2012 is upon us, and from a political perspective, it's a big year. The Republican candidates continue to snipe at each other, as primary voting is now underway...but with headlines that are dominated by GOP presidential hopefulls and their fans debating each others strong and weak points, it is still important for Americans to keep their eye on the ball and consider the endgame in this election: no matter who the GOP candidate turns out to be, they will be facing President Obama in November.
President Obama is trying to run a forward-looking campaign, as he continues to demonize Republicans in Congress as they do what they can to block his job-killing agenda, but let's not forget this president's list of accomplishments, and the effects they have had on our nation.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka The Stimulus Bill)
The Stimulus was President Obama's first big accomplishment as president, and as we can see from our booming economy, it worked out great for all Americans. With the Stimulus bill, America was introduced to the kind of political theater we have all come to know and love from the Obama administration. We were told that the stimulus was necessary; that our economy required a jump-start in the form of a huge injection of cash money from the Federal Government. In what should go down in history as one of the biggest political gaffes in recent history, President Obama told us that with his stimulus bill, unemployment would drop below eight percent. Well, here it is coming on three years later, and the unemployment rate has just recently dipped to 8.6 percent...and that number is artificially inflated by people who, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, have left the workforce ' in other words, they just stopped looking for a job. If you threw those Americans who stopped looking for jobs
into the mix, the unemployment rate would jump to eleven percent. So even though the unemployment rate has been on a slow but steady decline for some time now, that doesn't somehow mean that President Obama's policies are working; it just means that more people are giving up.
But it didn't just stop with the unemployment rate. President Obama and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi lauded the Stimulus Bill because it contained no earmarks...but that was a distortion, at best, considering that the money doled out through the Reinvestment Act was basically a conglomeration of funding for pet projects, and kickbacks to liberal cronies.
Then we were graced with the epitome of of political theatrics: jobs "saved or created" and "shovel ready" projects. These shadowy "saved or created" numbers thrown around by various members of the Obama administration, including President Obama and Vice President Biden, were various, often unsubstantited, and largely unconfirmable. After repeatedly using the term "shovel ready" to describe projects that would be funded by the Stimulus, President Obama as much as admitted
that the whole "shovel ready" thing was a lie.
And finally, what should have been the last nail in the coffin for the idea that the Stimulus Bill was a good idea was the multitude of stories about a multitude of waste on projects that ranged from questionable
to outright ridiculous
(see the links for sources):
- $100,000 for "socially conscious" puppet shows at a Minnesota theater that gets its name from a quote by Che Guevara.
- $2 million to build a replica railroad as a tourist attraction in Carson City, NV.
- $1 million to a dinner cruise company to combat terrorism.
- Almost $1 million to Arizona State Univ. and the Univ. of Arizona to study ants.
- $390,000 to study young adults who drink malt liquor and smoke marijuana.
- $210,000 to study the learning patterns of honeybees.
- $13.3 million to restore one of the nation's least visited National Parks.
- $15.8 million to Boeing to pay for cleaning up pollution the company had been fined for creating.
- $620,000 to a Nevada power plant that was too expensive to operate.
- $298,000 to a research institute to forecast weather...on other planets.
- $11.2 million to weatherize homes in Houston, TX, which was fraught with shoddy work and over-spending.
- $144,000 to study the effects of cocaine on monkeys.
- $25.8 million to a PR firm already facing criticism for producing fake TV news stories for government agencies.
- $82,000 to replace a five-year-old sidewalk with a newer sidewalk...even though the sidewalk leads to a ditch.
This is just a very few of the the many examples of wasteful and/or nonsensical Stimulus spending ' the list of waste goes on and on and on...yet liberals still defend the stimulus by claiming that it would have worked, if only President Obama had spent more money.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare)
Obama care is quite possibly the greatest travesty of legislation ever to be enacted into law - and not just because I disagree with the principle of "free" health care being pushed by the Democrats. This massive piece of legislation is an entanglement of bureaucracy and regulation...and most of the legislation hasn't even kicked in yet.
The immediate results of the Affordable Health Care Act have been rising health insurance rates...so this bill has already damaged its primary goal (as stated by the Democrats): to provide health insurance to all Americans...unless, of course, Obamacare lives up to the predictions of the conservative media, and was actually geared toward tearing down the health insurance industry so the Democrats could replace it with a single-payer system.
One of the biggest problems with Obamacare is that it injects greater uncertainty into the health care industry. Hospitals and doctor's offices are facing tighter budgets as they have to spend more and more money. The bill leaves many major policy decisions up to the whim of the director of Health and Human Services, meaning that even after Congress passed the bill, we still can't know what is in it. Thanks for that, Mrs. Pelosi.
President Obama promised America that his "Affordable Care Act" would do just what the bill's name says: make health care more affordable...but businesses throughout the health care industry continue to face greater costs as they try to keep up with the expanding regulations, health care costs continue to rise. Much of the bill hasn't even taken effect yet, but the legislation is already making life tougher for Americans across the nation.
What We Have To Look Forward To
The president who has gained a reputation for killing terrorists because he doesn't want to deal with the thorny issue of imprisoning them just signed a defense authorization bill giving him the authority to use the United States military to indefinitely detain United States citizens.
In his signing statement, President Obama said this:
I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation, and prosecution of suspected terrorists.
I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation.
Personally, I have no issue with soldiers capturing and detaining foreign nationals who are captured on the battlefield for the duration of the war...but the provisions in this bill violate the Constitutionally-protected rights of US citizens to a speedy trial. President Obama went on at length about his reservations about the bill, but if he harbored that many doubts, he should have sent it back to Congress...especially after he had pledged not to use signing statements to make policy when signing a bill ' something he had criticized President Bush for doing. After all, President Obama has spent months campaigning against Congress, and now, when he finally has a legitimate complaint, he signs the bill anyway! There is a reason the president has veto power - he should have used it. As much shouting as the Democrats did about the Patriot Act, you would think this bill, which puts the Patriot Act to shame, would get their ire up, but the bill moved through Congress and was signed by President Obama with relatively little fanfare.
These are powers that no president should have, no mater what his party affiliation...but it's especially worrisome when the Vice President has a history
of accusing his political opponents of being terrorists.
And on the topic of President Obama's campaign against Congress, the president took the opportunity to use his power of recess appointment to fill some positions. President Obama used his recess appointment power to make three appointments...but there was one small problem: the Senate has not been adjourned. Even President Obama's own Justice Department has acknowledged
that the "recess" appointments are not valid, since the Senate is not in recess. And even though the Senate did not adjourn precisely to prevent these appointments - all of which are to agencies that hinder job creation and economic growth - that does not give President Obama the right to violate the US Constitution. Had President Bush pulled a similar stunt when the Democrats blocked his judicial nominees, articles of impeachment would have been drafted straightaway.
As President Obama himself put it:
When Congress refuses to act, and as a result, hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as President to do what I can without them. I've got an obligation to act on behalf of the American people. And I'm not going to stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people that we were elected to serve.
I guess the president forgot that his real obligation is to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.