Repealing the Obama presidency
By Dr. Grace Vuoto
February 14, 2011
The conservative counter-revolution to the Obama presidency is now well underway and gaining steam. On the heels of the Republican victory in the House in the 2010 elections and increasing their number of seats in the Senate, the forces of conservatism are in the ascendant, promising to undo the damage to the economy and society of the last two years of radical big government Democratic legislation. President Barack Obama is increasingly being marginalized, swept away by those who are demanding a return to limited, constitutional government.
“We crushed him. He’s only half his previous size,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, in a recent interview. “He’s an irritant. He’s not scary anymore.”
Mr. Obama squandered the enormous popularity he had in 2008; his current diminished stature reflects the nation’s increasing repudiation of his presidency. In particular, the independent voters who powered his 2008 victory have “buyer’s remorse.” Mr. Obama is now desperately trying to recast himself as a centrist—especially by calling for spending restraint and reaching out to the business community to help revive the economy. Yet, this is too little to undo the image he has created since he came to power of a man who is woefully out of touch with American values and the current needs of the people.
The Obama socialist revolution will be now challenged piecemeal. In a compelling Feb. 5 column in The Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove reveals that ObamaCare, the signature healthcare legislation of Mr. Obama’s presidency, can be both defunded—as the GOP intends to do in the next two years—and also repealed by using a 51-vote Senate strategy. ObamaCare can be overturned by using the same budget reconciliation process that was used to pass the legislation. This means that only a majority of votes are required in both the House and the Senate; in other words, 51 votes, not 60, are needed in the Senate to secure repeal. If the GOP gains four seats in the Senate in 2012—a likely scenario—and a Republican candidate wins the presidency, ObamaCare can be killed altogether.
The repudiation of the Obama presidency is now also apparent in the current budget battles. The GOP is proposing at least $58 billion in cuts for the current fiscal year and vowing to add to these in 2012, inching toward their campaign pledge to cut $100 billion. Hundreds of federal programs will be slashed. In essence, the emerging consensus on Capitol Hill is that the era of stimulus spending has done little for the economy except to add an unsustainable level of federal debt that will cripple future generations.
The majority of Americans—encouraged by the Tea Party and the GOP—is calling for an end to the federal spending binge and a return to fiscal responsibility. As the unemployment rate hovers above 9 percent, it is clear the public has received a poor return on their stimulus investment: stimulus cash cannot revive the economy. Nor has the Democrats’ housing relief program done much to help resolve the root cause of the economic downturn: the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, that was launched in the spring of 2009, has helped 521,630 homeowners rather than the projected goal of assisting three to four million homeowners. By contrast, banks have made about two million permanent home loan modifications in negotiations directly with borrowers. Republicans have thus rightly introduced a bill to kill HAMP. Hence, all housing relief has been a failure and must be terminated; none of it can put the housing Humpty Dumpty together again.
The GOP must press forward to restore the free market: especially by advancing more business-friendly tax and economic policies such as reducing the corporate income tax rate and getting government out of ownership stakes in the financial sector and big corporations, as permitted by the Troubled Asset Relief Program that began during the presidency of George W. Bush and was expanded by Mr. Obama. "The business of America is business,” aptly stated President Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s, in opposition to interventionist policies. In our day, the more the government is kicked out of the economy, the more the government will be restored to a reasonable size, and fiscal sanity will re-emerge.
Since Democrats have spent the last two years trampling on the American way of life, the party’s 2012 prospects are not very good. The Senate is likely to be controlled by Republicans by the next election. The current 53-47 Democratic majority is weak, especially since there are 23 seats up for re-election in 2012; in 15 of these races, public opinion favors GOP policies. This means there is a strong possibility the GOP will control both chambers in two years, thus having the power to continue to overturn legislation passed in the Obama years. And in the meantime, many of these Democratic senators will weigh their re-election prospects and be compelled to vote with the GOP.
As for the president, the whiff of failure is now upon him. While Mr. Obama’s personal approval ratings have ticked up to 50 percent from a low in the fall of 42 percent, the latest Real Clear Politics poll nonetheless reveals that 60 percent of those surveyed said the nation is on the wrong track. In addition, according to a Feb. 8 CNN/Opinion Research Survey, 51 percent said the president will lose the 2012 election. And according to Gallup, the majority of Americans oppose Mr. Obama on deficits, on the economy and on healthcare—all key issues in the forthcoming election.
Mr. Obama now comes across as weak—and the opposition can sense blood in the water. Unlike President Bill Clinton who was able to triangulate following his party’s midterm defeat in 1994, Mr. Obama is too radical and too inflexible to carry off an image re-do. This means the opposition to him is being emboldened, rather than pacified, by the day. He likely may join the ranks of one-term presidents.
Our Founding Fathers sought to create a nation that eschewed collectivism in favor of individual liberty. "Any people that would give up liberty for a little temporary safety deserves neither liberty nor safety," said Benjamin Franklin. In facing the recession, the president and his party have sought the solution to our ills in policies of false security rather than unleashing the fierce competitiveness that has made the American economy the envy of the world. The Obama presidency is now teetering on the brink of defeat and repeal; one more large push and this rotten house of cards will come crashing down.
-Dr. Grace Vuoto is the Executive Director of the Edmund Burke Institute for American Renewal.