Thursday, September 15, 2011

Jimmy Carter Redux

By Alan Caruba

I actually remember watching and listening to Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech given 32 years ago on July 15, 1979. It marked a distinct turning point for the president because it addressed the already large loss of confidence in his leadership and judgment. It confirmed most voters judgment.

The address to the nation has since been called his “crisis of confidence” speech. It was, like most of Carter’s policies, a massive failure, and I had the same feeling when I listened to President Obama’s recent speech to the joint session of Congress, an occasion usually reserved for the State of the Union or a declaration of war.

And yet, and yet, we are living with many of former President Carter’s policies that were so wrong then and are so wrong now. If you were around then, I recommend you read the speech and, if you were born since then, it will amaze you how many really bad ideas Carter put forth that you are still hearing today from President Obama.

Jimmy Carter, a largely unknown Democrat former Governor of Georgia was swept into office on a wave of revulsion against the Nixon administration’s Watergate scandal. Had that not occurred it is likely he would not have had much of a chance despite his toothy smile and grab-bag of loony liberal ideas. Four years later, voters voted for a conservative former Governor of California, Ronald Reagan. They kept him around for a second term throughout the 1980s.

On that long ago evening Jimmy Carter thought the best way to address the nation’s mounting economic and energy problems was to blame the voters. It wasn’t his fault. It was ours.

But it was his fault.

As Seldon B. Graham, Jr., the author of “Why Your Gasoline Prices Are High”, an oil industry engineer and lawyer, put it, “Globalist Jimmy Carter harmed the USA with a domestic oil windfall profits tax (in 1980), causing a severe recession, (and) loss of half a million jobs…” The windfall profits tax caused US-based oil companies to look elsewhere for oil and to lay off petroleum industry workers here.

Carter, just as Obama, did not understand that profits are what all businesses require in order to expand and invest in their future. It is the same misguided thinking that has Obama saying that “loopholes” in the tax code that encourage oil exploration and extraction should be closed. They are not “loopholes.” They are the same kind of tax policies that are extended to countless businesses.

If we fast-forward to today, we would understand that oil companies annually pay more than $30 billion per year to federal, state, and local governments in order to produce energy in the U.S. Contrast this with the more than a half-billion dollars taxpayers lost when the Obama administration backed a loan to the now bankrupt “green” energy, solar panel firm, Solyndra.

The fact is that America is home to more than 160 billion barrels of recoverable oil. The US is the third largest producer of oil in the world. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal with several centuries’ worth to be mined. The amount of natural gas that can be accessed by fracking technology is incalculable. And the Obama administration can’t even make up its mind about a new oil pipeline from Canada, an economic partner from whom we import a considerable amount of oil already!

We should be energy independent, but Jimmy Carter in 1979 and Barack Obama in 2011 are still blathering away about solar energy. What did Carter want back then?

“I will soon submit legislation to Congress calling for the creation of the nation’s first solar bank, which will help us achieve the crucial goal of 20 percent of our energy coming from solar power by the year 2000.” Carter installed solar panels on the roof of the White House. Reagan removed them. Obama has promised to do the same, but hasn’t.

Carter said, “when this nation critically needs a refinery or a pipeline, we will build it.” We’re still waiting.

In a nation that was the world’s leader in the manufacture of automobiles, Carter proposed “an extra $10 billion over the next decade to strengthen our public transportation systems.” Obama talks about high speed trains that no one wants or needs in the era of airline travel. Created in 1970, Amtrak has never made a profit.

In 1979 Carter said, “For the first time in the history of our country a majority of people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years.”

A September 14th Rasmussen poll asking if the nation was going in the right or wrong direction yielded the following analysis: “Seventy-five percent (75%) of voters say the country is heading down the wrong track, showing little change from last week. Since January 2009, voter pessimism had ranged from a low of 57% to a high of 80%. This time last year, 65% said the U.S. was heading down the wrong path.”

If Obama wasn’t a far-Left liberal, wasn’t getting some extraordinarily bad advice from those he brought into the White House, and wasn’t a raving egomaniac, he might pause and stop playing political games to blame Congress and Republicans for the present economic crisis. If in the name of “social justice” the federal government--Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--wasn’t in the mortgage business, there would not have been a crisis.

The problem for the rest of us is that Obama’s crisis is our crisis too as jobs melt away and businesses large and small wait to see how much more damage his proposals will do to the nation's economy. His solution was to throw a trillion-dollar “stimulus” at the problem in 2009. He has just proposed a half-trillion dollar solution.

Except for the usual percentage of liberals who think Obama will “stop the rise of the seas”, the rest of the nation is left to wait for next year’s elections. That’s our “solution.”

© Alan Caruba, 2011


J Johnston said...

Neither Obama or Carter know what real fools they are! Carter goes around continuing to make an ass of himself. Obama goes along as if his ideas are the only possible solution to America's problems. They are not realistic and never will be. They are proof positive that America needs a medical plan..... they make everyone sick.

the Tunnel Dweller said...

Excellent article, Alan, which I linked to in my blog. Elsewhere there I added this:
I take no comfort in the left turning on Obama. It would be great if they had learned from Obama's policies that socialism was a bankrupt philosophy, but they did not. Their anger at him is only because Obama was not far enough left to suit them. Leftist Democrats (pardon the redundancy) have not seen- cannot be made to see- that socialism is a failure, but that is in the socialist gene; the Soviets stuck with it for seven decades with no sign of repentance yet.

Alan Caruba said...

@Tunnel Dweller: Thanks for the post to your blog. The best thing about Obama is that he is going to scare enough liberals to vote for whoever the GOP selects as their presidential candidate.

Carter's greatest gift to America was Ronald Reagan.