Little care in Obama's agenda
America's economy is still limping, with high debt and unemployment persistent among the middle class. And the president's expensive ivory tower-style solutions have done little to redress the malaise.
During his first two years Obama got virtually everything he wanted, billions in stimulus to jump start the economy, and new policies for trade, energy, banking, and health care. In these areas, he favoured the ideas and interests of elitist academics, the political class and wealthy executives who support his political machine.
Now, the economy is in its weakest recovery since the Great Depression, unemployment remains unacceptably high, and the middle class prosperity is rapidly vanishing. Federal finances are headed for a Greek-style train wreck by the end of the decade.
Campaigning in 2008, then-candidate Obama promised to address China’s export subsidies and currency manipulation but as president, he bent to Ivy-League free trade prescriptions and shirked from confronting Beijing.
Now, the $300 billion trade gap with China is costing America’s middle class five million good paying jobs.
Obama promised to develop both renewal energy and America’s oil and gas reserves. He proceeded to subsidise bogus wind and solar projects advocated by political friends, and limited drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, much of Alaska, and the Eastern Gulf.
Small wonder – with oil prices doubling, US production is up only 12 per cent, refineries are closing in the north-east, and the failure to curb oil imports is costing Americans another 2.5 million good jobs.
There's no question that Obama’s bailouts and bank reforms enriched Wall Street. The million dollar bonuses for executives continue, but with an unprecedented 60 per cent of all bank deposits now concentrated among a handful of mega-banks, elderly Americans can’t get a decent return on their savings, young folks can’t get loans to buy homes, and small business can’t get financing to create jobs.
ObamaCare was supposed to reduce costs and increase access, but insurance premiums and co-pays borne by ordinary Americans continue to skyrocket. When the president’s program is fully implemented, thousands of businesses will drop health care coverage, pay small penalties and push their employees into public plans. The well off will be able to purchase concierge health care to avoid long waits, while the middle class can mourn the loss of private insurance.
In 2010, frustrated with huge federal budget deficits and too little progress on the economy, American voters elected a Republican House to rein in federal finances and restore some sanity.
Now, as the GOP House acts on its mandate, Obama accuses it of imposing a radical vision on America, social Darwinism and bogus trickle down economics.
"The Republicans in Congress have doubled down," the president said. "Their new budget makes [their] Contract with America look like the New Deal."
In fact, it is Obama’s own elitist vision of America and flawed policies that are stealing hope and robbing the middle class.
Peter Morici is a economist and professor at the University of Maryland School, and former chief economist at the US International Trade Commission.