COINCIDING with presidential election campaigns, the Summer Olympics are typically a rare time of national unity in a season of political division.
At least they would be if not for President Barack Obama's campaign ads. In one Olympic spot, Obama claims Republican candidate Mitt Romney's agenda is to “cut taxes for the folks at the very top” and “roll back regulations on big banks” while Obama asks “the wealthy to pay a little more” so the government can “invest” in “middle-class jobs.”
As Americans come together to cheer our athletes' efforts on the international stage, Obama touts class warfare and division, suggesting hard work and success should be punished. Where most citizens see an American athlete on the winner's dais as a moment of national pride, the president sees a rich guy wearing a big gold medallion around his neck who needs to be taxed.
Compare Obama's ads to former President George W. Bush's 2004 Olympics ad. That spot noted there were just 40 democracies in the world in 1972, but 120 by 2004, including two new additions — Afghanistan and Iraq — and concluded, “With strength, resolve and courage, democracy will triumph over terror. And hope will defeat hatred.”
That was an ad matching its message to its audience and the broad goals of the Olympics. Obama's ad does the opposite and actually facilitates division.
Sadly, seeking a momentary escape from the troubles of the Obama economy by watching the Olympics provides no escape from Obama.
Oklahoma City improves
This year's improvement in student scores on state tests was the biggest seen in the Oklahoma City school district in 30 years. This was the first year seniors had to pass four of seven end-of-instruction exams to get a diploma. No doubt, that helped motivate many who would have shrugged off the tests in the past. This is good news because it indicates Oklahoma's reforms are having a positive impact on many students who aren't college bound but still need a quality high school education to succeed in the private sector. For example, work as an electrical contractor provides a good wage without a college degree. But the Independent Electrical Contractors of Oklahoma City has noted many high school graduates don't qualify because they can't do the high school math required! We're cautiously optimistic the new graduation requirements are reducing those shortcomings and increasing job opportunities for students of all backgrounds.
He of little faith
Henry D. Irwin's name didn't make the Oklahoma history books, but in a presidential election year it's worth a mention. In 1960, Irwin was an example of what's known as a “faithless elector.” That's someone who pledges to vote for one ticket when the Electoral College meets and then breaks the pledge. Irwin pledged to vote for the Richard Nixon/Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. ticket in 1960 when that Republican slate won in Oklahoma. Instead, Irwin voted for two non-candidates, Democrat Harry Byrd for president and Republican Barry Goldwater for vice president. More than 150 instances of “faithless electors” have been noted through history; none has changed the final outcome of an election. Irwin reportedly said he just didn't like Nixon, despite his pledge. It was moot, of course, because an Electoral College majority chose John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson that year. Johnson's election to the presidency four years later (over Goldwater) was the last time the state's electoral votes went to the Democratic ticket.
Now money's a bad thing?
Four years ago, Barack Obama had no problem with big money being spent in presidential campaigning. Of course, he was the one doing it. Now that President Obama's campaign isn't raking in the cash like it did in 2008, he's uncomfortable with what's being spent by challenger Mitt Romney and Republican backers. In July, for the third straight month, Romney's campaign raised more money than the Obama campaign. At a campaign stop this week, Obama lamented that between now and Election Day, “the other side is going to spend more money than we have ever seen” making its case against him. More money than we have ever seen. This from the man whose campaign raised close to $780 million in 2008 — a record total, and twice the amount raised by Republican John McCain — and spent about $760 million. Running for president requires serious money. That's not about to change. If Obama's record in office wasn't so disappointing, he wouldn't have to worry so much about what Romney says or how much the challenger spends to say it.
What's in a name?
Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders have not determined if they will implement a health exchange as required by Obamacare. The exchange is essentially a website allowing people to shop for health insurance. If the state does not set up an exchange of its own, maintaining some local control, the federal government will impose one. Oklahoma is one of 29 states resisting installation. Even if Oklahoma does implement an exchange, however, officials in other states are finding consumers don't like the “exchange” label. The Wall Street Journal reports consultants have determined consumers think “exchange” implies that they will be forced to give up current coverage and that fine print and legal loopholes will be involved to exploit them. Other states are seeking a more appealing way to “brand” their health exchanges. From its foundational premise to the smallest details, Obamacare offends Americans.
A California bankruptcy case involving an American Indian enterprise could have repercussions in Oklahoma. The Santa Ysabel Resort and Casino near San Diego is seeking to enter into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. American Indian tribes are considered sovereign nations and not included among entities that can file Chapter 11 under existing law, but they are not specifically excluded, either. Case law is virtually nonexistent. A tribal enterprise in Minnesota filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2008, but that business was not located on tribal land. The mere possibility that tribal-owned businesses could file for bankruptcy has caused banks to restructure $1.7 billion in debt owed by tribes, according to a recent Fitch Ratings report. In addition to non-gambling tribal businesses, there are well over 100 casinos in Oklahoma that are tribal-owned entities on Indian land, so the outcome of the California case could have ripple effects across the Sooner State.
Lifting all boats
We've noted before that the state of Oklahoma cannot thrive with only one city or region prospering. Although Oklahoma communities may compete in many arenas, improved economic development in one area benefits other parts of the state as well. The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber obviously focuses most of its energy on growing Oklahoma City, but the chamber also recognizes that the city doesn't operate in a bubble. As a result, the chamber's political action committee has made contributions not only to Oklahoma City-area legislative candidates, but also to candidates across the state. That might surprise some, but the policies enacted by the Legislature impact all Oklahomans, and it's important our laws support entrepreneurship. By supporting good candidates across the state, the chamber is supporting good policy that benefits all Oklahomans, which also aids Oklahoma City. As President John F. Kennedy said, a rising tide lifts all boats.