic example of America's attitude toward government. We have millions of people who, most of the year, are ready to bash anyone who accepts government aid as a parasitic welfare queen, but the instant the water level rises a few feet too high in their own neighborhoods, those same folks transform into little Roosevelts, full of plaudits for the benefits of a strong state.

The truth is, nobody, be he rich or poor, wants his government services cut. Drive up and down route 128 outside Boston, you'll see a lot of affluent white people waving Romney signs, complaining about entitlement spending. But about four thousand percent of those same people working along the high-tech ring there are totally dependent on the Pentagon contracts that keep doors open at companies like Raytheon and General Dynamics.

Here in the tri-state area, and especially in the lower Manhattan region I'm staring at out my window right now, you'll get much of the same – lots of whining now about deficit spending and the parasitical 47%, but also conspicuous silence a few years ago, when in one fell swoop, taxpayers had to spend about twice the amount of the annual federal budget just to save bonus seasons on Wall Street for the few thousand of our local assholes who nearly blew up the world economy.

And a lot of those same parasite-bashing, Randian pure-market ideologues were in full pucker mode for all of this past summer, while they waited in frank desperation for the Fed to announce a third Quantitative Easing program – in which the Fed will henceforth inject $85 billion of raw, uncut welfare into the financial services industry's bloodstream every month.

Programs like QE are always defended as being necessary to stimulate the economy in general, and who knows, maybe they are – but it's conspicuous that a crowd of people who normally hate "government spending" are suddenly overflowing with praise for the Fed's wisdom and logical explanations for why this massive pseudo-state intervention is necessary.

The point is, we will end up with a big government no matter who wins next week's election, because neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama is supported by a coalition that has any interest in tightening its own belt. The only reason we're having this phony big-versus-small argument is because of yet another longstanding media deception, i.e. that the only people who actually receive government aid are the poor and the elderly and other such traditional "welfare"-seekers. Thus a politician who is in favor of cutting services to that particular crowd, like Mitt Romney, is inevitably described as favoring "small government," no matter what his spending plans are for everybody else.

But everyone lives off the government teat to some degree – even (one might even say especially) the very rich who have been the core supporters of both the Bush presidency and Romney's campaign. Many are industrial leaders who would revolt tomorrow if their giant free R&D program known as the federal military budget were to be scaled back even a few percentage points. Mitt's buddies on Wall Street would cry without their bailouts and dozens of lucrative little-known subsidies (like the preposterous ability of certain banks to act as middlemen in transactions when the government lends money to itself).

And if it's not outright bailouts or guarantees keeping the rich rich, it's selective regulation and carefully-carved-out protections from competition – like the bans on drug re-importation or pharmaceutical price negotiation for Medicare that are keeping the drug companies far richer than they would be, in the pure free-market paradise their CEOs probably espouse at dinner parties.

The evolution of this whole antigovernment movement has been fascinating to watch. People who grew up in public schools, run straight to the embassy the instant they get a runny nose overseas, stuff burgers down their throats without worrying about E. Coli and sleep happily in planes they know have been inspected by the FAA (I regularly risked my life in Aeroflot liners for a decade and know the difference), can with straight faces make the argument that having to pay any taxes at all is tyranny. It's almost as if people feel the need to announce that they don't need any help with anything, ever – not even keeping bridges safe or drinking water clean.

It's this weird national paranoia about being seen as needy, or labeled a parasite who needs government aid, that leads to lunacies like the idea that having a strong disaster-relief agency qualifies as a "big government" concept, when in fact it's just sensible. If everyone could just admit that government is a fact of life, we could probably do a much better job of fixing it and managing its costs. Instead, we have to play this silly game where millions of us pretend we're above it all, that we don't walk on regularly-cleaned streets or fly in protected skies. It shouldn't take a once-in-a-generation hurricane for Americans to admit they need the government occasionally, but that's apparently where we are.
**********Links within article *****

By Matt Tiabbi | Rolling Stone |
 

. (0)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 7:54 am
Good article, thanks Kit. Considering that most of the 'red' states take more money from the federal government than they give, one would think that voters there would readily admit to the reality of the role of government. Obviously states cannot handle all the responsibility that proponents of small government would like to overwhelm them with. How do people justify a "we don't want you" attitude toward the federal government, but then be the first to extend their hands out to collect from them? How many Republican representatives gratefully collected stimulus money to promote job growth in their areas, Paul Ryan? Matt Tiabbi is right when he says, whoever wins the election, big government is not going away, as even previous Republican presidents have demonstrated despite their anti-government rhetoric. So much is dependent upon it.
 

Arielle S. (314)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 8:21 am
Great article.... especially interesting how George W. increased the role of the federal government.
 

Val R. (246)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 8:40 am
Gives you something to think about - agree we need the money here not overseas.
 

pam w. (191)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 8:58 am
Excellent article which exposes so much of the hypocrisy of the "small government until I need help" movement!

Thanks, Kit!
 

Dee C. (210)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 8:59 am
Excellent article Kit..
Thanks for sharing it..
 

jan b. (3)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 9:40 am
All this BS about taking the country back is just that BS. I see that all people want government to give them as much as possible while Gov't demanding as little as possible from them. Collecting less taxes than you need to solve problems...... is the choice some American's make when they don't want to pay taxes but YET want the government to solve an oil spill problem or pitch in during a big disaster. They like the FDA watching our food sources and the FAA watching the corporations who build and fly planes...they just don't like paying for it. ....and that's the bottom line. .
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 9:44 am

Yep, Matt Tiabbi offers us another look at this idea of "smaller government" which only applies to those who don't need the government - ever.

Which would only apply to men that make well over $5 million a year and do live in any area that could never have hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, food shortages, fuel shortages or any need for emergency health care ....ever.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 9:54 am

I hope you do realize Janice, that democrats do realize the very real need for both tax increases and cutting some government programs, the wasteful ones. Yes, many of us DO want the FDA, USDA and most of the assorted agencies with acronyms from an alphabet soup. We do need over sight and inspections, constantly. Need you be reminded of the people who have recently died because the medicine coming from just one company was not properly inspected? Can you watch the horror on the north east coast and honestly say that FEMA does not save lives?

It was the republicans that were against forcing BP to clean up their own mess, though the president did force them to cough up a mere 20 Billion - a pittance compared to the damage caused not by an accident, but rather reckless "cost-cutting" behaviors. BP is infamous for their lousy policies and ineffective clean ups.
 

Angelika R. (142)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 9:58 am
Love Matt and had already read this, thx Kit. Those advocates for "lean/small govt" have heard the president say "ALL HANDS on deck"-which refers not only to THIS current disaster,we can guess their reaction had he said, according to their philosophy, "all hands of the state on deck"..
Only disturbing sentence is Matt's calling this a"once-in-a-generation hurricane"...he might be wrong there..
 

Allan Yorkowitz (446)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 12:05 pm
Let me explain a few things about what this administration has done to FEMA, and how it has ruined me, and tens of thousands of others in NJ. If you own a property up to a certain yards away from the ocean, AND do not live in it year round, you are not entitled to FEMA money, NOR, are you given flood insurance - insurance companies followed FEMA's lead, and pulled all flood insurance policies.
This information is not being said by Christie or Obama. In other words, this administration has ruined the lives of tens of thousands of people because too much money was being given out for disaster relief.
I will certainly vote for this man on Tuesday.
 

Angelika R. (142)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 12:21 pm
How has it "ruined the lives" of those "tens of thousands"? I don't get it. If A PART of their obviously generous property was destroyed how did that amount to ruin their lives? They still have the rest of their properties left, if I understand you correctly, while others had nothing left but their bare lives and are certainly entitled for disaster relief.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 1:20 pm

I think Allan you need to go to the FEMA web-site you have very wrong information. I have flood insurance any one that owns a home should have it, no matter how unlikely the need.

If you do not have flood insurance FEMA may require you to purchase it before you get relief.
 

Margaret Paddock (16)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 1:47 pm
What the media is spinning here is the same lies that Obama perpetuates.
Romney wants the states to have the money back and the option of planning disaster aid through the cooperation of cities, counties, states and the private sector. It can and has worked in the past. A few of us do remember when it worked. The federal government can not replace local control nor can it issue help as fast as they can. Sure there has to be some directives within states to make this successful in all situations, but it is no more of a challenge, probably less than trying to get Homeland Security to work in sync.
There has never been such a fractured administration than now exists. All they want is control over everyone in every way.
America was built on the resilience and determination of its' people not the government. The government is to be a small entity that guides and protects the nation not dominate the citizens and rule. We do not have and do not want a dictator.
And for everyone's information the headlines today are editorials dropping Obama.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 1:58 pm

Jeez, just a wee bit of actual knowledge would go a long way.
 

Linda h. (86)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 2:05 pm
Allan, you should have purchased flood insurance and you didn't. I'm sorry you made that choice not to find a company that would cover you and pay them.The government is not a giveaway program as you have mentioned here many times. I have had both a vacation home flooded back in 2003 and this week my primary home which sits on piers in the water. I paid for expensive flood insurance for both. I got paid for my some of loses in 2003 and then sold the home. With this home I will get some things covered that I paid for because I bought insurance through a company that works with FEMA. If you have your primary home flooded and have no FEMA flood insurance you can apply for a loan and get some immediate help with food or a place to stay.That is it. It has always been like this.I'm surprised that you didn't know all this. I'm sorry for your loss but really why would you vote for the people who want to take even this away?
 

Mary Donnelly (47)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 2:06 pm
Great post--thanks Kit.
 

Mary Donnelly (47)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 2:07 pm
Thanks Kit. Great post.
 

g d c. (0)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 2:29 pm
ty
 

Lois Jordan (56)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 2:45 pm
Noted. Love Taibbi's articles....always excellent. I can't understand those who want to give this to the states. They have no money for this type of emergency. That's the problem. Plus, this is exactly the job of the federal gov't. It works hand-in-hand with the state to supply help. A system that shares the burden is always a better system.
 

Yvonne White (232)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 3:58 pm
"Suddenly, it seems that most of the mainstream press – as if speaking through one voice – has finally decided that the storm has settled the big-government-versus-small-government argument, with Obama coming out the clear winner." Right on! And bring on the Myth-busters!:) "Forget about the myth that the Republican Party is sincerely interested in reducing the size of government: the real myth is that the American people are in favor of reducing the size of government."
 

Jennifer C. (172)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 4:20 pm
Thanks.
 

Kit B. (276)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 4:22 pm

Exactly, the Federal government was asked by the states to operate a Federal System to react to emergency's and since that time (1979) we have had FEMA, which always functions better under democrats.
 

Tal H. (8)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 5:24 pm
Thanks for the share!
 

Linda h. (86)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 5:54 pm
Always functions better under Democrats like so many other things.
Margaret, what *money*? Do you honestly think that the state of New Hampshire can collect enough in state taxes to cover a disaster? You do live in a rather strange world where, "There has never been such a fractured administration than now exists. All they want is control over everyone in every way." I don't think those words mean what you think they do.
 

Donnajean Bodnar (0)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 6:21 pm
What a great article. It gives you something to think about.
 

Kerrie G. (135)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 7:44 pm
Noted, thanks.
 

Cam V. (417)
Sunday November 4, 2012, 10:22 pm
They pulled three more bodies out of a garbage pile today Kit. People are crapping in hallways. Food is short. Gas is short. Water is short. Big government at its worst - not its best.
 

Phil R. (29)
Monday November 5, 2012, 7:29 am
Free gas is being delivered by FEMA. The Nat'l Guard has been called in to help and food and water is being delivered. There's still the cleanup and helping replace people's homes...and that will be addressed ASAP as well.

Governor Christie (a Republican) has had only praise for The President and FEMA. The federal government has helped enormously. This disaster would have been much worse if not for the UNITED States of America.
 

Nancy M. (202)
Monday November 5, 2012, 10:17 am
I look at it this way. Of course people in a disaster zone need outside help. After Katrina, we had other nations offering help. They also did after 9/11 to help out at least in NYC. WHY? because their resources haven't been destroyed or at least hampered.

Of course the federal government should help.

And thank you Phil for your information. I realize you live close enough.....
 

Nancy M. (202)
Monday November 5, 2012, 10:19 am
AND NYC as a "world" city has had more than its share of disasters and need. How can we expect JUST the tri-state area to take care of all of this damage when EVERYONE is connected in some way to the business that takes palce in the city.
 

Roger Garin-michaud (84)
Monday November 5, 2012, 1:45 pm
noted, thanks !
 

Susanne R. (249)
Monday November 5, 2012, 3:31 pm
Excellent article, Kit! Thanks for posting it! I hope it helped make others understand that the government provides benefits to EVERYONE --not just those they look down upon as "parasites." As Matt said so eloquently:

"The only reason we're having this phony big-versus-small argument is because of yet another longstanding media deception, i.e. that the only people who actually receive government aid are the poor and the elderly and other such traditional "welfare"-seekers. Thus a politician who is in favor of cutting services to that particular crowd, like Mitt Romney, is inevitably described as favoring "small government," no matter what his spending plans are for everybody else.

But everyone lives off the government teat to some degree – even (one might even say especially) the very rich who have been the core supporters of both the Bush presidency and Romney's campaign. Many are industrial leaders who would revolt tomorrow if their giant free R&D program known as the federal military budget were to be scaled back even a few percentage points. Mitt's buddies on Wall Street would cry without their bailouts and dozens of lucrative little-known subsidies (like the preposterous ability of certain banks to act as middlemen in transactions when the government lends money to itself).

And if it's not outright bailouts or guarantees keeping the rich rich, it's selective regulation and carefully-carved-out protections from competition – like the bans on drug re-importation or pharmaceutical price negotiation for Medicare that are keeping the drug companies far richer than they would be, in the pure free-market paradise their CEOs probably espouse at dinner parties."
 

Susanne R. (249)
Monday November 5, 2012, 3:32 pm
Allan, I'm sorry to hear that your coastal property was damaged as a result of the storm. Climate scientists have been telling us for years that rising water levels caused by climate change were going to reduce the size of our coastlines and therefore cause more water damage to coastal properties. If I had property along the coast, I would do everything I could to fight climate change. Consider this article from Science Daily:

Sea Level Is Rising Along US Atlantic Coast, Say Environmental Scientists

ScienceDaily (Dec. 11, 2009) — An international team of environmental scientists led by the University of Pennsylvania has shown that sea-level rise along the Atlantic Coast of the United States was 2 millimeters faster in the 20th century than at any time in the past 4,000 years.

Sea-level rise prior to the 20th century is attributed to coastal subsidence. Put simply, land is being lost to subsidence as the earth continues to rise in response to the removal of the huge weight of ice sheets during the last glacial period. Using sediment cores from the U.S. Atlantic coast, researchers found significant spatial variations in land movement, with the mid-Atlantic coastlines of New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland subsiding twice as much as areas to the north and south. Coastal subsidence enhances sea-level rise, which leads to shoreline erosion and loss of wetlands and threatens coastal populations.

Researchers corrected relative sea-level data from tide gauges using the coastal-subsidence values. Results clearly show that the 20th-century rate of sea-level rise is 2 millimeters higher than the background rate of the past 4,000 years. Furthermore, the magnitude of the sea-level rise increases in a southerly direction from Maine to South Carolina. This is the first demonstrated evidence of this phenomenon from observational data alone. Researchers believe this may be related to the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and ocean thermal expansion.

There is universal agreement that sea level will rise as a result of global warming but by how much, when and where it will have the most effect is unclear," said Benjamin P. Horton, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science at Penn. "Such information is vital to governments, commerce and the general public. An essential prerequisite for accurate prediction is understanding how sea level has responded to past climate changes and how these were influenced by geological events such as land movements."
 

Angelika R. (142)
Monday November 5, 2012, 4:35 pm
Susanne, I acknowledge your effort but I doubt it will impress Allan. He seems to be so much on the Rmoney side, the man who's stand on this issue was clearly expressed in his statement " I'm not in this race to slow the rise of oceans or to heal the planet"
 

Susanne R. (249)
Monday November 5, 2012, 9:55 pm
I know, Angelika, but I couldn't let the misinformation and blame-placing that was expressed get in the way of the facts. I guess it's just human nature to rant and rave about people who receive assistance and then complain if you don't receive it when you've been struck by disaster. You have to ask yourself: Do you want big government --or don't you? And in this particular situation, top climate scientists have been warning us for years that climate change is responsible for rising water levels and the strange and severe storms that are occurring. Those who will not acknowledge and do something about the problem is part of the problem. One day the deniers will join us in signing petitions and nagging our representatives to deal with the problem.

Wish I could send you a star, Angelika, but you earn them long before my supply gets replenished!
 

Past Member (0)
Tuesday November 6, 2012, 6:36 am
Interesting article, I'm not certain anything has been decided. I look forward to the criticisms of what has gone wrong under FEMA again. Maybe somebody can restructure it so it works better.
 

Kit B. (276)
Tuesday November 6, 2012, 9:40 am

The list is still growing. Let me know if I missed anything.

1. Saved the collapse of the American automotive industry by making GM restructure before bailing them out, and putting incentive money to help the industry

2. Shifted the focus of the war from Iraq to Afghanistan, and putting the emphasis on reducing terrorism where it should have been all along

3. Relaxed Anti-American tensions throughout the world

4. Signed order to close the prisoner “torture camp” at Guantanamo Bay

5. Has made the environment a national priority, and a primary source for job creation

6. Has made education a national priority by putting emphasis and money behind new ideas like charter schools, but speaking directly to school children in telling them they have to do their part.

7. Won the Nobel Peace Prize

8. $789 billion economic stimulus plan

9. Appointment of first Latina to the Supreme Court

10. Attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles

11. Authorized construction/opening of additional health centers to care for veterans

12. Renewed dialogue with NATO and other allies and partners on strategic issues.

13. Beginning the process of reforming and restructuring the military 20 years after the Cold War to a more modern fighting force… this includes new procurement policies, increasing size of military, new technology and cyber units and operations, etc.

14. Better body armor is now being provided to our troops

15. “Cash for clunkers” program offers vouchers to trade in fuel inefficient, polluting old cars for new cars; stimulates auto sales

16. Changed the failing/status quo military command in Afghanistan

17. Closed offshore tax safe havens

18. Deployed additional troops to Afghanistan

19. Ended media “blackout” on war casualties; reporting full information

20. Ended previous policy of awarding no-bid defense contracts

21. . Ended media blackout on war casualties and the return of fallen soldiers to Dover AFB.

22. Ended previous policy of cutting the FDA and circumventing FDA rules

23. Ended previous practice of forbidding Medicare from negotiating with drug manufacturers for cheaper drugs; the federal government is now realizing hundreds of millions in savings

24. Ended previous practice of having White House aides rewrite scientific and environmental rules, regulations, and reports

25. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has created 2.1 million jobs (as of 12/31/09).

26. Ended previous policy of not regulating and labeling carbon dioxide emissions

27. Ended previous policy of offering tax benefits to corporations who outsource American jobs; the new policy is to promote in-sourcing to bring jobs back

28. Ended previous policy on torture; the US now has a no torture policy and is in compliance with the Geneva Convention standards

29. . Launched Recovery.gov to track spending from the Recovery Act, an unprecedented step to provide transparency and accountability through technology.

30. Ended previous practice of protecting credit card companies; in place of it are new consumer protections from credit card industry’s predatory practices

31. Ended previous “stop-loss” policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date

32. Energy producing plants must begin preparing to produce 15% of their energy from renewable sources

33. Established a National Performance Officer charged with saving the federal government money and making federal operations more efficient

34. Established a new cyber security office

35. Expanded the SCHIP program to cover health care for 4 million more children

36. Expanding vaccination programs

37. Families of fallen soldiers have expenses

38. . Provided the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with more than $1.4 billion to improve services to America’s Veterans.

39. Federal support for stem-cell and new biomedical research

40. Funds for high-speed, broadband Internet access to K-12 schools

41. Responded with compassion and leadership to the earthquake in Haiti

42. Immediate and efficient response to the floods in North Dakota and other natural disasters

43. . Launched Business.gov – enabling conversation and online collaboration between small business owners, government representatives and industry experts in discussion forums relevant to starting and managing a business. Great for the economy.

44. Improved housing for military personnel

45. Improved conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other military hospitals

46. Changed failing war strategy in Afghanistan.

47. Improving benefits for veterans

48. Increased infrastructure spending (roads, bridges, power plants…) after years of neglect

49. Donated his $1.4 million Nobel Prize to nonprofits.

50. Increasing opportunities in AmeriCorps program

51. Provided tax credits to first-time home buyers through the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 to revitalize the U.S. housing market.

52. Increasing pay and benefits for military personnel

53. Increasing student loans

54. Instituted a new policy on Cuba, allowing Cuban families to return “home” to visit loved ones

55. Cracked down on companies that deny sick pay, vacation and health insurance to workers by abusing the employee classification of independent contractor. Such companies also avoid paying Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes for those workers.

56. Limited salaries of senior White House aides; cut to $100,000

57. Limits on lobbyists’ access to the White House

58. Protected 300,000 education jobs, such as teachers, principals, librarians, and counselors through the Recovery Act that would have otherwise been lost.

59. Limits on White House aides working for lobbyists after their tenure in the administration

60. Children’s Health Insurance Reauthorization Act on February 4, 2009, provides quality health care to 11 million kids – 4 million who were previously uninsured.

61. Lower drug costs for seniors

62. Making more loans available to small businesses

63. Many more press conferences and town halls and much more media access than previous administration

64. . Signed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act, the first piece of comprehensive legislation aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with paralysis

65. Negotiated deal with Swiss banks to permit US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals

66. New Afghan War policy that limits aerial bombing and prioritizes aid, development of infrastructure, diplomacy, and good government practices by Afghans

67. Announced creation of a Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record for members of the U.S. Armed Forces to improve quality of medical care.

68. New federal funding for science and research labs

69. New funds for school construction

70. Ordered all federal agencies to undertake a study and make recommendations for ways to cut spending

71. Ordered a review of all federal operations to identify and cut wasteful spending and practices

72. . Negotiated deal with Swiss banks to permit US government to gain access to records of tax evaders and criminals.

73. Phasing out the expensive F-22 war plane and other outdated weapons systems, which weren’t even used or needed in Iraq/Afghanistan

74. Reengaged in the agreements/talks on global warming and greenhouse gas emissions

75. Provided tax credit to workers thus cutting taxes for 95% of America’s working families.

76. Reengaged in the treaties/agreements to protect the Antarctic

77. Removed restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research

78. . Helped reverse a downward spiral of the stock market. On January 19, 2009, the last day of President Bush’s presidency, the Dow closed at 8,218.22. In February 2010, the Dow closed at 10,309.24

79. Renewed loan guarantees for Israel

80. Restarted the nuclear non-proliferation talks and building back up the nuclear inspection infrastructure/protocols

81. Provided attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles.

82. Returned money authorized for refurbishment of White House offices and private living quarters

83. Sent envoys to Middle East and other parts of the world that had been neglected for years; reengaging in multilateral and bilateral talks and diplomacy

84. Unveiled a program on Earth Day 2009 to develop the renewable energy projects on the waters of our Outer Continental Shelf that produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents. These regulations will enable, for the first time ever, the nation to tap into our ocean’s vast sustainable resources to generate clean energy in an environmentally sound and safe manner.

85. Signed national service legislation; expanded national youth service program

86. States are permitted to enact federal fuel efficiency standards above federal standards

87. Students struggling to make college loan payments can have their loans refinanced

88. Successful release of US captain held by Somali pirates; authorized the SEALS to do their job

89. The FDA is now regulating tobacco

90. Ended the previous stop-loss policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date.

91. The missile defense program is being cut by $1.4 billion in 2010

92. The public can meet with federal housing insurers to refinance (the new plan can be completed in one day) a mortgage if they are having trouble paying

93. The “secret detention” facilities in Eastern Europe and elsewhere are being closed

94. US financial and banking rescue plan

95. US Navy increasing patrols off Somali coast

96. . Signed the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act to stop fraud and wasteful spending in the defense procurement and contracting system.

97. Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office

98. Improved relations with Iran

99. Improved U.S. policy on climate change

100. Set timetable for exiting Iraq (already started removing troops)

101. Improved relations with Russia

102. Improved relations with the Islamic World

103. Made progress towards greater cooperation on limiting nuclear proliferation

104. Economic stimulus plan has created jobs. (Unemployment rate decreasing)

105. Drastically slowed down the recession

106. Saved Wall Street

107. Passed the Lilly Ledbetter Act (equal work for equal pay) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilly_Ledbetter_Fair_Pay_Act_of_2009

108. HEALTH CARE REFORM

Once again, this is a lot to accomplish in such a short amount of time. He was elected President, he wasn’t elected Jesus.

FEMA seems to be conquering a massive task, I suppose you have a better idea of how to solve this?
 

Gene Jacobson (256)
Tuesday November 6, 2012, 11:50 am
" It shouldn't take a once-in-a-generation hurricane for Americans to admit they need the government occasionally, but that's apparently where we are. "

Great article but for this one point. This is the second such hurricane in 7 years and it is human folly to think things are going to get better when 98% of climatologists now think we are past the point of no return in terms of preventing the environmental catastrophe's the people of Earth will endure as the planet cleanses itself of our reckless disregard for the delicacy of the ecology which sustains life on this planet. With the Arctic virtually barren of ice this year and the Greenland ice sheet melting past points it has ever gone before and Antarctic calving icebergs the size of Rhode Island and its once solid core now filled with melt holes, we have yet to see the true strength of what is coming at us like a freight train. We are still too busy playing hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil in our complete state of denial that we don't even hear the roar that is coming our way. Sad, but very much true.
 

Michael M. (58)
Tuesday November 6, 2012, 12:15 pm
Kit I like your last comment listing the good that has been done, and am posting this rather than sending a green star.

I think a term once used was "activist government", which covers both good and ill.
1. After all, activist government is one that kills off any wild creature that in any way prevents citizens from maximizing income.
2. Activist government will strategize ad make war on other nations to obtain "resources" for maximum growth, etc.
Activist government will make laws and rulings terminating indigenous American nations/people from living in sustainable ways, due to their occupation or living on areas which have strategic minerals or other values, and deny their different cultures and values as having validity, instead promoting tribal and other government and incorporation in line exclusively with corporate/and therefore government philosophies, including acquisitive and messianic religion, separating all humans from relationship with other life and the earth, except for using them as commodities to create financial wealth, which is really only excessive death-dealing to all other life not enslaved by domestication.

So, government activism is a catchall term, and although still clamored for by most, should and must be entirely restructured to remove the great ills which I have mentioned above.

 

Kit B. (276)
Tuesday November 6, 2012, 12:16 pm

Yes, Gene with the 24/7 news cycle and a presidential election, no one is paying attention. Our collective intellect for learning factual and comprehensive information seems to have taken a nose dive. Constant "news" is not constant information, only a choice by programmers of what will be the lead stories, not the information people need to know.
 

jan b. (3)
Tuesday November 6, 2012, 12:43 pm
Kit---I discovered something recently that I don't like very much. People in the USA not long ago were complaining about the cost of prescription drugs....especially seniors with that donut hole. So Pharma figured out a way to make them cheaper----manufacturing them overseas and sending them here. B/p meds are mainly manufactured now in China, India, Pakistan and soon Afghanistan will be manufacturing drugs for the USA Because of cheaper help. Far be it from Pharma to make less a profit on drugs and make them in the USA.....but that's the problem with capitalism.......let's say if it were chairs they were making overseas and selling them here it wouldn't affect our health. The regulations are still terrible overseas and I suggest anyone reading this out there if they are having trouble with their meds---change the drug store---you may get a different manufacturer.....that's what I did....changed from mail order to a local pharmacy and I didn't have any physical problems any more......JUST SAYIN......
 

Tal H. (8)
Tuesday November 6, 2012, 3:55 pm
Thanks for the share!
 

Gloria picchetti (298)
Thursday November 8, 2012, 6:44 am
May I explain big gov vs small gov? When a republican needs or wants something there is no gov big enough.
 
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