President Barack Obama has been making campaign stops for weeks gearing up for the 2012 election season. His main target so far has not been a specific Republican, which makes sense since we’re still a week away from the Iowa caucuses. Instead, the President has been running against the Republicans in Congress, in a way that helps to deflect attention from the one thing that he doesn’t wish to run on: his record.
If Obama were to run solely on his record, he’d be running on something that contains a host of broken campaign promises, an astonishing amount of new debt, a sad economic record, and an unpopular signature piece of legislation: Obamacare.
Obama campaigned on such things as installing a cap-and-trade policy, closing Guantanamo Bay, repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, allowing five days of public comment before signing bills, and allowing the health care negotiations to take place in front of C-SPAN cameras. None of these came to pass. These and other broken promises have angered part of the base that helped sweep him into office three years ago.
The promises he kept spurned fierce public backlash, allowing the Republicans to capture the House during last fall's midterm elections. His biggest signature piece of legislation, Obamacare, is meeting with more disapproval, with nearly 60% believing repeal is a good idea. These numbers coincide with a new poll that shows a majority of Americans (41-54%) believe that Obama does not deserve to be re-elected.
Unemployment has remained above or close to 9% for the entire year. While the number has dropped down to around 8.4%, some question whether or not this is because more people have stopped looking for work, and thus are no longer counted.
The President, aided by Democratic majorities in Congress for the first two years of his administration, presided over trillions in new deficit spending. Still, the economy lagged. Another hallmark piece of legislation from the Obama administration was the stimulus bill, which was supposed to be filled with “shovel ready jobs.” Earlier this year, Obama was left to simply shrug and say that ‘shovel ready was not as shovel ready as we had hoped.’
An approval rating below 50%, a dragging economy, scorned signature legislation, and broken promises would be a hard for anyone to run on, which is why Obama has been running against Congress, ala Harry Truman. Running against Congress helps deflect attention from his record.
If the president hopes to win re-election, he will have to keep the attention focused on something other than himself.
Photo Credit: An Honorable German