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Americans seem to be a frustratingly short-sighted bunch. Our collective memories have been impaired, perhaps by too much “Housewives of Beverly Hills,” or Kardashians, or Juicy Carl’s Jr. commercials – or maybe it just started with Saturday morning cartoons.

Whatever, social scientists agree we’ve become a more easily distracted, immediate reward-seeking, short-sighted bunch than prior versions of our American selves.

Thus it’s important to set a marker and memorialize important transition points.

They do it all the time in football. A play ends, and the chains go down the field, marking the progress made and setting up the next play for a first down or touchdown. Movement is always measured, even when it’s backwards.

With politics, as in sports, it’s important to note where one play stopped and the next one starts. It’s how we credit progress, how we keep score, how we know where we are in the game.

Without memorialization, things get blurred as fights break down over blurred first downs and worse – touchdowns.

President Obama leaves Washington in just a month now. A very contentious – increasingly so – President-elect Trump is headed to the top spot.

Already, sensational news is flying with Twitter bombs on Lockheed and Boeing and Russian intrusion into White House affairs. Love him or hate him, President Trump is going to keep things interesting until he terms out or is turned out.

Trump promised jobs and more jobs to the passed-over working class of Middle America. He promised justice against all those mean companies that have been outsourcing jobs to Asia and Mexico.

We’re going to “Make America great again” – with specifics still forthcoming.

On Jan. 20, 2017, we will officially move the chains and mark the spot of American progress. One quarterback will leave the game and another with start.

A new set of downs will be handed to the possessing team, and all of us will be helpless at the sidelines to witness the ongoing game, for better or worse. Where will the ball lie on that important day?

There are some key plays that have transpired in the past eight years that should go in the scorebook:

When Obama took office eight years ago, America was in its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression: losing 800,000 jobs a month, stock market at 7,200, and housing values nearly cut in half.

Banks were folding left and right and businesses were collapsing. We were in a full-on free fall and desperation was everywhere.

More than 20 percent of Americans had no medical insurance. We were winding down two terribly costly and unnecessary wars.

That’s where the chains were set when Quarterback Obama took the field.

Since then, the stock market has exceeded all-time highs. Since then, more than 13 million jobs have been created, surpassing prior all-time highs. About 200,000 new jobs are added every month.

Your home has returned to or exceeded all-time value highs. Your savings are secure at your now-secure bank. Businesses are largely robust, and most complain there’s not enough qualified people to hire for their new, modern jobs.

Only 12 percent of Americans now lack health care. True, we’re still involved in very bothersome low-key military engagements, but these are nothing like the 6,000 deaths and trillion-dollar losses of Bush’s making.

Life in America has normalized. We wake up each day more or less knowing that today will be like yesterday. We’ve had no planes crashing into buildings, no Pentagon blown up.

Terrorism in America has gone from red and orange alerts with everyone taping up their windows to something much, much less than everyday street crime.

We’ve made progress on environmental actions. Air and water is cleaner. Fuel is cheap. Renewable energy is quickly rising.

Plug in your car if you like – you are no longer a slave to the $5-a-gallon gas Dick Cheney helped engineer.

In short, when the ball is handed over on Jan. 20, 2017, things will have been good, predictable, even-keeled, and maybe even boring, save for the new quarterback’s antics off-field before the game. Life is good for so many more Americans. Life is normal. Life holds potential for far more than before Obama showed up.

Now the chains are set. With unemployment at less than 5 percent, high stock markets, high home values and strong safety nets in place for more Americans than ever, the ball is turned over.

From these chain markers we start the game over. Let’s hope to high heaven our American chains of progress move steadily forward, as promised by candidate Trump.

Let’s hope upon hope there’s no four sacks and you’re out for President Trump.

The chains are set and memorialized for the records. All the blathering and boasting in the world won’t change history for what it will be on Jan. 20, 2017. History will again be recorded, and again, for better or worse.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.

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  • Brian Baker

    Gee, Horton, you forgot something. When Obozo took office eight years ago the national debt was $10 trillion; now it’s over $19 trillion. No biggie, I guess, right?

    Oh, yeah, before I forget… That unemployment rate you quoted. That’s the U2 or U3 number. The U6 number, which reflects the REAL unemployment and underemployment rate in this country — which includes people who’ve finally given up even looking for work, or can’t find full-time work — is actually about 9.5%.

    “Only 12 percent of Americans now lack health care.” Pretty much the same percentage as before Obozocare, just a different 12%. Now it’s a percentage that derives from people who can’t afford health insurance, or who think it doesn’t deliver value, or who don’t want to pay for it, all while the majority of the peeps think it just basically sucks as a program. Yep, quite an “accomplishment”. The VA System for civilians, pretty much.

    “Let’s hope to high heaven our American chains of progress move steadily forward, as promised by candidate Trump.” Let’s hope that’s right, Horton, because we sure can’t afford to keep going in the direction we have been going. Right now, there’s pretty much nowhere to go BUT up.

    • Ron Bischof

      The majority of the newly insured under Obamacare is due to Medicaid expansion, with a temporary bump in funding from the Feds to goose adoption. Therefore, the entire scheme is based on subsidies and transfer payments from tax payers.

      The assertion that mandates are driving robust growth in premium paying insurance consumers to Obamacare exchanges is risible fiction that’s exposed by withdrawals of insurance carriers and collapse of co-ops stood up and subsidized by the legislation.

      None of these facts are addressed in Gary’s simplistic talking point.

      Summary: Key Facts about the Uninsured Population

      How has the number of uninsured changed under the ACA?

      In the past, gaps in the public insurance system and lack of access to affordable private coverage left millions without health insurance. Beginning in 2014, the ACA expanded coverage to millions of previously uninsured people through the expansion of Medicaid and the establishment of Health Insurance Marketplaces. Data show substantial gains in public and private insurance coverage and historic decreases in uninsured rates in the first and second years of ACA coverage. Coverage gains were particularly large among low-income people living in states that expanded Medicaid. Still, millions of people—28.5 million in 2015— remain without coverage.

      Why do people remain uninsured?

      Even under the ACA, many uninsured people cite the high cost of insurance as the main reason they lack coverage. In 2015, 46% of uninsured adults said that they tried to get coverage but did not because it was too expensive. Many people do not have access to coverage through a job, and some people, particularly poor adults in states that did not expand Medicaid, remain ineligible for financial assistance for coverage. Some people who are eligible for financial assistance under the ACA may not know they can get help, and others may still find the cost of coverage prohibitive. In addition, undocumented immigrants are ineligible for Medicaid or Marketplace coverage.
      http://kff.org/uninsured/fact-sheet/key-facts-about-the-uninsured-population/

  • Ed Shalom

    Brian:
    Nice analogy. I found Mr. Baker’s rebuttal very illogical. He claims that the U6 metric is the one to watch, but did not bother to look at it’s history – as the link below demonstrates, it has fallen from about 16% to the current value he cited of about 9.5 %. The comparison ignores the fact that according to Herr Trump, President Obama’s predecessor LIED to get us into Iraq – we know how many brave young lives were sacrificed for these lies, and what it has done to our national debt.
    And let’s not forget that when Bushitler (a nickname he has earned) turned over the reins to Obama, the economy was in critical condition – the TARP Band-Aid was administered before Bushitler left office.
    As far as Obamacare goes, this is the first and only assertion I’ve heard that the 20,000,000 added to the insured was offset by losses in other areas. Like lots of other noise coming from Herr Trump’s command bunker, it is not so much that we are hearing from the alt-right crowd: we are now being propagandized directly from the alt-reality mob.
    Please look forward to another installment of my tongue-in-cheek “earther” theory, and the many facts supporting the case that Don Juan Trump is from an alien species of reptiles, and our demand that he prove that he is a humanoid. (As a teaser, it has come to light that Don Juan is a descendent of reptiles from Mars who left due to climate change (no wonder he gets apoplectic about it), which explains his reddish completion, and the scales under his power suit)
    http://portalseven.com/employment/unemployment_rate_u6.jsp

    PS: I’ve tried to steer clear of those (you know who you are!) who find my judgments about Herr Trump offensive, and respond by making personal attacks upon me, my background, my religion, and my wife. The only explanation I can imagine is that they must have a special relationship with the Signal, as they seem deaf to the entreaties from the Signal that all of us (esp. the high and mighty columnists) behave in a civil manner to each other…

    • Brian Baker

      Hahahahaha!

      Gooooood grief, Shalom. I’m starting to think you have some kind of weird fixation on me. Are you some little obsessed cyber-stalker? As far as I can see, the ONLY times you ever post any comments anywhere here are when you’re trying in your pathetic little way to try to put me down.

      ANYway, moving on. You: “I found Mr. Baker’s rebuttal very illogical. He claims that the U6 metric is the one to watch, but did not bother to look at it’s history – as the link below demonstrates, it has fallen from about 16% to the current value he cited of about 9.5 %.”

      Um, bud… thanks for confirming EXACTLY what I wrote. The U6 is at about 9.5%.

      Then you continued:”The comparison ignores the fact that according to Herr Trump, President Obama’s predecessor LIED to get us into Iraq – we know how many brave young lives were sacrificed for these lies, and what it has done to our national debt.”

      Which leaves me — and probably anybody else with a lick of logical ability — to wonder what that has to do with unemployment.

      “As far as Obamacare goes, this is the first and only assertion I’ve heard that the 20,000,000 added to the insured was offset by losses in other areas.”

      Then maybe you should learn to do some research, or maybe step out of the Dem/socialist echo chamber from time to time and check out the sunshine.

      Then, of course, you conclude with your usual bleating about your alleged “victimhood”. Well, bud, as the old saying goes, don’t step into the kitchen if you can’t take the heat.

  • lois eisenberg

    Gary another astute and profound opinion column!!!!! BRAVO!!!
    I’am compelled to point out some the positives you so astutely listed and that I’am so proud of that the Obama Administration has accomplished , and I quote:

    Stock market has exceeded an all-time high !
    Homes have returned to or exceeded all time value highs !
    Savings are secure at your your-now secure banks!
    Businesses are largely robust!
    Air and water are cleaner!
    Fuel is less expensive!
    Renewable energy is quickly rising !
    Unemployment is less than 5% !
    Many social issues have come into play!
    AND THE BEAT GOES ON !!!!!!

    • Ron Bischof

      Why wasn’t Hillary Clinton elected President, Ms. Eisenberg?

    • Jim de Bree

      Upon further reflection, there are a few non sequitors in these comments. First of all, many of these items are part of the global economic cycle and the actions of the Fed. The fact that they occurred during the Obama administration is coincidental.

      Take the stock market, for example. The reason why it is so high is that investors who otherwise would have invested in bonds have pursued equities because debt investments generate near zero returns. This is due to the actions of the Fed. My investment advisor was extremely bearish about the market last summer and we reduced my exposure to equities. Equities have spiked to all-time highs because of Wall Street’s reaction to the Trump election. This has likely resulted in a bubble in stock prices according to my advisor.

      I continue to believe that we will see recessionary pressures on the horizon. Last summer several leading economists indicated that the boom has run its course and 2017 may prove to be a recessionary year. If that happens, you can bet that the left will blame Trump.

      I still talk with the CFO’s of many of my former clients and I doubt that any of them would say that business is “robust.” Productivity gains have resulted largely from the implementation of artificial intelligence and robotics.

      As to giving Obama credit for lower fuel prices, that is pretty funny. Fuel prices have dropped in spite of the Obama Administration (who wants to make fuel more expensive to reduce carbon emissions). The reason why fuel prices have dropped is because the US has flooded the global market with fuel generated from its shale reserves. The technology to do so was developed before Obama took office and was implemented in spite of his policies.

      Alternative energy is feasible only because of large government subsidies. Eliminate those subsidies and we will return to the use of fossil fuels. Furthermore implementing the reduction in carbon emissions is going to place a HUGE drag on the economy. Last week the LA Times published an article entitled “California’s Climate Fight Could be Painful—Especially on Job and Income Growth.” See the link here: http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-climate-fight-20161108-story.html

      Others have commented on the unemployment red herring.

    • Jim de Bree

      I just saw this tonight–“Big banks $70 billion short in Fed push to prevent bailouts”

      The link to the article is here: http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/big-banks-dollar70-billion-short-in-fed-push-to-prevent-bailouts/ar-AAlBLDB?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartanntp

      The first sentence of the article says it all: “Wall Street banks are about $70 billion short in building up funds the Federal Reserve says they’ll need to tap following a collapse…” The article has a video link to Larry Summers discussing his concerns. Note that is Larry Summer, not exactly a Trump supporter.

      So maybe the savings are not as secure as Lois thinks in her “now secure banks.”

  • lois eisenberg

    By the way President’s Obama’s approval rating is 57% as of Dec. 11, 2016 !!!!!!!!

    • Brian Baker

      Yep!

      People are approving his move from the Oval Office. I approve, too. Make that 58%!!!!!

  • Ron Bischof

    “Americans seem to be a frustratingly short-sighted bunch. Our collective memories have been impaired, perhaps by too much ‘Housewives of Beverly Hills,’ or Kardashians, or Juicy Carl’s Jr. commercials – or maybe it just started with Saturday morning cartoons.”

    I’m amused by the concern trolling frequently used to tee up your columns, Gary. The sweeping generalizations are a predictable prelude to the straw men you subsequently attack. Why not be straight up and state why you disagree with X or Y? Hyperbole for dramatic effect gets to be an old schtick, eh?

    “When Obama took office eight years ago, America was in its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression…”

    Well, yes. Why do you continue to use that as a baseline to extoll the virtues of President “Light Worker”? The false premise is designed to lead to a faulty conclusion for political purposes.

    Understanding that Presidents don’t run the economy, what’s a more use perspective is economic performance over a statistically relevant time period.

    In fact, economic performance has been atypically low when compared to previous recoveries from recession. Here’s the data:

    2009: -2.8 percent

    2010: 2.5 percent

    2011: 1.6 percent

    2012: 2.2 percent

    2013: 1.5 percent

    2014: 2.4 percent

    2015: 2.4 percent

    For a statistically relevant time frame of 1961-2015, access this link for an accurate perspective:

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG?locations=US

    More economic reality:

    Millennials cause homeownership rate to drop to lowest level since 1965

    http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/28/millennials-cause-homeownership-rate-to-drop-to-lowest-level-since-1965.html

    Gallup reports this:

    U.S. Economic Confidence Stuck at Lower Level

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/193799/economic-confidence-stuck-lower-level.aspx

    A review of facts from credible sources leads one to rationally conclude your repeated hagiographies of President Obama don’t hold up to scrutiny, Gary. My question is: Will you correct your future columns to reflect reality?

    Citizens obviously didn’t vote for an “Obama 3rd term” by electing Hillary Clinton. The intellectually curious should explore the real and substantive reasons they did not.

  • Ron Bischof

    Precisely, Jim.

    Folks need to understand that government statistics and representations of them aren’t necessarily unbiased. Individuals and entities act in their self-interest, always.

    That’s why it’s prudent to perform your own fact checking from multiple credible sources before formulating and expressing an informed opinion.

    By the way, my home is ~$150K shy of its peak value in 2007 according to Zillow.com.

    • Jim de Bree

      Ron, the SCV was one of the hardest hit communities in terms of a drop in real estate values. It had a disproportionately high percentage of homes financed with sub-prime lending. Houses in my neighborhood are selling for $300,000 less. A house a block away from mine sold in 2006 for $1.4 million. I was told by a realtor that a house with the same floorplan just sold for $1.1 million last month.

      If you look at the property tax base for the COC & Hart Districts, it was 10% less in 2014 than it was in 2009. The base has recently recovered to 2009 levels, but only because there was a considerable amount of new home construction in Canyon Country.

      Furthermore, I recently assisted my old firm in preparing a proposal to do tax work for a mortgage lender who just raised $2 billion to fund mortgages (and resell them). The targeted borrower is someone who has been shut out of the mortgage market because of a foreclosure or low FICO score. So here we go again!

      • Ron Bischof

        Interesting facts and agreed, Jim. My market timing was perfect when I purchased our current home in 2011. To do so at that time, we had to document income with 5 years of tax returns and my wife and I had the top band (Excellent) FICO score plus an extremely low debt-to-income ratio.

        It’s unfortunate lenders are returning to unsound lending practices. No doubt the Federal and state governments are again “stimulating” the market to increase home ownership and the corresponding tax revenue. And what entities are purchasing the bulk of these mortgage securities? Why, the usual suspects FannieMae and FreddieMac, right?

        The Federal government is again exceeding its enumerated powers and enabling moral hazard by distorting the housing market for political purposes.

        No taxpayer bailouts!