Opinion briefs: Thoughts on Obama & the mid-terms, & other topics


Obama & the mid-terms. Will former Pres. Barack Obama boost Democrats so they take control of Congress in 2019? 

It’s possible. But Republicans aren’t exactly afraid of Obama. That’s because Obama’s mid-term track record is disastrous. He suffered the biggest losses for one party since the Great Depression. He lost six Senate seats and 63 House seats in 2010, losing control of the House, plus 680 legislative and local government seats.

Then in 2014, Obama also lost the U.S. Senate and Republicans netted several more House seats, plus numerous state and local seats.  In all, Obama lost more than 1,000 Democratic seats in Congress, legislatures and governorships when he was president. When he left office, Republicans were firmly in control of essentially every level of government across the country.

The cool, cerebral, “no-drama Obama” is a stark contrast with our current boisterous, fast-talking president. Will Obama have more influence as a former president than he did when he was in office? We shall see.

Leaving California. Renowned demographers Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox are expressing alarm at the number of young people leaving California. In an Orange County Register opinion column entitled, “A generation plans an exodus from California,” the authors said that few California boosters “have yet to confront the fact that the state is continuing to hemorrhage people at a high rate, with particular losses among the family-formation age demographics critical to California’s future.”

The authors, both of whom live in California, say the state’s net domestic out-migration has recently almost tripled to 140,000 people annually. The state has lost half a million net migrants since 2010. The Bay Area, which is booming economically, “now leads the country in outbound home searches.”

They say that while high taxes, poor educational performance, and congestion are contributing factors, it is housing prices that are driving families to move. Coastal California housing prices are affordable for only 15 percent of residents. Nationally, affordability hovers at roughly 60 percent. Home prices for lower-end “starter” homes are 161 percent higher than the national average. In the Bay Area, 74 percent of millennials are considering moving to “less costly states such as Utah, Texas and Tennessee.” 

The authors say: “California’s media and political elites like to bask in the mirror and praise their political correctness. They focus on passing laws about banning straws, the makeup of corporate boards, prohibiting advertising for unenlightened fundamentalist preaching or staging a non-stop, largely ineffective climate change passion play. Yet what our state really needs are leaders interested in addressing more basic issues such as middle-class jobs and affordable single-family housing.”

Is there a lesson here for Utah? Yes, because Utah’s housing prices are rising rapidly and becoming unaffordable for many families.

Global warming defeats Federer. A headline in the New York Times reads: “Roger Federer is Tough to Beat. Global Warming Might Have Pulled an Upset.” The article goes on to seriously suggest that global warming caused the hot, humid weather in New York City, which in turn caused Federer to lose to Australian John Millman in the U.S. Open. Next time I’m working outside and get hot and sweaty and quite early, global warming is going to get the blame.

Who gets credit for the great economy? Obama and Democrats are contending that Trump doesn’t deserve credit for the nation’s strong economy. Economist Stephen Moore, a columnist and senior fellow at Heritage Foundation, says the “Obama effect” “might be semi-plausible except for the fact that every policy Trump implements reverses President Obama’s policy.”

He notes that liberals call Trump “deranged” because he is “overturning trade deals, pulling the United States out of anti-America climate change treaties, building a wall to keep out undesirables, cutting taxes, slashing regulation and insisting that Europe pay its fair share of NATO’s costs” – as he promised voters.

“And what is the result of all this ‘chaos’ and ‘mayhem’ in the White House that the media is in such a frenzy about? Well, as we learned last week, we now have the lowest number of American workers on unemployment insurance since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, the biggest manufacturing boom in 14 years, the lowest black unemployment rate ever recorded, and an economy that is growing at 4.4 percent this quarter, on top of 4.2 percent growth last quarter. The surging Trump economy is arguably the news story of the decade and yet it is covered, if at all, as a ho-hum yawner.”