Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Hamstrung President

President Obama and his supporters always like to blame the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for preventing him from accomplishing anything during his two terms in office.  But what they choose to ignore are three other factors that are leading this administration to be the least effective since the days of Reconstruction.

The first problem for the President is that he expended enough political capital for both terms in getting the Affordable Care Act passed in Congress.  A lot of Congressional Democrats carried a lot of water up the hill to get that bill passed in a midnight vote on Christmas Eve--and many of them died on that hill.  Dozens lost in the "Tea Party Revolt" of 2010 (or didn't even bother to run for re-election after seeing the writing on the wall).  Others who survived the initial backlash see no need to make that kind of sacrifice again--regardless of how "important" the President's bills may be.  Sure, those in relatively safe Democratic districts like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are willing to back the President no matter what he wants--but he has few other friends anymore on Capitol Hill.

Secondly, the financial status of those the President has tried the hardest to help is adding unnecessary delay to the economic recovery.  It would seem counterintuitive to say that giving more money to the poor benefits only the rich--but when you consider that many of the poor (and the "struggling middle class") are so far in debt that any extra revenue provided to them goes more toward getting out of the hole than climbing the economic ladder it makes more sense.  Who has done the best in the "recovery" so far?  Big Banks--who were owed trillions in consumer debt heading into the downturn, and kept adding interest to those balances until the debtors could start paying it back again.  If we hadn't built the post 9/11 "recovery" upon a foundation of debt, we'd actually be a lot farther along in this one.

And then the President has been hamstrung in foreign policy since the day he entered office by being a Nobel Peace Prize winner.  You don't think military options are moved farther down the list of options--or completely removed in the case of Ukraine--because the President doesn't want to see headlines like "Nobel Peace Prize Winner orders airstrikes on terrorist positions"  or "President Obama--a Nobel Peace Prize Winner--sends additional NATO troops to Eastern Ukraine to confront Russian intervention"?  The motto of the Nobel folks isn't "Peace through strength"--it's "Peace through capitulation and appeasement".  FDR, Harry Truman, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan didn't win Peace Prizes for a reason.

So Democrats running for Federal office can blame "obstructionist Republicans" all they want for the failures of the Obama Administration to do more to "transform America"--but the GOP certainly isn't the only factor in this derailment.

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