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President, Betras miss the mark

Published: Sun, February 2, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

On Tuesday night, President Barack Obama pointed to Youngstown when he talked about the U.S. riding the new wave of high-tech manufacturing. On Thursday morning, Obama was at a Costco store (with its shelves filled with products made in China) in Prince George’s County, Md., to continue his push for an increase in the minimum wage. Go figure.

The miscue was not surprising, given that the president missed the mark in his address to Congress and the nation.

After the way he was mistreated last year by the Republican majority in the House of Representatives — this following his landslide re-election victory in November 2012 over Republican Mitt Romney — there was every expectation that the theme of his State of the Union address would be “It’s pay- back time.”

Though the president cannot force Republicans in the House to go along with him on such major issues as immigration reform and the restoration of unemployment benefits for more than 1 million Americans, he is not without power when it comes to spending money.

Democrats in Congress who have had to suffer the consequences of Republican intransigence would have welcomed a litany of actions to punish those members of Congress who have not only opposed him but have been disrespectful.

Instead, the president was so determined to be presidential that he came across as somewhat wimpy.

To be sure, his plan to govern by presidential executive order grabbed headlines, but there are limits to what he can do without congressional approval.


Divided government — Democrats control the Senate — is not working because the Republicans have made it clear that they do not intend to give Obama any major victories.

Indeed, in this year’s statewide elections, GOP candidates will be running against the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare.

Opinion polls show that majority of the people do not support the health insurance reform initiative.

When Obama talked about Youngstown in his State of the Union address, he should have gone a step further and announced that additional federal funding was being funneled to America Makes, formerly the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in downtown Youngstown. It was launched in 2012 with $30 million from the federal government and $40 million from a consortium of universities, colleges and businesses in the technology belt encompassing Pittsburgh, Youngstown and Cleveland.

Where would the additional money come from? How about the congressional districts and counties around the country that chose Romney over Obama.

Indeed, the president should have turned to House Speaker John Boehner, R-8th of West Chester, and told him that money for a variety of projects in his southern Ohio congressional district was being redirected to Mahoning County.

Not only that, the president should have announced that the C-130 cargo planes that were reassigned from the Youngstown Air Reserve Station to a base in Arkansas were being brought back.

Arkansas voted for Romney, while Obama received almost 65 percent of the vote in Mahoning County.


This is all about politics, which is why Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras missed the mark last week in his appeal to the president to visit Youngstown.

Betras has launched a public campaign to persuade Obama that coming to a regtion that has long supported him would be a good move.

“Mr. President please come visit us. We love you for mentioning us so much,” one of his social media postings said. .

Really? Pleading for Obama’s attention when he owes us more than words — albeit spoken on national television? The president needs friends.

Betras should have been on the telephone Tuesday night with national Democratic Party leaders letting them know that Obama should have been in Youngstown last week, instead of visiting a Costco store in Maryland or stopping in Pennsylvania.

Democrats, who face an uphill battle to win the statewide election in Ohio, need more than kind words to keep them politically engaged.


1formerdemliberal(182 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

1. So if someone disagrees with you based on a different set of values and beliefs, Berty, they are mistreating you? How intellectually weak.

2. Official 2012 presidential election results:
Obama 65,917,258 51.01% (332 electoral votes)
Romney 60,932,235 47.15% (206 electoral votes)

Hardly a landslide, Berty. Compare Roosevelt over Landon (1936), Johnson over Goldwater (1964), Nixon over McGovern (1972) and Reagan over Mondale (1984) if you know how to use the internet.

Once again you continue to display a laziness and ignorance about topics (YSU, higher education) that are poorly researched.

3. The Senate Democratic majority and President Obama haven't exactly been respectfully bending over backwards to address Republican legislative concerns. It takes two groups to produce gridlock. Berty, you might read some of Harry Reid's "respectful" comments about his Republican colleagues. Some could make Dave Betrus blush.

4. I'm no congressional powers expert, but I believe that the executive branch (president) submits a budget to Congress but Congress has the legislative authority to allocate available funds. Berty, I don't believe the executive branch has any retroactive power to undo previous legislative funding decisions unilaterally. It's called separation of powers.

5. There are many articles that have documented how Reagan worked with Tip O'Neill's Democratic Congress and Bill Clinton working with a Republican Congress (welfare reform) in their second terms. In your small world, Republicans should just give everything Obama wants out of "respect". Why have a two-party system, Berty? Seems you've been part of the Mahoning Valley Democratic dictatorship for so long that you believe that is the way the country should be run. You should get out more and talk to people beyond Dave Betrus, NE Ohio and Western PA.

6. The fact that the president spoke at a Costco rather than running to Youngstown speaks volumes about your political naivete beyond Jim Traficant. The bone thrown to Youngstown to millions of viewers throughout the world was a PR goldmine for a congressional district that is already in the Democrat's pocket come November.

Obama is waging a NATIONAL campaign on issues to win back a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. He will likely focus on tossup districts and states, not solidly Democratic districts.

Blaming Dave Betrus for Obama's not visiting this area is the height of political ignorance.

To the editors of the Vindicator: This column demonstrates the lack of political insight and research that has been demonstrated by Bert deSouza for far too long. This article is sloppy, simply wrong and incompetent journalism at its worst. Bert is a long-time fixture and representative of your newspaper. It's time for a change. Don't let Bert insult your readership's intelligence anymore. He no longer deserves a political forum on any reputable newspaper.

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2author50(1121 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Does anyone else think that Mr. de Souza and Comrade Betras meet at least once a week to go over material?

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3Photoman(1005 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

When governmental leaders or their agencies resort to punitive actions against their opponents and citizens it is likely that the entire government will collapse for they are no longer doing the job for which they were elected, but instead, they are merely seeking self gratification.

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4questionreality(290 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Looks like the Vindicator's "security lighting" regarding local issues that are really a factor in our lives is on the blink again.

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5Silence_Dogood(1353 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Typical South American Dictator style not quite to the level of a Nazi...

"Where would the additional money come from? How about the congressional districts and counties around the country that chose Romney over Obama.

Indeed, the president should have turned to House Speaker John Boehner, R-8th of West Chester, and told him that money for a variety of projects in his southern Ohio congressional district was being redirected to Mahoning County.

Not only that, the president should have announced that the C-130 cargo planes that were reassigned from the Youngstown Air Reserve Station to a base in Arkansas were being brought back.

Arkansas voted for Romney, while Obama received almost 65 percent of the vote in Mahoning County."

So comrade Bert, I guess it would be expected that the next time a Republican gets elected to the White House we should expect that he will close down the Air Reserve station and move all it's assets to Texas, right? It is this simple minded mindset that allowed the abuses at the IRS to flourish and the really sad thing is that the liberal left cant seem to understand what they are doing is just plain wrong(using Govt. resources to target the opposition). Nixon would be proud of you.

With that, I will now cancel my paper subscription, there is no f-ing way I could financially support a newspaper that is advocating the violation of rights of my fellow citizens based on a political affiliation. Because that is EXACTLY what the Vindy is doing by printing this idiots views.

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6AtownAugie(701 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Seems Richard Milhous Obama has a new (albeit unrequested) wannabe advisor: H.R. "Bert" DeHaldeman. And Bert's inept but pompous bff, Bebe Rebetras.

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7kurtw(870 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Comment 2- formerdemliberal- about says it: The column makes no sense. Why would the Dems pay attention to us when they know they have us safely tucked away in their back pockets?

We do a two party system in this country- except in dysfunctional places like Mahoning County- and "Gridlock" is just another name for a fundamental disagreement on principles. The Democrats are just a bunch of cry-babies, whining because the Republicans won't roll over and play dead. What should Republicans do- throw their principles over board- in order to get along- so the Dems wont cry as much? For one thing- Republicans have their constituencies to answer to- the people who elected them: should they throw them "under the Bus" in order to keep the Dems happy. Why should they? It would be unconscionable of them if they did. Bert, you're not making any sense.

I say let the Voters decide this year and in 2016 who is right: the Dems or the Republicans- that's what a Democracy is all about and the Republicans (especially the TEA Party wing) are in my view, not obstructionists, but Patriots for laying the issues out for the people to decide- instead of political insiders cutting a deal in private (the way it's done in places like Mahoning County).

Bert, I suggest you do a little more research (the Internet makes it fairly easy): Look up the track record of One Party States- current or defunct. Not very pretty reading- The Soviet Union, Hitler's Germany, North Korea, Communist China- You won't find much "Gridlock" in any of those places- not much efficiency either, especially in the economy, which is why the chief example of a One Party State- the Soviet Union- now resides securely on histories Ash Heap. Do we want to become like that? The only thing that separates us from them is a Two Party system- i.e. Democracy. Anybody who whines about "Gridlock" should keep that in mind.

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8kurtw(870 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

YSU, you're not by any chance Dave Betras praising himself, are you? It's rumored that he likes to post on the Vindy website and what you say about him- "chairman of the year, etc. etc" "any Democrat in the state of Ohio would love to have Dave..." "he delivers time and time again, etc. etc." and so on and so forth- is exactly the kind of thing Dave would say about himself standing in font of the mirror while combing his hair!

Either you're Dave himself, a close relative or friend- or maybe an employee in his law office. I have it- that's it! You're the same young lawyer who brought Dave a gallon of gasoline when he let himself run dry recently on South Ave.! (If you're not- I apologize- but if you are- that was a nice job you did that day- it came up on the Ron Verb Show- sitting across from Betras- and I remember Verb had a lot of fun with it at the Chairman's expense- but we all know Dave is a good sport and can take a joke, right?)

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9kurtw(870 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

Just finished watching the Super Bowl. A real "Landslide" for Seattle- 43-8. I'll bet Obama is wishing he'd done as well his two times out and Hillary may be thinking " if I get it in '16 is it gonna be a landslide for me, mm, the country is pretty evenly divided, mm- but then again look at who my coach is- they don't call him Slick Willy for nothing- we'll pull it off and then after we win, we'll have a really great post-game celebration- unless he's out cattin around with somebody else again- like that dumb Monica Broad, mm, I'd better watch that..."

Hillary, you'd better keep a close eye on that man- he's a Cock hound from way back!

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10kurtw(870 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

You know, just a while back I read the V-star workers rejected their union bid and I commented on that- it was a wise move on their part. But, doesn't the Vindicator have a Union for it's writers? I'm pretty sure they do.

I'm thinking again of Bertam's columns in the last few months- how the quality has slipped- especially the last one. A few weeks ago I took the trouble of going back to 01 and looking at all his columns (reading many)- a solid body of work any journalist should be proud of. But lately this decline- why?

Could it not have something to do with the fact that his duties have been doubled the last few months (since the retirement of D. Mangin) to include production of Editorials- that must be a huge increase in work load- seven editorials a week in addition to his Sunday Column.

I know something about the way newspapers operate. Publishers are not inclined to give out money unless forced to do so- so, I'm wondering if Bertram is not being exploited to push out more material than he can reasonably produce- at no more pay.

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11andersonathan(668 comments)posted 8 months, 2 weeks ago

65% voted democrat in Mahoning County explains everything so do not complain you got exactly what you voted for.

Impeach Obama and do it now!

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