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Aquino falling in similar economic trap like Obama


As a Filipino American I’ve prayed for the success and kept abreast with great interest the progress of both President Obama’s and President Aquino’s administrations. Virtually similar in their political ascendancy to the presidency, each was considered less qualified than their opponents but was nonetheless catapulted to the highest office within the gift of their people.

Obama, an African American, became a challenge and an experiment of the U.S. mainstream media if America were ready for a black man to occupy the White House oval office. They supported his candidacy without digging deeper into his personal background and set aside the influences in his early life that would affect his policy thinking and choices.

There’s evidence to suggest that America’s liberal media still support Obama even though there’s increasing realization his policies to transform the U.S. economy into his vision of a European “cradle-to-grave” social democracy have made matters worse than what could’ve righted the slumping economy he inherited with conventional tools the U.S. has used to recover from past recessions.

Instead, Obama and advisers mostly from the academe insisted of doing it their way. The result is the economy has become analogous to an ailing person treated with new drugs rather than the usual medicines that could’ve helped him to recover fast. There’s no question the U.S. economy’s become worse than when Obama took over.

The problems have been exacerbated by theoretical solutions of Obama’s advisers with no real world experience. None of his original economic team of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Council of Economic Advisers chair Christina Romer and National Economic Council director Larry Summers had been involved in organizing a real-world business and gained hands-on experience from corporate planning, investments promotion, meeting payrolls, and starting up the business by staffing management and administrative positions and hiring workers for the day-to-day operation.

Austan Goolsbee, Obama’s most faithful economic adviser dating back to his U.S. Senate days succeeded Romer. After making the rounds of Sunday’s talk shows (June 5) asking patience for economic recovery to gain traction, Goolsbee announced the next day he’s quitting. People could only guess that for Goolsbee to quit at this critical juncture of the administration means he gave up trying to convince Obama to bite the bullet by setting aside ideology in tackling economic problems and reversing course.

As a professional economist, Goolsbee might’ve hammered Obama to encourage investment and incentivize small businesses to create jobs. This could be done in many ways such as lifting off restrictions on oil drilling; agree to substantial cuts of federal spending e.g. defer Obamacare and not spend the $105 billion earmarked for it smuggled in the bill; make present tax rates permanent and agree with the House Republicans using Rep. Pat Ryan’s proposal as baseline for recasting the federal budget the Democratic-controlled Senate and House failed to enact because Obama refused to exercise presidential leadership.

I’d guess Goolsbee was asked to comment about the latest Washington Post-ABC poll on the economy published on Tuesday (June 7) showing Obama’s public opinion bounce after the killing of Osama bin Laden has dissipated while 89% of Americans disapprove with only 11% approving how Obama’s handling the nation’s economy that’s giving rise to the budget deficit unheard of during the previous 43 U.S. presidents.

Goolsbee unable to convince Obama to change course and try different policies was left no choice but to quit. Or else, his professional reputation as an economics professor could be irreparably tarnished and he’d find it difficult to get teaching placement after Obama.

Blaming President Bush of driving the economy like a car into a ditch sounds a broken record now. Obama accepted the economy as his own two days after his inauguration on Jan 22, 2009 at the same time promising it’s his job “to get this economy back on its feet.” Thus, the people who lost their jobs and their homes unable to pay their mortgage won’t accept that the current economic conditions are anybody’s fault but the triumvirate’s of Obama, Pelosi and Reid for it’s clearly seen that after almost five years when the Democrats were in control of Congress from 2007 up to 2010 with them still control the Senate to date, the policies and programs they’ve tried have driven the car in the ditch deeper than Bush ever did.

People aren’t encouraged by excuses the U.S. economic recovery has hit some bumps on the road. Just tell this to someone out of work for two years now. The fact is many Americans who voted for Obama are hurting and having buyer’s remorse to conclude he’s a failure. They admit their mistake of voting for Obama and now agree he doesn’t have what it takes to govern the USA.

On the other hand, Aquino came from an upper class and illustrious family. He didn’t suffer discrimination and humiliation Obama went through. Aquino couldn’t have developed the resentment that influences Obama’s policy thinking and choices.

Like Obama, though, Aquino’s biggest problem is inexperience and the apparent timidity of his senior officials to innovate and try fighting the Philippines’ most debilitating problem of graft and corruption with the PH-US Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), UNCAC and the latest international anticorruption cooperation compliance requirements to stop or at least reduce the problem. Graft and corruption is debilitating because the Philippines’ lose the resources that otherwise could be used for anti-poverty programs and projects to realize the economic returns they’d yield to improve the government social services.

However, after one year, beside anti-smuggling and tax evasion cases, the Aquino administration appears to have lost willingness to invoke better international anticorruption tools and bring the fight to the U.S. and other foreign countries. It’s as though Aquino’s senior officials are satisfied relying on the Philippine justice system. Everybody knows as has happened to the PCGG the PH Government lacks the resources and political will to pursue big fishes that would fight charges of graft and corruption to the end of Aquino’s tenure knowing full well their chances to be acquitted improves as litigation is prolonged and the probability that pliable government lawyers would get involved.

The greater danger though is Aquino’s accepting Ping de Jesus’ resignation. If as reported the resignation stemmed from insubordination of a lower echelon official that happens to be merely a presidential target-shooting buddy also close to DILG undersecretary Rico Puno earlier treated with kid’s glove when he should’ve been fired, this could reverberate across the entire government that Cabinet members are expendable when they tangle with presidential buddies.

Nothing can better ensure that Aquino would fail if he couldn’t rein in the people around him to observe simple office procedure without throwing their weight because they’re his buddies. If trivial association vis-à-vis matters of state make Aquino side with a subordinate over a Cabinet member like De Jesus, an honest and highly capable technocrat who contributed a large part to President Cory Aquino’s accomplishment, his supporters wishing him to succeed may be jolted and reawaken that Aquino would fail like Obama.

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