Basically, what we are seeing with the rise of the Tea Party movement and the impending takeover of Congress by the Republican Party, not to mention the made-by-and-for Fox News television rallies in Washington, D.C., is a backlash against the historic election of President Obama, the landmark legislative success of his administration, and the economic circumstances and realities that attend nearly double digit unemployment.
This is to say, of course, that none of this has anything to do with the deficit; if it had, there is plenty of evidence that suggests that this anger would have manifested itself long before now. The first Federal Budget proposed by the Obama Administration was fiscal year 2010, which began on October 1, 2009.The deficit for fiscal year 2009, which began three and a half months before Barack Obama was sworn in, was $1.412 trillion. FY 2009 was obviously a transitional fiscal year in that it overlapped the Bush and Obama administrations. The federal budget that year was proposed by Bush and administered for nine and an half months by Obama; just as the fiscal year 2001budget was proposed by Clinton and administered by Bush for nine and a half months; in which, by the way there was a Federal Budget surplus of $128.24billion.
The $787 Stimulus billion Bill, officially known as The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is however, the rub. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, no matter how contentious, does not count on the clear and unassailable grounds that President Obama unambiguously ran for President on the presumption that he would attempt to enact such legislation; and then won election with 53% of the popular vote.
The Stimulus Package was, and remains, another matter. The President and Congressional Democrats claim that in the face of the most significant economic downturn since The Great Depression, as evidenced in part by the fact that the nation’s economy lost in excess of 700.000 jobs in the very month that the President was sworn in, extraordinary times called for extraordinary measures; and that a governmental stimulus of the economy was clearly necessary to avoid complete economic catastrophe. Conservatives claim that the stimulus was misguided or misdirected, or both; and that it did not do what the President claimed that it was expressly designed to do: to keep the national unemployment rate below 8%.
In retrospect, this is the likely crux of the President’s political problem. His administration understated and/or underestimated the magnitude of the downturn and as a result, undersold the need for what should have been an even larger stimulus in the hope that unemployment might have been kept below double digits. Had the Stimulus Bill been sold thusly, the administration would now be looking rather differently to most fair minded observers—and voters. Hindsight is always abundantly clear.