The similarities between the Carter administration and the Obama administration are becoming eerily more and more prevalent. On both economic performance as well as projecting international strength abroad, President Obama finds himself in the same position of weakness President Carter wound up in just a generation ago.
Both Democratic lawmakers came into power under strikingly similar circumstances. The incumbent administrations of President Nixon and President Bush left the Republican Party nominees in the subsequent elections widely unpopular among the American electorate. The public found Democratic nominees Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama to be refreshingly charming as well as a change of pace from the previous scandal-plagued administrations, and both presidents found an enthusiastic audience willing to give them a chance at leading the country forward.
Four years later, however, Americans found themselves asking, “Are we better off than we were four years ago?” Based on the job performance of both domestic and international matters, each generation came to realize that maybe government isn’t the answer to all of life’s problems.
Carter came into office on the heels of an economic recession and looked to bigger government, Keynesian economic policies, and relied heavily on Federal Reserve intervention on monetary policy to solve the crisis— including raising government spending, increasing regulatory powers and government control, and keeping the highest bracket income tax rate at 70%. The results ended up being high prices, high unemployment, low confidence (in both consumer spending and business investment), low household net worth, and low GDP growth.
Déjà vu Obama. Our current president also came into office on the heels of an economic recession and chose to solve it by implementing Keynesian economic policies. But high government spending, aggressive regulatory legislation like the Dodd-Frank Act and Obamacare, numerous increments of quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve, and the oncoming threat of Taxmageddon at the end of the year have also led to high prices, high unemployment, low confidence in both consumer spending and business investment, low household net worth, and low GDP growth.
Unable to come up with an explanation for poor economic results, Carter blamed the American people for being soft and lazy instead of looking at his own misguided faith in big government solutions and redistribution of wealth policies.
Carter was a preservationist president, deciding to block further development of North America’s own energy resources and subsidizing failed alternative energy projects through taxpayer dollars. He created the U.S. Department of Energy and used it to aggressively regulate energy consumption rates while predicting that the world would “soon be running out of oil.”
Like Carter, Obama has also blocked offshore drilling and bipartisan domestic energy development (such as the Keystone XL pipeline), pumped millions of taxpayer dollars into failed alternative energy companies, and used the Environmental Protection Agency to over-regulate energy consumption rates while claiming that oil is “rapidly disappearing.”
And both presidents ended up seeing the same results: gas prices more than doubling in just one term.
Carter pursued a pacifist approach to foreign policy, starting off with an initial instinct to apologize for American behavior, constantly handicapped with a dangerously naïve view of Russia, and ending up with U.S. embassies under siege in the Middle East. His perceived weakness abroad did not discourage the Soviets from invading Afghanistan, or stop Saddam Hussein from taking the reigns of power over the Baathist regime in Iraq, or the Ayatollahs from staging their revolution in Iran, resulting in a subsequent hostage crisis.
Obama also started off his presidency with an American world apology tour, has promised Russia more “flexibility” in a second term, and is seeing U.S. embassies being attacked and diplomats killed in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen in what is now the Arab Fall. He’s also done more to alienate our allies than stand up to our enemies, including throwing our Eastern European allies under the bus by reneging on our BMD commitments in a failed attempt to get Russia on board with Iranian sanctions, isolating our allies in Israel through his Western settlement policies, and failing to support the reformist Green Movement during the 2009 protests against the theocratic Iranian regime.
When criticized for his foreign policy failures, Obama dismissed the issues being addressed and simply blamed Mitt Romney for “shooting first and aiming later.”
Gee, who does that remind you of?
Carter’s policies did not produce any results, but they did produce plenty of excuses; so have Obama’s. We face the same decision on America’s future today as we did in 1980. Back then, the majority of Americans chose to go down the path of free market economic principles, private sector solutions, and a constitutionally limited government over continuing down the same path of Keynesian economics, ballooning government expansion, and a reluctant acceptance that tomorrow will not be better than today.
Ronald Reagan led a vibrant economic recovery and strong U.S. foreign policy that ultimately led to the fall of an empire and restoration of confidence and respect in American strength and values, both domestically and abroad.
I can only hope the majority will make the right decision once more.