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Wednesday, Nov 14 2012 11:00 PM

ANDY WAHRENBROCK: President Obama has achieved an un-accomplishment for the ages

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    Andy Wahrenbrock

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Mark Martinez, if he does know ("Why President Obama won," Nov. 7), doesn't let on in the points he mentions, such as "the stimulus worked," "federal spending slows to a crawl" and "rising incomes." Allow me to cherry-pick the accomplishments Martinez cites in making his argument. (Note: "Accomplishment" is not the word I would use.)

Case in point: "Stimulus worked." Where to begin? Had the financial/political elites in 2008 announced that we were in the midst of a major crisis, and are going to print money to resolve it, they would likely have been laughed off the stage. Yet, money printing is precisely what has happened. Fast forward: The U.S. financial and economic systems are now dependent upon continued "stimulus" in order to simply tread water. For the record, matters are likewise direr in Europe.

The most recent stimulus variation, know as QE3, was announced this past September by the Federal Reserve along with continuation of what is known as ZIRP (zero interest rate policy). And so, with much artificial money at artificially low interest rates, we appear to muddle through. In terms of the election, I doubt it matters that the "stimulus" was/is directed at the banking system first and the broad economy second, as these concepts seem beyond most voters' concern.

As for "Federal spending slows to a crawl": The U.S. budget for 2009 was $2.982 trillion. For 2012 (estimated) it will come in at $3.795 trillion. In my view, with an economy growing at approximately 2 percent annually, that's not crawling. If Martinez is referring to the nondiscretionary spending portion of the budget, I doubt most voters discriminate. Discretionarily speaking, if we are as a nation broke, and we are, then we are broke.

Now, to address the "Auto industry story": Let's hope Martinez's citation of Obama saving 1 million jobs is meant to humor. Had, say, General Motors gone into bankruptcy proceedings, does this mean the jobs disappear? Of course not. The stock and bond holders (hint) may suffer but the business generally continues seamless operation.

Martinez tells us that income levels in 31 states are rising. The Census Bureau states in a report that for the middle quintile, in 2011 dollars, the peak real income year was 2000, with a 4.4 percent decrease since. Amazingly, vis-a-vis Martinez's reference to the above mentioned 31 states as an accomplishment are the voting results of these states. By my cursory count, Romney carried 17 of those 31 states. That, dear reader, is rich!

Lastly, as to Martinez's rationale, he cites the stock market levels. For causation, readers might go back to the above-mentioned stimulus and consider where it went. Further, analyzing the various actions of investment markets is dicey business.

However, something clearly caused or allowed Barack Obama to win the election. In this observer's view, a key democracy threshold toward the dark side has been passed in this nation, as Franklin, Jefferson and others warned us. One commentator called it a case of the takers outnumbering the makers. I for one would deem this the un-accomplishment of the ages.

Fear not, as the world at large during these days of globalization has its takers and makers. The USA just happens to be a taker based upon our status as large net debtor nation with a chronic trade deficit. Further complicating matters, we are the nation with the world's reserve currency, an artifact of the days when the USA was the world's chief maker.

This, too, will change -- quickly, I imagine, leaving Americans with a new set of problems. Thank goodness we have a rich history, work ethic, can-do attitude and our Constitution to help carry us through. I hope.

Andrew Wahrenbrock of Bakersfield is an investment counselor. Another View presents a critical response to a previous editorial, column or news story.

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