It's the policy, stupid!

By ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, former U. S. senator

NOV. 3, 2011 -- Chris Matthews on Hardball keeps complaining about Democratic members of Congress and the Cabinet not campaigning for the President; not enthused about Obama.


Elected to the United States Senate seven times, I know about the running for re-election on Presidents' policies. In fact, my re-election in 1998 can be attributed in large measure to my vigorous opposition to President Clinton's NAFTA with Mexico.

Tell me the Obama policy that I can run on for re-election.

  • Obamacare - No way.

  • Stimulation - It hasn't worked.

  • Bailouts - General Motors, the principal recipient, is expanding in China. Chrysler, the other recipient, has been taken over by Fiat. The bailouts were not for China and Italy.

  • Deficits - The 2008 recession ended in June 2009. Obama has increased the debt $4 trillion in three years.

  • Jobs - Federal aid for policemen, firemen, teachers, schools, and bridges is not a jobs plan - especially when Washington has to borrow the aid from China and the people. 141 countries compete with a VAT tax rebated on exports. Our corporate tax is not rebated. Having a non-competitive tax in globalization, refusing to enforce our trade laws, and subsidizing U. S. manufacture in China is an industrial policy for China. We need an industrial policy for the United States.

  • Foreign policy - We've worn out our welcome in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've lost credibility in the Mid-East on settlements and a state for the Palestinians; and we've lost faith in democracy with the Pentagon's plan to find terrorists over the world and drone kill them before they kill us.

"Beginning with the Tariff Act of 1789, this nation was built on manufacture and always protected manufacture."

-- Hollings

Now comes Chris Matthews in Time (11/7/11) writing of "Five Things JFK Could Teach Obama." JFK could teach Obama two more important things: get the government off steroids and create an industrial policy for the United States.

We paid for the Revolutionary War with property taxes. We paid for World War II with payroll taxes. We have always paid for our wars until Presidents Bush and Obama. Both cut taxes and refused to pay for wars, prescription drugs, bailouts, and the increased cost of government. It took the United States over 200 years to accrue a national debt of $1 trillion in 1981. Given a balanced budget, President Bush increased the national debt $5 trillion in eight years. President Obama will have increased the national debt $5 trillion in four years. Borrowing a trillion dollars a year, the voters next November will be worried about getting the government off steroids - not "growth." President Kennedy added only $22.8 billion to the debt in his four fiscal years. President Kennedy paid for government.

In March 1961, President Kennedy convened a Cabinet hearing which determined, next to steel, textiles were most important to our national security. In May 1961, JFK enforced the Defense Production Act of 1950 to protect the textile industry. Failing to protect steel, the Bay Bridge in San Francisco was just rebuilt with eight miles of steel from China. Beginning with the Tariff Act of 1789, this nation was built on manufacture and always protected manufacture. Ronald Reagan protected steel, motor vehicles, computers, and machine tools. Instead of begging Russia for helicopters for Afghanistan, President Obama ought to protect those industries necessary to our national security. Instead, the President continues to subsidize the off-shoring of our research, technology, manufacture and jobs.

The five things Matthews listed that JFK could teach Obama: You've Got to Ask; Create a Political Band of Brothers and Sisters; Take Responsibility; Believe; Show the Vision, were all the result of JFK's policies. We can develop an industrial policy for the United States by enforcing our trade laws and taking the tax benefit to off-shore jobs and giving it to Corporate America to on-shore jobs -- cancel the corporate income tax and replace it with a 6% VAT. This provides billions to pay down the debt and creates millions of jobs.

It's the policy, stupid!

Senator Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of Making Government Work (University of South Carolina Press, 2008).

© 2011, Ernest F. Hollings. All rights reserved. Contact us for republication permission.

About Fritz Hollings

Ernest F. Hollings served the public for 56 years -- 38 years in the United States Senate and as South Carolina's governor, lieutenant governor and a member of the S.C. House of Representatives.

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