President Obama ‘Chambers’ a round for Commerce

RANCHO SANTA FE, CA., February 7, 2011 – Today, President Obama walked across Lafayette Park to the United States Chamber of Commerce to “be more neighborly” and deliver a “fruitcake” speech (to paraphrase the President’s opening remarks).  As he rounds the corner on his first term and his reelection metamorphosis continues, it’s interesting to explore how the President’s remarks might be “polished” in the name of “transparency.”  To do that, we’ll follow the protocol that is used in my books, The Left isn’t Right, The Right is Wrong, and The National Platform of Common Sense:  The text of the President’s actual address will be italicized and captured in quotation marks and the Czar’s “additions” will be in bolded italics.  While the entire text is too long for the purposes of this exercise, its excerpts will be addressed in the order in which they were delivered.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the President of the United States … with a little help from T Common Sense Czar!

“I’m here today because I’m convinced we can and must work together.  Whatever differences we may have, I know that all of us share a deep belief in this country, our people, and the principles that have made America’s economy the envy of the world.

“America’s success didn’t happen by accident.  It happened because of the freedom that has allowed good ideas to flourish, and capitalism to thrive.  It happened because of the conviction that in this country, hard work should be rewarded; that opportunity should be there for anyone willing to reach for it.”  That’s why today, in the spirit of the Super Bowl, I’m going to level the playing field.  No more entitlements!  If you don’t demonstrate a willingness to work hard, the government isn’t going to bail you out … and if you do work hard, we’re going to allow you to keep what you earn.  I’m not even going to use the power of my office to award the Lombardi trophy to my beloved Chicago Bears.  They lost in the playoffs … so, no trophy for them!

“The globalization of our economy means that businesses can now open up shop, employ workers, and produce their goods wherever there is Internet connection.  Tasks that were once done by 1,000 workers can now be done by 100, or even 10.  And the truth is, as countries like China and India grow and develop larger middle classes, it’s profitable for global companies to aggressively pursue these markets and, at times, to set up facilities in these countries.”  That whole math thing about 10 workers being able to do the work of 1,000 scares me.  How do we create jobs as we become more productive?  Frankly, that’s one of the reasons I support unions; they encourage mediocrity which, in turn, can reduce productivity.  And while Tom Donohue and Richard Trumka may not be Facebook friends, I think this is an area in which the Chamber and big labor can come together.

“We know what it will take for America to win the future.  We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build our competitors.  We need an economy that’s based not on what we consume and borrow from other nations, but what we make and sell around the world.  We need to make America the best place on earth to do business.

“And this is a job for all of us.  As a government, we will help lay the foundation for you to grow and innovate.  We will upgrade our transportation and communications networks so you can move goods and information more quickly and cheaply.  We will invest in education so that you can hire the most skilled, talented workers in the world.  And we’ll knock down barriers that make it harder for you to compete, from the tax code to the regulatory system.” This gets back to my Super Bowl analogy.  We’re not going to be able to continue to compete on a global basis unless we level the playing field.

As for transportation, we’ll actually try to find some of those “shovel-ready” jobs I mentioned when I was trying to push the Stimulus Bill through.  I mean, how hard can it be to find roads with potholes in them?  And Japan and other countries have been using high-speed rail for decades.  We haven’t done much from that perspective since President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act back in 1862 to establish our nation’s first transcontinental railway.  We had cheap Chinese labor back then that made it all possible, which is why I support illegal immigration today!  In the alternative, we could return to President Clinton’s philosophy:  eliminate welfare for able-bodied individuals and provide them with a vocation (like building roads and railways).  I know that Nancy Pelosi favors food stamps, but Bill did balance the budget and create a federal surplus.

As for the Internet, I’m going to leave that initiative in the able hands of Al Gore, who couldn’t be here today because he had already scheduled a massage.

“The third responsibility we have as a nation is to invest in the skills and education of our people.  If we expect companies to do business and hire in America, America needs a pool of trained, talented workers that can out-compete anyone in the world. That’s why we’re reforming K-12 education and training 100,000 new math and science teachers.”  Now, during my State of the Union address, I was dismissive of Asian academics when I said that “our students don’t just memorize equations,” but the fact of the matter is … they’re kicking our proverbial butts.

“Recently, I visited GE in Schenectady, New York, which has partnered with a local community college.  While students train for jobs available at the nearby GE plant, they earn a paycheck and have their tuition covered. As a result, young people can find work.  GE can fill high-skilled positions.  And the entire region has become more attractive to businesses.  It’s win-win for everyone, and something we’re trying to replicate across the country.”  It almost reminds me of the ‘Company Town’ approach that was popular back in the early 1900s… right, Richard?

“To make room for these investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure, government also has a responsibility to cut the spending that we just can’t afford.  That’s why I’ve promised to veto any bill larded up with earmarks.”  Sure, I could have taken that stance when the Health Care Reform Bill was presented to me to sign, but I needed a major legislative accomplishment to put on my resume next to ‘community organizer.’  If I had known that people were paying attention and were going to lash out against my Party in the November elections, I might have handled it differently.

“In addition to making government more affordable, we’re also making it more effective and customer-friendly.  We’re trying to run the government more like you run your businesses – with better technology and faster services.  In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America.  And we want to start with the twelve different agencies that deal with America’s exports.” We’ll even get rid of a few of the 159 new agencies we created in the Health Care Reform Bill and, perhaps most importantly, I’ll be dismissing the 40 Czars I’m paying big bucks to and replacing them all with The Common Sense Czar.  When you think about it … he’s the only one we really need in Washington, D.C.

“This brings me to the final responsibility of government: breaking down barriers that stand in the way of your success.  As far as exports are concerned, that means seeking new opportunities and opening new markets for your goods.  I’ll go anywhere to be a booster for American businesses, American workers, and American products.”  As you may have noticed, Michelle and I love to travel, and we don’t know how much longer I’ll have this gig.  So, we’d like to go wherever we can as long as the American taxpayer is footing the bill.

“Another barrier government can remove is a burdensome corporate tax code with one of the highest rates in the world.  You know how it goes: because of various loopholes and carve-outs that have built up over the years, some industries pay an average rate that is four or five times higher than others.  … That’s why I want to lower the corporate rate and eliminate these loopholes to pay for it so that it doesn’t add a dime to our deficit.”  I’m really a ‘big business’ kind of guy and I’m always in favor of reducing taxes.  Of course, come campaign time, I’ll revert back to the Robin Hood Strategy:  preaching that we should tax the rich and give to the middle class.  I know that it used to be ‘give to the poor,’ but they don’t contribute to campaign funds and turn out at the polls like the middle class.  That’s why we always talk about the middle class these days instead of the poor.

“The last barriers we’re trying to remove are outdated and unnecessary regulations.  I’ve ordered a government-wide review, and if there are rules on the books that are needlessly stifling job creation and economic growth, we will fix them.  Already we’re dramatically cutting down on the paperwork that saddles businesses with huge administrative costs.”  Let’s face it, if we really follow through on this, we may have to repeal the Health Care Reform Bill.  It would be easier  (and less embarrassing) than creating all those new agencies only to find that none of them are really necessary and that they only add to the administrative costs of doing business.

“Now is the time to invest in America.  … I know that many of you have told me that you are waiting for demand to rise before you get off the sidelines and expand, and that with millions of Americans out of work, demand has risen more slowly than any of us would like.  But many of your own economists and salespeople are now forecasting a healthy increase in demand.  So I want to encourage you to get in the game.  And part of the bipartisan tax deal we negotiated, businesses can immediately expense 100 percent of their capital investments.”  Okay!  Tell the truth:  I sound like a Republican, don’t I?  You can almost see me moving toward the middle as my reelection campaign nears.

“And if there is a reason you don’t share my confidence, if there is a reason you don’t believe that this is the time to get off the sidelines – to hire and invest – I want to know about it.  I want to fix it.  That’s why I’ve asked Jeff Immelt of GE to lead a new council of business leaders and outside experts so that we’re getting the best advice on what you’re facing out there.”  Jeff, as you may know, laid off tens of thousands of GE employees in the U.S. over the past few years while growing GE’s foreign workforce to 53 percent of its total workforce.  Over the past ten years, while the DOW has remained relatively flat, GE’s biggest competitor’s stock has improved by over 50 percent … and GE’s stock has plummeted by more than 50 percent.  But let me be clear, Jeff has been a strong advocate of my Presidency.

“Roosevelt reached out to businesses, and business leaders answered the call to serve their country.  After years of fighting each other, the result was one of the most productive collaborations between the public and private sectors in American history … 1941 would see the greatest expansion of manufacturing in the nation’s history.  And not only did this help us win the war.  It led to millions of new jobs and helped produce the great American middle class.”  Prior to that, Roosevelt’s New Deal wasn’t working any better than my Stimulus Bill.  Now, I’m not saying that all we really need is a good World War to get us right back on track, but it certainly didn’t hurt back then.

“We have faced hard times before.  We have faced moments of tumult and change before.  We know what to do.  We know how to succeed.  We are Americans.”  Well, at least you are … just kidding!  I’m just messing with the ‘birthers.’  And all that talk by my staff about how ‘no President in history has faced the challenges I have faced’ … it’s just political rhetoric.  I haven’t had to deal with a full-blown depression or a World War, let alone a Civil War.  Plus, I’ve gotten away with blaming my predecessor for almost everything … which would have been an unthinkable thing for a President to do in the past.  Truth be told, what I really need now is to get reelected.  It’s an ego thing.  Everybody who serves in this office has it, and now I need to broaden my base to secure my destiny.  So, just think of me as a ‘pro-business’ guy who wants to cut red tape and taxes, and vote for me in 2012!

“Thank you.  God bless you.  And may God bless the United States of America.”


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.


This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, The Common Sense Czar, in the Communities Section of The Washington Times.