While some left-of-center pundit have deemed President Obama’s record “historic” given the legislative initiatives he has passed, Noemie Emery reminds us that legislative success does not necessarily mean social and economic progress.
Not just that, the problem, she writes, “is that his successes were things few people wanted to happen:”
He is failing because he has been succeeding; at passing measures that voters don’t want.
Obama has built up his line of “successes” by picking out issues not high on the public’s agenda, and handling them in a manner that most of the people dislike. After the crash of 2008, voters were eager for economic expansion, while Obama reverted to his pre-crash agenda, on the grounds that the crisis was too good to waste.
He passed a $787 stimulus package, when the public was distraught over deficit spending. He wasted a year over health care, for which no one had clamored, producing a 2,000-plus-page enigma that had to be passed by bribes, threats, and buy-offs, which no one had read.
Before the bill passed, voters in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts slapped Democrats hard in the off-year elections in an effort to stop it. Since the bill passed, it has grown still more unpopular, and unpleasant surprises appear every day.
Meanwhile, the stimulus bill is now seen as a failure and a great waste of money. Only 13 percent of the public thinks it helped them at all.
This all goes back to perhaps the most defining moment of the Obama Administration when the then-new president answered Republican objections about the size of the “stimulus” with a curt and contemptuous rebuttal, “I won.” Yes, he did win and he ran one helluva campaign to achieve that victory.
In that campaign, however, he made sure to define himself as a deficit hawk (in contrast to the Republican Administration under whom we had been “living beyond our means“. He promised not to follow that spendthrift path, vowing to make cut some programs to compensate for the new programs he was proposing. Throughout the campaign, he reminded us, he had been proposing a “net spending cut.”
In his campaign, he addressed Americans’ concerns about federal profligacy. As president, he has only paid them lip service. The Democrat is failing because he saw his victory as a mandate to do what he has long wanted not to govern as he had repeatedly promised.