I have no illusions. I am not an objective historian and I won’t live long enough to see what the real historians will have to say about the era of Obama. So here’s my take on where we stand on the accomplishments and negatives of the Obama presidency.
It’s as good a time as any to take stock because I don’t believe much more of any substance will be accomplished in the next three years. Between the polarization in Congress, the trifecta of current scandals and his unwillingness to negotiate on a personal basis, he is already essentially a lame duck.
- He mesmerized the electorate and the news media with his speeches and well-meaning platitudes of hope and change
- Created “Race to the Top,” a major educational reform
- Passage of ObamaCare which brought 30 million uninsured under the umbrella of healthcare with no pre-existing conditions
- Supported Dodd-Frank legislation with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau its major strength and a small dose of Wall Street Reform*
- Passed the 2009 $787 billion stimulus package*
- Turned around (bailed out) the auto industry (for the moment)*
- Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
- Tightened sanctions on Iran
- Boosted fuel efficiency standards through the Environmental Protection Agency
- Helped topple Kadafi in Libya
- Finished off Osama Bin Laden
- Got banks out of the student loan program
*The full effects of these actions may well prove to be too little to accomplish their stated goals.
On The Other Side
- Fast & Furious – a botched sting operation and since then a stonewalled deal to trace arms shipped to Mexico. AG Holder was held in contempt of Congress for not providing information or accountability on this episode.
- *Benghazi – After nine months, it’s still unclear what the administration did or did not do about security for the ambassador—who created the erroneous talking points—as well as our inability of bringing the culprits to justice.
- *The Justice Department’s investigation of the journalists at Fox News and the Associated Press phone records. Another Holder stonewall supposedly to find security leaks.
- Scrutiny and stalling by the IRS of conservative groups’ applications for tax exempt status. Obama also has a 501(c)4 tax exempt organization. Apparently he didn’t have a problem.
- The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a train wreck in concept and implementation and will be a drag on the economy. Employers will use less workers and provide less benefits. The fines are less than the premiums and the premiums continue to go up. 16,000 new IRS enforcement agents and ZERO new doctors.
- Hiring of an illegal agency (ACORN) to register food stamp and welfare recipients to vote in 2012
- Decisions not to enforce immigration laws and fighting states that try
- The disappearing redline in Syria
- The line that has never been declared in Iran
- The overly extensive use of executive power to get around Congress, far more than any other president, most of which will get tied up in the courts for years to come—i.e., the EPA mandating cap-n-trade that Congress turned down flat.
- The lack of fiscal responsibility with our mountain of debt approaching $17 trillion
- Holder’s bastardization of the Civil Rights laws
- The obsession with campaigning to the exclusion of governing – i.e., his distaste for negotiating with Congress
- $8.5 billion in loans and tax credits for egg-headed alternative energy solutions, most of which are already bankrupt.
- The “recess” appointments to the NRLB that the courts have ruled were not done in “recess”
- The false promises of transparency. One DC watchdog group has submitted over 1,000 Freedom of Information requests as well as 100 lawsuits trying to compel compliance.
*Obama isn’t alone. It’s almost a given that second-term presidents are involved in some kind of scandal(s). The list includes Eisenhower (gifts), Reagan (Iran-Contra), George W. Bush (Valerie Plame), Bill Clinton (impeachment), and of course Nixon (Watergate).
All of them, including Obama, seem to make their scandals worse by hunkering down behind a self-imposed wall of secrecy and stalling. The lack of transparency makes them last longer, impairs their agenda and their legislative legacy.
I’m sure you could question some of the negatives or maybe add something to the accomplishments, but if you’re not drinking the cool-aid from the left or the right, you’ll probably have to admit this is a fairly balanced summary.