by Jim Edsall
According to recent polls, half of the American people believe that Barack Obama should not be given a second term as President, and it’s all about color but it’s not about race. In his 2008 campaign, Obama positioned himself as uniquely able to unite all Americans by respecting divergent viewpoints and working to achieve consensus. That message had particular appeal in swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida, which are not all Republican “red” or all Democrat “blue”. Many who voted for Obama were hoping for unifying, moderate, bi-partisan, purple governance. What they got was something else entirely.
With a Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, the President suddenly went shocking blue. Within two months of his inauguration, the President and the Congress passed a $787 billion stimulus bill. When Republicans pushed for more tax incentives for businesses President Obama rejected their efforts, saying “elections have consequences” and “I won.” The stimulus passed with the votes of just three Republican Senators. The emphasis on spending didn’t create the rapid recovery that is normal for the American economy coming out a recession. Instead, economic growth has stayed in the tepid 2% range, and unemployment has stayed stubbornly above 8%.
Then, the President and the Democrats in the Congress pushed through a national health care law disfavored by a majority of Americans without a single Republican vote. No other major entitlement program in U.S. history – not Social Security, not Medicare, not prescription drug coverage – has been passed on purely partisan lines. No purple here. The law itself is so onerous to business that the Obama Administration has already issued waivers to over 1000 businesses who can’t meet the mandated coverage requirements. The Supreme Court is at this moment deliberating whether the mandate requiring individuals to purchase insurance is unconstitutional.*
Despite the protestations of his environmentalist base to the contrary, the President has been overly green, pushing for a transfer to renewable energy sources before any of them are cost effective. His reaction to the Deep Water Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was to place a moratorium on offshore drilling at the cost of thousands of gulf coast jobs. His decision to block the Keystone-XL trans-continental pipeline prevents the delivery of affordable oil from Canada, and denies American workers at least 10,000 jobs. The recent increase in domestic oil production has largely been on private lands under permits issued during the Clinton and Bush administrations. At the same time, according to the Bureau of Land Management, he has reduced the number of permits issued on the federal lands from 7124 in 2007 to just 4244 in 2011. In a failed attempt to pick winners and losers in the solar panel industry, the Obama administration gave $535 million in loan guarantees to Solyndra just before the company went bankrupt. The more green the President’s policies are, the more “green” it costs us.
The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) under Obama has been unfriendly to development and use of America’s own oil and natural gas reserves, to say the least. Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz admitted that EPA’s approach to enforcement of rules for oil and gas companies is to “crucify” and make an example of them. Armendariz has since resigned, but his statement is reflective of the policy views and philosophy of the administration. EPA’s overriding concern appears to be global warming, despite the fact that there is not a consensus among scientists that climate change is man-caused. The administration continues to insist that Congress must act to control carbon dioxide, which each of us exhales, or they will impose draconian measures through the EPA, regardless of the potential increase in energy costs. Maybe you can find some purple here, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Debt and Taxes
Regarding our national debt, the President has ignored his own bi-partisan Debt Commission which recommended reducing spending, reforming the tax code to lower all rates while eliminating loopholes, and reforming entitlements through means testing and increasing age limits. All of those are ideas that Republicans have endorsed. However, the President has instead focused on trying to pass a new 30% capital gains tax on the rich. Even under the Senate version, that tax increase would only bring in $4.7 billion in additional tax revenue per year. According to the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”), the federal government spends over $10 billion per day. President Obama will run up over $6 trillion in new national debt in just four years. This is the same Barack Obama who called President Bush “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic” when Bush added $4 trillion in debt over eight years. The very thought of it has me seeing red!
On the foreign policy front, the President receives favorable marks from a majority of Americans, chiefly due to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and the elimination of other Al Qaeda leaders through drone attacks. However, many of his other policies have been too Code Pink, if not yellow. President Obama canceled missile shield bases in Poland and the Czech Republic without a single concession from the Russians. He removed our troops from Iraq without securing a status-of-forces agreement. On the day he announced the troop surge in Afghanistan he also announced the date of our withdrawal. When our stealth helicopter crashed in Pakistan he left it there. The Pakistanis have allowed the Chinese to inspect it. When our high-tech drone was captured in Iran, the President merely asked them to give it back. The Iranians rejected that request. They now claim to have reverse engineered it, and have offered to sell the drone technology to the Chinese. How did the administration let it land in Iran in one piece anyway? In the meantime, Iran proceeds with enriching uranium and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. Tough banking sanctions against Iran may help, but it is likely too little, too late. Some very colorful words could be added here.
Accusations of Racism
Liberal politicians, and members of the media, have often accused people who don’t support Obama’s policies of being racist. Here are some examples from the liberal echo chamber –
9-16-09: Jimmy Carter with Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News:
“CARTER: an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he’s African American.”
9-17-09: Chris Matthews and Salon’s Joan Welsh on MSNBC’s “Hardball”:
“MATTHEWS: Joan, you’re right, you’re right. And the trouble I have in this job, and my nature is, that even though I know the motive behind a lot of this crap being thrown at this president has to do with who he is, where he comes from, his background, his politics, his “background”–I’ll just say it that way–
WALSH: Yes, “background.”
5-25-11: House Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, as reported by McClatchy news service on the Huffington Post:
“CLYBURN: You know, I’m 70 years old,” he said. “And I can tell you; people don’t like to deal with it, but the fact of the matter is, the president’s problems are in large measure because of the color of his skin.”
However, they are ignoring and denying the fact that people have all of the above stated reasons to oppose his POLICIES for the negative effect they will have on all Americans of every demographic profile. Racism is evil, but so is unfairly accusing people of it. Certainly there is still some racism out there, but for the vast majority of Americans dissatisfaction with Barack Obama has nothing to do with his being “black”. It has everything to do with his policies and the fact that he is not as purple as he said he would be.
(* NOTE: There are other solutions to health care issues in this country, e.g., Medicaid can be expanded to cover more of the poor, and the government could pay part of everyone’s health insurance premiums as they do in Germany without a creating massive new federal bureaucracy. Costs can be reduced by allowing insurance companies to compete across state lines and by passing tort lawsuit reform to reduce the high cost of malpractice insurance that doctors pass on to consumers.)