Obama’s Presidency Has Failed
I’m calling it. I know, Obama has three more years in office, but he is already a lame duck. After the fiasco with the rollout of Obamacare, from here on known as the Affordable Care Act or ACA, not even his “signature legislation” can save him.
Since the ACA passed in 2010, staunch supporters of President Obama have used its passage as proof that Obama is a good president. With the latest revelations of its rollout problems, the loss of coverage and little evidence that the law is making health care more affordable or accessible for many people, that argument has lost its potency. His unwillingness to give “Medicare for All” or any other single payer system even a passing glance is now seen as a failing considering the current problems of the ACA. Some people are starting to see what many people have known all along; free markets don’t work well with health care.
The other line of Obama defense is that “he got Osama Bin Laden.” Fine, he’s better than George W. Bush at finding and killing terrorism suspects. However, the continuous revelations of drone attacks on innocents in Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere have shifted the foreign policy discussion to abuses, not war victories. Even the troop withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan has been overshadowed by continued American war atrocities which in turn has reignited the discussion about the efficaciousness of the two Mideast wars.
And the Guantanamo detention center is still open in Cuba. So much for promises, or effort. Certainly, House Republicans blocked money needed to close the torture center, but Obama has options as President. Moreover, once he realized that Republicans would resist the move, he went back to signing more hit lists for his drone program instead of doing the work needed to close Gitmo.
Obama, the Constitutional scholar, would have certainly been against the NSA spying that has gone on under Obama the President. As a legal professor, he taught about the 4th Amendment, and he knows that rulings on the 4th Amendment have yet to protect us against intrusions such as the data mining of phone calls and Internet activity. However, as a minority and first black president, he should understand that the intent of the 4th Amendment is to protect against government intrusion, and that such broad spying can create a type of neo-McCarthyism to be used to limit dissent. Regardless of the “constitutionality” of the NSA spying programs, people object and see the program as hypocritical coming from Obama. Besides, owning people was upheld in the Dread Scott Supreme Court case and women were banned from voting until 1920. The law isn’t always correct, and we know it. Only tyrants use the law to justify immoral behavior.
The stimulus passed early in Obama's first term helped save some jobs, but it failed to create many. Only 60% of the stimulus was used for public spending; 40% of the stimulus was for tax cuts. And despite Republican rhetoric, tax cuts don’t create jobs nor growth. Even pro-business Forbes Magazine knows this. There has been little discussion of jobs, a job’s program, or how to get America back to work during Obama's tenure. His own Job Council failed miserable and has been discontinued. Direct investment in rebuilding this nation like the Works Progress Administration was not considered viable by the administration. Obama is, after all, no socialist nor even a Keynesian. Certainly, Congress writes and makes laws about jobs, but Obama has shown no leadership nor presented a viable jobs plan, just tax cutting proposals.
In an effort to not seem too radical, or perhaps because he didn’t know better, Obama pushed a too small stimulus package. He showed little guidance on the budget. He consulted too many on Wall Street, too many bankers and not enough economists who were not working in the financial sector. He was given bad advice, like Johnson got on Vietnam. Now the legacy of high unemployment and low wages, that he was left from the Bush administration, will likely be left for the next administration to clean up. Joe Biden might as well book his train back to Delaware and call a mover for 2016. He’s not winning the Presidency on Obama’s record.
There are few compelling reasons to say Obama is a great president, even a good one. Moreover, despite my best wishes for him, I see no signs that his presidency will improve. His cautious approach to the job will leave his race as the only positive memory left from his time in office.