WASHINGTON, September 5, 2015 − In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama promised to fundamentally change America. He promised fairness for everyone, especially those at the bottom of the economic ladder. He promised to provide health care coverage to all Americans. He promised to fix an economy that was in a severe recession and do it in such a way to ensure that every working American could earn a living wage. He promised to end the US involvement in wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan. And he promised to protect the environment.
After almost 7 years of Obama’s leadership, let’s look at America today.
He supporters would say he has done well, despite having a Congress that, after his first two years, has allegedly tried to block his every move. They claim he brought the economy out of deep recession and reversed the steep and ongoing massive monthly loss of American jobs. He passed the Affordable Care Act, which has provided health insurance for about 11 million Americans and forced virtually all companies to provide at least some health care coverage for all of their workers, including those that work just 30 hours per week.
Obama raised the minimum wage for workers on federal contracts while encouraging individual states and municipalities to do the same. He ended the war in Iraq and has scheduled an end to the war in Afghanistan. He implanted a wide range of environmental regulations while finally encouraging the Chinese to take a serious look at this problem within the next 15 years. He provided additional income maintenance programs by increasing welfare and food stamp eligibility.
He supporters would conclude that his economic policies are working. What’s happening in the Middle East is not his fault while he appears to be successful in getting an agreement to harness Iran’s nuclear program. And he has improved the environment.
To the silent majority, this view by Obama’s supporters appears to be unrealistic and biased toward select groups at the expense of the majority that sees things quite differently.
They see that Obama has indeed fundamentally changed American. The change is not what was expected, however, and is contrary to the principles that made America great, which explains why current presidential candidates find wide appeal with a “make America great” message.
Despite vigorous protestations to the contrary, the economy is still terrible in 2015, fully six years after we reached the alleged bottom of the Great Recession. At this point, we haven’t seen a period of sustained economic growth in this country in almost a decade.
Obama’s policies have placed such heavy burdens on the business community that moving forward is extremely difficult. Added environmental and other business regulations, higher costs for unskilled workers, added costs from the Affordable Care Act, financing difficulties from the Dodd/Frank bill (which has essentially cut off loans with some degree of business risk) and higher taxes on marginal income, dividends and capital gains, have all resulted in a stubbornly stagnant economy.
Later this month, Congress will have to deal with raising the more than $18 trillion public debt ceiling, which increased by $7 trillion under Obama alone.
Almost 94 million adult Americans are not willing or able to work. Many find it is beneficial to collect funds from various Obama programs rather than seek employment. Even though Obama’s economy has created about 5 million jobs in the past two years, the total number of Americans employed today is only about 2 million more than the number before the recession.
By raising the capital gains tax from 15% to 23.8% investors find they have less after-tax capital to re-invest back into the economy. With less labor and less capital it is no wonder the economy has averaged just above a 2% growth rate during Obama’s terms. The average grow rate following the 1982 recession was 4 ½%.
While Obama provided taxpayer-funded health care coverage for 11 million previous uninsured people, tens of millions have experienced higher premiums, higher co-pays, higher deductibles and a loss of long time doctor/patient relationships. After all somebody has to pay for all of those government subsidies. This is an example of Obama’s policies that benefit a small group of wealthy companies and individuals at the expense of the silent majority.
In the area of foreign affairs, Obama’s foreign policy is yet another disaster. By not leaving a residual force in Iraq (like the 28,000 troop residual force stationed in Korea), he allowed ISIS to develop and move into the vacuum, which succeeded in turning the Middle East into a powder keg that’s ready to blow.
Add in a terrible agreement with Iran that the majority of Congress will vote to disapprove, and we have a world that is unstable and threatening. In this area, the situation today could hardly be worse. But it will likely worsen once Iran is free to spend hundreds of billions of dollar on unsanctioned, sophisticated offensive weapons.
Obama has indeed fundamentally changed America. No longer are we a powerful economic machine, growing through innovation and entrepreneurship. No longer are we a world power that every other country was well aware they could not challenge. No longer are we a nation of people who will accept individual responsibility and only ask for help when it’s absolutely needed. No longer are we a nation that welcomes healthy debate instead of the deceptive and ultimately divisive rhetoric we hear from our elected leaders.
In short, it seems we are no longer “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Obama has fundamentally changed America. But most Americans want us to change it back.