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Play To The Base?

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Those who are advising President Obama to "play to the base" and tack further to the left are sowing the seeds for a Democratic wipe out more devastating than the one in 2010 that yielded ninety-six freshmen Republicans versus only ten Democrats. With every national poll yielding a 2:1 ratio of self-described conservatives to liberals and the President's left of center positions on issues garnering even far less public approval than his job performance, how can this be a winning strategy for him, his party, or the American people?

Democratic candidates for the senate must defend twenty-three seats in 2010. It is bad enough that each incumbent will have a scarlet "60" pinned to their chest marking them as the 60th vote for the unpopular health care bill. The President's $800 billion stimulus bill may have as he argued "saved jobs," but it inarguably did not perform as advertized, and plausibly was a colossal waste of resources. Currently seventy-five percent of the public believes that we are on the wrong track. The proposed Stimulus II (my name) seems to boil down to increasing the taxes on one part of the population by some half trillion dollars and giving the money to another. Arguing that this is "fairer" may fire up the base but to the unemployed it looks more like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It is lousy economics and lousy politics. Small wonder that senate Democrats seem to be ignoring it in hopes it may go away.

Jobs are created by private sector investment. I have spent a career making capital investment decisions in the real estate, financial services, entertainment, and transportation industries. These decisions are largely a function of capital availability and cost, as well as confidence in the future. Corporate America is presently drowning in cash and interest rates are at an all time low. But unfortunately so is confidence in the economic policies and politics of this administration. If playing to the democratic base means advocating for greater unionization, stifling domestic energy production, redistributing income, and demonizing wealth creators as "fat cats," we shouldn't be surprised if corporate executives and entrepreneurs sit on their hands, hold off on domestic investment, and employment continues to stagnate.

Americans want prosperity not rhetoric. This means pursuing policies that expand the pie not slice it thinner. Fiddling with tax rates may have populist appeal but is substantively meaningless for curing the ills of an economy that is stagnating and a government that runs trillion and half dollar annual deficits, faces an avalanche of unfunded entitlement liabilities, and treats commerce as a crime against humanity.

The 2008 election was said to spell the end of the Republican Party, but 2010 quickly put the lie to that conceit. Unless this administration radically changes direction, the Democratic Party will inherit the headstone in 2012. It should be small consolation that subsequently Republicans will likely founder pursuing their version of political extremism. The political class will survive. Democrats will assuredly rise again but the demoralizing losing streak of the American public will continue until we develop competent leadership willing to set aside ideology and pursue common sense policies that benefits all Americans.

Al Checchi participated in the transformation of three major American companies and took on the California political establishment as a candidate for governor. He is the author of a new book, The Change Maker, Preserving the Promise of America and a "Declaration for Independence", a common sense governing agenda for America that can be viewed at http://www.jointogetheramerica.org/