Barack Obama has been president of the United States for only about a year-and-a-half now. In that time, aided by large majorities in both houses of Congress, he has won a host of legislative victories on major programs. In spite of everything, the world is more dangerous than before he took office, the economy is stagnant, and the president is more unpopular than ever. The reason may be that the Democrats unfettered success exposes the utter failure of their ideas and leaves them with no one else to blame.
The cornerstone of the presidents legislative agenda was his healthcare reform bill. After almost a year of legislative wrangling and backroom deal-making, the bill finally passed. Almost immediately after passage, a host of problems became apparent. For example, in the scramble to pass the legislation before their fragile coalition cracked under the pressure of public opposition, the Democrats left out a much ballyhooed provision that would have enabled children up to 26-years-old to stay on their parents policies (http://huff.to/97bJ6T). Insurance companies volunteered to enact this coverage voluntarily.
More seriously, the healthcare reform that was supposed to lower healthcare costs almost immediately started driving costs up. A Health and Human Services report that was concealed until after the final vote revealed that Obama did succeed in bending the cost curve for health insurance (http://bit.ly/a3BZG8). The problem was that his reform bent the cost curve upward! The Democratic cost estimates used unrealistic cost predictions that did not survive a real world analysis. Further, several companies have already announced that the reform law will increase their healthcare costs (http://bit.ly/c6MJ7Z). President Obamas healthcare reform, while a legislative success, is proving to be a spectacular and expensive failure in terms of lowering costs.
Another of President Obamas notable legislative successes was the stimulus package. Passed in February 2009 amid dire warnings of what would happen if the bill failed to become law, the stimulus package has been a disappointment. President Obama had claimed that the unemployment rate (at 7.6% when he made the claim in January 2009) would rise as high as 8.5% by April 2009 without the stimulus package or 7.8% with it (http://bit.ly/9mMAzZ ). Of course, the reality is that unemployment continued to rise as high as 10.1% with the stimulus package before settling in at 9.7 - 9.9% where it has stayed for months and remains as of this writing (http://bit.ly/caboLu). The real unemployment rate, counting the underemployed and people who have given up looking for work, is estimated as high as 22% and the length of unemployment has also increased (http://bit.ly/cj5vZR). Other associated programs, from the extension of unemployment benefits to mortgage modifications to cash-for-clunkers, have had no appreciable long-term effects on the economy.
While the stimulus did create jobs, it did so at an enormous cost to the nation. First, there was much dispute over how many jobs the stimulus actually created. Many stimulus jobs were over counted leading to exaggerated claims of jobs created or saved (http://bit.ly/9qNn5B). There is actually no accepted mechanism at all to count jobs saved in spite of White House claims.
USA Today, which is not a conservative newspaper, estimated that a single construction job cost more than $500,000 in stimulus funds (http://bit.ly/dudNjp). Other estimates put the average cost of each stimulus job at $117,933 (http://bit.ly/9qNn5B). This is a huge expense for a jobs program that still resulted in chronic 10% unemployment and underscores just how wrong Obamas economic assumptions are.
Further, the collapse of the Greek economy and the rising debt loads in both Europe and the United States have shown in graphic terms where huge government spending programs ultimately lead. Greece finally reached a point where it could no longer borrow to finance expensive government programs and public sector salaries. Bailing out Greece has brought the euro to the edge of collapse and there are fears that the crisis will spread to other European countries. The debt level of the United State is not far below that of Greece (http://bit.ly/925qYh).
Part II Tomorrow