Commentary Magazine


Obama’s “Winning” Agenda Is a Loser

On the Fox News Sunday roundtable, the panelists observed that the financial-reform bill, indeed all the enormous pieces of legislation that Obama has gotten through Congress, aren’t helping him any:

BRIT HUME: Because his big agenda has not seemed to the public to be focused on the things the public is concerned about. The economy was job one. They did something on the economy that the public did not like and did not believe in, and does not believe in to this day, which is the stimulus program. And since then, the president has been on to other things, other things that were nowhere high on the public’s priority list. I speak, of course, of the — of the health care reform bill, financial reform.

Regulatory reform may be something the public thought ought to be done, but it doesn’t come anywhere near the priority that people have on the creation of jobs and the — and the awakening of the economy so that — so that it will boom enough to really generate some jobs. …

NINA EASTON: … it’s fascinating, because this bill, which, as you said, was going to be the cracking down on fat cats of Wall Street, has got small community banks concerned, farmers concerned who deal in derivatives for their business. It’s got — something like 533 rulemaking proceedings are going to be going in, which creates lots of uncertainty and lots of fear.

And it’s interesting that this week the president in an interview said, “Look, I’m” — when he was talking about his poll numbers, “Look, I’m facing 9.5 percent unemployment.” He’s got an unpopular economy the same way President Bush in 2006 had an unpopular war. We grant him that.

And now, fascinating to us, that you’ve got this Wall Street reform that doesn’t really — it’s really — it doesn’t look like it’s going after Wall Street. And so I’m not sure that’s going to help them in November.

Indeed, it’s not merely that the financial reform bill, the stimulus, and ObamaCare haven’t helped the president; they’ve actually hurt him, both in the short and the long term.

An array of polling evidences a revulsion against big government and the enormous debt that has accompanied Obama’s spending spree. The public thinks he and his party are too liberal, and, as Bill Kristol pointed out, Republican Party identification is consequently rising. All this suggests that what’s at work is more than simply a bad economy or misplaced priorities. Obama has managed to reinforce the Democrats’ liberal tax-and-spend identity, which Bill Clinton worked mightily to shed.

But the real problem for Obama is the long-term, or longer-term, damage he has done to the economy and in turn to his party. The massive tax hikes (with more to follow if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire), the raft of new regulations and mandates, the mound of new debt, and the anti-business rhetoric (which the Obama administration now bizarrely claims isn’t anti-business at all) have freaked investors and employers. The economy now seems headed for that feared double-dip recession, which can fairly be attributed to Obama’s insistence on putting a ball and chain around the ankles of businessmen, entrepreneurs, and consumers.

All in all, it’s been a rather amazing display of economic and political folly.