Marc Andreessen on Obama

Marc starts out his blog post on Obama with the following statement:

I’ve tried very hard to keep politics out of this blog — despite nearly
overpowering impulses to the contrary — for two reasons: one, there’s
no reason to alienate people who don’t share my political views, as
wrong-headed as those people may clearly be; two, there’s no reason to
expect my opinion on political issues should be any more valid than any
other reader

And then he goes on to write a fantastic post on Obama, based largely on a 90 minute private meeting that he and his wife had with Barack 18 months ago.

You all know where I stand on the role of politics on a personal blog – bring it on, it’s an important topic that we should all be discussing. Thankfully Marc ignored his better instincts and shared a bunch of great stuff with all of us. That’s courageous because he’ll take some hits for this. But not from me. I applaud you Marc.

I will add that the Gotham Gal and I had an opportunity to meet with Barack in a room of about 10-15 people in the fall of last year and we were able to get a few minutes of one on one conversation. He was conversant in topics as wide ranging as venture capital, web technology, and the challenges of raising teenagers in NYC. I totally agree with Marc’s first point, Obama is a normal guy. I liked him that day and I like him more and more every day.


Comments (Archived):

  1. DonRyan

    Heading out to vote for him this morning.

  2. S.t…NAFTA BlowbackBy INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, February 28, 2008 4:20 PM PTFree Trade: Facts have a way of trumping populist demagoguery. The “tough” anti-NAFTA posturings by two Democratic candidates on Tuesday are now blowing up in their faces.

    1. fredwilson

      I was not happy with either’s comments on that subject in the last debate and twittered to that effectThe dems have to face facts. Many of the jobs that have been lost are not coming back. We need to create new industries and new jobs, not try to put the genie back in the bottleFred

  3. S.t

    Jury selection began Monday in Chicago in the trial of Syrian-born businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a major supporter of Barack Obama. Two days before the 2006 elections in which Democrats won by running against a “culture of corruption,” Chicago newspapers revealed that Obama purchased a home that summer for $1.6 million, but to complete the deal, he would need to buy an adjoining parcel for $625,000. Instead, Mrs. Rezko bought the parcel, and they closed on the properties on the same day. Rezko was already under federal investigation for kickback schemes.To a political opponent, this might resemble a lobbyist’s sweetheart deal like the one that started Rep. Duke Cunningham’s political decline, where a lobbyist paid $700,000 more for Cunningham’s home than his own sale price months later. But the national media are anything but opponents of Obama’s. An MRC analysis shows that despite Obama’s high national profile as a Democratic symbol of hope, network TV news and the national news magazines have done a dreadful job of telling the Rezko story, and have struggled not to repeat it.A Nexis search through February 2008 finds Time magazine has never mentioned Tony Rezko, despite several soaring cover stories on Obama. U.S News & World Report noted it once, briefly (September 24, 2007). Newsweek disposed of the smelly land deal in one paragraph – paragraph 20 – in a January 31, 2008 story that actually touted Obama as a reformer.

    1. fredwilson

      Hopefully this story will be blogged extensively, investigated, and explained to the voting public before we have to vote in novemberMy gut tells me obama is clean as a whistle but I’d like to know for sureFred

  4. Tom W.

    Hey, Barack’s my second favorite Democratic candidate. Fred, he’s our age and he gets it. I just think Hillary would make a better president. There are things that bother me about both campaigns, but I do like both candidates immensely. I’m, frankly, amazed at how tough Clinton’s been through all of this, it’s to her credit. And to Obama’s credit is the quality of his organizational skills in the caucus states.

    1. fredwilson

      Totally agree tom

  5. S.t…”It’s official: Wall Street loves Barack Obama.””Well it’s a good thing that Wall Street loves giving money to Obama because if he gets elected, employees at Wall Street firms will be sending much larger checks his way thanks to tax increases.””The overall effect of Obama’s tax hikes is breathtaking.”

    1. fredwilson

      And I am happy to pay them. I’ve been getting a sweet deal from the republicans for 8 years and making out great while the working poor are and lower middle class are killing themslevesWe need equity in our tax code and we don’t have it. Not even closeFred

      1. Andy Freeman

        > And I am happy to pay them.What’s been stopping you?WRT Equity, what fraction of the total income tax burden should be paid by each income cohortt? (No, you don’t get to count SS because the poor get that money back.) Right now, half of the folks don’t pay anything and the lion’s share is paid by the top 10%. Should they pay it all?

        1. fredwilson

          what’s been stopping me is that other’s who are in my place should be doing the same thing. to suggest that i should unilaterally give my money to the government while others sit back and hoard their cash is silly

          1. Andy Freeman

            If more taxes are good, as you claim, the good occurs when you pay more, regardless of what other people do.I note that you ducked the progressivity question. The tax system is more progressive under Bush than it was under Clinton. Is it really good when most Americans don’t pay for the federal govt? How about if all of the taxes were paid by 10% of the people?

          2. fredwilson

            how is the tax system more progressive under bush than clinton when the rich got huge tax breaks under bush?i think people who can’t make a living on their before tax income shouldn’t be paying taxes when others are making millions a year and putting most of it in the bankfred

          3. K T Cat

            It’s more progressive. The top 40% pay 95% of all taxes. That means most voters are electing people who will give them something for nothing. How is that good for democracy?…Do some research, Fred.

          4. fredwilson

            It depends on your definition of progressive. Unfortunately there’s no bright line test of progressiveFred

          5. Andy Freeman

            While there are multiple definitions of progressive, the Bush tax cuts made the system more progressive by all of them. (Never confuse tax rates with taxes paid.)As to the “multiple definitions”, I started by asking how the tax burden should be allocated. In a one-person, one-vote system, should we get all of the money from 25% of the population?

          6. fredwilson

            Money is not everything people contribute to or take from society.Fred

          7. Charlie Crystle

            A republican once said “taxes are the price you pay for civil society”. Judging by the past 16 years a tax hike is in order.As far as “equitable” taxation, if you think taxing the poor is a great idea, Andy, then I don’t think we have much to talk about. The buffer between you and the street and the poor and the street (and I’ve been there) is much, much greater. So if you want to push people closer to the street, well, that’s not the America most Americans believe in.And if you want to reduce taxes for everyone else, start by reducing the Defense budge, the trade deficit (Fred, we disagree: those jobs left through illegal trade practices, not competitive markets), eliminate the federal debt, and start investing in infrastructure improvements, which will boost the overall economy.

          8. fredwilson

            I am taking it from both sides now!But seriously Charlie, I appreciate your passion on this stuff. While I don’t always agree with your (or Andy), I like hearing from others and occasionally debating them.Fred

          9. Andy Freeman

            Hey – a strawman – I didn’t say “tax the poor”, I pointed out that the poor don’t pay taxes and quite a few of the “not poor” don’t pay either.And, as far as “I was so poor”, I’ve got you beat. (I’ve been a farm worker and my parents did it as migrants.)This whole thing started with the assertion that “the rich” should pay more. We’ve since found out that the proposer doesn’t know how much the rich currently pay and didn’t know that they pay more now than they did during some supposedly better time. So much for the basis for the claim, but I digress.We could probably arrange the tax system so all of the taxes were paid by the top 5%. Would that be good? If not, how about the top 10%? If not, how about the top 25%?Why are these questions so hard to answer?It’s not just taxes paid, it’s what we do with the money. If the vast majority of people don’t pay taxes, are they likely to spend them effectively?

          10. fredwilson

            AndyI think you make good points and I enjoy debating these issues with you.But I try to avoid being a jerk when I don’t agree with someone and I’d appreciate it if you did the same.This comment:the proposer doesn’t know how much the rich currently pay and didn’t know that they pay more now than they did during some supposedly better timeis not really necessary. I do know a fair bit about the tax code and I understand the various tax rates and the cutoffs and such. I may not be as conversant in these facts as you are, but I don’t think it’s fair to suggest that I am ignorant of them.Fred

          11. Andy Freeman

            > i think people who can’t make a living on their before tax income shouldn’t be paying taxesGood for you, but since they’re not, it’s unclear why you felt compelled to write that. (In fact, thanks to the EIC, many of them are paying negative tax rates.)The Bush tax cuts increased the fraction of the population who pays no federal income taxes. (It was under half before. It’s close to half if not over half now.) They also increased the share of federal income taxes paid by the affluent.Never confuse tax rates with taxes paid.

      2. Steven Kane

        amen.and you are “courageous”, my old friend, for saying so.i think the best way to flatten the tax code is not by endless tinkering with in come taxes or taxes on capital flows but a massive federal consumption tax on luxury items and lifestyles — e.g. a heavy federal property tax on second homes and primary homes bigger than say 3,000 sq ft.; huge federal levies on private (not business) private-plane travel, limos and car services and business and first class plane tickets. big sales taxes on bottles of liquor or wine costing over $100, autos costing over $40K, all non-commercial boats, etc…on a more controversial note, i would abolish charitable remiander trusts and family foundations also (let everyone give 100% of charitable gifts directly into charitable uses, not 100% tax benefit today with little requirement for donations to be used for charity.) and i would seriously consider eliminating double-tax-free status of muni bonds. people like teresa heinz kerry and john kerry pay essentially zero income taxes – because they have $800 million in munis. thats a gift to the superrich that is no longer sustainable maybeany case, thanks fred for being open on this — like you i am proud of and grateful for my material success and will be happy to make a larger contribution to the general welfare

        1. Andy Freeman

          We tried a luxury tax on yachts. It almost killed the domestic industry and the “fat cats” just bought overseas.The “non commercial” boat tax will hit 10s of millions of folks. It will cripple the recreational fishing industry. Going after hunting cabins won’t be nearly as destructive, but taking out timeshares (technically second homes) will do wonders for many people. (Newsflash – the folks who have the pricey vacation homes will just get them in other countries.)And, outside of urban areas, 3k feet isn’t luxury, it’s what folks move to from trailers.However, it’s refreshing to see ignorance of or disdain for flyover America so openly stated.

          1. Steven Kane

            your heated rhetoric may make you think you look like you know what you are talking about, but these things are simple to check, and your assertions are false and simple example: as widely reported by ABC, NPR et al, while the average American house size has more than doubled since the 1950s, the average is now 2,349 square way or the other the affluent class has to take on more of the cost of the general welfare. what do you suggest?

          2. Andy Freeman

            The fact that the average house is approaching the 3k “luxury” supports my claim that 3k is not luxury but actually fairly typical.I think that it’s a good thing when a family can afford to move from an 1500sf trailer to a 3100sf house, even if that’s not possible in urban america.It’s so easy to disprove my comment about the effect of the luxury tax on yachts that Steve didn’t bother….Do you really want to argue that very few recreational fishers use boats? Or, are you going to argue that the recreational fishers who use boats are affluent?Do you really want to argue that the very rich won’t buy boats and houses overseas? Or, are you going to argue that folks who buy timeshares are affluent?Do you want to argue that massive taxes on non-commercial boats (most are small and cheap today) and vacation houses (which includes hunting cabins, tiimeshares, etc) won’t reduce demand? If demand goes down, what happens to folks who make those things?> one way or the other the affluent class has to take on more of the cost of the general welfare.Even if that’s true, it doesn’t imply the tax policies advocated.I’ll retry my “income cohort” question. Would it be good if all of the cost of “general welfare” was paid for by 10% of the population? How about 5%?I find that folks who argue for “more progressivity” generally don’t know how much each income cohort actually pays. Feel free to prove me wrong, but remember, SS doesn’t count because it’s just time shifting for folks in the middle and a net benefit for folks on the bottom. (For folks on the top, it’s a capped loss, which SS advocates believe is a good thing.)

  6. Steven Kane

    i’m surprised you give points for “courageousness” — he won’t take any hits — no comments allowed on his blog

    1. fredwilson

      he can take hits elsewhere, on other blogs, for example

  7. DY

    This is less a commentary on Obama and more on the process: Is a normal guy what we need to lead this country? It feels like so much of the media and national discussion is of how we the nation can relate to a candidate. Certainly an important factor that is another reflection of leadership.But why not a commensurate focus on vocational ability, particularly understanding of economics and capital markets? It feels like we are on the brink of a significant loss of comparative advantage in the financial capital markets (note the illiquidity of federally backed securities; foreign investment and ownership in things like banks; the risk of the dollar losing its place as the world currency). It is my belief that this advantage in combination with our higher education system is what drives growth and wealth in this country which in turn can significantly improve many social issues that we are facing.I think the best question Marc asks: “how concerned should we be that you haven’t had meaningful experience as an executive — as a manager and leader of people?” But I think a campaign is a poor proxy for running a country as while there are overlapping skill sets, figuring out how to set fiscal policy, be able to guide the country during a time where financial markets are trying to digest derivative where one or both counter parties don’t understand the contract, requires a very different knowledge base and type of intellect.My vote has historically been with Romney because I believed that he was the most vocationally qualified (although I was concerned with some of his social views). It’s not to say that I’m not for Obama, as I’m starting to research his technical abilities and his horsepower outside of his educational background; Again just a comment on the media and general state of the national process.I’ve been reading this blog for quite some time and generally apolitical, so odd that my first comment is politically related. I guess I just woke up with a bone to pick with the quality of the national debate around the candidates.

    1. fredwilson

      thanks for joining the discussion. your questions and concerns are shared by many of usfred

  8. Alex

    Fred, very well said.

  9. Josh

    It is many times easier for a supporter of democratic candidates to make their thoughts known to the world in internet business. Conservatives would run the risk of backlash, especially supporters of the Iraq war. It could harm business dealings, ongoing venture deals and alienate a population that you try to attract to one’s web app.Fred, you have always had the option of writing personal checks to the federal treasury. I am sure they would gladly accept them. The vast majority of Americans do NOT want higher taxes. In fact, since the Bush tax cut, federal coffers have been filled higher than ever before (even with a higher tax rate). This is for many reasons including more business investment which leads to more jobs (and income tax) and that there isn’t as much incentive to look for loopholes as there was before (the result being more taxes get paid).To say that we need more equity in our tax collection is obvious, especially when the top 10% pay well over 50% of all federal income tax. A better solution would be a flat tax and not a more progressive one.The one question democrats will never answer is “what is the perfect tax rate?” Is 40 high enough, maybe 50? What about pre-Kennedy rates when it was 70+ for the top brackets?The one question Barack and Hillary get a huge pass on is how they will fund all their entitlement programs? Simply removing the Bush tax cut will only do it in the short run (and this is debatable), what about the long term…more tax increases, price controls? Government involvement in markets is a bad idea and the assault on “Big X” (X=Oil, Pharm, Insurance, Multinational corps in general, Internet?) is very worrying to me.

    1. Alex

      @ JoshI’m intrigued by the last two sentences of your opening paragraph. Please elaborate.btw – I agree that a flat tax would be better. But, it’s not going to happen for some time.

      1. Josh

        Alex, happy to elaborate.As far as entitlement programs goes, the most talked about is Universal Healthcare (of course with Obama, his plan is not as “Universal” as Hillary’s).What I foresee happening if something like what they are proposing gets passed is a situation very similar to our current higher education predicament. Over the years so much has been done in the way of federal aid to help kids pay for college. Because of increased access to federal loans and grants we have seen the demand for higher education has increased far more than supply and colleges have been raising their costs for tuition to reach equilibrium with demand. What has happened in some states like Ohio are tuition freezes or caps that the government puts on state universities. This presents an enormous problem for universities because supply and demand cannot realign as it normally would in a market…which is where we are today.In the medical world there are a shortage of doctors and those that remain are facing enormous problems with reimbursement from agencies like Medicare. With an influx of patients entering the system and roughly the same amount of doctors and facilities, a higher price will need to be charged for care to keep the equilibrium. If the government responds to the medical industry as it did with higher education we might see price controls or the non reimbursement for devices offering a higher level of patient care all in the name of saving money. The result is a shortage of caregivers due to overworking and less revenue and a lower level of patient care because the development of new age devices will stagnate due to lack of incentive. We might even see the medical tourism industry increase with people heading to places like Thailand for certain procedures.With such a huge influx of new patients, the higher costs that come with them, it seems as though the democrats are trying to build a skyscraper. They will fund the building of it by repealing Bush tax cuts (that is what they say). Then, when the skyscraper is done and the money has run out, what is left to operate and maintain the huge government edifice? More tax increases on the wealthy? Balogna.This is just healthcare. What about the infrastructure (Big Dig anyone?) upgrades Obama and Clinton hint? Their response is that ending/LOSING the Iraq War will be enough to pay for this. I am picturing 1000 Big Digs going on each with the budget of 100 mil and going ten times over budget due to the government mismanaging the project. This, all at the expense of losing what could be one of our greatest successes. Yes, Iraq can be one of our greatest successes. Of course, Harry Reid has determined we have already lost. Take it from me, someone who has been there, we are winning and will win if the American people allow it. The stakes are far to high.What about education where we already spend more per student than many of the countries that routinely beat us in test scores? When will the solution stop being a dollar figure? As long as the NEA forces teachers to contribute part of their pay to the democratic partyI also mention the assault on Big X (X being the democratic pinata du jour whether it be oil, pharmaceutical, insurance, etc). It is scary to me when people assault American business for being profitable. These “Big” companies employ Americans who pay taxes and provide services vital to our domestic interests. To hear Hillary speak of fleecing oil companies for excessive profits wreaks of socialism and this talk must be quelled by opposing thought leaders. I am not sure McCain can do it, but one can only hope.Hope this helps and can you see why this type of thought would make me the outcast of the webworld if others knew?

        1. S.t

          A Hillary-care Universal Health plan, on top of the mountain of debt that the other social programs we have — Social Security, and Medicare — as well as all the environmental taxes & restricitions — will ensure America’s insolvency the rest of this century.

  10. scott crawford

    Yep, it was a great write-up and rang true based on what I’ve gathered (always happy when that happens).

  11. S.t

    Barack Obama: the Halle Berry of the US Senatethis piece by the imfamous Joe Wilson, on HuffPo”On Iran and the question of designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, the junior senator from Illinois was not quite so clever at avoiding taking a position. He first co-sponsored the “Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007,” which contained explicit language identifying the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. He subsequently claimed to oppose the Kyl-Lieberman sense of the Senate resolution proposing the same thing. Obama’s accountability problem here is that he didn’t show up for the vote on that resolution — a vote that would have put him on record. Then he declined to sign on to a letter put forward by Senator Clinton making explicit that the resolution could not be used as authority to take military action. All we have is Obama’s rhetoric juxtaposed with his co-sponsorship of a piece of legislation that proposed what he says he opposed.Obama’s gyrations on Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran are not the actions of one imbued with superior intuitive judgment, but rather the machinations of a political opportunist looking to avoid having his fingerprints on any issue that might be controversial, and require real judgment, while preserving his freedom to bludgeon his adversary for actually taking positions as elected office demands. It is hard to discern whether Senator Obama is a man of principle, but it is clear that he is not a man of substance. And that judgment, based on his hollow record, is inescapable.”

    1. S.t

      ‘infamous’ — i know

      1. phoneranger

        Joe Wilson is big Hillary supporter.

        1. phoneranger

          His overweening desire to be Chief Justice of the Truth, Reconciliation, Retribution and Punishment Tribunal is palpable. But dammit I want that job.

  12. Hockeydino

    Here come the tax increases! Oh let’s pay to regulate the internet too! How much do you think it would cost to visit I’d pay $1 I guess. No offense Fred…but maybe if you had a babe of the day I’d pay more.SOCIALISM DOESN’T WORK FRED!! Maybe you should change the name to A VENTURE SOCIALIST? Coz a bigger government doesnt help capitalists. Well maybe it helps the corporate welfare folk like the neocons have been doing for the last 8 years.http://www.knowbeforeyouvot…I still love you, but you are killing me slowly.

    1. fredwilson

      HockeydinoI don’t see myself as a pure capitalist. I do believe in some aspects of socialism. I am a fan of public education, public health care, public transportation, etcFree markets don’t always work.Fred

  13. mike

    The taboo against publicly discussing politics in North America is strange and probably a bad thing — when I visit other parts of the world politics are a part of everybody’s daily conversations.

  14. Gus

    I respect Mr Andreessen, but Obama is NOT a normal guy. Obama has successfully suppressed his past concern for Palestine. For someone banking on hope and change, he certainly has shown extreme cowardice on this issue. Hillary is a lost case altogether.

    1. phoneranger

      You think Arab Americans are upset. How about us Canadian-Americans. We’re tired of Canada being the punching bag for Big Lumber and Big Beef.

    2. S.t

      Two weeks after making her disdain for the nation clear during a campaign speech for her husband in Wisconsin, Michelle further debased America by saying that we’re a country that is “just downright mean.”Mrs. Obama begins with a broad assessment of life in America in 2008, and life is not good: we’re a divided country, we’re a country that is “just downright mean,” we are “guided by fear,” we’re a nation of cynics, sloths, and complacents. “We have become a nation of struggling folks who are barely making it every day,” she said, as heads bobbed in the pews. “Folks are just jammed up, and it’s gotten worse over my lifetime. And, doggone it, I’m young. Forty-four!”Oh, woe is her! Just listen to how deluded this person is:”You’re looking at a young couple that’s just a few years out of debt,” Obama said. “See, because, we went to those good schools, and we didn’t have trust funds. I’m still waiting for Barack’s trust fund. Especially after I heard that Dick Cheney was s’posed to be a relative or something. Give us something here!”Give us something here?Can you believe this nonsense? You want to know how much this couple has been given lately?The Obamas’ financial standing has risen sharply in the past three years, largely as a result of the money Barack earned from writing “The Audacity of Hope.” In 2005, their income was $1.67 million, which was more than they had earned in the previous seven years combined.Just after Barack was elected to the United States Senate, Michelle received a large pay increase-from $121,910 in 2004 to $316,962 in 2005.Still want someone to give you something, Michelle?But that’s just the beginning of an hypocrisy an honest media would be all over if her husband was a Republican:”The life that I’m talking about that most people are living has gotten progressively worse since I was a little girl. . . . So if you want to pretend like there was some point over the last couple of decades when your lives were easy, I want to meet you!”Really, Michelle? Life has gotten worse for you since you were a little girl?To give readers an idea of the delusion involved in this woman’s declarations concerning how things were better when she was a little girl, let’s understand that in the year she was born (1964), 19 percent of the population lived in poverty. In 2006, that percentage is 12.3.You were saying, Michelle?Of course, it would be nice if media called her out on this nonsense, wouldn’t it?