With the November mid-term elections approaching fast upon us, there is a great deal of uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of the president's initiatives. So far, President Obama has been able to pass some of his initiatives with the help of a large Democratic majority in both houses.
Although this was a political victory for the Obama Administration, many people are still concerned about what healthcare will entail for them. Most of the senators (both for and against) the legislation didn't fully understand it. If I were to guess the percentage of people who have actually read the bill, I would estimate that only 2% of all opinionated voters actually took the time to peruse through it. For the most part, healthcare is a large gray area and the amount of time it took the administration to pass the bill does not create a great image for a political victory.
Economics (2 parts to this)
Relief and Recovery: C.
The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act was designed to plug in 800 billion dollars of stimulus money into major infrastructural projects and towards failing banks to clear their toxic assets. Keynesian Theory suggests that government pump-priming should bring the economy out of a slump; however, consumer confidence is still low leading to limited spending and thus stunted growth for business. Although the unemployment rate stopped rising, it hasn't fallen yet after two years. This recession maybe rather large but it certainly isn't so severe that unemployment has to remain above 9%. Spending is probably not the answer as the result always tends to balance itself out.
The timing on this initiative is incredibly poor. Yes some Wall Street executives need to take responsibility, but not all of them. Financial reform and regulation will only introduce harsher measures on both big and small businesses which will keep consumer confidence low and eventually take an incredibly long time to recover from. If businessman are optimistic, then consumers will also be willing to spend. Both events will eventually lead to a faster recovery. Unfortunately though, the numbers are not suggesting that this is the time to push for regulation and responsibility. Therefore Obama should wait.
Budget Control: F
I never really bought the whole notion that a government could cut taxes and cut spending to keep the budget balanced. President Obama is certainly not convincing me otherwise with the excessive spending. With the bailouts and stimulus packages passed, I expected a very high budget deficit of 1.5 trillion dollars and I thought that this was merely a ploy to stimulate the economy. The budget for 2010 is very alarming indeed as it called for a 3.8 trillion dollar budget. With a war in Afghanistan and increased social security benefits and rising national defense totals, this budget control is turning out to be an abject failure. The Bush tax cuts are about to expire in a time where the consumers are not ready to face tax increases. Although many people won't be severely affected by the expiration, it does not do anything positive to increase taxes.
The War in Afghanistan: A.
The Obama administration has come under criticism for continuing to remain in Afghanistan. I think the war itself is putting an unnecessary strain on our budget; however, the rate of insurgency and extremism is starting to fall and the results are becoming favorable. It is believed that 50-100 Al-Qaeda members are at large which is a very promising number. Stanley McChrystal, who infamously criticized the Obama administration on its handling, is now dismissed. The ideal path would be to somehow take down the philosophical means by which Al-Qaeda thrives but in this way, the Obama administration has achieved somewhat of a success.