Monday, October 31, 2011

It All Makes Sense (If You Stand On Your Head)

If the Republicans running for president went on Saturday Night Live and proposed their policies, the best we could say is that they weren't funny. The problem is that they're serious. And the scary part is that one of them could actually become president.

First up,

Governor Rick Perry believes that he can balance the federal budget with his 20% flat tax plan.
"You got to look at the spending cuts as well and you have to look at the dynamics of the growth that goes on here," Perry said, adding that a simplified tax system would give job-creating entrepreneurs more confidence to invest.

Yes, I got to, Governor, but if consumers aren't spending because the cuts are also cutting jobs, then where's the money to invest going to come from? Asked in the same interview how he would make up the $5 trillion dollar hole his plan would create in the federal budget, his answer was, "There's nothing wrong with lower revenue," he said. "I don't want more revenue in Washington, D.C.'s hands." If you're trying to pay for things that private industry won't pay for, then there is something terribly wrong with lower revenue.

Perry's most telling answer was actually a non-answer to a key question. From the article:

When asked if his proposal would give a bigger break to wealthy taxpayers than to poorer ones and raise questions about fairness, Perry said the wealthy more often are job creators. "Historically, those who have money put more money into their business," he said. "They hire more people."

In effect, yes, the wealthy will benefit and I will implement more of the failed trickle-down policies of the past.

Meanwhile, Herman Cain is still trying to explain to Americans how they would benefit from his 9-9-9 Plan. On CBS's "Face The Nation" he merely said, "We have some more educating of the public (to do)," Cain said. "And this is why, maybe, some people don't like it yet." Perhaps Mr. Cain can hire some out-of-work public schoolteachers to educate the public. There are plenty of them around.

What's worse is that even more sensible Republicans are looking at these plans and are finding them wanting. Consider this from the article, Studies challenge wisdom of GOP candidates' plans, an AP story on Yahoo!News:

"Republicans favor tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, but these had no stimulative effect during the George W. Bush administration, and there is no reason to believe that more of them will have any today," writes Bruce Bartlett. He's an economist who worked for Republican congressmen and in the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

As for the idea that cutting regulations will lead to significant job growth, Bartlett said in an interview, "It's just nonsense. It's just made up."

Each of the Republican candidates wants to significantly cut taxes on the wealthy, repeal the Dodd-Frank bill and cut federal spending for programs that middle class Americans need during a time of economic dislocation. They want to let the market decide our future without regard to the fact that market creates winners and losers, and the candidates don't really want to help the losers. Oh well.

If you want to find an island of common sense in all of this, then look no more. In his Op-Ed piece in the New York Times last week, Professor James Livingston, from Rutgers University says, It’s Consumer Spending, Stupid and he has a compelling argument. He says:

As an economic historian who has been studying American capitalism for 35 years, I’m going to let you in on the best-kept secret of the last century: private investment — that is, using business profits to increase productivity and output — doesn’t actually drive economic growth. Consumer debt and government spending do. Private investment isn’t even necessary to promote growth. 

Then he gets all professor-y

Between 1900 and 2000, real gross domestic product per capita (the output of goods and services per person) grew more than 600 percent. Meanwhile, net business investment declined 70 percent as a share of G.D.P. What’s more, in 1900 almost all investment came from the private sector — from companies, not from government — whereas in 2000, most investment was either from government spending (out of tax revenues) or “residential investment,” which means consumer spending on housing, rather than business expenditure on plants, equipment and labor. 

In other words, over the course of the last century, net business investment atrophied while G.D.P. per capita increased spectacularly. And the source of that growth? Increased consumer spending, coupled with and amplified by government outlays. 

Can you dig it? I knew that you could.

What the Republicans are saying is exactly the opposite of what has historically been the case. We can continue to cut taxes to the wealthy and let them thrive while the middle and working classes lose earning and spending power, or we can do the right thing and make our economy more equitable.

This is the choice we have next November.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Law Is What We Say It Is

Just when you thought they couldn't get any more dangerous, here come the Republican presidential contenders with their unique brand of American exceptionalism. In this case, though, it means that intelligent debate is the exception.

Rick Perry left open the possibility that the issue over President Obama's birth certificate issue is not exactly closed by not specifically answering the question. Instead, Perry said that "It's a distractive issue," without going on to say that he was making it a distraction by not saying that, yes, the president was born in this country.

Meanwhile, six of the eight would-be commanders-in-chief would  "want to wipe away lifetime tenure for federal judges, cut the budgets of courts that displease them or allow Congress to override Supreme Court rulings on constitutional issues." That's according to this Huffington Post report. Only Mitt Romney and John Huntsman have stayed away from direct attacks on federal judges.

The right's antipathy towards judges would seem to be counterproductive for conservatives. From the article:

Barry Friedman, a New York University law professor who has written a book about the relationship between public opinion and the high court, said he is puzzled by the effort to take federal courts out of the picture. He said that would increase the influence of more liberal-leaning state courts.

"The wonder of it coming from the Republicans now is that we have what is easily the most conservative Supreme Court in many, many years. This is nothing more than red meat they throw to the conservative base," Friedman said.

The New York Times also weighed in on this issue with an article that said, in part:

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas favors term limits for Supreme Court justices. Representatives Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Ron Paul of Texas say they would forbid the court from deciding cases concerning same-sex marriage. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania want to abolish the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, calling it a “rogue” court that is “consistently radical.” 

And for people who say that they interpret the Constitution as the Framers intended, the candidates certainly are undercutting one of the basic tenets of that document. The independence of judges was such an important concept that Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist Paper number 78 that,  

"The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution" and,  

"This independence of the judges is equally requisite to guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals from the effects of those ill humors, which the arts of designing men, or the influence of particular conjunctures, sometimes disseminate among the people themselves..."
Talk about ill humors. It seems that the candidates need to take some time to actually read the founding documents. Then they might be in a better position to run the country.

Hamilton also addressed the issue of those who objected to the Constitution because, like the Tea Party, they believed that the courts would ultimately take power from the legislature. His answer comes in Federalist 81:

It may in the last place be observed that the supposed danger of judiciary encroachments on the legislative authority, which has been upon many occasions reiterated, is in reality a phantom. Particular misconstructions and contraventions of the will of the legislature may now and then happen; but they can never be so extensive as to amount to an inconvenience, or in any sensible degree to affect the order of the political system. This may be inferred with certainty, from the general nature of the judicial power, from the objects to which it relates, from the manner in which it is exercised, from its comparative weakness, and from its total incapacity to support its usurpations by force. 

It's a phantom argument. The courts simply don't have the legal power nor do they have the force to take power from Congress. The right wing would have us believe that court rulings on desegregation, school prayer, abortion, contraception, civil equality and governmental authority belie this argument and prove that the Supreme Court has acted like a legislature. Of course, they don't see court decisions that treat corporations like people or that reinterpret the right to a gun as an individual right with no regard to the militia clause of the second amendment as offensive to both legislative and constitutional intent.

This is a radical reinterpretation of the law that will have profoundly negative effects on American society and represents the apogee of conservative legal thought that has been scaling the judicial heights since 1981. A Republican president would be able to solidify a conservative majority on the Supreme Court with just one appointment. A Republican Congress could conceivably pass legislation that severely limits the court's ability to even decide certain types of cases.

That is something we must seriously think about between now and next November.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Leading From the Front

Doing nothing is not an option.

That seems to be the message from President Obama as he unveiled a mortgage modification program that might actually attract enough homeowners to make a difference in the economy. The plan would allow homeowners who are underwater on their mortgages to refinance at lower rates and avoid high closing costs.
Here's another angle from the AP through Yahoo1 News.

This announcement also allows Obama to move away from what is becoming a tired defense of his proposed jobs package and jump into what is probably the main cause of the stagnant economy; the housing market that is stifling consumer spending. It's the beginning of a period where Obama will be introducing a new program every week to show that even without Congressional approval, the president can move the country forward.

Politically, this is a response to Mitt Romney's comment in the Republican's Las Vegas debate that, “the right course is to let markets work.” The markets have spoken and housing prices have plunged. Without some kind of intervention, it will take years for house prices to recover. This program is by no means a panacea, but it is a step in the right direction.

And speaking of steps, an analysis of the Republican debate by Dr. David Pennock of the University of Michigan, shows that the right wingers might have stepped in the doo-doo by bickering their way through the evening. Pennock's discussion shows that as the debate wore on, the perception that the Republicans would defeat Obama in 2012, as measured by Intrade, dropped the more they went after each other as opposed to discussing actual policy.

Then there's Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying that saving teacher, police and firefighter jobs is not the federal government's responsibility. He says it's a state issue, and of course we all know how wealthy the states are these days. So it seems that McConnell would save some jobs, but if you're in education and law enforcement, the Republicans figure you're just not that important. Look for Congress to continue doing nothing on the jobs front.

It is worth noting that the programs Obama is proposing are more popular with the public according to both this NBC/Wall Street Journal poll and this Gallup poll, than what the Republicans are peddling.

That's what he will run on, and that's why he will win.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Just Being Christie Is A Full Time Job

In hindsight, it's a good thing Governor Christie decided not to run for president. He's got enough to do in New Jersey, thank you very much, as evidenced by the issues below.

First up is a report that Christie's pension reforms will do nothing to actually solve the problem, because the state will not make full pension payments until 2018. That means that New Jersey taxpayers will be on the hook for a payment that goes from zero (nada, nothing) in 2011 to $468 million in 2012 to $5.04 billion in 2018. Payments will then increase about $600 million every year after that. Local governments, who have been making their payments all along, will continue to do so, but all indications are that municipalities will have to pay more, as will those workers in the pension system. This bit of sleight-of-hand was kept under the rug when the pension and benefits reform bill was being debated and adopted earlier this summer.

The Governor, it seems, is taking New Jersey on a path that will make us look like Rhode Island, whose general treasurer is warning will spend 20% of its money on pensions within a couple of years. Not only is this unsustainable, it's a violation of the public trust and the promise that states made to public workers in return for low salaries and years of service. Look for this to be a major issue in 2013, if we can wait that long.

The second catches Christie repeating the lie that President Obama's health care law is "a government takeover of health care." This particular quote earned him a Pants On Fire rating from PolitiFact and shows his intellectually lazy side. Christie should know better, and in truth I think he does, but there's a campaign on and if he wants to stay relevant on a national stage, then he's got to at least appear as far right as he can go. Still, it's disappointing.

But you have to give Christie points for trying. After all, he's still trying to convince New Jerseyans that his interpretation of the law is the only valid one, as he espoused in his reaction to Judge Linda Feinberg's ruling that the pension and benefits reforms do not apply to judges. Were all judges supposed to recuse themselves from this suit? Attacks on judges, whether from governors or presidential candidates, only serves to undermine the judiciary. And it's even more disturbing coming from a former prosecutor who is sworn to uphold the law..

It will be quiet until the legislative elections, then I'm sure more fireworks will go off.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

We Are All Teachers Now

In what ways is working on Wall Street like being an educator or other public worker these days? Here are some quotes from a Politico article.

“Most Wall Street guys, they feel like they’re going to be burned in effigy,”

“What are you doing? Do you even understand some of the things that they’ve called for?”

“People from Wall Street can deal with regulation, they deal with it all the time … I think it’s just the bashing that sort of drives them crazy.”

 Welcome to the machine, my friends. Now you know what it feels like.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Meanwhile, Back in New Jersey

The Guv'nor took some time off from the national stage, then on Monday he jumped right back on it. Saying that he would consider being 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, Christie continues to show that New Jersey just ain't big enough for his ambitions. Of course, if Mitt Romney is the nominee, he won't pick Christie because it wouldn't make sense to have two Northeastern politicians sharing the ticket. I would think that the GOP would want some geographical balance. Perhaps someone from the Midwest or even the West would be a better fit. If Perry is the nominee, then I could see Christie. In either scenario, it would make more sense for the Republicans to have a woman on the ticket to finally prove that they are the real progressive party.

In a rare move for a conservative Republican, Christie expressed actual understanding for the Occupy Wall Street protesters, a move that could undercut his support in right wing circles. Sayeth he:

"So I think the Tea Party folks, who started this whole discontented movement about three years ago or so, and now you're looking at these Occupy Wall Street folks, and while philosophically I don't agree with what they're advocating, at all, I do understand that their protests are an outgrowth of a big concern about the dysfunction of our government, the inability to get anything done."

Earlier in the day, Christie was handed a defeat in his effort to overhaul public workers' pensions and benefits when a Judge ruled that the state pension and benefits overhaul did not apply to N.J. judges. From the article:

Assignment Judge Linda Feinberg, sitting in Trenton, said the increased health benefits and pension contributions that went into effect run counter to a provision of the state Constitution that specifically prohibits the reduction of judges’ and justices’ salaries during their time in office.

"Contributions to pension and benefits which are deducted from a judge’s paycheck directly relate to the amount of salary paid to that judge," she wrote. "These contributions are no different than paid vacation, sick and personal time off."

If the Governor doesn't watch out, he could get more judgements against the reform laws. In August, public unions filed suit against the pension and benefits overhaul, though at present there is no movement to recall the law or Christie as there is in Ohio.

But Christie also wants to show that he can play nice with Democrats, as evidenced by his announcement  to cut the payroll tax on New Jersey workers by about $87 dollars each in 2012. The bill is sponsored by Democrats and Christie acknowledged that the tax cut won’t be enough to let workers “go out and buy a new boat.” But he added, “It’s the beginning of moving things in the right direction.”

Wonder what I'll do with all that money.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

An Equal And Opposite Reaction

“Most people view it as a ragtag group looking for sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,” said one top hedge fund manager. 

“It’s not a middle-class uprising,” adds another veteran bank executive. “It’s fringe groups. It’s people who have the time to do this.”

“There is a view that it will be a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing,” said one financial industry official.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's Begun, And Obama Will Win

From Politico, For Obama campaign, it's game on against Romney.

Of course, it's always possible that the far right gathers more steam and can squeeze Rick Perry under the wire come the late spring, but my sense is that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. After all, can Chris Christie be wrong in his endorsement (Romney's Attorney General?)?

Best quote from the article:

“The other Republicans have sucked so bad we didn’t have any choice” but begin to target Romney months before the Iowa caucuses, said a top Obama ally, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Obama reelection campaign has more money than Romney and will have head start on trying to make him an unacceptable candidate. Mitt will lose time defending himself in the primaries, but he's looked better this year than in 2008 and if the economy gets worse, he will most likely win no matter what kind of campaign Obama runs. I'm thinking that the economy will revive just enough to make it close, but that Obama will win.

And if I'm wrong I will admit it proudly.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Mitt Does Backflips

There's really not much more to say about the audio-visual record of Mitt Romney's, shall we say, evolution on the issues. Here's the link:

Or you can go straight to youtube and see all of the choices before you.

In any case, it's quite a collection of contradictions.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Occupy Wall Street to Save Main Street

I'm not sure if it's funny or tragic to use the word "occupy'" since so many people are having trouble finding occupations these days, but this movement is important and inevitable. Others can dissect its relative strength and tell the stories of the protesters.

I'm going straight to the hypocrisy.

The Republican response to the protests has ranged from predictable to outlandish, and displays the same political blindness that Democrats showed at the outset of the Tea Party movement. In Eric Cantor says Wall Street protesters are ‘mobs’ as Democrats offer support, we get the Virginia sage's view that the protests are populated by "growing mobs." This is, of course, a comparison to the sober, respectable opposition that Tea Party followers exhibited when confronting their representatives over the health care bill in 2009.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg also weights in, saying that "You can't have it both ways," the mayor said during a radio appearance. "If you want jobs you have to assist companies and give them confidence to go and hire people."

Hiring people would be a wonderful thing to do, Your Honor. If the Republicans had a program to do that we wouldn't need protests. But sitting on the jobs bill is only making things worse. And perhaps the Mayor missed this news nugget from Yahoo! that discusses prohibiting companies from discriminating against people who have been out of work for an extended period of time. Oh, wait! That's part of the jobs bill! What a coincidence. Passing the bill would create jobs and end discriminatory hiring practices. Let's kill it.

Then we have the one-two punch of actual Tea Party legislators instructing the Occupiers in the art of protests in Allen West And Steve King To Occupy Wall Street Protesters: Clean Up, Find A Message.

In the 1960s, Alabama Governor George Wallace became famous by saying of anti-Vietnam War protesters, "You need a good haircut. That's all that's wrong with you. . . There are two four-letter words I bet you folks don't know: 'work' and 'soap.'"

Today we have West saying,  

"The differences we have are that I don't know of any member of the Tea Party that's been arrested," he said. "They are a peaceful group of people that could just as well be the folks at my church picnic.

"And they clean up after themselves. Let's see what kind of mess Wall Street is when they leave," King continued, before offering a few suggestions. 

"That'd be my advice to them if they want to be like the Tea Party: Don't get arrested, and clean up after yourselves," he said. "And by the way, see if you can find some constitutional underpinnings to support an argument -- whatever it may be. I challenge them to do that."

I didn't realize it was so simple. If the Occupy Wall Street protesters would only clean up, then the Tea Party would support them. As for the constitutional arguments, when the Tea Party comes up with something other than, "We Want 1790!" then wake me up. Since when is economic inequality, protecting the wealthy and sitting on billions of dollars in taxpayer money related to the constitution?

What stuck in my craw was the comment about being arrested. Maybe West and King should walk over to Georgia Representative and Civil Rights Movement hero John Lewis's office to discuss that issue. Lewis can talk to them about going to jail to desegregate the lunch counters and being beaten for trying to integrate interstate busses (I'm sure they know that both protests were successful). He might also point out that West and King would not have political careers if not for those protesters who put heir lives and reputations on the line to achieve necessary change.

West also questions the protest's legitimacy. "I don't see what the point is, and I think it's going to backfire because when you peel the onion back, you find out who's behind it and who's financing it -- it's not a true grassroots movement. It's not a true statement."
As if the Tea Party protests weren't backed by the Koch brothers and other right wing organizations.

I'm glad that West mentioned the grassroots aspect of the movement because it's true that protests and social movements need to have both electoral and moral legitimacy. That brings me to an article in today's New York Times, Judge Finds Manipulation in Recall Vote in Arizona. It's the heartwarming tale of... well, I'll let the story speak for itself:

At first glance, it had the makings of a spirited election: the leader of Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration facing off at the polls with an immigrant from Mexico who believed that the state had gone too far. 

But the immigrant, Olivia Cortes, a retiree who filed papers in July to challenge the State Senate president, Russell Pearce, disappeared from the political scene last week just as quickly as she had appeared. Ms. Cortes’s candidacy for a legislative district in this working-class community east of Phoenix, it now appears, had been a dirty trick. 

Critics of Mr. Pearce’s hard-line approach to illegal immigration collected enough signatures to force him into a recall election in November. But allies of Mr. Pearce, who is one of the state’s most powerful politicians, did not take that humiliation lightly. They recruited Ms. Cortes in what was an effort to split the anti-Pearce vote, particularly among Latinos, a judge later found. 

Greg Western, a Pearce ally who is the chairman of the East Valley Tea Party, was a central figure in the scheme and became Ms. Cortes’s campaign adviser. Soon, signs promoting Ms. Cortes’s candidacy appeared on street corners, bearing the motto made famous by Cesar Chavez of the United Farm Workers: “Sí, Se Puede!”

Spotting Tea Party hypocrisy makes shooting fish in a barrel look like an Olympian challenge.

Occupy Wall Street is shining the spotlight exactly where it needs to be: on the conglomerates, banks and businesses that are the recipients of government largesse and the protectors of a system that rewards the accumulation of wealth at the expense of the middle and working classes. The point is not to overthrow, but to achieve fairness.

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's the Incomes, Stupid

Here's a question I know you've asked yourself over and over:

What if the incumbent president’s fate hinges on one basic economic question in 2012: Are the incomes of voters growing in the six months before Election Day? 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Here Are The Jobs

Imagine a country with an unemployment rate of 9.1% and an underemployment rate of 16% where hundreds of jobs go begging because people don't want to do them. How does that happen?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's Mitt's To Lose

You heard it here third, after

Mitt Romney's moment from Politico and David Brooks in Tuesday's New York Times.

The Mitt Romney nomination express is about to leave the station. Rick Perry is still a potent challenger, but he's taking on water and embarrassing little details keep trickling out of his campaign. Herman Cain is having his moment in the sun, but after trying to decipher what exactly Cain means with his 9-9-9 Plan, even some conservative voters might take pause. You can't brush off his performance in the Florida Straw Poll, but now he has to seize his moment and make it stick. My sense is that he won't be able to do that for 3 more months. I still think that Sarah Palin will run because if she wants to be president, then this is the only year she can be a serious candidate, unless she runs for another public office and actually serves at least one full term.

So that leaves Mitt, and the smart money is going to begin flowing in his direction very soon. Tea Party voters don't like him, but moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats can comfortably vote for him. He can take a calculated gamble and try to stall the discussion about the Massachusetts health care plan he championed in the hope that the Supreme Court will remove it as an issue by next June. Or he can confront the issue as a state experiment that was different from Obama's plan and passed with bipartisan support. In the end, Republicans will support him because they'll have no other choice.

I do believe that a third party candidate will be joining the race come the spring for no other reason than the national mood would support an impassioned fringe political movement from the left and the right. Perhaps we'll see a Tea Party candidate and one from the anti-Wall Street group. That would be fun.

If I was Obama, and I am most assuredly not, I would start running against Romney right now. Run some ads that show Mitt taking three sides on every position and undercut his jobs program by showing how many companies Bain Capital destroyed while he was in charge. Play offense, blame the Republicans for doing nothing on jobs and stay focused.

What a long 13 months it will be. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


That's the sound emanating from the White House tonight after Democrat Earl Ray Tomblin narrowly won the special election for Governor of West Virginia. Tomblin was subjected to a withering barrage of attack ads by Republican Bill Maloney, who tried to tie Tomblin to President Obama at every turn. Here's the latest:

Democrat wins West Virginia governor's race

So what does this mean for 2012? Not much, I don't think. West Virginia is not Obama territory. He lost the state in 2008 and will lose it by a larger margin in 2012. Republicans will say that Tomblin should have won in a walk, while Democrats will say that a win is a win, no matter the final numbers. The West Virginia economy is doing better than most states and Democrats took full responsibility for that. Nationally, well...not so much.

The spin will thankfully only last for a few days.

Monday, October 3, 2011

50.4 Million Reasons to Fail

I want my students to fail. I want them to fail miserably, spectacularly and without prejudice. As a matter of fact, I would see their absolute failure as a validation of my excellent skills as an educator, motivator and imparter of culture.

Here's why.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Saving Detroit

One of the signature accomplishments of the Obama Administration is the rescue of General Motors and, by association, the American automobile industry, in 2009.

Today's New York Times ran an excerpt from a book to be published on Tuesday that details the critical months leading up to the rescue and reveals for the first time that GM executives had approached their Ford counterparts with a proposal for a merger. From the article:

If General Motors were any other company, it would probably be dead by now. In the summer of 2008, nearly a year before G.M. filed for bankruptcy, its executives were growing desperate. Rick Wagoner, its chief executive, secretly proposed a merger with Ford, while Bill Ford courted the future president, Barack Obama, in an attempt to safeguard his company. This article is adapted from “Once Upon a Car: The Fall and Resurrection of America’s Big Three Automakers — G.M., Ford and Chrysler” by Bill Vlasic, the Detroit bureau chief of The New York Times. The book, to be published Tuesday by William Morrow, reveals new details of the chaos at the Big Three. Conversations recounted in the book were based on more than 100 interviews.
The book goes on to recount a meeting that candidate Barack Obama had with William Ford in the fall of 2008, where Obama laid out his vision of Detroit's future:

Mr. Obama had been forthright on the campaign trail about Detroit’s past, its dependence on gas-guzzling trucks and its reluctance to change. He had echoed those points in his speech, speaking of ending America’s dependence on foreign oil. 

“We desperately need a new energy policy in this country,” he told Mr. Ford. “And I would like the domestic auto industry to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.” 

Mr. Ford had a ready reply: “We’d love to work with your administration. I passionately believe that Ford can and should be part of the solution.” 

It's this kind of vision that will carry the United States forward, and neither John McCain in 2008, nor any of the Republican candidates for president in 2012, have anything resembling a plan for American businesses other than to drastically cut their taxes, let them regulate themselves and drill for more and more fossil fuels in the wilderness and off our coastsThat will get us nowhere.