WASHINGTON, October 16, 2014 — When going through difficult times, it is often interesting to speculate how history will be written. Years from now, what will be said about the Obama presidency? It will likely be viewed as a big black cloud that hung heavily over our heads that was finally lifted when a new president was sworn into office in 2017.
Obama promised the slightly more than half of the Americans that voted for him he would end the divisiveness in America. He said he would be transparent. He vowed to end two wars and to provide affordable health care to all Americans. He said he would end the recession and provide growth in the economy so that all Americans would find the opportunity to succeed, thereby reducing income inequality.
On each action, history will view him not only as a failure but on many issues he made things much worse. It is as if a black cloud formed during his tenure.
Obama blamed the financial crisis on greedy Wall Street banks and set out to punish them. The reality is that the financial crisis was a result of government policy, endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans, which sought to increase the home ownership rate from 63% of households to 70% of households. That extra 7% of the population was given mortgages that they simply could not afford. The resulting $2 trillion in defaulted mortgages is really what caused the financial crisis. That created a black cloud over the entire banking industry.
Obama promised affordable health care for all Americans. But when he convened a conference of government leaders to seemingly solicit all views, he told conference member John McCain that he won the election so Americans apparently wanted things done his way. He did not even listen to opposing views and passed the Affordable Care Act without a single vote from the opposing party, further dividing the country. In the end, the ACA provided neither health insurance for all Americans nor affordability. A black cloud formed over the entire health care issue.
He promised to end wars. Americans assumed he would do that by winning the wars and leaving Iraq and Afghanistan in a position to preserve the victory. Instead he scheduled an end to the war, before it was militarily feasible and left no residual force to lead in Iraq. The resulting leadership vacuum created the opportunity for terrorists to reverse the US win. A black cloud hangs heavily over the Middle East and it may happen again in Afghanistan.
Americans were killed when a terrorist group attacked the embassy in Benghazi. Obama first said that it was not a terrorist attack but a demonstration over a seldom viewed video. He assured us the killers would be brought to justice. That has never happened and Libya is on the verge of being taken over by the terrorists who now control much of Syria and Iraq. The black cloud over the Middle East is growing.
When it was revealed that the IRS had improperly targeted some groups because of political affiliation, Obama promised a thorough investigation claiming that he would get to the bottom of this. Instead he eventually concluded there was no corruption, even though Lois Lerner hid the facts by refusing to testify. A black cloud hangs heavily over the IRS.
But perhaps the biggest black cloud hanging over Americans is the state of the economy and the lack of opportunity in America, which has always been the land of opportunity. Obama says his policies have helped the middle class. The reality is that the policies are geared to help the lower classes at the expense of the middle class. He wants, for instance, to raise the minimum wage, which may appear to help those at the lowest income levels. It will result in a rippling effect pushing wages higher so that people will be paid more than the value of their output. The middle class will pay for this through higher prices for goods and services. The higher prices will create a black cloud for middle class Americans and will eventually worsen income inequality.
Add in the insecurity fears from Obama’s inability to stop terrorism and his inability to keep Americans safe by controlling a potentially devastating outbreak from Ebola, and the black cloud continues to grow.
Whomever becomes president in 2016 will likely win by promising to reverse or greatly modify most of what Obama did during the black cloud years of his administration. Americans will feel a huge load taken off of their shoulders and the black cloud finally lifted.