Bungling Obama Administration: 5 BIG-TIME Policy Flops from 2009
February 4, 2010 7 Comments
ATLANTA— I was reading an article yesterday about all of bungling that the Obama Administration has done with respect to the terror trials Eric Holder was hoping to hold in New York City. It set me back to thinking about this Administration and this president and just how many things they have managed to bungle in their first year. This presidency, frankly, has been rife with arrogance and incompetence. This is not surprising, given the egomaniacal nature of their 2008 campaign and the vast executive inexperience of Barack Obama himself, prior to taking office last January. But it is nonetheless disappointing- because these are indeed difficult times for our nation, and I remain fully convinced we have the wrong man for the job at the helm.
Notwithstanding the robust and prominent failure of the Administration’s health-care push, here is an update on some of the other big-time blunders the Administration has had in its first year. In all of these cases (as in health-care), I’m actually glad the Administration bungled these things. But I voted against Barack Obama because I didn’t think these things were either priorities or good policies to begin with. He wasted his time pursuing them, in my mind. Here’s my quick list of 5 BIG-TIME blunders:
Terror Trials in New York – this is a self-made disaster. Conservatives argued this was costly and simply bad policy. But Barack Obama made a big-time campaign promise to try the 9/11 criminals in a civilian court. And what a grand scene his Administration concocted- trying those criminals in New York, just a few blocks down from the crime itself! But what a massive mistake that has been. New Yorkers are furious, the public has turned strongly against the plan, and Barack Obama is trying to now to distance himself from his own attorney general to blunt the political fall-out. It’s interesting to me that when you actually go through with a liberal plan like this, it always seems to run rough-shod against reality. In this case, it has become increasingly clear to the average American that there is some innately wrong with giving civilian rights to a group of men who conspired in a foreign country to create the single biggest deadliest military attack on U.S. soil in our history. What foolishness. What is more interesting is that Scott Brown’s team thinks this issue more than healthcare won them the seat in Massachusetts: “People talk about the potency of the health care issue,” Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior strategist for victorious underdog Republican Scott Brown, told the National Review on election day, “but from our own internal polling, the more potent issue here in Massachusetts was terrorism and the treatment of enemy combatants.”
Closing the Guantanamo Bay prison – it still hasn’t happened and now there is all manner of doubt as to when it will happen. I have long agreed that the prison does not look good for America and that we should work to close it. Heck- the Bush Administration agreed with that. But where I have disagreed severely with the Obama Administration is their plans to simply close it and move these terrorists onto U.S. soil and give them basic civilian rights. These guys were rounded up on the field of battle and stuffed in that prison for a reason. Try them in military courts or dedicate the necessary time, even if it is years, to move them to other countries. The Obama Administration bungled this thing from day one, giving themselves an unrealistic deadline on an extremely polarizing issue to accomplish something few Americans really want. What a waste.
Mortgage Relief Plan – this $75 billion plan to stem the tide of foreclosures came out with enormous and controversial reaction last April, even inspiring Rick Santelli’s famous rant on CNBC. For all the initial hoopla, little was heard of it throughout much of the year. But quietly, behind the scenes, it was flopping- and flopping badly. By the end of the year, the plan was broadly perceived as a disappointment, with even the Treasury Department acknowledging that it was unhelpfully forestalling the inevitable for thousands of people who simply could not afford their homes. Foreclosures increased from 1.7 million in 2008 to 2.0 million in 2009, and look to be headed towards 2.4 million in 2010. On balance, this plan failed to achieve its objective of stemming the tide of foreclosures. Even its most ardent supporters are now acknowledging the arguments conservatives made against it from the beginning, that it is simply keeping people in houses longer who’s money would be better spent in cheaper rental spaces.
Public-Private Investment Program – Tim Geithner bungled through a nationally televised presentation to Congress last March to unveil this plan to use tax-payer money to go in with private investors and buy-back bad assets from banks, to cleanse their balance sheets. This was intended to be a ground-breaking plan that would make enormous headway towards cleaning up bank balance sheets and unclogging the financial sector. Most conservatives railed against it as yet another government intrusion that would be costly, risky and that would further blur the line between the private and public sector. Conservatives also questioned whether this would even be helpful, as it would create a market for risky assets and would encourage more risky behavior (i.e. increase moral hazard). Sure enough, with the plan now in place and functioning (albeit on a much, much smaller scale then initially imagined), banks have been buying more risky assets as a result of the program creating a false market for such assets. In short, the program has had only a minimal impact on the financial sector, with the consequences to date being a net-negative.
Stimulus Plan – this massive waste of future tax-payer dollars has been exhaustively attacked this year, but I think it is nonetheless necessary to keep bringing it to the forefront. Conservatives argued it would be an ineffectually slow way to counter-act the recession and that it would not achieve its objectives of reducing unemployment in the near-term. Plus, conservatives argued the massive expense would be wasteful and an aggregate weight on future economic growth and potential, given the excessive borrowing it required. Here we are, one year later. A $1.4 trillion deficit in the books- another couple of $1 trillion deficits in our near future. Unemployment is now at 10 percent, and is likely headed higher in the coming weeks, whereas Barack Obama promised it would peak at 8 percent if the plan was passed. So, in short, this plan is everything conservatives thought it would be- a massive waste. It is unhelpful to us now- and we know it will still be a drag on the future. Where FDR had a New Deal, Barack Obama has given us a Raw Deal.
Ugh. There are still many people who are defending the conduct of this Administration, but the bungled policies keep piling up. This is only a short-list. We didn’t even talk about Iran, North Korea, Israel, and Honduras, among others, where Barack Obama’s idealistic, liberal policies have fallen flat on their face.
What a train-wreck this first year has been…
Here’s hoping for change- in 2010 and 2012!