Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Year Of Hope And Change

Two excellent reflections upon The One's Year-of-Hope-n-Change...


When President Obama was inaugurated one year ago, the US economy was struggling. In his address he noted: "The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth…All this we can do. All this we will do."

So how did he do? Badly.

First, he boldly and swiftly went on a spending spree, bailing out US auto companies and passing a $787 "stimulus" bill that promised to create 3.5 million jobs. Instead, America has shed 3.4 million jobs, driving the unemployment rate from 7.2 to 10 percent since last January.

Next, he spent $100 billion expanding SCHIP and authored a budget that increased discretionary spending by 8 percent—a quiet yet swift reversal of his campaign pledge to enact a net spending cut.

Meanwhile, he's totally ignored the largest and fastest growing programs, the budget-busting entitlements that are in desperate need of reform. Initially he pledged bipartisan cooperation and fiscal responsibility, but then quickly abandoned it to try to force Congress to pass a new, expensive health care entitlement that lacks bipartisan support.

Remarkably, he went on to invent a new school of economic thought—one that will probably not get him a second Nobel Prize—which is the first to claim that it's a good idea to raise taxes in a recession. He's supported raising taxes to pay for health care and his cap and trade energy policy. With rhetoric that continues to be more powerful than his ability to actually legislate, this alone has been enough to frighten small businesses and slow recovery.

And, when all was said and done, he ran a record $1.4 trillion deficit. Over the next ten years, his budget comes up $13 trillion short, adding more debt in one decade than has accumulated in the US from 1789 through 2008 combined.

As the economy continues to hemorrhage jobs, growth prospects remain weak, and spending and debt pile up, it might now be time for some real change we can believe in.

Amen to that!

Philip Klein has a similar take, but includes some different details and a prognostication:

A year ago today, millions of American's decended on Washington to attend Barack Obama's inaugauration. At the time, I wrote that:

Ever since he launched his candidacy nearly two years ago, Obama has been able to use well-crafted rhetoric to paper over contradictory signals, and his lack of executive experience created questions about how he would govern. Would he rule from the center or left? Is he a radical or a political pragmatist? Will he be a transformational liberal leader or a merely another Democratic president?

This morning, as President Obama awakes from a night of revelry with the entire nation rooting for him, the guessing game will be over, and the American people will begin to judge him on the decisions he makes, and the results.

And judge him they have. When he was sworn in, President Obama enjoyed an approval rating of 68 percent, according to Gallup, compared with a disapproval rating of merely 12 percent. But instead of uniting the country, Obama decided to use the economic crisis as an opportunity to push as many liberal initiatives as he could. He signed a $787 billion economic stimulus package that failed to keep unemployment under 10 percent, and attempted to ram through an overwhelmingly unpopular health care bill. In the end, the process descended into a series of backroom deals with the same special interest groups he pledged to fight, and hidden from the view of C-SPAN cameras he promised to let in the room. Taken together, these actions alienated independent voters, who supported Obama because they thought he would govern as a moderate and change the cynical ways of Washington. As of this writing, Obama's Gallup approval rating has dropped to 50 percent, while his disapproval has surged to 43 percent. Thus, on a net basis, Obama's rating has dropped 49 points in a year. And if that isn't enough, just yesterday, a Republican was elected to fill the seat once held by Ted Kennedy in a state that voted for Obama over Sen. John McCain by 26 points.

So in a sense, the midterms came early for Obama. On the one-year anniversary of his presidency, he'll have to decide whether he'll continue on his current course, which will cause further erosion of support among independents and subject his party to further losses. Or, like President Clinton, decide to scale back his liberal agenda and attempt to govern as the moderate many Americans though they were electing.

I'm not optimistic for the moderation.  Remember, Barack Obama is an ideologue, and the worse things get now, the more likely I think my tinfoil hat speculation of Hillary Clinton running against him in 2012 becomes.

No matter how that all shakes out, I think it's safe to say that a year of Hope-n-Change has not made America better off.

There's my two cents.

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