But didn’t Democrat Obama inherit “the mess” from Republican Bush and haven’t congressional Republicans obstructed Obama’s recovery agenda?
This is how a Democratic Party, with no Gene McCarthy (pictured), feels compelled to frame re-election issues given a failed incumbent with no record of popular achievements to run on. At least LBJ declined to run and Ted Kennedy challenged Carter in 1980, but I digress.
It is apparent that the main message of this week’s Democratic National Convention from David Axelrod to Bill Clinton, and President Barack Obama himself, will not be to ask Americans if they are better off than they were four years ago. Too few can answer that Reaganesque inquiry in the affirmative. Instead, President Obama will insist that he inherited a crisis solely of the Republicans’ making, single-handedly prevented a second Great Depression, was prevented from implementing Democratic policies that would foster a robust recovery by the Republicans; and that Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and Republicans generally are rich, racists, sexists, bigots and homophobes that don’t care about Medicare, the elderly, the disabled and the poor.
George Will recently described Obama’s message as a perpetual alibi, since he was the first Chief Executive to inherit an imperfect world. But what exactly did the 44th President of the United States inherit, and from whom?
Technically, the newly inaugurated Obama inherited a then-14 month recession on January 20, 2009, that would end five moths later before any of his policies could be implemented. Most of the TARP and Federal Reserve heavy lifting many credit with staving off a financial meltdown had already been authorized and implemented by President George W. Bush and the Congress that Democrats, including then-Senator Obama, had controlled since January of 2007. Senator Obama voted for TARP and the budget bills his party passed immediately preceding the beginning of the recession in November of 2007 and the bursting of the housing bubble.
The October of 2008 financial crisis was history by Inauguration Day 2009 and the federal budgetary situation President Obama faced was one that he had voted for, hence he was an heir to his own inheritance. Moreover, both Community Organizer/Lawyer and Senator Obama were supporters of the “affordable housing” push begun by Democrats in the 1990s and continuing into the 21st Century by congressional Democrats and their ACORN, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac allies. Obama is no where on record in favor of reigning in Fannie or Freddie or legal threats against home lending institutions lest they raise their lending standards. Obama at no time sought to end government guarantees of sub-prime mortgages nor any regulatory regime that would have reduced the risk of foreclosures. In fact, even after taking office he has continued much of the same practices that led to the housing crisis via Dodd-Frank and bailed out Fannie and Freddie.
But wasn’t Barack Obama outspoken against the War on Terror and didn’t “Bush’s wars” (all of which majorities of congressional Democrats voted for) cause the budget deficits that contributed to the recession and ongoing anemic recovery? In a word, no, since defense spending, that includes money spent on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, peaked at 6% of GDP in 2010 from its low of 4% in 1999; all lower than the post-WWII average of between 15% at the height of the Korean War and 7% in the 1980s.
There is no doubt that decades of budget deficits and the resulting national debt are an impediment to recovery, but can anyone remember an election cycle in which the Democrats advocated less government spending than the Republicans? I didn’t think so. Moreover, the Obama deficits have tripled the supposedly draconian Bush deficits because Democrats always want more, more and more, no matter the level of deficits and debt. The only way Republicans are ever offered to prove they “care” about the “non-rich” is to vote for the next specific bill that liberal Democrats introduce in Congress.
None of those Democrat-sponsored bills since at least 1978 have authorized expanded territory within which Americans can exploit our natural fossil fuel resources of oil, natural gas or coal. To the contrary, Democrats have blocked any increase in the supply of energy for which there is a non-government subsidized market with votes against Republican bills. Additionally, the Obama Administration, after failing to get energy tax increases aka Cap&Trade through a Democrat Congress, has used regulatory and other alleged Executive Branch powers via the EPA and otherwise to wage the war he promised to bankrupt the coal industry and impose “skyrocketing energy prices” on a nation of spoiled SUV drivers.
The result? The poor and the rest of America have seen gasoline prices nearly double from where they were on Inauguration Day, including up to and over $4/gallon for long periods of time including today in some parts of the country.
Does anyone think that Republicans are the authors high energy prices and that $4/gallon gasoline is conducive to fostering a recovery? Didn’t think so. Does the prospect of the implementation of Obamacare that passed on the third try with only Democrat votes, and in face of repudiation of same at the polls, encourage job creation or on any way affirm the notion that Republicans got us into the mess? Do Republican votes to repeal Obamacare constitute not letting America recovery? Poppycock!
There is no great mystery concerning what government policies foster economic growth. They happen to be those policies, consistent with the Founder’s principles of Liberty to pursue happiness, including profits and private property, that keep government smaller, taxes lower and regulations to minimal necessities.
President Obama recently famously declared that if you built a business that “you didn’t build that” or did “you” build that American system” that made our prosperity possible. Candidate Obama promised to “fundamentally transform” America, so not only didn’t Obama build that American system, he has been an agent of tearing down that system and replacing it with a system in which “the Secretary of HHS shall decide” from day-to-day, what health care “law” obtains; Presidents defy federal judges to keep illegal oil moratoriums in place; and change welfare to work and illegal immigration law at the whim of the Executive.
Under Obama, we no longer live under the Rule of Law. Is it any wonder that we continue to endure the most anemic so-called “recovery” since the 1930s? And is there any doubt as to which party is overwhelmingly responsible for the housing crisis and the Hard Times they ushered in and the failure of the economy to robustly rebound? Didn’t think so.
President Obama and the Democrats have the economy that their policies made inevitable,especially including the Stimulus, Obamacare and Dodd-Frank etc. that they passed while they controlled the White House and both houses of Congress after the 2008 election. Despite the atrocious record, it still astounds, despite the race-based envy of the world’s oldest political party, that no Democrat had the guts of a Gene McCarthy or even a Ted Kennedy to keep the head failure off their 2012 presidential ticket. Instead, the supposed moderate who tried to pass Hillarycare and whose lobbying efforts got Obamacare made law, will try and convince us this week at the Democratic Party Convention in Charlotte that Obama’s more of the same will usher in another 1990s era of prosperity.
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson
Atlanta Law & Politics columnist – Examiner.com
Charlotte Observer and Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-eds archived at Townhall.com.