Zuckerman: Obama Displays 'Absence of Leadership' on Economy

Thursday, 25 Aug 2011 04:10 PM

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President Barack Obama’s performance on the economy suggests an “absence of leadership” and reveals a president unable to grasp the state of the economy, U.S. News & World Report Chairman Mortimer Zuckerman writes in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed.

On Aug. 8, when Wall Street was in the middle of a now-common roller-coaster ride, Obama took to the stage to promote America’s sound economy, Zuckerman noted. The result was another 300-point drop.

“Mr. Obama seems unable to get a firm grip on the toughest issue facing his presidency and the country — the economy. He now asserts he is going to ‘pivot’ to jobs. Now we pivot to jobs? When there are already 25 million Americans who are either unemployed or cannot find full-time work? Does this president not appreciate what is going on? Fewer Americans are working full-time today than when Mr. Obama took office. We have lost over 900,000 full-time jobs in the last four months alone, and long-term unemployment is at a post-World War II high.”

Zuckerman writes that, at the same time the public’s faith in the president’s ability to deal with the economy has plummeted, business leaders are “pleading for some kind of adult supervision to build a national platform for sustained growth that includes a long-term fiscal plan that addresses our ballooning debt.

“They are desperate for strong leadership and feel that all we are getting out of Washington is a lot of noise as Democrats and Republicans blame one another.”

However, Zuckerman argues that, because the president “represents all of America and all Americans, the buck stops with him rather than with the Congress.”

Zuckerman criticizes Obama’s performance during the debt-ceiling negotiations, writing that the only clear position he took was that new taxes on the wealthy were needed and he “didn't even hold to that.”

“He made the politically tested and calculated statement that if you raise taxes on billionaires and millionaires you could solve the problem. This is not so. Even for those who support higher taxes on the wealthy, as I do, we must remember that we have an income tax system in which fully half the ‘taxpayers’ pay no tax at all, and in which the variety of loopholes cries out for a real reform of the tax code.”

Zuckerman wrote that many supporters have abandoned the president as he blames others, “be it in the opposition in Congress or the Japanese tsunami or in the failure of his audience to fully understand the wisdom and benefits of his proposals.”

At the same time, Obama seems focused on his re-election campaign when he should be spending “most of his time on the nitty-gritty of the job instead of on fund raisers, bus tours and visits to diners, which essentially are in service of his political interests.”

“Clearly the president will have to raise his game to win a second term, especially if the Republicans find a real candidate,” Zuckerman concluded. “Will voters be willing to give him another four years? Like many Americans who supported him, I long for a triple-A president to run a triple-A country.”



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