On Obama’s policies.

An anonymous reader e-mails: “What do you honestly think of President Obama? By this, I mean his social and economic policies of course, not of him as a person.”

I am, on net, not a fan of President Obama’s social and economic policies. To keep this simple, I’ll just list some of his policies and call them either good or bad. (Before anyone jumps in with “but Bush did the same thing!” or “but Clinton would have done the same thing!” or “but McCain would have done the same thing!” or “but Romney wants to do the same thing!”, let me say: yes, I know. And it was, would have been, or will be just as good or bad when he, she, or it did, would have done, or will do it.) Here goes.

He granted waivers from No Child Left Behind. That’s good. He’s pushing Race to the Top. That’s bad.

He repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” That’s probably good. I don’t believe there’s a fundamental right to serve in the military, but if the military functions better without DADT, then good.

He lists “empathy” as a criterion for his judicial nominees. That’s bad. Or rather, that’s bad if he considers empathy more important than, say, “impartiality” or “knowing what the Constitution says” or “understanding legal precedents.”

He put Joe Biden a heartbeat away from the Presidency. That’s bad. That’s real bad. He got Joe Biden out of the Senate. That’s good. That’s real good.

He vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline on what I think are flimsy grounds. That’s bad. He expanded oil drilling in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico. That’s good.

He is pursuing policies that over-promote alternative energy. I editorialized by using the modifier “over,” which is a pretty sure sign that it’s bad. He approved construction permits for nuclear power plants. That’s good.

He opposed using secret ballots to vote on unionization. That’s bad. He made free trade agreements with South Korea and Colombia. That’s good.

He supports net neutrality. That’s bad.

He continues to prosecute the drug war. That’s bad. He has not stopped the raids on medicinal marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized them. That’s bad.

He wants to raise the top marginal income tax rate. That’s bad. He hasn’t actually done so. That’s good.

He campaigned on raising capital gains tax rates. That’s bad. Now he’s talking about lowering the capital gains tax rate from 35% to 28%. That’s good.

He wants to raise the minimum wage. That’s bad.

He bailed out auto companies. That’s bad.

He passed the “cash for clunkers” bill. That’s bad.

He passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. “ObamaCare.” That’s bad.

He has not delivered anything even remotely approximating the “net spending cut” he promised throughout the 2008 campaign. That’s bad.

He passed a massive economic stimulus bill. (Here’s where the economist in me moves away from “good” or “bad.”) I think it is somewhat responsible for lowering U-3 unemployment, but I am increasingly convinced that it was not worth the cost. I believe less and less in stimulus as time goes on– the Bush stimuli didn’t seem to do much, and the Obama stimulus hasn’t done much unless you genuinely believe that the economy was so much worse than anyone ever could have imagined that the stimulus was necessary just to keep us afloat. I don’t buy that.

In short, I think the bad outweighs the good, and he should have spent a little more time visiting and actually listening to the econ department while he was at Chicago. Fire away.

7 comments

  1. Just a comment on DADT, which may not have anything to do with the topic of discussion: I think repealing of DADT is a good thing overall, but the military has a long way to go to adapt. Casual jokes about “gays” and other such monikers continue and have to be curtailed. Leaders, though “trained”, are not totally on this train yet, so there will be stress between the legal side of the military and the administrative leadership side. Status of benefits, categorization of relationships, attitudes towards shared living spaces have yet to be resolved for many, but I have faith that the younger generation will absorb the changes necessary and provide flexibility, if the old fogies follow along and facilitate the change. It is still a messy transition and we’ll have to see how it plays out.

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  2. What’s so bad about supporting net neutrality? I mean, I can understand most of the other flaws that you pointed out, largely due to the fact that you backed them with further explanation, but why net neutrality, care to expand?

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  3. I was wondering about your opposition to net neutrality as well. Do you not support the concept of it at all, or do you simply oppose it being imposed on ISPs?

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  4. As far as net neutrality goes, i found this interesting article which gave me a better perspective on why it should be opposed. This paragraphy is what got me right away: “Senator Al Franken, at the Netroots Nation conference in late July, talked about a dystopian future without Net neutrality:
    ‘How long do you think it will take before the Fox News website loads five times faster than Daily Kos?’ Hopefully, this will happen right away. Fox News should load 20 times faster than Daily Kos, because far more people read it.”

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2013832,00.html

    It also came to mind that, often, in order to make everyone equal, everyone has to be worse off. That’s not ideal to me. Still, would love to see what you have to say about it, Mr. V.

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  5. Should I point out to the APUSH teacher that the Vice-President of the United States is also President of the Senate and casts a tie-breaking vote? And that therefore, Joe Biden isn’t really out of the Senate? Nah.

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  6. I think that if buyer and seller come to mutually agreeable terms, it’s generally not up to the government to interfere. There are exceptions, but I don’t think that “net priority” (if that’s a real term) is one of them. If my ISP is willing to sell priority, and I’m willing to buy it, then MYOB.

    Furthermore, even if net neutrality laws are passed, there will be exceptions. Traffic related to the essential functions of government will surely take priority over all else. And then companies will lobby to get their own exceptions, because after all what they do is just so important. So instead of a competitive market, you’ll have competitive lobbying and bribery.

    @Doc: That’s an excellent point. If memory serves, it was raised by Dick Cheney when convenient and denied by Joe Biden when convenient (remember the VP debate?).

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  7. Wow! I hadn’t even considered the lobbying aspect! Well you know, I always say that, if it’s one thing our country needs, it’s more lobbying to help things run smoothly. Oh wait, I never say that! Lord help us…

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