By Daniel Oliver
December 10th 2014
Senator Mary Landrieu’s defeat in the Louisiana run-off election last Saturday spells curtains for holders of Barack Obama stock.
Back in February of 2009, I asked readers whether, if Barack Obama were a stock, they would be buying or selling. I recommended selling. At the time, Obama Inc. (stock symbol BHO) was already down on the Rasmussen Approval Index History exchange from its January 2009 price of 27 pct to 11 pct. The stock recently hit –20 pct!
People who followed my advice, especially those who sold short, made millions — or have recently been elected to office.
No one’s buying BHO now because Obama Inc.’s only asset — being president — is a wasting asset, known in the profession as a “lame duck.”
BHO has two product lines, domestic policy and foreign policy. Both have been spectacularly, all but unprecedentedly, unsuccessful.
What looked initially like a success — getting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known on the street as ObamaCare, passed by Congress — turned into a tremendous liability. The CEO of the company knew the product’s success in the marketplace was a long shot, which is why, arrogantly, it was written in incomprehensible terms and enacted in a patently sneaky way: by attaching it to a reconciliation act, which, because reconciliation acts are not subject to filibusters, required only 51 votes in the Senate instead of the 60 that would have been needed to break a filibuster if it had been an ordinary bill.
And then, adding incompetence to arrogance, his management team produced the most spectacularly and embarrassingly botched rollout imaginable — a rollout that will live for decades in textbooks as the prime example of progressive government’s hubris.
More than half of Americans disapprove of the law, which allowed a BHO rival to compete successfully in early November for the public’s business.
Other domestic products have fared no better. The economy remains sluggish, after six years. Job growth has remained sluggish, after six years. Workforce participation is at the lowest rate in 36 years. Median income is 8 percentage points lower than it was in 2007, before the recession began. And a record number of people are on food stamps.
Stockholders may be asking, “What ever happened to the American Dream?”
Even the CEO’s wife raised that issue. She said, in public, that achieving the American Dream is “no longer possible” for many middle-class Americans — a comment that had the street asking if she was a highly placed agent provocateur for a rival company.
In addition to the failures of the economic products, the company’s administrative abilities have been breathtakingly deficient. The Veterans Administration has been exposed as being staggeringly incompetent. And the CEO’s personal handling of the Ebola threat was, again, both arrogant and embarrassing.
The company’s other product line, foreign policy, has been no more successful.
In the last year alone, the company suffered the advance of Islamist forces in Libya and a Russian invasion of Crimea, with the consequent destabilization of Ukraine and the potential destabilization of parts of Europe and perhaps even the collapse of NATO.
In a previous year, there was the Red Line Catastrophe: the company’s CEO drew a red line which he dared Syria’s strongman to cross — and which said strongman crossed without suffering the slightest consequence, the line existing apparently only in the CEO’s highly refined imagination. The disdain of foreign-policy establishments around the world, as well as BHO’s potential customers, was palpable.
The product news has been bad, but the public’s evaluation of all suppliers has been worse.
According to the Gallup organization, public confidence in all three branches of the U.S. government has reached record lows — weighed down undoubtedly by BHO’s performance: for the Supreme Court, 30%; for Congress, 7% (2 points above used-car salesmen but 9 points below lawyers!); and for the presidency a six-year low of 29%, down 7 percentage points from just last year. Only a quarter of Americans think the country is on the right track.
Actions, it turns out, not just ideas, have consequences. The result of the company’s performance with both its domestic and foreign products has been the forced or voluntary retirement of a significant number of its dealers.
When the company went national in 2009 (it had started out as a local enterprise in 1997, and then become a statewide organization in 2005) it had 58 dealers in the Senate, now down to 44, and 256 dealers in the House, now down to 186. In the same period, the company’s state-house dealers have been reduced from 28 to 18.
The CEO brought his company to Washington in 2009 vowing to make history and be a transformational CEO. He has kept his word: famed corporate strategist Michael Barone has said that it looks as if Obama Inc.’s CEO has left his brand in worse shape than any CEO since Woodrow Wilson almost a hundred years ago.
In 2009 I asked, “Could Obama Inc., long on rhetorical smooth talk and media hype, get lucky?” My answer was, “Of course. But savvy investors don’t bet on luck and hype. That’s why the smart money is selling Obama short.”
People who didn’t, have only themselves to blame.
(The material contained herein is for discussion purposes only and is not an offer to buy or sell securities, Hillary futures, aka Enron bonds, or anything else. Performance data presented is no more reliable than government statistics and represents only past performance—duh!—and does not guarantee future performance. And please remember to floss after every meal.)