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Barack Obama’s America, six years later

TOM BURGUM
Staff Columnist
burgum@lbknews.com

Almost six years ago, Barack Obama set the goals for his administration. It was June 4, 2008, in St. Paul and he had just won the Democratic primary. He told the admiring throng: “I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.”

Just how, we may ask ourselves, has Mr. Obama’s agenda worked out?

The scorecard on the domestic front is not encouraging. The recovery from the recession of 2008-2009 is the weakest since World War II. The economy shrank last quarter and the International Monetary Fund cut its estimate of our potential growth rate to 2 percent; other economists have put it much lower.

Most economists believe the stymied growth rate is the result of the almost incalculable federal debt which, according to Senator Rob Portman, (R-Oh), writing in the Wall Street Journal, threatens to jump by $40 trillion in the next 20 years. Added to an ever more burdensome debt is the ever increasing and baffling Code of Federal Regulations.

The most recent Unemployment Report has unemployment at 6.1 percent, the lowest since 2008. But, while the new jobs report shows growth, too much of the growth is in low-skilled, part-time jobs, not the good jobs promised in St. Paul. Only 58.7 percent of Americans are working and too much of that number is part time employment. According to the Washington Post of July 3, 2014, part-time employment jumped by 1 million to 27 million overall.

The southern border of the United States has disappeared. “U.S immigration law simply no longer exists,” according to Victor Davis Hanson. He contends that “Incoming foreign nationals more likely welcome arrest than fear it. Tens of thousands of newly arrived immigrants expect that the cynical coalition of commercial interest, ethnic activists, and political operatives have subverted existing federal law. America is now wide open. Almost anyone can cross the border and receive subsidized sanctuary. If you object, you are a nativist, racist, or xenophobe   take your pick.”

The Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare to you), is increasingly unpopular and a ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia held the administration’s latest attempt to amend the law on their own is invalid. The administration is still wrestling with whether or not to require the health care mandate which has thus far not been enforced. Most disturbingly for Democrats, the law is now marginally unpopular even with the young and Hispanic voters.

Then there is the parade of scandals. Fast and Furious had the U.S. Government sending guns to Mexico for some obscure reason. Benghazi was next followed by the Internal Revenue Service’s alleged effort to stifle political debate. Maybe the most damaging scandal came with the realization that government’s attempt to manage health care for veterans has fallen short for years and has resisted all the bureaucratic attempts to remedy the situation.

America’s standing in the world and the international scene in general doesn’t seem to have improved. The Middle East is in turmoil. Israel and Hamas are at it again in Gaza. The Shiites and Sunni civil war in the Mideast is ramping up. Egypt is back under military dictatorship; Iran continues its proxy war in Syria and Iraq. Mr. Obama ended American involvement in Iraq as promised but the war goes on. ISSI, the new brand of Islamic extremism, is exiling Christians who have lived there for centuries and is threatening to tear Iraq into three pieces.

Hillary’s reset with Russia didn’t work very well. The Crimea has been absorbed back into the Soviet Union and Vladimir Putin is now focused on the Ukraine. Even so, he still has time to focus on the Mideast when he is called on to deal with problems America seems to ignore. In other words, he’s meddling in Syria again.

America’s relations with Germany haven’t been this bad since June 6, 1944. The German website, “Spiegle Online International,” holds that while Chancellor Merkel has no interest in seeing a continued rise in anti-US sentiment in Germany, but that may already have happened. In the same article, a poll about which country should Germany cooperate with in the future revealed that 56 percent named the United States while 53 percent named Russia.

Poland, and probably the Czech Republic, have lost confidence in the United States after Obama unilaterally cancelled the agreement to install defensive missiles in those countries. This is what may have led Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski to have said in private conversation last month that Poland’s defense ties to the United States were “worthless.” Given past experience with the promises of large powers, the Czechs, no doubt, agree.

Japan, Taiwan and Viet Nam nervously watch an increasingly bellicose China. Japan, now nervous about American guarantees, appears ready to shed the pacifism of the post World War II era and is now ramping up their defensive capability, even selling military hardware to friendly countries. A nuclear Japan cannot be far in the future.

The reality today, in the United States and the world, doesn’t quite live up to Obama’s grandiose vision of 2008. Of course, as Mario Como observed, “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.” It should not be a surprise to anyone that Obama’s prose can’t match his poetry. Regardless of who is president, it never does.

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3 Responses for “Barack Obama’s America, six years later”

  1. Ross P. Alander says:

    Well said Steve
    Ross

  2. alan janssens says:

    I congratulate the President for continuing the Fed policy begun by the G.W. Bush administration. If John McCain had been elected, and the economy had behaved exactly in the same fashion, we’d be hearing about the great American hero who once again has come to serve his country and has put it back on it’s feet.

    I’m certain President Hilary Clinton will be as effective.
    aj

  3. Steve says:

    Tom, 2008-9 was not a “recession” – it was a “collapse”. GDP was dropping at levels that were worse than during the the Great Depression. The incremental change in GNP since then to the 2% growth of today is perhaps the biggest increase in history. We went from the edge of total meltdown to stability. 6 years ago real estate prices here and throughout the US were plummeting. Today they are rising and by many metrics the housing market is stronger now than it has ever been. We have record auto sales, The stock market is at an all-time high – as it should be since corporate earnings are at record levels. But nice try with your “Fox News style” negative spin to the fact that the economy is now only growing at 2% which is not as good as the recovery from a normal recession – because most recesiions “begin” with 1 or 2 percent positive growth. Steve

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