Obama a Failure at Governing
Every time Barack Obama falls short in the leadership department, I am reminded of what former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder wrote in an editorial for Politico.com four years ago. “Getting elected and getting things done for the people are two different things,” Wilder said. Obama knew how to get elected all right, but he still hasn’t a clue about how to govern. The President’s approach to governing has been one of caving in, breaking promises, cutting deals and failing to provide oversight.
From the very beginning of his presidency, Mr. Obama demonstrated hypocritically bad judgment. During his first campaign he told CNN, “I am running to tell the lobbyists in Washington that the days of setting the agenda are over. They won’t work in my White House.” But according to a December 2013 report in the Washington Examiner, lobbying scholar Conor McGrath documents 119 former lobbyists serving in the Obama administration.
Then, a month after being sworn in, Obama launched his so-called war on CEO greed, the lynchpin of which was a cap of $500,00 on executive pay. But his cap only applied to CEOs of companies who would receive at least $20 billion in taxpayer bailout money, and the new caps didn’t apply to companies who had already received federal assistance. Six years later, the pay disparity between CEOs and employees is wider than ever.
Speaking of money, Obama’s stimulus package didn’t exactly stimulate the so-called “shovel ready” jobs he promised. $535 million was awarded to a solar energy company who went bankrupt less than a year later. $150 million went to the Smithsonian for maintenance. Some $50 million went to the Endowment for the Arts, and $600 million went to the purchase of government vehicles. The list goes on. The President also promised that his recovery plan would restore the jobs lost during the recession, and certainly millions of jobs have been created since then. But a closer examination reveals the duplicity of the President’s boastings.
Jobs paying $14 to $21 per hour comprised 60 percent of jobs lost during the recession, but they only account for 27 percent of those regained. Even worse, nearly 60 percent of all jobs regained since 2008 are low paying jobs. That means two-thirds of new jobs “created” make those workers, by definition, underemployed. That, coupled with the number of people who have given up looking for work, and the latest unemployment figure of 5.9 percent is grossly underestimated.
Mr. Obama purported to be the environmental President, but in 2011 he halted EPA regulations on smog standards. And, he was asleep at the wheel during BP’s Deep Water Horizon spill. It took a full four weeks for Obama to question BP’s competence in directing a cleanup of the spill. Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley criticized the Commander-in-Chief for not making the Gulf cleanup a military operation from the start. And former Presidential advisor David Gergen told CNN, “President Obama cares, but it’s not enough to care. You’ve got to take charge.”
Obama also failed to demonstrate leadership or oversight with the Affordable Care Act. The launch was a nightmare, and millions of people discovered that, contrary to the President’s promise, they could not keep their existing insurance plan. Sure, millions of uninsured people have obtained coverage, but the President made no attempt to include a cap on premiums in his Act, and today, the leading cause of bankruptcy in America is still medical bills. So much for healthcare reform.
Speaking of healthcare, Mr. Obama cut a deal with Big Pharma to keep lower priced drugs from being imported. Meanwhile, he allows other nations to export their wares to the United States by paying a paltry 2 percent tariff. That compares to China’s rate of 22 percent and India’s 44 percent. That’s real leadership. Thanks to Obama, people on a fixed income have to pay a fortune for medicine, but they can get all the Chinese dog food they want.
And don’t get me started on Obama’s flip-flop when it comes to war. He campaigned as an anti-war candidate, but then proceeded to involve our country in more foreign entanglements than his predecessor had. No sooner had he finally extracted us from Iraq that he sent troops into Afghanistan. Now we’re bombing Syria. The federal government has spent trillions of dollars interfering in the Middle East, and that’s money that could have gone to hiring police, firefighters, and teachers here at home.
But perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Obama’s style of governing is his failure to make security a number one priority. Instead of waging war against one foreign rebel group after another, he should be doing all he can to shore up our own borders. Sure he’s deported 2 million undocumented workers who came here predominantly from Mexico and Central America, but most of those people were gainfully employed and posed no danger to anyone. Meanwhile he’s allowed his intelligence agencies to spy on innocent Americans, and his airport agents to strip search little old ladies whose only crime was having an artificial knee. And now he’s failed to act swiftly to prevent a real threat to our safety, the deadly Ebola virus.
Back in July, as soon as the first cases of Ebola were reported in West Africa, Congressman Alan Grayson requested that the President order a travel ban from that area. Obama refused, and now hundreds of people in Texas have been exposed to the virus because of one Liberian man who was allowed entry to our country. The President can be lax with his own White House security if he wants to, but Ebola is an intruder we can’t take chances with.
Clearly Barack Obama was a success at campaigning, but he’s been a failure at governing. I wish it had been the other way around. !
JIM LONGWORTH is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on ABC45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 11am on WMYV (cable channel 15).