Obama’s Hollow Halo and Hollow Victories


As if surrounded by a halo of his own making, President Obama boasted during his year-end press conference yesterday that Congress had its “most productive post-election period” in decades. He added that

it comes on the heels of the most productive two years that we’ve had in generations

The Obama chorus in the mainstream media is echoing this theme. The New York Times, for example, praised Obama’s “remarkably successful legislative agenda.” Even the conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer called Obama the “comeback kid” in his column and on “The O’Reilly Factor” earlier this week.

Far be it from me to rain on Obama’s victory lap, but I just can’t help providing a dose of reality.

Even with the most progressive majorities in both houses of Congress in generations, Obama and his cohorts in the House and Senate had to resort to unsavory backroom deals to push through his government -run health care program.  Although he considers Obamacare, his signature piece of legislation, to be an example of how “productive” his first two years have been, most Americans would like much less of that sort of big government productivity. And it looks increasingly likely that the centerpiece of Obamacare – the individual mandate to purchase health insurance – will not withstand a constitutional challenge.

Obama also managed to steer through the House and filibuster-proof Senate his $800 billion stimulus program. That failed government spending program produced a massive increase in the public debt, but unemployment still climbed from 7.6% when Obama took office to 9.8% today. That represents a 29 percent increase in unemployment during Obama’s first two years in office.

Even the Obama administration appears to be having some doubts about its economic policies. According to Charles Gasparino, senior correspondent for the Fox Business Network, top Obama advisors Valerie Jarrett and Austan Goolsbee attended  a private dinner in New York this month with a group of business leaders and

seemed to concede the president’s $800 billion stimulus package didn’t really work

How did President Obama do during the lame-duck session? It was a mixed bag.

He achieved two of his major legislative goals – passage of the repeal of the military’s ban on open service by gay, lesbian and bisexual soldiers and ratification of the New Start nuclear arms treaty with Russia. Both of these accomplishments had the backing of the military and were passed with significant bipartisan support. However, the difficulties that Obama experienced in getting even the relatively modest New Start treaty through this friendly Senate means that it was his high-water mark when it comes to nuclear arms treaties. His ambitions for ratification of the long-stalled nuclear test ban treaty and for more aggressive nuclear disarmament will most likely be unfulfilled.

Nest: DREAM on….