Top 3 WORST Decisions Barack Obama Has Made in His First 100 Days
April 29, 2009 1 Comment
ATLANTA— Barack Obama has now been in office for 100 days, which marks the traditional starting point for assessing how his presidency is doing. Mr. Obama’s first 100 days have been incredibly active. In reality, they have had to be. He faces two ongoing wars and a crippling, global financial crisis. Additionally, he is a singularly ambitious politician who has long had an eye on holding the office and fundamentally redirecting the course of the nation. He was given a fairly substantial mandate on November 4th, and has been very busy seeking to cash in on that mandate to further his personal agenda.
So we are going to take several days here and analyze his presidency. I will begin with what I think is the most interesting topic: conjecturing which decisions he has taken to this point that I think may come back to haunt him later in his presidency. I have accumulated what I believe are the top 3 decisions that could do just this.
1. The Obama Budget. In March, the Obama Administration unveiled their extremely ambitious federal budget proposal. While it is itself not a binding document, it nonetheless presents a picture of the priorities that the Administration will have in terms of federal spending and economic matters. And with the budget’s unveiling, there was little doubt left that Mr. Obama is a progressive who sees few areas of American life that do not need the arm of federal government to be involved.
The budget itself is massive, promising $3.6 trillion in annual federal spending, which would be the highest peacetime rates in United States history. This alone is cause for concern. But of even greater concern, the budget does not provide for itself a balancing mechanism.
There are several reasons this proposal will be an entanglement for Mr. Obama. First and foremost, the economic growth projections are incredibly optimistic, surpassing those of private economists and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office by fairly substantial amounts. Should Mr. Obama fail to see the growth he projected here, this piece of his proposal will be a ready and easy target for his opponents.
Second, regardless of whose projections are correct, this budget will still require enormous debt financing to operate. This will invariably push up long-term interest rates throughout the country, serving as a deterrent to economic growth. Further, the significantly expanded monetary base, coming through deficit spending and radical monetary policy at the Federal Reserve, could be tender for real inflation, that could begin to creep into the broader economy as early as 2010. Mr. Obama’s massive federal budget proposals and rosy economic outlooks will be remarkably easy targets for opponents to assail.
2. Obama and the War on Terror. Mr. Obama has made two significant moves in the war on terror, which mark a clear break from George W. Bush: the executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison facility and the meandering policy to institute investigations of Bush era lawyers who provided the legal guidelines within which water boarding was justified.
These moves are significant first because they are not overly popular. Should these hit snags or not go as smoothly as Mr. Obama hopes- or worse, should we be attacked by terrorists while these policies are being pursued- Mr. Obama stands to lose much more politically than he stands to gain by pursuing them.
Second, there is a very real chance these moves will not go smoothly. Finding an alternative location for Guantanamo detainees is proving remarkably difficult. His Administration is rushing to find a quick fix to a very real problem. It is likely we will end up keeping these detainees on American soil, which would be hugely unpopular and an easy political target.
On the investigation of Bush-era officials, this too has the potential for some real headaches. The first headaches have already shown themselves, and those are that documents will come out supporting Bush Administration contentions that water-boarding really produced valuable intelligence that saved American lives.
The second wave of headaches will be the evidence that surfaces that many key Democratic lawmakers were complicit during that era. Nancy Pelosi is already being dragged into these types of debates. Splitting hairs and sorting through who knew what when will be difficult and politically ugly- I predict many casualties.
3. The Obama Adminstration’s heavy involvement in private industry. The Obama Administration has continued initiatives begun by the Bush Administration to further entangle themselves with private industry, principally with the banking and automotive sectors. They also have designs on becoming more substantially involved in energy through their environmental initiatives and in health insurance.
Asserting substantial influence over entire industries is an enormous task and Barack Obama risks spreading his staff too thin. Further, government initatives into the private sector are not without political purpose, so inevitably political considerations will outweigh sound business judgment, resulting in policies and/or regulations for these industries that could have negative, unintended consequences.
Should each of these industries not perform well economically and instead become ever more dependent on federal subsidies using taxpayer money, this will be politically explosive down the road.
There are many more potential traps Mr. Obama has set for himself during his first 100 days, but these are three of the principal ones that come to my mind as I evaluate his performance.
In the upcoming days, I will be blogging about positive aspects of his first 100 days, not the least of which is that his presidency may be reshaping American views of race in a positive manner. Please drop by and continue this important discussion.