Though the public inauguration ceremony takes place Monday, President Barack Obama’s new term began Sunday, with his official swearing-in held in the White House’s Blue Room.Many of us hope his second term will be better than his first. To understand why, consider his record so far.
Fewer Americas are working today than when Mr. Obama took the oath of office four years ago. The unemployment rate is higher. He’s the first president to preside over a decline in median household income during a recovery. Nearly half as many more people receive food stamps than when he first took office and 1 out of every 6 Americans lives in poverty.
The national debt has grown from $10.627 trillion four years ago — or $34,782 for every man, woman and child — to $16.433 trillion, or $52,135 for every American as of Thursday.
At the current rate of job creation, it will take until roughly February 2015 to get the country back to the number of jobs it had when the recession started in December 2007. In the meantime, at least 8.6 million Americans will have entered the workforce without any jobs available for them.
Looking abroad, America’s interests — and America’s standing — are worse off in every region of the world today than they were four years ago. The Obama administration squandered the nation’s hard-won victory in Iraq, ceding influence there to Iran. Afghanistan may be abandoned to a cruel and dangerous fate. The early opportunity to bend the Arab Spring in the direction of moderation and modernization has largely been lost. And friend and adversary alike question America’s resolve.
As for his style of governing, Obama is the most polarizing president in the history of Gallup’s polling. He begins his second term with a job approval rating last Friday of 48 percent, the lowest for any modern president at the start of their second term and 19 percent below his standing four years ago.
So what is the president’s mindset as he approaches the challenges of a second term? The New York Times reported Sunday morning that friends believe he’s “bloodier minded to beating Republicans” and no longer willing to accept Speaker John Boehner not immediately returning his phone calls.
Aides tell reporters that the president, having won a second term and never having to run for election again, feels liberated. But liberated to do what? Answer: To wage unremitting war on political adversaries. Why? To win back the House for Democrats in 2014.
If Obama’s friends and aides are accurate, then he has become liberated to act small, to focus on the petty, and to be committed to even greater polarization. Let's hope they’re wrong. But based on his words and actions since the election, I suspect they are largely right.
All of which means you can treat with healthy skepticism whatever healing words the president uses in his address Monday and instead, prepare yourself for a long, nasty four years.
This article originally appeared on FoxNews.com on Monday, January 21, 2013.
In the aftermath of electoral defeat, conservatives frequently question their philosophy’s appeal. So it is after this year’s presidential election.
My view is that the future of American conservatism is bright. Its fundamental strengths remain. But refinements and adjustments are needed, as they always are in times of change.
To be clear: This election was not a referendum between two distinct philosophical approaches. President Barack Obama’s handlers believed that if the contest turned into a battle between competing visions for America’s future, his defeat was likely.
So the Chicago Wrecking Crew used their considerable resources to try to disqualify Mitt Romney by assailing his character, business record, and values. They largely, if not completely, succeeded. To many voters, Romney became, in the memorable phrase of former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, “a plutocrat with a wife who was an admitted equestrian.”
2012 was a tactical victory for Obama; it was not a strategic defeat for conservatism. For only the sixth time in history, the number of voters dropped from the previous presidential election. And Obama became the first president to win a second term with a smaller percentage of the vote than in his first race.
Still, conservatism faces challenges. There is some irony in the fact that a philosophy based on timeless values, experience, precedent, and practice must periodically update itself, applying its principles to the country’s new condition. Now is such a time.
One reason the political parties that represent conservatism and liberalism (and the latter’s further left cousins) seem so closely matched is that neither has gained a durable advantage in talking about what Americans face in their families and communities. How can people provide for their loved ones? Will they and their neighbors have good jobs? Will their children get a quality education? What kind of a country will their children inherit? Conservative politicians must offer a practical, commonsense, and compelling agenda that speaks to these concerns. Which is why the contributions of scholars, policy experts, think tanks, scribblers in little journals, columnists, writers in magazines and blogs, voices on TV and radio, and leaders of interest groups are more important than in recent decades.
Conservatives must also be alert to tone. Our movement prospers when it is led by individuals who are optimistic, upbeat, and forward-looking. Ronald Reagan drew people to him not because he was pessimistic, angry, whiny, or judgmental. There are vital lessons here both about language and emphasis.
Our values are right and apply to people across America. They can help people in every corner of the country to rise and prosper and lead lives of dignity and worth. We must convince people we mean it, through what we say and through the policies we propose.
Conservatism is also stronger when it recognizes it’s a movement characterized not by one rigid set of beliefs but by a collection of often similar but occasionally different schools of thought. Forbearance and tolerance are therefore necessary, especially in dealing with other conservatives.
Success in politics comes only if we shrug off the despondency that comes after defeat. Losses, like victories, aren’t permanent. Life–and the fight–goes on. Progressives didn’t throw in the towel after 2010. We shouldn’t now.
This article originally appeared in Commentary Magazine's January symposium issue and online at CommentaryMagazine.com on January 7, 2013.
There is not much about President Obama’s first term that tells voters another four years would be better.
I hope you'll take a moment to check out the new CrossroadsGPS video, "Mitt & David."
I appreciate President Barack Obama's comments to the Des Moines Register crediting President George W. Bush for advocating comprehensive immigration reform, but I would have rather seen his support for the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 when he was the junior Senator from Illinois, or his introducing an immigration bill when he enjoyed Democratic majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate during his first two years as president. As a senator he claimed to support the 2007 bill, but when decision time came he sided with labor unions and voted for the two amendments that gutted the guest worker program, one of the three key elements of comprehensive reform. As president he did not introduce a bill or drive the discussion, and instead of working with Democratic and Republican members of Congress who were working on the DREAM Act, he signed an executive order in response to his declining support with Latino voters. He says he's "fairly confident" Republicans will have a "deep interest" in getting immigration reform done in his (unlikely) second term, but his record does not convince me he would be as committed.
Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama by an average of 47.7% to 47.5% in national polls conducted over the last two weeks, with today’s Gallup poll of likely voters putting him at 52% to Mr. Obama’s 45%. This is Mr. Romney's second day above 50% with Gallup’s likely voters, something Mr. Obama has not yet done. Mr. Romney has now tied President George W. Bush’s best 2004 number in this Gallup poll, and today’s numbers are almost identical to the October 16, 2004 tracking when Mr. Bush led John Kerry 52% to 44%. Many Obama supporters have tried to draw false parallels with this race and the 2004 Election; however, they probably weren’t counting on this comparison.
Check out this new video from American Crossroads. President Obama misled the American people on Libya and this video gets to the bottom of it—piece by ugly piece.
What do we have to show for all the new debt? Check out this new video "Sack It" from American Crossroads.
Just received this email from Chris Jacobs, Senior Policy Analyst, Joint Economic Committee, Senate Republican Staff, which is worth noting:
Vice President Biden just claimed that Obamacare’s $716 billion in Medicare spending reductions strengthened the Medicare program. That’s not what the Congressional Budget Office said. The non-partisan CBO said that the Medicare reductions in Obamacare “will not enhance the ability of the government to pay for future Medicare benefits” – because those savings will be used to fund other unsustainable entitlements. If the President wants to use the Medicare savings provisions to extend the life of the Medicare trust fund – and not to fund the new entitlements created by the law – the Congressional Budget Office previously estimated what the fiscal impact would be: “A net increase in federal deficits of $260 billion” through 2019.
Even President Obama himself admitted this irrefutable logic in a 2010 interview, when he stated that “You can’t say that you are saving on Medicare and then spending the money twice.”
Worth noting from Chris Jacobs, Senior Policy Analyst, Joint Economic Committee, Senate Republican Staff:
The President claims that IPAB will help reduce costs in a pain-free fashion. But that’s not what he said in 2009. In an interview with the Washington Post that January, he said this about capping Medicare spending (audio excerpt here):
What I think is probably the wrong approach is to think, well, the way to solve this is Medicare is spending X, and we’re just going to cap it at Y, and whatever that means in terms of people being thrown off the rolls or cutting benefits, you know, then so be it. Because that doesn’t solve the underlying problem which is health care costs themselves are still escalating at a 6 or 7 or 8 percent rate. All we’re doing is we’re just saying to people, you know what, you’re going to get less health care.
But that’s exactly what Obamacare does – it caps Medicare spending at pre-defined labels. And according to Barack Obama circa 2009, that method – which he dubbed the “wrong approach” – means seniors are “going to get less health care.”