Commentary Magazine


Obama’s Unbroken String of Failures

In addition to Alana’s post, there are a number of excellent commentaries (see here; here; here; and here) that have been written on a devastating late Friday afternoon admission by the Obama administration: The Community Living Assistance Services and Support (CLASS) Act, has been deemed unworkable.

In a letter to congressional leaders, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, wrote, “Despite our best analytical efforts, I do not see a viable path forward for CLASS implementation at this time.”

The CLASS Act was supposed to function as a self-sustaining, purely voluntary insurance plan, open to all working Americans of any age or health. The idea behind it was workers would pay a monthly premium during their careers and then collect a modest daily cash benefit of at least $50 if they became disabled later in life. As the New York Times describes it, “It would have been financed with premiums paid by workers, through voluntary payroll deductions, with no federal subsidy. Premiums were supposed to have ensured the solvency of the program over 75 years.”

It didn’t quite turn out that way, did it?

We now know the Obama administration ignored repeated warnings, including from Democrats like Senator Kent Conrad, about the financial solvency of this massive new entitlement. Anyone who could do basic math knew this program was unsustainable and unworkable – and many conservative policy experts said so at the time (see here).

In addition, the CLASS Act had been projected to reduce the federal deficit by $86 billion during the next 10 years, so the termination of the program rips away one of the many budget gimmicks the administration has relied on in order to pretend Obamacare would save money. It’s becoming undeniable, even to the architects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Acts, that it is a budget-busting monstrosity.

The final thing to say about the CLASS Act collapse is that it is the latest monument to the remarkable ineptitude of the Obama administration. We have seen examples of its incompetence time and time again, including (a) the administration’s promise unemployment would not rise above 8 percent if the stimulus package was passed; (b) the president’s admission that “shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected”; (c) Vice President Biden’s claim that we would see 500,000 new jobs created during last year’s “recovery summer”; (d) insisting that the bankrupt company Solyndra was a model for the Obama “green jobs” agenda; (e) the lethal missteps surrounding Operation Fast and Furious; (f) the president’s commitment to close Guantanamo Bay within a year after taking office; (g) the Attorney General’s doomed (by Democrats) effort to try Khalid Sheik Mohammad in a civilian court; (h) the president’s failed personal intervention to secure the 2016 Summer Olympics for Chicago, to name just a few things that jump to mind.

There are many more. And while we can all agree near-flawless execution is impossible for any administration, it’s also fair to say, I think, that no administration since the Carter years has stumbled so badly in the first term and found itself in over its head on so many different issues. One wonders whether, in their quiet moments, the Obama White House and the president himself have reflected at all on their nearly unbroken string of failures.

Whether they have or not, it may simply be that community organizing in the south side of Chicago–not being chief executive of the United States–is what Barack Obama was qualified to do. The fact that he’s been elevated far above his abilities is costing this country dearly–and on a daily basis.