Pres­i­dent Obama’s first year: F

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Barack Obama is on his way to be­ing the worst pres­i­dent in U.S. his­tory. This has not dawned on him — yet. But it will soon.

Last week, Oprah Win­frey in her “Christ­mas at the White House” spe­cial asked the pres­i­dent what grade he would give him­self for his first year in of­fice.

“A good, solid B-plus,” Mr. Obama said. “I think we have in­her­ited the big­gest set of chal­lenges of any pres­i­dent since Franklin De­lano Roo­sevelt. We sta­bi­lized the econ­omy. [. . .] We are on our way out of Iraq. I think we’ve got the best pos­si­ble plan for Afghanistan. We have re­set our im­age around the world.” Mr. Obama added: “I think that we’re go­ing to pass the most sig­nif­i­cant piece of so­cial leg­is­la­tion since So­cial Se­cu­rity, and that’s health in­sur­ance for ev­ery Amer­i­can.”

If health care re­form is en­acted, Mr. Obama smugly as­serted, “we tip into A-mi­nus.”

This is grade inflation at its worst. He is liv­ing in a lib­eral bub­ble — a bub­ble that is about to burst.

Mr. Obama’s grade is an F. His eco­nomic poli­cies have failed to re­store ro­bust growth. Af­ter pass­ing his $787 bil­lion fis­cal stim­u­lus pack­age, he vowed that the un­em­ploy­ment rate would not rise above 8 per­cent. It now stands at 10 per­cent — and many economists ex­pect it to climb next year to 11 per­cent or higher. This is not eco­nomic re­cov­ery. It is fail­ure.

More omi­nously, Mr. Obama’s mas­sive bud­get deficits threaten our long-term eco­nomic se­cu­rity. Amer­ica is be­ing buried un­der a moun­tain of red ink. The gov­ern­ment deficit for fis­cal 2009 was $1.4 tril­lion. It is pro­jected to be $1.5 tril­lion in fis­cal 2010. Over the next decade, the na­tional debt is ex­pected to ex­plode by $10 tril­lion — dou­bling un­der Mr. Obama’s spend-and­bor­row lib­er­al­ism. Our cur­rent debt level is al­ready a stag­ger­ing $12 tril­lion. By the time Mr. Obama is done, it will be more than $21 tril­lion.

We can­not sus­tain that kind of debt load. The re­sults will be sky­rock­et­ing inflation, sys­temic high un­em­ploy­ment, ane­mic growth and a dec­i­mated mid­dle class. We are on the verge of be­com­ing the United States of Ar­gentina.

Mr. Obama and the con­gres­sional Democrats have a grand lib­eral strat­egy. Their spending or­gies — like the re­cent $1.1 tril­lion om­nibus spending pack­age — rep­re­sent more than pay­offs to key spe­cial-in­ter­est groups. The goal is to rack up un­sus­tain­able lev­els of debt and spending, thereby forc­ing per­ma­nent mas­sive tax in­creases. Our cred­i­tors — es­pe­cially the com­mu­nist Chi­nese — will de­mand huge in­creases in in­come-tax rates, cor­po­rate taxes and the adop­tion of a Euro­pean-style value-added tax (VAT) to fi­nance our ru­n­away deficits.

This is why Obama Democrats are de­ter­mined to ram some kind — any kind — of health care over­haul through Congress. Opin­ion polls con­sis­tently show the ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans rightly op­pose Oba­macare. It will lead to in­di­vid­ual man­dates, ra­tioning, higher pre­mi­ums, the gut­ting of Medi­care and more than $400 bil­lion in new taxes. More im­por­tant, even without the so-called pub­lic op­tion and Medi­care buy-in scheme, it is a costly and bur­den­some en­ti­tle­ment pro­gram that em­pow­ers the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to dom­i­nate the health care sec­tor. It is the last step be­fore full-fledged na­tion­al­ized medicine; it sounds the death knell for Amer­ica’s tra­di­tional free-mar­ket sys­tem. It is the fi­nal tri­umph of statism.

Oba­ma­nomics aims not only to ex­pand the size and scope of gov­ern­ment. It seeks to erect a Franco-Ger­man wel­fare state marked by crip­pling taxes, rigid anti-busi­ness reg­u­la­tions and a bloated pub­lic sec­tor. The vic­tim will be most Amer­i­cans. Our stan­dard of liv­ing, eco­nomic dy­namism and in­di­vid­ual lib­er­ties will be sig­nif­i­cantly eroded. This is not so­cial jus­tice. It is fail­ure.

In Iraq, Mr. Obama’s de­ci­sion to pre­cip­i­tously with­draw most of our troops has been pre­ma­ture: We are snatch­ing de­feat from the jaws of victory. Ter­ror­ist at­tacks have es­ca­lated dra­mat­i­cally over the past few months, sec­tar­ian vi­o­lence is on the rise, and Iraq’s leaders are plead­ing for U.S. forces to stay longer. Rather than be­ing a sta­ble democ­racy in the heart of the Arab world, Iraq threat­ens to be­come a failed state. Once again, Shi’ite ex­trem- ists and al Qaeda mil­i­tants are scorch­ing the sands of Me­sopotamia with the fires of Is­lamic ji­hadism.

More­over, Mr. Obama’s troop surge in Afghanistan will haunt his pres­i­dency and the United States. His de­ci­sion to send an ad­di­tional 30,000 troops without a clear strat­egy for victory re­peats the tragic mis­takes of Viet­nam. It is a danger­ous es­ca­la­tion of our mil­i­tary in­volve­ment, de­void of strate­gic pur­pose and po­lit­i­cal re­solve.

The fun­da­men­tal prob­lem is Mr. Obama: He lacks the will to crush the resur­gent Tal­iban. In­stead, he is trans­form­ing the Afghan war into an in­ter­na­tional po­lice op­er­a­tion. U.S. sol­diers are to pro­tect vil­lagers from in­sur­gents, help build roads and fo­cus on eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. They are im­peded by se­vere rules of en­gage­ment, pro­hib­ited from in­flict­ing civil­ian ca­su­al­ties - even as a re­sult of col­lat­eral dam­age (which hap­pens in ev­ery con­flict). This is not states­man­ship. Again, it is fail­ure.

Mr. Obama is a mul­ti­cul­tural rad­i­cal left­ist who is at­tempt­ing to im­pose his own Cul­tural Revo­lu­tion on Amer­ica; he is pro­mot­ing a de­struc­tive ex­per­i­ment in so­cial­ist so­cial en­gi­neer­ing. It has never worked be­fore. And it won’t work to­day un­der Amer­ica’s lat­est fal­ter­ing pres­i­dency.

Jef­frey T. Kuh­ner is a colum­nist at The Wash­ing­ton Times and pres­i­dent of the Ed­mund Burke In­sti­tute, a Wash­ing­ton think tank.

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