Guest Post: President Obama's State of the Union: Ten Skirted Issues

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Nomi Prins

President Obama's State of the Union: Ten Skirted Issues

I confess; I expected to be bored out of my mind listening to President Obama’s campaign - I mean, State of the Union - I mean campaign, speech. I kept hoping some truly earth shattering story would sneak in there beforehand, like say some discovery that Mitt Romney had been having an affair with Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife while he was creating jobs at Bain capital, and we could all focus on that instead.

It turned out that my pre-determination proved accurate. I wonder if the members of Congress felt the same sense of same déjà vu that I did, as they were bopping up and down and applauding. 

Obama's speech was a compilation of highlights from his past ones. One part optimism, two parts repetition equals one total uninspiring. Maybe it’s so boring, because it matters so little at this point. Taking away popularity polls, our national threshold for belief in hope or change has been trampled, not just because of Obama or Romney, but of the whole political apparatus that thrives on deflection of reality and posturing. We don’t have the same energy to expend listening to politicians, the endless spin that renders fact obsolete, responsibility absent, and true accomplishment, unnecessary.

We saw Optimistic Obama in his first address to Congress in 2009: “While our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.”

We got Presumptuous Obama in 2010: “As we stabilized the financial system, we also took steps to get our economy growing again, save as many jobs as possible, and help Americans who had become unemployed.”

We watched Philosophical Obama in 2011: “We are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea -– the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny.  That’s why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here… The future is ours to win.”

Now, we had Campaigning on Fairness Obama. He returned to the roots of his pre-Presidential words, having accomplished little to attain the goal that his words implied. Here are ten things that President Obama skirted: 

1) The cost of healthcare insurance. Obama tried to play both sides, slapping a populace spin on an insurance industry gift. “That’s why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a Government program.” He claimed he won’t “go back” on things like health insurance companies being able to cancel policies. He didn’t say that insurance premiums have already risen 22% in the past two years. Republicans hate Obama’s ‘signature’ healthcare reform bill because it unconstitutionally forces people to purchase insurance. Democrats support the bill because Obama passed it. The reality is – by the time it takes effect in 2014, premium costs may have doubled. Frame it however you want, that means health insurance could cost twice as much when this bill takes effect as it did before it was passed. Meanwhile, there are more people without insurance (because they can’t afford it) even though insurance companies can’t cancel policies or deny insurance for pre-existing conditions. This bill merely offers insurance companies a wider pool of customers, with a few restrictions on how much they can pillage them.

2) Student Loan Defaults. Obama claimed he wants to cap interest rates on student loans - which would be great, but can only work in this particularly low rate environment. He urged  colleges to keep costs down – again, something that’s worked out really well when he’s mentioned it before. This year, student loan debt surpassed credit card debt, breaching the $1 trillion mark, at an average of more than $25,000 per student (and up 47% over a decade ago, not all under Obama, but a bi-administration problem is still a problem). Not surprisingly, student loan defaults rates have risen alongside this debt increase. Nearly 9% of loans defaulted in 2010, of those that began repayment in 2009, vs. 7% that began in 2008.) Obama didn’t mention this growing problem. 

3) Youth unemployment. Obama took credit for the creation of 3 million jobs (I’m not going to debate that here). Regardless, youth unemployment is at its highest rate since 1948. The unemployment rate for those under age 25 is 18.1%, (31% for blacks) havin risen sharply since 2008. Do the math. High student loan debt + diminishing  job prospects =  bad ending. Work-study programs have to be intense to really alter that.

4) Big banks. The largest firms continue to grow their asset bases and fee extrapolation strategies from their captive customer base (If you’re say, a JPM Chase customer, it costs you $5 to extract your own money from a Bank of America ATM – both banks get a cut). It was Obama that re-confirmed Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke for another fourteen years (and yes, a bi-partisan Congress agreed), and who still keeps Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner around. Both men were gung-ho about the merger mania that dotted Wall Street in the fall of 2008 and making the ‘too-big-to-fail” banks bigger, as they now are.

5) Small banks. President Obama didn’t address the smaller bank closings occurring because the big banks got disproportionate subsides;, 389 smaller banks (with $297 billion in assets) failed from 2009 to 2011. Like during the early years of the Great Depression, this means less choice for individuals, less loans for local businesses, and consolidation of influence and market share for the big banks – which comprise Obama’s largest bundling base.

6) Borrowers. Despite a few tepid programs to help homeowners, the sheer number of foreclosures is higher today than it was in 2008. There were a record number of foreclosure filings:  2.9 million in 2010 and 2.7 million in 2011.  These are predicted to rise in 2012 amidst default surges and more lender notices than in 2011. 

Why? Because Obama’s program (that was supposed to help 5 million borrowers, and helped half a million) had to be approved by the banks. Banks don’t like citizen aid programs, even if they screwed them to begin with by fueling a $14 trillion toxic asset pyramid repackaging risky (for people), high interest-bearing (for them). Obama said, “The banks will repay a deficit of trust”? What?! When?! Where?!

7) Recent regulator incompetence. Regulators looked the other way, Obama said, pre-crisis. But he mentioned nothing about the regulators giving a pass since; the SEC bestows banks settlements for fraudulent mortgage asset products, without extracting any admission of wrongdoing. He missed saying anything about the lack of related DOJ criminal indictments. The top five banks agreed to pay $1.149 billion to the SEC to settle subprime-mortgage related fraud charges, with no admission of guilt or criminal indictments. (The SEC settlement of $285 million with Citigroup was rejected by Judge Rakoff in November, 2011 and is being re-negotiated.) And Obama wants to create a Financial Crimes Unit? What’s the SEC supposed to be doing? or the DOJ? or the FBI?

8) MF Global and customer money. On the same topic – the deficit of trust thing: Obama avoided any talk about his buddy, Jon Corzine or MF Global, the nation’s eight largest bankruptcy. He didn’t point out how diabolical it was to use and ‘lose’ customer funds that were supposed to have been kept separate from bad bets. He didn’t suggest having a solid separation between customer money and financial firm money - as in - don't have it at the same firm. He claimed to ‘we will not bailout you out again” and yet, we still are.

9) Banks hoarding. Obama neglected to mention the $1.6 trillion that banks are stashing at the Fed in the form of excess (and interest-bearing) reserves, which do nothing for the Main Street economy. Meanwhile, small business loans are at a 12-year low, having shrunk continuously since 2008.

10) Obama conveyed that we dodged a bullet with getting the banking system under control. He didn’t note the rising risk in the banking system: the largest four US banks (JPM Chase, Citibank, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs) control nearly 95% of the US derivatives market, which has grown by 20% since just last year, to  $235 trillion JPM Chase holds 11% of the world’s derivative exposure, Citibank, Bank of America, and Goldman comprise about 7% each. Goldman has 537 times as many (from 440 times last year) derivatives as assets and it’s still considered a bank holding company (as per Bernanke) that gets federal backing.

In all, the President's speech was reminiscent of George Clooney’s in Ides of March. We’ve heard it all before, maybe with slightly different words: America lost 4 million jobs before I got here, and another 4 million before our policies went into effect, but in the last 12 months, we added 3 million job. We must reduce tax loopholes, and provide tax incentives to businesses that hire in America. We must reform taxes for the wealthy (though he signed an extension of Bush’s tax cuts.) We must train people for an apparent abundance of expert jobs. We need more clean energy initiatives.  We created regulations (big sigh of relief he didn’t use the word ‘sweeping’) to avoid fraudulent financial practices. We will help homeowners. Wall Street must ‘make up a trust deficit.”   Like Jamie Dimon cares. 

In other words, Obama gave Wall Street a pass, while waxing populace. Don’t get me wrong. I expected nothing different. I will continue to expect nothing different, when he gets a second term, given the lame field of contenders all around.

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clones2's picture

He sure likes to blame everyone else for the Nation's problems...

Popo's picture

Obama likes to avoid the inconvenient truth that he appointed -- and *continues* to appoint -- members of the banking oligarchy to his cabinet.

Larry Summers?  Tim Geithner?  And then there's his love affair with ex-Citibank & Goldman bigwigs.   Obama is a disgrace.   He is a wolf in sheep's clothing.   Or more harshly -- A backstabbing liar.

He preaches "change", and then appoints the architects of our destruction to key positions of power where they can inflict maximum pain upon the middle-class.   Fuck that lying sack of shit and his banker-sponsored campaign.   Obama *is* the banking system.   If he proposes bailouts for mortgage-stricken Americans, he is really just bailing out banks.   If he proposes rate reductions -- he is really just handing money to his buddies at Fannie Mae. 

Talk about 'prosecutions',  'convictions',  'perp walks'  and a 'return to law' -- or please shut the fuck up, Barack.  

He's a banker tool -- and we all know it.   There's a reason his approval rating is in the shitter -- and it's because everybody's sick and tired of words like "Change" when not a single banker has gone to jail.  And let's be clear:   THOUSANDS need to go to jail.  

Get to fucking work Barack.  You useless empty suit.


< / rant off >

BLOTTO's picture

Popo - Obama is working extremely hard...for his masters.

Woodyg's picture

Exactly.... Just as people say if reelected he'll 'then' do the right thing as he no longer has to fight for campaign funds......

What BS - if reelected the ONLY thing the Oilybomber will care about are those $250,000 1/2 hour speeches.....

In Europe they had to force austerity and new banksters as leaders upon the masses - no need for a coup here - hell we ELECT them willingly!!!

TruthInSunshine's picture

And Number 11 - The debt ceiling:


The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

-- Senator Barack Obama; Speech from the Senate Floor on March 20, 2006

*At the time, Senator Obama was urging Congress not to tolerate an increase that would bring the debt ceiling to $9 trillion. Since Obama made that speech, and since he took office as POTUS, the debt ceiling is 42% higher (IOW, in 5 short years), and Obama will be requesting another massive 'bump' in the debt ceiling soon.

Jay Gould Esq.'s picture

I happen to enjoy "skirted" issues very much. Frankly, with ten skirted issues -- what's to complain ?

DaveyJones's picture

He skirted the issues and cross dressed as a populist

eatthebanksters's picture

There used to be an old saying,"White man speak with forked tongue."  I guess it's not a monopoly any more....

Grinder74's picture

No, it fits.  He is just as much white (50%) as he is black.  The 44th White President "speak with forked tongue".

DosZap's picture


Obama likes to avoid the inconvenient truth that he appointed -- and *continues* to appoint -- members of the banking oligarchy to his cabinet


You forgot Eco Nazis, and Marxists, Socialists,and Eugenics proponents.

the PTB's picture

Obama *is* the banking system.

So why are you surprised.  The Anglo-American banking elite put him there.  You think he will make a move without its approval?  Yes, he is a tool and I suppose very happy to be one, given his sordid past.

MillionDollarBonus_'s picture

What's all the fuss about? I though it was a good speech. My only criticism is that he made no guarantees concerning further fiscal stimulus and welfare spending. President Obama needs to reassure the American people that there will be NO cuts to social security, Medicare or Medicaid and that he will bring the budget under control by improving EFFICIENCY of government rather than cutting spending.

duo's picture

do you ghost write for Rachael Maddow in your spare time?

Mercury's picture

Think of him as the mirror image of Stephen Colbert.

Zero Govt's picture

the speech (dribble) was political posturing par excellence.. it was designed to deflect attention to idealism and 'promises, promises, promises' and away from 'performance, performance, performance'

Bummas record is fuking diabolical... the biggest socialist spending orgy in global history and the Trotsky tosser has got nothing/zippo to show for it

Bumma is escaping to the 'ideological high ground' of promising a fairer (Communist) tomorrow despite his previous elected promises all falling miserably leaving voters, even black ones, leaving this lying creep in droves.

Bumma has painted himself into a corner and has no option to fight on the vacuous 'promises of tomorrow' because his actual record is a pile of lying incompetent steaming crap (miserable failure)

Bumma is a slippery little shit (politicians in a nutshell)

narapoiddyslexia's picture

MDB is a great troll. Its kinda' difficult to understand why he is not more appreciated.

tarsubil's picture

Have you ever seen Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity together at the same place? Think about it.

V in PA's picture

Didn't they star in 'Spit Covered Whores 3'?

tarsubil's picture

Aha! Yes, but they were never in the same shot together!

AngryChair's picture

do you ghost write for Richard Maddow in your spare time?


That's better!

V in PA's picture

Booooooo!   You stink!

jk. Welcome to ZH AngryChair. ;)

Grinder74's picture

Rachel Maddow's dildo learned to write?

WonderDawg's picture

Where to start on this absurd post? I guess I'll just say, well done. Sarcasm plus coffee equals a good start to the day.

entropos's picture

Another perfect MDB post. God bless you and may your bonuses continue to roll in.

Dapper Dan's picture

Beware of what is coming!

"National Strategy for Global Supply Chain Security,"


Jan 25, 8:30 AM EST

AP Exclusive: Obama to protect US goods globally

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) -- President Barack Obama has adopted a new strategy declaring for the first time that the United States has a national security interest to protect the nation's economic goods against terrorists, criminals and natural disasters in all corners of the globe.

doomz78's picture

haha.  Million dollar bonus..  I am a big fan.  You write great stuff.  Very funny. 

Everybodys All American's picture

I thought the speech writer was phenominal. Oh and well delivered by the empty suit.

Sanksion's picture

Still the author of the most socially valuable comment.

It is not human to be so good everyday, never missing one.

You're my guiding north star.

DosZap's picture


 I though it was a good speech.

For the first time I agree with you,except while he pontificates and lies with aplomb, he is deconstructing the Republic.

La Fabulosa!!

GeezerGeek's picture

I personally liked the part about all of us living under the same set of rules. That means my son can apply for and get a waiver to avoid being sucked into the standard Obamacare plan, just like unions and all O's other buddies. It also means I can, just like the banks, borrow a billion or two at zero interest and give it back to the Fed while collecting interest. Let's see, 1% of 1 billion is 10 million. That should supplement my social security stipend nicely.

What? That's not what Obama meant by us all sharing the rules? What a steaming pile, then...

SeanJKerrigan's picture

Sorry, the numbers just don't work here. You can't properly assess the validity of his talking points unless you understand the specifics.

The nation's headed toward a fiscal crisis in the next few years and the only way to solve it is to cut programs drastically which would collapse the economy.

You could delay the collapse by 1) cutting the military significantly or 2) cutting social programs, but it would have to be pretty dramatic.  Cutting the military would probably collapse GDP pretty quick anyway.  They will opt for gradual cuts in social spending as a way to delay the inevitable.

Generally though, they will continue to kick the can down the road, knowing it will eventually end catostrophically, drawing the whole world in to a giant war, but stategically it makes more sense than preemptively cutting off our own balls now.

I've posted this before, but its worth reposting in this context.  Audio: Simpson/Bowles defecit committe says 2-3 years till fiscal crisis.

Eireann go Brach's picture

Yo Amerika, give me $3 Trillion more dollas and I promise I will drive the country over the cliff this time! Obama 2013!

DosZap's picture

Another speech by a Chatty Kathy.........................SOS.

Fell asleep, hearing the same things he's GOING to do,bit NEVER does.

DosZap's picture

by the time it takes effect in 2014,

 Parts of Obamacare are already in effect, my employers passed along a 15%health care increase to us, never BEEN done before.

Thats $4k lesss a year to spend on living expenses.

Because of ObamaNocare.

memyselfiu's picture

wow, is that how much americans are paying now for health care?

I'll take higher taxes and non-profit health care for $1000 Alex....any time

sgt_doom's picture

Here's your synopsis:

Low Information Voter: Hurray, Obama's finally addressed "outsourcing."

High Information Voter: Yeah, just after he's signed three "free trade" agreements, and in the South Korean agreement at least 65% of the jobs don't even go to the South Korean workers, but are structured to go the North Korean slave labor camps!  (And didn't he talk about outsourcing when he was running for president the first time?  And what did he do in the interim?  Oh yeah....he's running the reelection!)

Low Information Voter:  Hurray!  Obama spoke about changes in the tax code.

High Information Voter: Ho hum......he mentioned that during his first presidential campaign, and nothing came of it and his advisor on "jobs and competitives" is the biggest tax evader, jobs offshorer, and pension assets fraudster around, GE's CEO, Jeffrey Immelt!

Low Information Voter: But the problem is, according to Obama, business leaders can't find enough qualified or skilled workers, so all these jobs go unfilled!

High Information Voter:  We've been hearing that drivel for over forty years, and they always repeat that crapola right before offshoring another batch of jobs.

Back in around 2002, 2003, when they laid off scores of IT people, and offshored some of their programming jobs to Ghana, they made the same exact claim. (Ghana???????)

Give me a break, already!!!!!

Low Information Voter:  But Obama said the economy is coming back, and a bunch of new jobs have been created.

High Information Voter: Well, since the beginning of the last Economic Meltdown, only 30% of jobs have been "recovered" -- of course, the data is kind of sketchy on how many of those jobs are full-time, and what they pay, and probable little or no healthcare benefits and that Healthcare insurance reform doesn't kick in until 2014 --- assuming it does actually materialize?

Low Information Voter:  But Obama said he's going after the banksters by creating some sort of Financial Crimes unit with the Dept. of Justice?

High Information Voter:  Yeesh!  Another subterfuge!  That Financial Crisis Inquiry Report was handed over to the DOJ quite some time ago, with plenty of ammo to go after the banksters and the three rating agencies, yet no action has been taken by the Obama Administration.  It's all smoke and mirrors and eye candy and two-facedness with that guy!

Low Information Voter:  So you're blaming Obama for everything?

High Information Voter:  Negative, sonny, I'm blaming him for continuing the impotent Bush neocon policies which only favor the super-rich, and I'm blaming him for appointing a 100% neocon administration, and I'm blaming him for doing as little as possible for American workers, minorities and women, and going after more whistleblowers than all previous American presidents combined, and like Bush cooked that Iraqi WMD intelligence data, Obama has now continued the same crap by cooking the IAEA Iran Nuclear Assessment Report (International Atomic Energy Agency).


MFL8240's picture

Another brilliant performance of lies at the (Police) State of the USSA last night with the chief clown telling all of us that rich people are evil as he courts more money than anyone in history from these people he professes to despise.  "Fairness" the clown claims is the answer, while under his tenure poverty is off the charts, food stamped off the charts, unemployment still over 16%, debt at alarming rates as he filled the pockets of his friends and the elite criminal banking cartel he claims are the enemy with 5 Trillion in taxpayer dollars.  This man is a joke and no one will come out and tell the truth about the Alinsky protégé.  Yes, the clown says he must be able to finish the job he started of destroying my country.  The people of America will live to regret 4 years of this man, 8 and there will be no way home.  He said, “We have gone too far to turn back”. I say Mr. Clown, “You have gone too far and destroyed this country, the question is, and can we turn back”?  I doubt it but nonetheless, I want him out and a person in office with AMERICAN Values, not Muslim Values to give it a try.


BLOTTO's picture

More like: Anyone but - ANYone. In other words - the candidates dont matter.

Its tainted and polluted further up the stream... the 'ANYone' candidate is a puppet...

We need to cut the head off higher up the pyramid - why dont more people see this?

“The average citizen is the world’s most efficient censor. His own mind is the greatest barrier between him and the facts. His own ‘logic proof compartments,’ his own absolutism are the obstacles which prevent him from seeing in terms of experience and thought rather than in terms of group reaction.”Bernays, Crystallizing Public Opinion


DaveyJones's picture

Didn't know Goldman, Monsanto and Chevron all bowed toward Mecca....?

Rick Masters's picture

It's official! This comment board has officially become an echo chamber where no good idea gets born and the ones that get posted by Tyler(s) get quickly discredited by the likes of insane people like the poster above. Seriously, go back to 2009 where you belong. You can criticize Obama without the whole he's a Muslim thing. You do realize that only serves to energize his base and turn off the independents giving him a better chance of re-election right? Or is that type of deductive thinking too much for you?

tarsubil's picture

Tell me about it. I was the one that broke the story that the muslim story was just cover for him being a mormon but no one would listen.

Corn1945's picture

The American people have elected a clown as President for well over 100 years.

MFL8240's picture

In the case of Billy Blue dress, Carter the farmer/Billy Beer and Obama, I would agree.  I'll take Regan back in a second, he was no clown son.

ACjourneyman's picture

Regan was no great president of the 20th century. The national debt was under contro,l somewhat until he took office and that was when it started to rise out of control. He was a big spender of others money as they all are.


kralizec's picture

Seriously, I suppose the Tip O'Neill democrats has absolutely no role in rising debt, eh?  Everytime the dem's promised "spending cuts" in the 80's & 90's they lied and increased spending anyway, and blamed Repub Presidents for shutdowns when extorting those concessions!  Get your history right!  It wasn't till Newt took congress from the dem's for the first time in 40 years where we had a government surplus in a fiscal year!  I shudder to think who you think a great 20th century president is!

ACjourneyman's picture

The only way to save this country is to reduce the size of government and government programs. The only one to do that would be Ron Paul, everyone else is more of the same I fear but I do agree we need a new republican or better tea party leader.The country can't afford  4 more years of a pre-totalatarianism gov.  and I don't want to be a slave. I can't even work anymore without doing this, wearing that, etc etc , just to protect myself from well myself.ANd who do I think would be the best president, I really don't know much  about US history as I grew up in Canada but I would have to go back to Washington, it seems it has been downhill from there.


DaveyJones's picture

I love this debate who ballooned the debt. They all got us here. Both parties suck