This is the fourth part in a series of articles on why President Obama is not the right choice for president. See here for Part I.
With the 2012 Presidential election almost here, President Obama will finally find out whether or not he is keeping his job. For most voters, their choice will ultimately come down to how they expect either Romney or Obama to run things over the next four years. Throughout the campaign, Obama has repeatedly pointed out that Romney is a “flip-flopper” on a variety of key issues, and noted that Romney does not have a presidential record to give voters a clear sense of what they expect from a Romney presidency.
Unfortunately for Obama, he does have a presidential record, and a review of it leaves little doubt that Americans should fire him. Obama’s record reveals a pattern of contempt for the Constitution and existing law, the pursuit of deeply flawed economic policies, contempt for human rights and civil liberties, and a generally tired political song and dance.
Regardless of who you vote for, you shouldn’t vote for Obama. Here are six big reasons why:
1) Impending Tax Increases Are Poised to Plunge the U.S. Into a Fresh Recession
Determining what’s going to happen to the economy in the future is usually difficult, even for professional economists. But right now, predicting the future is easy — January 1,2013 will begin a fresh recession in America. Consumer spending will slow and unemployment will spike as a result of what a number of experts are calling “Tax-maggedon,” the largest single-year tax increase in American history. Americans will face an additional $494 billion in taxes as a result of expiring Bush tax cuts, expiring payroll tax cuts, and new taxes to fund Obamacare. With unemployment still at almost 8%, and unemployment for 20-somethings much higher than that, new taxes are the last thing the country needs right now. Though there’s still time for Obama to work out a compromise with Congress, some of the damage has already been done — some businesses are already holding off on hiring to prepare to pay higher taxes.
2) Out-of-Control Spending
Yes, President Obama inherited two wars and an economic crisis. But even allowing for the increase in federal debt that the wars and the economic crisis required, the Federal government’s excessive spending under President Obama’s leadership have been unlike anything in U.S. history. In January 2009, when Obama took office, the federal government had amassed $10.6 trillion in debt in the 232 years since 1776. In less than four years under Obama, the federal government has added $5.5 trillion to the debt, for a current total of $16.1 trillion. Put another way, Obama presided over 34.16% of the federal debt, despite only being president for less than 1.7% of U.S. history.
Yet Obama’s most recent budget proposal called for the government to plan to add over $1 trillion to the debt again next year. In recent years, Greece’s and Italy’s similarly spiraling national debts resulted in devastating economic crises. Greece’s unemployment rate exceeds 25%, while teens and early 20-somethings are suffering a 54% unemployment rate. Italy’s unemployment rate is currently almost 11%, with teens and early 20-somethings enduring a 34.5% unemployment rate. Even if adding even more to the debt does not result in economic catastrophe, we 20-somethings will be the ones stuck trying to pay if off.
3) If the Last Six Stimuli Haven’t Worked, Why Should We Expect the Next One To?
It is true that there is no way to know how effective the stimulus was, or whether it was effective at all. But when Obama was championing his $787 billion stimulus to the country, his administration made a series of specific predications about the improvements the country could expect from the stimulus, and the economy has fallen woefully short of those expectations. The Obama administration predicted that with the stimulus, unemployment would peak at 8% and would return to 5.5% by now. Without the stimulus, they warned, unemployment would peak at just over 9%, and return by about 5.7% by now. In reality, unemployment peaked at over 10%, and just fell below 8% for the first time in Obama’s entire presidency.
The reality of what happened in the economy with the stimulus was substantially worse than what Obama predicted would happen without the stimulus.
Falling short of his own projections should lead the President to question whether the $787 billion stimulus was a good use of a massive amount of money. Yet Obama has maintained a constant, tired drumbeat for more stimulus, despite the fact that the federal government has generated no more than uncertain results from each of the at least 6 stimuli they have passed since 2008. Instead of throwing more money at the problem, Obama should try a different approach to getting the economy moving again.
Judged using the most relevant economic indicator to 20-somethings, unemployment, Obama’s plans to restart the economy have been an historic failure. Unemployment topped 8%, with 20-something unemployment much higher than that, for the first 43 months of Obama’s Presidency. Obama thus holds the dubious honor of presiding over longest streak of over 8% unemployment since at least 1948, which is as far back as the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has figures available. The next closest streak totaled 27 months, during the early 1980s. Plain and simple: Obama has not succeeded in getting Americans back to work.
5) Failed to Deal With Badly Needed Entitlement Reform
The Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) most recent annual report on the financial state of Social Security and Medicare painted a frightening picture of our country’s financial future. The two programs already totaled 36% of federal expenditures in 2011, and that percentage will only increase over time if the programs remain as currently constituted. SSA currently estimates that they will only be able to pay full Social Security benefits through 2033, and full Medicare benefits through 2024. SSA stated plainly, “Both Medicare and Social Security cannot sustain projected long-run program costs under currently scheduled financing, and legislative modifications are necessary to avoid disruptive consequences for beneficiaries and taxpayers. Lawmakers should not delay addressing the long-run financial challenges facing Social Security and Medicare (emphasis added).”
Yet the government, under Obama’s leadership, has delayed. While Obama could not change anything without the help of Congress, his failure to make any serious proposals to put our entitlement programs back on a sound financial footing is nonetheless inexcusable, particularly when Tim Geithner, Obama’s own Treasury Secretary, emphasized the importance of quick action, writing, “Taking action sooner rather than later will leave more options and more time available to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare."
6) Iran’s Continued Nuclear Proliferation
Iran is a rogue state that hates the United States. Keeping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is incredibly important to maintain peace in the Middle East, and to keep the United States safe. President Obama has made some strides in trying to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, instituting harsh sanctions against them. Obama has only a limited ability to control what Iran does within their borders, so his failure to get Iran to stop their nuclear weapons program is clearly not completely his fault. Nevertheless, his failure to get Iran to agree to nuclear disarmament continues to leave America vulnerable.
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
Since I’m neither a party hack nor an ideologue, I have no problem giving Obama credit where he’s done a good job.
1) Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) brings the military’s view on their soldiers’ romantic relationships in line with the commonsense truth that sexual orientation has nothing to do with people’s ability to do their jobs. Moreover, the repeal of DADT will allow the military to stop firing people who have badly needed Arab language skills, which happened in dozens of cases in the last decade.
2) Handling of Libya
Obama did an excellent job leading America’s intervention in Libya. The President helped pro-democracy forces overthrow an oppressive dictator who hated the United States, and demonstrated the kind of international intervention that should be the American norm—protecting our servicemen and women, working as a part of an international coalition, keeping costs low, encouraging democracy, and making friends.
3) Efforts at Bipartisanship
Though Obama’s bipartisan record is mostly awful, he does at least deserve credit for trying. He has shown a willingness to compromise on his tax plan by putting off tax increases he wanted, and seemed to put in a genuine effort to compromise with House Speaker John Boehner about the government’s long term spending plans relating to the debt ceiling. Obama also prioritized national defense over partisan politics by keeping Robert Gates on as Defense Secretary even though Gates had served under George W. Bush as well.
Despite these limited successes, Obama’s track record of contempt for the Constitution and existing law, pursuit of deeply flawed economic policies, contempt for human rights and civil liberties, and generally tired political song and dance have left me unable to even contemplate voting for Obama. 20-somethings, this country is ours to inherit. Don’t screw it up by voting for Obama.