It’s always difficult to predict how the next four years will go politically speaking, but some things seem obvious at this point.
● Horrible Economy: The economy is atrocious and it’s not going to get any better. It’s probably the worst economy since the Great Depression. Somewhere around 20 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. Kids coming out of college are finding no jobs. Minority employment and youth unemployment are soaring. Personal incomes are falling. Prices are soaring. Housing prices are flat or sinking.
This is going to get worse too. For one thing, everything Obama does is bad for the economy. Tax hikes and regulations will keep tripping the economy. The real effects of Obamacare will start to kick in over the next two years as well. The world is tipping back into recession. There is fear that central bankers are being pressured to engage in competitive devaluation to make their economies competitive, which will lead to inflation and falling asset values. Ironically, he’s even standing in the way of the one thing that could turn this around – natural gas.
Obama’s economic legacy will be tens of millions of people unemployed, falling home and assets values, a falling dollar, falling incomes, and a generation of people put onto a lower economic track.
● Fiscal “Bankruptcy”: The US won’t go bankrupt. That’s a ridiculous idea. The US has too many assets and generates too much income for that to happen. BUT... the government has pushed the economy to the limits. The government now takes enough that it’s interfering with the economy. Moreover, about 1/3 of what the government spends is borrowed, and we can’t borrow much more. Essentially, Obama has spent the government to the point that it is incapable of spending more, i.e. “fiscal bankruptcy.” Further, much of the future budget will be wasted on interest payments. Also, because Obama failed to address entitlements, they will slowly eat the budget. In effect, Obama has destroyed the government’s ability to act.
● Obamacare: Obama’s obvious legacy is Obamacare, but what kind of legacy is it? It was supposed to make sure that 42 million Americans got insured. I’ll bet you the numbers don’t budge. Millions of Americans will now find it harder to get insurance as their employers drop their plans. Doctors are leaving the profession – making the existing doctor shortage worse. It does nothing to control out-of-control costs. It will weaken Medicare and make it harder for old people to find doctors. It will push numerous states to bankruptcy because it expands Medicaid. Obamacare’s legacy will be failure. People will be less and less happy with the medical system and all the statistics will get worse. Eventually real reform will be needed, which will include completely replacing Obamacare.
● Way Too Big To Fail: Obama signed into law a banking reform bill that was little more than a declaration that the largest banks were free to eat up all the smaller banks. They are doing that. Right now, the biggest banks are much bigger than they were when everyone worried about too big to fail, and they are getting bigger all the time. And thanks to the Democrats, we are backing more of their risks than ever. Obama’s legacy in this regard will be the creation of a mega-opoly of banks who will dominate the economy and hold taxpayers hostage.
● Global Warming: Obama wanted the US to become an international environmental leader. That didn’t happen. In fact, Obama’s failed push to take charge seems to have destroyed the international environmentalist movement. Obama went to Copenhagen, hoping to impose liberal environmentalism on the world by treaty. Instead, Brazil, India, Russia, China and South Africa seized the agenda and all but killed international environmentalism. He also mishandled the carbon debates and failed to assure the public of reforms in the wake of Climategate. The result is that there is no longer any international consensus on anything environmental.
● War: Obama has been the most bellicose President we’ve had since. . . well, ever. He “ended” the already-ended war in Iraq, but then dramatically expanded the Afghan War into Pakistan, where the CIA is using drones to hit thousands of targets. Obama also bombed Yemen and Somalia. He sent combat troop to Uganda and the navy to fight pirates. He bombed Libya. He will soon be involved in Mali and Syria. He’s been fighting an informal war with Iran, which I suspect will become a shooting war soon enough. Obama’s eight years will be one continuous undeclared war after another.
Moreover, despite screams of “war crimes” when Bush did it, Obama has not closed Gitmo. He tried to make terrorist suspects into “non-persons” so they had fewer rights than even Bush gave them. He hasn’t stopped “illegal renditions” or most of the things he once called “torture” (except waterboarding). Obama is using drones all over the place and doing so under policies that are legally questionable – “signature strikes,” which are like “racial profiling with extreme prejudice” where the CIA doesn’t actually know who they are targeting.
Obama’s legacy is that the US will come to be seen as a pretty murderous country that shoots first and bombs anyone it doesn’t like.
● Polarized Electorate: One of the things all great Presidents have is the ability to get people on the other side to respect them and people in the middle to follow them. FDR, JFK, Reagan, Clinton all had strong, broad-based support and were remembered fondly. Obama won’t have that to help his legacy. Obama has polarized the electorate beginning the day after he took office, and his despicable re-election campaign made that worse. Now he’s talking about becoming hyper-partisan. Good luck.
Obama will fall into the category of Nixon, Johnson and Carter. He will be reviled except for a small base of supporters. The right hates him as a tyrant, the left hates him as a corporate-crony sellout who won’t actually push liberal/progressive policies. Even among his supporters, there is lots of evidence that he’s not liked personally.
This is not a legacy to be proud of, but I think this is the legacy Obama will have.