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He repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”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.