In less than one week we will know who will serve as our president for the next four years. Forget the polls. As I have said all along, this comes down to a few key variables we have to keep in mind when we’re in the voting booth:

THE ECONOMY

It’s no secret our economy can be described as lethargic at best. Our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is at a paltry 1.3% and only reached a high of 4.1% in the last four years. The federal debt is now in excess of $16 trillion ($6.4 trillion added over the last four years), and we’re now in excess of 100% of the GDP. Translation: we’re spending more than we bring in.

The United States has dropped to #3 in terms of exports (with China and the European Union ahead of us). The balance of International Trade in Goods and Services is now at -$42 billion.

The federal deficit has grown to $1.2 trillion over the last four years and we have been operating without a budget for the last three years which is inexcusable.

Other indicators of economic woes include:
- The country lost its AAA credit rating.
- In 2011 we experienced 1,410,653 bankruptcies (96.61% of which were consumer filings)
- College loan debt now exceeds credit card debt.
- Average gasoline prices have risen $1.85/gallon to $3.86/gallon over the last four years.
- Food stamp recipients have risen from 32 million to 47 million (+46%)

It is rather remarkable the president discarded the report of his own Council of Economic Advisers which basically concluded it was necessary for the government to cut spending.

UNEMPLOYMENT

Despite the president’s stimulus/bailout programs, there are still 12.1 million Americans unemployed (officially). Understand this though, another 2.5 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in September had not searched for work in the previous four weeks.

Those worker groups particularly affected include: teenagers (23.7%), blacks (13.4%), and Hispanics (9.9%).

The country experienced 43 continuous months of +8% unemployment. This represents the president’s entire term of office, almost.

Interestingly, the president failed to meet with his own Jobs Council for more than six months.

ENERGY

With U.S. oil exploration and drilling slowing to a crawl, Americans questioned why the president would throw the government’s weight behind Brazil, a country that also received a $2 billion loan for its state-owned oil company from the U.S. Export-Import Bank. Meanwhile he has turned his back on the Keystone Pipeline which would help the country become more energy independent while creating thousands of much needed jobs for Americans.

The United States still imports over 341 billion barrels of oil, most of which from OPEC and Persian Gulf countries, thereby cementing our dependency on this dangerous part of the world.

While energy costs have nearly doubled as a percentage of the annual family budget, heavy handed regulations from the EPA are making what we pay for energy an even greater burden on our families and our businesses.

The administration’s “War on Coal” has forced the industry into retreat, eliminating 1,200 jobs and closing eight mines in Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. The president has created a regulatory environment that’s aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal, America’s most abundant, reliable resource.

And there remains no policy or course of action for energy independence, despite having considerable gas, oil, and coal resources in our possession.

IMMIGRATION

It is no secret that 13 million illegals currently reside in the United States costing taxpayers an average amount of $1,117 per household. Efforts by states to stem the flow of illegals has been rebuffed by the federal government in the form of lawsuits against them. Interestingly, a new lawsuit was recently filed by federal immigration agents against Homeland Security for policies they say prevent them from doing their job of defending the Constitution.

Then, of course, there is the failure of “Fast and Furious” which cost the life of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, and destroyed the credibility of the president’s attorney general, the country’s first sitting member of the cabinet to be held in Contempt of Congress for withholding documents related to the scandal.

The attorney general has also been at the forefront of prohibiting states to secure their borders and implement voter identification programs. In addition, he has been an active proponent in implementing the Pretrial System which has jeopardized security by putting criminals back on the streets as opposed to properly processing them through the courts.

FOREIGN POLICY/NATIONAL SECURITY

True, the president is recognized for his approval to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, but the rest of his foreign policy can hardly be called credible. The Muslim Spring led to the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East, not democracy. It also led to our ambassador in Libya being killed and our embassies attacked, which is strongly reminiscent of the Carter administration. No matter how the president tries to spin it, we are still engaged in a “War on Terror.”

The Muslim Spring also marked a turning point for the United States as the administration adopted a policy of “leading from behind,” whereby we allowed other countries take the lead in determining policy in the Middle East, thus putting into question our country’s credibility as a superpower.

Defense has been significantly weakened. For example, we can now only fight in one major arena, not two. This is unlike when we were forced to fight in both the Pacific and Atlantic regions during WW2. There is now a strain in America’s relationship with two of its traditional allies, Great Britain and Israel. Should war come again, we may very well find ourselves alone. A recent Pew Research poll reveals the president’s approval ratings have dropped considerably among foreign nations, including Muslim countries.

The biggest concern though in foreign policy is our hands-off position regarding the buildup of Iran’s nuclear program, a potential powder keg in the making.

UN Agenda 21, which the administration has quietly embraced, is perhaps the biggest threat to the country’s freedoms as defined by the U.S. Constitution. This is a program the administration hopes will pass before the people recognize it for what it is, a genuine threat to the American way of life.

In these dangerous times of foreign intrigue, you have to question the wisdom of dodging the presidential intelligence briefings.

SOCIAL REFORM

The president’s Obamacare reform is his signature piece of legislation, yet it is still opposed by the majority of Americans. The complexity of the law has had an adverse effect on business who still doesn’t understand its ramifications. After it was studied by the Supreme Court, Americans were surprised to learn it represented the largest tax increase in U.S. history.

The president also touted gay rights, not only in terms of marriage, but in the military as well. Meanwhile, the existence of God came under attack.

More disturbing, this administration has fostered the cultivation of a Nanny State whereby freewill is supplanted by the will of the government. This has changed the face of America from “the land of opportunity” to “the land of entitlement.”

SO, WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

This sounds more like the work of an apprentice learning on the job as opposed to an experienced leader and manager. The next question is, do we stay the course or pick a replacement? Staying the course means you approve of the condition of the country as mentioned herein. True, there are people who will vote by blind devotion along partisan lines, but I would like to believe that voting for a person means you feel they are the most competent to do the job, not because of political ideology. Party politics are nice, but supporting job competency is more important, now more than ever.

Some would argue Governor Romney would not do as well as the president under the circumstances. One thing is clear, he cannot do worse. President Obama’s label as an “empty chair” president seems justified or, as I am reminded, “While Nero fiddled, Rome burned.”

I don’t want to give the impression the president is a complete failure. After all, he did succeed in making Jimmy Carter look like a star.

“If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.”
- Barack Obama, February 1, 2009

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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