President Obama does not deserve to be re-elected
Barack Obama rode upon a wave of euphoria to become President of the United States four years ago. After nearly a decade of war and the onset of a financial crisis, most Americans desperately wanted to believe in Obama’s message of “hope and change”.
But the giddy sentiments of 2008 have slowly wilted into bitter disappointment. America is still struggling to recover from the deep recession that Obama inherited, and Washington is still paralysed by the intractable partisanship that he promised to sweep away.
According to the standards that he himself set upon assuming office, Barack Obama has failed. His record contains little to recommend him for re-election. Even worse, the President seems to lack any substantive agenda for a second term.
Obama’s speech to the Democratic National Convention last week was entirely devoid of fresh ideas. He offered voters a laundry list of old promises, recycled from 2008, with no explanation of how they would be achieved.
More significantly, Obama failed to outline any new plan to bolster America’s feeble economic recovery.
The President’s original, $787 billion stimulus package, which his speech ignored entirely, was supposed to keep the unemployment rate below eight per cent.
Unemployment has now exceeded that mark for 43 consecutive months. If millions of Americans had not given up on finding work during the last four years, shrinking the official labour force, the jobless rate today would be 11.2 per cent.
More than 46 million Americans now rely on food stamps to survive. Poverty is at its highest level in decades. Household incomes have dropped, wages are stagnant and the national debt now exceeds $16 trillion.
These inconvenient facts were all omitted from last week’s convention love-fest, but at some point the President will have to confront the unsavoury details of his record.
Everyone acknowledges that Obama inherited a terrible situation. When he assumed office, the American economy was still shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs per month.
But the recession ended in June of 2009, over three years ago. No excuse can absolve the President of responsibility for the sad state of America’s economy today, 38 months after the recovery began.
Obama has not helped himself. He spent endless months fighting for healthcare reform early in his presidency, before the recovery had truly taken shape. That detour led many Americans to question his priorities.
Even now, the President is campaigning for higher taxes on the rich when he should be focusing on jobs.
His politically popular proposal to increase America’s top income tax rate would actually harm the economy. Many small businesses are taxed in that bracket. Why, during such a fragile recovery, would you hike taxes on the enterprises which account for over 60 per cent of job growth?
A heap of other taxes are already due to increase next year as part of the President’s healthcare law. Businesses are spooked, and many commentators have warned of the potential for another recession, but Obama seems content to stay the course.
His priorities are scrambled. Strong economic growth is a prerequisite of good governance. Without the revenue that it generates, governments cannot fund worthy causes like health, education and infrastructure.
Higher taxes on the rich will achieve nothing for the disadvantaged if there aren’t even enough new jobs to keep up with population growth.
Obama does not seem to understand this. Which begs the question: why would a second term in the White House be any better than his first?
Perhaps Barack Obama is the right President at the wrong time. Maybe he is just the wrong President.
One thing is certain. Despite the lofty expectations that Obama set four years ago, his tenure has been punctuated by pain and disappointment.
He does not deserve to be re-elected.
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