Few Americans needed Standard & Poor to confirm the mismanagement of the United States government and its finances. The downgrading of American credit will raise interest rates on America’s huge debt and ultimately on all Americans. Popular polls say that most Americans blame Congress—but that’s too simplistic. As much as Barack Obama would like to shift that blame onto Congress, the fault lies squarely on the shoulders of President. It is first and foremost a leadership problem that is crippling America—and the leader is President Barack Obama—not the many members of Congress.
No matter how many speeches he makes, the conclusion is clear: Obama’s greatest failure is spending America into enormous deficits, and being clueless about how to get the economy to recover. His speeches, riddled with “I” and “We” are mostly serving to indict him for his failings. Appearing on TV more than any other sitting president, Barack Obama is constantly “explaining” why things aren’t working, when he should be working on what to do different and better.
Instead he is “campaigning,” which is the only thing he knows how to do reasonable well. But he can’t fix the economy; he has neither the experience nor the knowhow to do it. His failed, misguided policies have only exacerbated the size of his mistakes and shortcomings.
“I didn’t say ‘Change we can believe in tomorrow.,.’ I didn’t say, ‘Change we can believe in next week…’ “We knew this was going to take time.” —Barack Obama, Aug. 4, 2011.
Obama has surrounded himself with academics, theoreticians and politicians and all of their solutions are wrong, flawed and ineffective. Don’t take my word for it. Look at the evidence. Nobody in his inner circle has meaningful business experience. He not only doesn’t understand business, he dislikes businesses; they are only useful as a way to collect taxes to redistribute.
For Barack Obama’s first 18 months, and occasionally even today, he and his loyalists try to place the lion’s share of the blame for America’s problems with George W. Bush. There is little doubt that Bush erred seriously on several counts: he initiated two expensive wars and then saw the Iraq war mismanaged for at least 2-3 years.
Then Bush failed, along with the (then) GOP led Congress to rein in spending to compensate for the cost of these wars. Finally, he reduced tax rates and created the Medicare prescription drug program (which turned out to work better and cost far less than was feared). Coincidentally, the much-maligned TARP initiated by Bush actually staved off a financial collapse and is largely being paid back by the banks and insurance companies involved. In perhaps his greatest mistake, Bush failed to veto a single spending bill sent to him by Congress.
Bush’s mistakes were clearly serious errors, but they pale in comparison with Obama’s failures since he took office. The Democratically controlled Congress was complicit with Obama’s failures. They have not submitted, and Obama has not submitted a realistic budget for the country in over 800 days—a clear failure to meet their responsibilities. (Exception: Obama’s irresponsible Feb. budget, which was voted down 97-0 by a Democratically controlled Senate.)
To chronicle Obama’s failures and his shortcomings is impossible within the length of a simple blog post. A few of them are most notable. Obama aided and abetted by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid rammed the new health care legislation down the throat of America—and Obamacare was created. Parts of it are well-intentioned, but much of it is feared by Americans and especially small businesses. Arguably some of Obama’s greatest damage to the economy has been done by his appointees in the EPA, NLRB, CPSC, et. al., and the Justice Department. American business is oppressed by regulation. Sadly, Obama barely realizes this.
Next came the $840 billion “stimulus” package, (mostly pork and patronage), which worked poorly or not at all—unless you consider creating jobs at $275,000 each to be a good solution. Not enough “shovel-ready” projects were really “shovel-ready” Obama admitted recently, chuckling awkwardly at his naiveté. Obama and his experts (now mostly gone back to finance or academia) predicted a drop of unemployment to under 8% when the number of jobless went the other way—upward. Now, more Americans have been out of work, for longer, than any time in the past half-century.
Obamacare not only violated many of his eloquent campaign promises; e.g., Taxes on Americans earning less than $200/$250,000 per year will no increase one penny—except for the new Obamacare tax to 3.8% applied to investment income—which will hit millions of Americans. When faced with his party’s impending losses in 2008 elections, Obama dispatched Rahm Emmanuel to attempt buying-off candidates in the 2008 primaries with a promise of high-level jobs, a legally questionable practice at best, and unethical one at worst.
During Obama’s term in office the deficit has grown astronomically as he continues, even to this day, to insist on more spending and more taxes (especially those on “millionaires and billionaires” a category that most Americans earning $200-250,000 per year hardly imagine including them.)
Those who point to his achievements name “bailing out” GM & Chrysler—but many experts feel that was done by using executive power for further illegal actions, denying legal bondholders their rightful returns. There is also a strong belief that ordinary bankruptcy could well have accomplished the same result at a cost of almost $20 billion less of taxpayers’ money. But then spending too much of taxpayers money has never bothered this White House.
To make Obamacare’s outrageous financial claims, Obama & his Democratic Congressional minions desperately needed to cut its cost. Thus, buried in the 2000+-page bill, Obama and his accomplices Reid and Pelosi cut $500 billion out of Medicare. Now he pretends to worry about seniors while ignoring Medicare’s impending insolvency. After all, even if Obama could win a second term, he will be gone before Medicare fails, and be able to blame it on his successor.
Barack Obama was going to close Gitmo—until he realized that it was as unrealistic as much of his campaign rhetoric. Obama has violated the law, which requires the president to act within 15 days after the Medicare commission advises him of a financing problem. His Democratic allies gave him a waiver in his first year, but this year—he simply ignored the law.
Obama followed Bush’s foreign policy and even left most Bush appointees in charge, until recently. Obama’s vanquished primary opponent Hillary Clinton has precluded him from making as big a debacle of foreign policy as he has on domestic policy. He tried, early in his career, kowtowing to foreign dictators and despots, apologizing for America instead of protecting and defending it.
The ultimate failure of President Barack Obama is that he is unable or unwilling to lead; to define anything more than vague generalities as a solution to America’s daunting problems. Even his own allies in the GAO state, “we can’t value a speech.” In his desperation to run for reelection, Obama continues to abdicate his responsibilities. The debt ceiling was a showcase of his failings as he periodically jumped in and out of negotiations until he literally neutralized himself.
The president made himself an outsider in the decision, even as he tried to sound like a voice of reason, making speech after speech, saying less in each successive one. Senator Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner finally fought through massive partisan problems to reach a compromise agreement—but it was clearly too little, too late. Kicking the hard work down to a twelve person “super-committee” was not enough to settle financial markets.
While Barack Obama campaigned, making still more speeches at his 50th birthday celebrations, the Wall Street voted with its money and the Dow-Jones average dropped over 500 points and the S. & P. dropped even more—5%+. 117,000 jobs created in July don’t even approach the number needed to offset new entries to the workforce. The drop in unemployment from 9.2% to 9.1% signals more unemployed Americans giving up, not more of them being hired.
Happy Birthday Mr. President. You have accomplished something no other president has done. You’ve spent America into a hole that will take a decade to fix, and kept more Americans out of work longer than anyone in recent history, and you’ve accomplished all this in record time, only 2-1/2 years. Who knows how much harm you can do given still more time.
John Mariotti is an internationally known executive, consultant and an award-winning author. His book, The Complexity Crisis was named one of 2008’s Best Business Books. In a recent novel, The Chinese Conspiracy, he merges an exciting fictional thriller with the factual reality of America’s risk from Cyber-Attacks. (www.thechinesecomspiracy.com). Mariotti does Keynote speeches, serves on corporate boards and is a consultant/advisor to companies. He can be reached at www.mariotti.net .