When it comes to warping reality and delusional wishful thinking former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, takes the cake.
Her latest flight of fancy is the oft-repeated, to any and every reporter who will listen, that Democrats have a “very excellent chance” to retake the House majority in November” due to the “issues” being “on their side.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Sunday that Democrats have a “very excellent chance” to retake the House majority in November, and charaterized the day Republican Mitt Romney selected Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) as his vice presdidential running mate as a “pivotal” one in the campaign.
“The issues are with us,” Pelosi said in an interview broadcast Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union.” She pointed to Ryan’s budget proposal that revamps Medicare into a voucher program for Americans currently 55 and under as a major focal point in the battle for the House majority and a reason for Democratic optimism.
I have a question for San Fran Nan about the issues being on the Democrats side… Question: If the policy issues that Democrats champion, that had to be forcefully implemented since gaining power in 2007, are so mind blowingly awesome and supposedly supported by Americans… how do you explain their utter failure?
There are actually too many to list but let’s take the top five, shall we?
(1) THE STIMULUS
Obama’s Stimulus Failed To Keep Unemployment Below 8 Percent As Obama Promised
Obama’s $825 Billion Stimulus Failed To Keep The Unemployment Rate Below The 8 Percent And Is Nowhere Close To The 6 Percent They Predicted It Would Be At By Now. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/6/12; Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein, “The Job Impact Of The American Recovery And Reinvestment Plan,”1/9/09; Congressional Budget Office, 5/25/11)
- Instead, Since The Stimulus Was Passed, The Unemployment Rate Has Increased From 8.2 Percent To 8.5 Percent And Has Remained Above 8 Percent For A Post-WWII Record 35 Straight Months. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/6/12)
- The Unemployment Rate Peaked At 10.1 Percent In October 2009. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/6/12)
Obama’s Stimulus Failed To Create The Over 3.5 Million Jobs That His Advisors Predicted It Would Create
PROMISE: Obama’s Advisors Predicted That The Stimulus Would Create Over 3.5 Million Jobs And Raise Payroll Employment To Over 137.5 Million By The Fourth Quarter Of 2010. (Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein, “The Job Impact Of The American Recovery And Reinvestment Plan,”1/9/09)
FAILURE: Since President Obama’s $825 Billion Stimulus Passed, The Nation Has Lost 1.1 Million Jobs.(Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/6/12)
- At The End Of 2010, Payroll Employment Was Only 130.3 Million. (Bureau Of Labor Statistics, Accessed 1/6/12)
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker: “Obama Is On Track To Have The Worst Jobs Record Of Any President In The Modern Era.” “Unless the economy turns around in the next 18 months, Obama is on track to have the worst jobs record of any president in the modern era. That would be an accurate statement.” (Glenn Kessler, “Rick Perry’s Claim That Obama Has ‘Killed More Jobs’ Than Any Other President,” The Washington Post’s “The Fact Checker”, 8/22/11)
On CBS’ “60 Minutes”, Obama Called His Health Care Package One Of His Major Accomplishments
CBS’ Steve Kroft: “Why do you think you deserve to be reelected? What have you accomplished?”
President Obama: “Not only saving this country from a great depression, not only saving the auto industry, but putting in place a system in which we’re going to start lowering health care costs and you’re never going to go bankrupt because you get sick or somebody in your family gets sick.” (CBS’ “60 Minutes,” 12/11/11)
Yet ObamaCare Has Failed To Make Health Insurance More Affordable
PROMISE: Obama Promised His Plan “Would Save The Average Family $2,500 On Their Premiums.” (Sen. Barack Obama, Remarks Of Senator Barack Obama’s Plan To Fight For Working Families And Take On Special Interests In Washington, Indianapolis, IN, 6/20/08)
FAILURE: FactCheck.org: ObamaCare Is Actually Making Health Care “Less Affordable.” “At the moment, the new law is making health care slightly less affordable. Independent health care experts say the law has caused some insurance premiums to rise. As we wrote in October, the new law has caused about a 1 percent to 3 percent increase in health insurance premiums for employer-sponsored family plans because of requirements for increased benefits. Last year’s premium increases cast even more doubt on another promise the president has made — that the health care law would ‘lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year.’” (D’Angelo Gore, “Promises, Promises,” Fact Check.org, 1/4/12)
- The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker: “Moreover, at this point it is debatable whether the law has made health care more affordable. Insurance premiums have gone up, in part because of new benefits mandated by the law.” (Glenn Kessler, “The Fine Print In Obama’s ‘Promises Kept’ Ad,” The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker, 1/6/12)
“The Cost Of Health Insurance Skyrocketed In 2011 After Several Years Of Relatively Small Increases.” (Jane M. Von Bergen, “Health Insurance Costs Skyrocketing,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/27/11)
Workers Paid An Average Of $132 More For Family Coverage This Year. “Although premiums rose, employers kept the percentage of the premium workers pay about the same: An average of 18 percent for single coverage and 28 percent for family plans. Still, with rising costs, workers paid more, up an average of $132 a year for family coverage. Since 1999, the dollar amount workers contribute toward premiums nationally has grown 168 percent, while their wages have grown by 50 percent, according to the survey.” (Julie Appleby, “Cost Of Employer Insurance Plans Surge In 2011,” Kaiser Health News, 9/27/11)
- Cost Of Single Employee Coverage Grew 8 Percent According To The Survey. “Family plan premiums hit $15,073 on average, while coverage for single employees grew 8 percent to $5,429, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust. (KHN is an editorially-independent program of the foundation.)” (Julie Appleby, “Cost Of Employer Insurance Plans Surge In 2011,” Kaiser Health News, 9/27/11)
And Americans Are Losing Their Coverage
PROMISE: President Obama Promised That “If You Like Your Health Care Plan, You Will Be Able To Keep Your Health Care Plan. Period.” OBAMA: “So let me begin by saying this: I know that there are millions of Americans who are content with their health care coverage – they like their plan and they value their relationship with their doctor. And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what. My view is that health care reform should be guided by a simple principle: fix what’s broken and build on what works.” (President Barack Obama, Address To The American Medical Association, Chicago, IL, 6/15/09)
FAILURE: FactCheck.org: ObamaCare “Falls Short Of Making Health Care ‘Affordable And Available To Every Single American,’ As Promised.” “Furthermore, the law falls short of making health care ‘affordable and available to every single American,’ as promised. The law provides subsidies to help some Americans buy insurance, expands Medicaid and doesn’t allow insurance companies to exclude persons with preexisting conditions. But still, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected 23 million persons will remain uninsured — some because they can’t afford coverage.” (D’Angelo Gore, “Promises, Promises,”Fact Check.org, 1/4/12)
- FactCheck.org: The White House Ad Promising Medicare “Benefits Will Remain The Same” Is False. “Currently, about 1 in every 4 Medicare beneficiary is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. For many of them, the words in this ad ring hollow, and the promise that ‘benefits will remain the same’ is just as fictional as the town of Mayberry was when Griffith played the local sheriff.” (Brooks Jackson, “Mayberry Misleads On Medicare,” FactCheck.org, 7/31/10)
The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker: “Not Every Single American” Has Health Coverage As Obama Promised. “No matter what one thinks of Obama’s health care law, it was certainly a signature legislative achievement—the most sweeping health care law since the creation of Medicare. But notice that Obama said he would bring health care to ‘every single American,’ but the headline simply says ‘more than 30 million Americans.’ That translates into 95 percent of nonelderly Americans—when the law is fully implemented in 2016. That is certainly an increase over the 82-percent level that would have been expected in the absence of the law, but it is not ‘every single American.’” (Glenn Kessler, “The Fine Print In Obama’s ‘Promises Kept’ Ad,” The Washington Post’s The Fact Checker, 1/6/12)
A Survey Found That Only 60 Percent Of Employers Offered Medical Coverage This Year, A 9 Percent Decrease From 2010. “Sixty percent of employers said they offered medical benefits this year, a decrease from 69 percent in 2010.” (Jeffrey Young, “Health-Benefit Costs Rise Most In Six Years,” Bloomberg, 9/27/11)
(3) GREEN JOBS
“The Obama Administration Has Managed The Nearly Impossible Feat Of Turning Energy Policy Into A Money Loser, Pouring Taxpayer Dollars Into Green-Energy Busts Like Solyndra.” (Editorial, “The Non-Green Job Boom,” The Wall Street Journal, 11/28/11)
Obama Predicted His Investments In Green Energy Would Create 5 Million Jobs
PROMISE: In 2008, Then-Senator Obama Claimed His Investments In Green Energy Would Create 5 Million New Jobs. OBAMA: “And I’ll invest $150 billion over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy — wind power, and solar power, and the next generation of biofuels — an investment that will lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.” (Sen. Barack Obama, Acceptance Speech Remarks At The Democratic National Convention, Denver, CO, 8/28/08)
FAILURE: The Failure Of Obama’s Green Jobs Programs “Gets More Embarrassing By The Day.” “The green jobs subsidy story gets more embarrassing by the day. Three years ago President Obama promised that by the end of the decade America would have five million green jobs, but so far some $90 billion in government spending has delivered very few.” (Editorial, “Green Jobs Brown Out,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/11/11)
“The Green Economy Is Not Proving To Be The Job-Creation Engine That Many Politicians Envisioned.” “In the Bay Area as in much of the country, the green economy is not proving to be the job-creation engine that many politicians envisioned. President Obama once pledged to create five million green jobs over 10 years. Gov. Jerry Brown promised 500,000 clean-technology jobs statewide by the end of the decade. But the results so far suggest such numbers are a pipe dream.” (Aaron Glantz, “Number Of Green Jobs Fails To Live Up To Promises,” The New York Times, 8/18/11)
- Green Technology Jobs Account For Just 2 Percent Of Employment Nationwide. “A study released in July by the non-partisan Brookings Institution found clean-technology jobs accounted for just 2 percent of employment nationwide and only slightly more — 2.2 percent — in Silicon Valley. Rather than adding jobs, the study found, the sector actually lost 492 positions from 2003 to 2010 in the South Bay, where the unemployment rate in June was 10.5 percent.” (Aaron Glantz, “Number Of Green Jobs Fails To Live Up To Promises,” The New York Times, 8/18/11)
“Federal And State Efforts To Stimulate Creation Of Green Jobs Have Largely Failed.” “Federal and state efforts to stimulate creation of green jobs have largely failed, government records show. Two years after it was awarded $186 million in federal stimulus money to weatherize drafty homes, California has spent only a little over half that sum and has so far created the equivalent of just 538 full-time jobs in the last quarter, according to the State Department of Community Services and Development.” (Aaron Glantz, “Number Of Green Jobs Fails To Live Up To Promises,” The New York Times, 8/18/11)
The Energy Department Has Handed Out $35.2 Billion From The Stimulus, But The Clean Energy Industry Has “Yet To Provide The Boost Many Had Hoped For.” “The Energy Department handed out $35.2 billion from the Recovery Act for energy efficiency and other initiatives. At the time, clean energy was seen as a potentially powerful industry for job creation. But the industry has yet to provide the boost many had hoped for.” (Vauhini Vara, “Red Flags For Green Energy,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/12/11)
Despite Soaring Promises From Obama And His Allies, Green Energy Has Barely Taken Flight And Has Failed To Create Jobs. “New clean-energy sources could address environmental, economic and national security problems all at once. In his 2008 convention speech, Barack Obama promised to create five million green economy jobs. The U.S. Conference of Mayors estimated in April 2009 that green jobs could account for 10 percent of new job growth over the next 30 years. Alas, it was not to be.” (David Brooks, “Where The Jobs Aren’t,” The New York Times, 9/5/11)
- “There’s A Wealth Of Other Evidence To Suggest That The Green Economy Will Not Be A Short-Term Jobs Machine. According To Investor’s Business Daily, Executives At Johnson Controls Turned $300 Million In Green Technology Grants Into 150 Jobs — That’s $2 Million Per Job.” (David Brooks, “Where The Jobs Aren’t,” The New York Times, 9/5/11)
The Energy Department’s Loan Program Has Fallen Far Short Of The 65,000 Jobs That It Said It Would Create
“In The Understatement Of The Year, The IG Says The Program Failed To ‘Assist Those Most Impacted By The Recession.” “A new report by the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General examined a $500 million grant under the stimulus program to the Employment and Training Administration to ‘train and prepare individuals for careers in ‘green jobs.’’ So far about $162.8 million has been spent. The program was supposed to train 125,000 workers, but only 53,000 have been ‘trained’ so far, only 8,035 have found jobs, and only 1,033 were still in the job after six months. Overall, ‘only 10% of participants entered employment.’ In the understatement of the year, the IG says the program failed to ‘assist those most impacted by the recession.’” (Editorial, “Green Jobs Brown Out,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/11/11)
- Obama’s $38 Billion Green Energy Stimulus Program Only Has A Few Thousand Jobs To Show For It. “A $38.6 billion loan guarantee program that the Obama administration promised would create or save 65,000 jobs has created just a few thousand jobs two years after it began, government records show. The program — designed to jump-start the nation’s clean technology industry by giving energy companies access to low-cost, government-backed loans — has directly created 3,545 new, permanent jobs after giving out almost half the allocated amount, according to Energy Department tallies.” (Carol D. Leonnig and Steven Mufson, “Obama Green-Tech Program That Backed Solyndra Struggles To Create Jobs,” The Washington Post, 9/14/11)
“The Jobs Record Is Even More Dismal When You Consider That Many Of The Jobs Classified As Green Aren’t Even New Jobs, Much Less Green.” “The jobs record is even more dismal when you consider that many of the jobs classified as green aren’t even new jobs, much less green, according to a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. They include positions that have been ‘relabeled as green jobs by the BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics].’” (Editorial, “Green Jobs Brown Out,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/11/11)
- The Cost Of Each Green Job Is $157,000. “This means that bus drivers, Environmental Protection Agency regulators, university professors teaching ecology, and even the Washington lobbyists who secure energy loan guarantees count as green employees for the purposes of government counting. The Oversight Committee finds that even a charitable assessment of the Labor program puts the cost of each green job at $157,000.” (Editorial, “Green Jobs Brown Out,” The Wall Street Journal, 10/11/11)
(4) HOME FORECLOSURES
PROMISE: President Obama Promised That His Housing Program Would Prevent 7 To 9 Million Families From Foreclosure. “And we will pursue the housing plan I’m outlining today. And through this plan, we will help between 7 and 9 million families restructure or refinance their mortgages so they can afford—avoid foreclosure.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks On The Home Mortgage Industry In Mesa, Arizona, 2/18/09)
FAILURE: Obama Has Only Helped 1.7 Million Avoid Foreclosure Of The 9 Million Homeowners He Promised. “President Obama pledged at the beginning of his term to boost the nation’s crippled housing market and help as many as 9 million homeowners avoid losing their homes to foreclosure. Nearly three years later, it hasn’t worked out. Obama has spent just $2.4 billion of the $50 billion he promised. The initiatives he announced have helped 1.7 million people.” (Zachary A. Goldfarb, “Obama’s Efforts To Aid Homeowners, Boost Housing Market Fall Far Short Of Goals,” The Washington Post, 10/23/11)
- The Administration’s Foreclosure Prevention Programs “Have Had Little Impact On The Overall Housing Sector.” “The administration is already using taxpayer funds from its $700 billion bank bailout program to help prevent foreclosures and give struggling Americans a reprieve on their mortgage payments. But the programs have had little impact on the overall housing sector.” (“White House Says Needs To Deal With Housing Problems,” Reuters, 6/5/11)
“To Date, Administration Programs Have Permanently Reduced The Debt Of Just One Tenth Of 1 Percent Of Underwater Borrowers.” (Zachary A. Goldfarb, “Obama’s Efforts To Aid Homeowners, Boost Housing Market Fall Far Short Of Goals,” The Washington Post, 10/23/11)
Obama’s Housing Programs “Dramatically Underperformed”
This Summer At The White House, Obama Offered A Rare Acknowledgment That His Response To The Housing Crisis Had Fallen Short.” (Zachary A. Goldfarb, “Obama’s Efforts To Aid Homeowners, Boost Housing Market Fall Far Short Of Goals,” The Washington Post, 10/23/11)
- Obama Said That Housing Has Been The “Most Stubborn In Us Trying To Solve The Problem.” “Asked what mistakes he had made in handling the recession and what he would do differently, he said: ‘We had to revamp housing several times to try and help people stay in their homes and try to start lifting home values up. Of all the things we’ve done, that’s probably been the area that’s been most stubborn in us trying to solve the problem.’” (Zachary A. Goldfarb, “Obama’s Efforts To Aid Homeowners, Boost Housing Market Fall Far Short Of Goals,” The Washington Post, 10/23/11)
- President Obama Said “I’ll Be Honest With You, [Housing] Is Probably The Biggest Drag On The Economy Right Now.” “‘I’ll be honest with you, this is probably the biggest drag on the economy right now,’ Obama replied to a questioner at an economic forum in Palo Alto, Calif., who lamented that the ‘housing crisis will not go away.’” (Abby Phillip, “Housing Crisis Back On President Obama’s Agenda,” Politico, 7/11/11)
Treasury Secretary Geithner: “But Our Programs Have Dramatically Underperformed What We Thought. … We Are Very Disappointed And Frustrated By It And We Have A Lot Of Challenges Ahead.” (Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Testimony Before The House Financial Services Committee, Washington, D.C., 10/6/11)
(5) DEFICIT SPENDING
Obama Promised To Cut The Deficit In Half, But Has Failed To Even Present A Plan That Would Bring The Deficit To Those Levels
PROMISE: Obama Pledged To Cut The Deficit In Half By The End Of His First Term. OBAMA:“And that’s why today I’m pledging to cut the deficit we inherited by half by the end of my first term in office.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks At The Fiscal Responsibility Summit, Washington, D.C., 2/23/09)
- “President Barack Obama Plans To Cut The U.S. Budget Deficit To $533 Billion By The End Of His First Term …” (Hans Nichols, “Obama Plans To Reduce Budget Deficit To $533 Billion By 2013,” Bloomberg, 2/21/09)
- One White House Official Told Politico “We’ll Cut It At Least In Half.” “Under White House projections, this year’s inherited budget deficit of $1.3 trillion will be cut to $533 billion by fiscal year 2013, the end of the first term. ‘So we’ll cut it at least in half,’ the official said.” (Mike Allen, “Obama Vows To Cut Huge Deficit In Half,”Politico, 2/22/09)
FAILURE: Even If Every Part Of Obama’s Deficit Reduction Proposal Was Enacted, The Deficit At The End Of His First Term Would Still Be $1.33 Trillion, Over Double What He Promised. (“The President’s Plan For Economic Growth And Deficit Reduction; Table S-3,” Office Of Management And Budget, 9/19/11)
- Politifact: “Obama Made A Pledge To Cut The Deficit In Half By The End Of His First Term. And He’s Falling Short So Far.” (Gregory Trotter, “Tim Pawlenty Says President Obama Is Going To Break Promise On Deficit And Will Double It,” Politifact, 6/10/11)
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner Said Even If Congress Enacted The President’s Budget “We Would Still Be Left With A Very Large Interest Burden And Unsustainable Obligations Over Time.” (Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Remarks Before Senate Budget Committee, Washington, D.C., 2/17/11)
In Doing So The “Undisputed Debt King” Has Put The Economy At Risk
- The Nation’s GDP Is $15.18 Trillion.(Bureau Of Economic Analysis, Accessed 1/3/12)
Politifact: “Obama Is The Undisputed Debt King Of The Last Five Presidents.” “So by this measurement — potentially a more important one — Obama is the undisputed debt king of the last five presidents, rather than the guy who added a piddling amount to the debt, as Pelosi’s chart suggested.” (“Nancy Pelosi Posts Questionable Chart On Debt Accumulation By Barack Obama, Predecessors,” Politifact, 5/19/11)
“By The Time The Next Election Rolls Around, The Government Will Have Taken On Almost $7 Trillion In Debt Under Obama. It’s Hard To Explain Away A Number So Big.” “For that reason alone, it is unimaginable that debt doesn’t become an even bigger issue in the presidential election. The size-of-government spat is a hard one for the president to win. By the time the next election rolls around, the government will have taken on almost $7 trillion in debt under Obama. It’s hard to explain away a number so big.” (Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, “President Obama’s Big Drags,” Politico, 8/4/11)
- By The Next Election Obama Will Have Added “$22,500 In New Debt For Every Man, Woman And Child In The Nation.” (Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, “President Obama’s Big Drags,” Politico, 8/4/11)
The Government Is In A Debt Trap That Could Be Fueling The Recession. “Our recession may be driven, at this point, by the balance sheet of the government. Repairing that balance sheet by lowering spending may be the only way out of the debt trap. Call it the New Paradox of Thrift: the government can stimulate growth only by refusing to borrow. We need thrift all the way down.” (John Carney, “From Jackson Hole: A Defense Of The Debt Ceiling,” CNBC, 8/29/11)
- CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf: Growing Debt Increases Risk Of “Sudden Fiscal Crisis.” “Growing debt also would increase the probability of a sudden fiscal crisis, during which investors would lose confidence in the government’s ability to manage its budget and the government would thereby lose its ability to borrow at affordable rates.” (Douglas Elmendorf, “CBO’s 2011 Long-Term Budget Outlook,” Congressional Budget Office “Director’s Blog”, 6/22/11)
The second Item up for scrutiny, Nancy’s assertion that President Barack Obama’s legislative leadership shouldn’t be judged by the volume of his contacts with members of Congress.
Nancy Pelosi told Politico Don’t judge Obama by calls to Hill:
Asked by CNN’s “State of the Union” by host Candy Crowley whether Obama is involved in legislative negotiations as President Bill Clinton was, Pelosi said the two men had different styles.
“I would say that they both were very high in terms of leadership. If you measure leadership in the number of phone calls, well, that might be a little bit of a different story, because they’re different personalities,” the Cailfornia Democrat said. “Leadership should not be measured in the number of calls. But they were both great — they are both great leaders.”
Pelosi also insisted that Obama has provided extraordinary leadership through his public rhetoric and simply by hearing Republican lawmakers out about their ideas.
“Make no mistake, President Obama is, of course, he’s a great leader. He has great vision for our country. He knows the issues. He has a plan. He — he’s eloquent and can draw people to what he has to say. And that’s all great,” Pelosi said. “This president has listened, spent time, respects the opinions of the Republicans to an extent that I think I wish one of them would come up with a new idea, because he has more patience listening to them than I do.”
This, of course, is patently absurd! President Obama’s lack of legislative leadership is a direct reflection of his unwillingness to both engage Congress which he hold with contempt or include republicans in any meaningful way.
To those of us who don’t believe that congressional Republicans are irrational extremists, Woodward’s account has resonance, e.g., consider the following from Rick Klein of ABC News:
Woodward places particular blame for the failure to reach a deal with Obama, writing that the seeds of discord were planted early in his administration. He displayed “two sides” of his personality in early meetings with congressional leaders, Woodward said.
“There’s this divided-man quality to President Obama always. Initially he meets with the congressional leaders, he says you know, ‘We’re going to be accommodating, we’re going to listen, we’re going to talk, we’re going to compromise,” Woodward said.
“But then they — Republicans ask some questions and challenge him a little bit and he says, ‘Look I won. I’m in charge here,’ ” Woodward continued. “And the Republicans feel totally isolated and ostracized. And this was the beginning of a war.”
A standard interpretation of the Obama years is that Republican obstructionism began almost immediately and war rooted in an unthinking hatred of President Obama, and the evidence for this proposition is that, for example, the 2009 fiscal stimulus law included billions of dollars in refundable tax credits aimed at low- and middle-income households, which is to say tax cuts. Yet Republicans tend to favor durable rather than short-term changes to the tax code and cuts to marginal tax rates, on the premise that cuts to marginal tax rates improve work incentives. This oft-heard critique rests on a non sequitur.
In a similar vein, Republican opposition to President Obama’s coverage expansion effort is often described as central. Yet much of the resistance to the Obama administration’s approach came from congressional Democrats, many of whom felt alienated by what they saw as the president’s heavy-handed approach, and who were concerned that the president had failed to make a convincing case to the public. One can blame the “Republican noise-machine” for this failure, but of course other chief executives have overcome entrenched opponents by outmaneuvering them. Josh Barro often cites New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as an example. Facing determined opposition from Democrats aligned with public sector unions, Gov. Cuomo nevertheless managed to secure significant concessions from his state legislature through a combination of savvy politicking and threats he could back up.
The beauty of the GOP extremism narrative is that it absolves the president of all responsibility. It is entirely immune to questions regarding whether or not President Obama was a sufficiently deft legislative tactician, and if he has ever demonstrated the ability to forge working coalitions. It is strangely apposite that the Obama presidency may well be rescued by the political prowess of Bill Clinton, a man who served as governor of Arkansas during the Reagan era and thus became well-versed in the art of persuading, or effectively intimidating, political opponents by finding common ground or by appealing directly to the public — beyond his partisan base.
The notion that the president is literally blameless for Washington’s dysfunction — and again, I don’t mean the notion that he deserves at least some of the blame while Republicans deserve the lion’s share, but rather the notion that he is not to blame at all — is firmly entrenched, and so the prospects for a course correction seem bleak. To his credit, President Obama acknowledged that having invited Rep. Paul Ryan to an address that was a bitterly partisan attack on Ryan’s budget proposal was a mistake, as Woodward recounts in his book. Ryan had mistakenly assumed that the address would represent an olive branch to congressional Republicans. When it proved otherwise, he came to see the president in a different light. Given Ryan’s prominence in the Republican caucus, this seems like a remarkable strategic error.
Bob Woodward’s New Book also reveals presidential leadership from Obama went AWOL during the nation’s fiscal crisis…
According To Bob Woodward, “Gaps” In Obama’s Leadership Led To The Collapse Of A “Grand Bargain” On Spending And Debt. “‘Gaps’ in President Obama’s leadership contributed to the collapse of a ‘grand bargain’ on spending and debt last year, with the president failing to cultivate congressional relationships that may have helped him break through Republican opposition, author Bob Woodward told ABC News’ Diane Sawyer.” (Rick Klein, “Bob Woodward: ‘Gaps’ In President Obama’s Leadership Contributed To Debt Deal Collapse,” ABC News , 9/10/12)
THE PRICE OF POLITICS PROVIDES AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT OBAMA’S FAILURES
Failure To Lead
Woodward Says That “There’s Such A Thing As Presidential Leadership” When It Comes To Ensuring That The Government Is Going To Have Enough Money To Pay Its Bills. ABC’s GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: “We are joined now by the man who got the interview, you just heard Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, author of ‘The Price Of Politics,’ it goes on sale in bookstores today. And Bob, thanks for coming in. So your bottom line is successful presidents, like Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton largely work their will. But you reach the conclusion that, in this case, in this struggle, Barack Obama did not.” BOB WOODWARD: “Yes. Simply because our financial house is not in order. In other words, the big debate last year about the debt ceiling and whether the U.S. Government is going to be able to pay its bills. It isn’t over. We’re going to be right back in that soup in December and January. And this isn’t a budget issue or a credit rating issue. This is — is the government going to have its money to pay its bills? And in the end, that’s the President’s job, yes. It’s Congress’ job, too.But there’s such a thing as presidential leadership.” (ABC’s ” Good Morning America,” 9/11/12)
- Woodward Said That While Presidents Reagan And Clinton Worked Their Will, “Obama Did Not.” ABC’s DIANE SAWYER: “You really say in the book, ‘nobody was in charge.’ BOB WOODWARD: “In Washington.” SAWYER: “And is that a failure of leadership?” WOODWARD: “You know some people are going to say he was fighting a brick wall, the Republicans in the House and the Republicans in Congress. Others will say, it’s the President’s job to figure out how to tear down that brick wall. In this case, he did not.” SAWYER: “Is that the President’s fault?” WOODWARD: “Well, my conclusion is, Presidents Clinton, President Reagan, and if you look at them, you can criticize them for lots of things, they by and large work their will.” SAWYER: “And he did not?” WOODWARD: “On this President Obama did not.” (ABC’s ” World News,” 9/10/12)
During The Height Of Debt Ceiling Negotiations, Sen. Harry Reid’s Chief Of Staff Criticized Obama Directly In A July 2011 Oval Office Meeting: “[I]t Is Really Disheartening That You, That This White House Did Not Have A Plan B.” “Sitting there on the Oval Office couch, Krone either would not or could not conceal his anger. ‘Wait a second,’ the president said, interrupting someone else who was about to speak. ‘David has something else. I can tell David has something else to say.’ It wasn’t hard to reach this conclusion. Krone was tightly wound. ‘Mr. President, I am sorry-with all due respect-that we are in this situation that we’re in, but we got handed this football on Friday night. And I didn’t create this situation. The first thing that baffles me is, from my private sector experience, the first rule that I’ve always been taught is to have a Plan B. And it is really disheartening that you, that this White House did not have a Plan B.’” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 317)
SHOT: During The Debt Ceiling Negotiations In July 2011, Obama Said “At Some Point, I Think If You Want To Be A Leader, Then You Got To Lead.” OBAMA: “I mean, the American people are just desperate for folks who are willing to put aside politics just for a minute and try to get some stuff done. So when Norah asked or somebody else asked why was I willing to go along with a deal that wasn’t optimal from my perspective, it was because even if I didn’t think the deal was perfect, at least it would show that this place is serious, that we’re willing to take on our responsibilities even when it’s tough, that we’re willing to step up even when the folks who helped get us elected may disagree. And at some point, I think if you want to be a leader, then you got to lead.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks By The President, Washington, D.C., 7/22/11)
- CHASER: By The End Of July 2011, “It Was Increasingly Clear That No One Was Running Washington. That Was Trouble For Everyone, But Especially For Obama.” “It was increasingly clear that no one was running Washington. That was trouble for everyone, but especially for Obama. Though running things was a joint venture between the president and Congress, Nabors thought a president had to dominate Congress-or at least be seen as dominating Congress. If the president succumbed it could be fatal. Reagan and Clinton were seen as presidents who had gained and largely held the upper hand with Congress. The last president to fold was George H. W. Bush, who gave in to Democrats’ demands that income taxes be raised in a 1990 budget deal. And Bush had been a one term president.” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 313)
The Myth Of Obama’s “Bipartisanship”
SHOT: After Initial Meetings In 2009, Obama Told Republican Leaders He Was Serious About Bipartisanship And Open To Their Ideas. “After the meeting, Obama approached the Republican House leaders, Boehner and Cantor, ‘I’m serious about this,’ he told them. ‘Come with your ideas.’” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 9)
- CHASER: Despite Saying He Wanted Republican Input, Obama Dismissed House Republican Ideas, Reminding Them That “Elections Have Consequences” And Even Telling Rep. Eric Cantor “I Think I Trump You.” “Obama said his plan would include tax cuts, but not only tax cuts. He seemed inclined to compromise. ‘Mr. President,’ Cantor offered, ‘I understand that we have a difference in philosophy on tax policy.’ But a massive stimulus package would be too much like ‘old Washington,’ he said. ‘I can go it alone,’ the president said, ‘but I want to come together. Look at the polls. The polls are pretty good for me right now.’ Cantor chuckled and nodded. The polls certainly looked good for Obama now. To Cantor, that meant there would be no easier time to compromise and to disappoint some on the left. As he listened, Obama’s tone seemed to change. ‘Elections have consequences,’ the president said. ‘And Eric, I won.’ On the table, some copies of the one-page document called ‘House Republican Economic Recovery Plan’ lay where Cantor had put them. ‘So on that, I think I trump you,’ Obama said.” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 14)
“The President And The Democratic Majorities In The House And Senate Would Go It Alone. There Was No Compromise.” “The House vote was 244-188. All 177 Republicans had voted against it. ‘Not even one?’ Emanuel said to Cantor. ‘What’s going no?’ ‘You really could’ve gotten some of our support,’ Cantor said. ‘You just refused to listen to what we were saying.’ Cantor might have admired Obama’s self-assuredness-the confidence, the smooth articulation and eloquence-but the president had taken it too far, to the point of ‘arrogance,’ he said. Obama had demonstrated that he believed he didn’t need any other input. The Republicans were outsiders, outcasts.The president and the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate would go it alone. There was no compromise.” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, pp. 21-22)
- Obama Insisted His Stimulus Was Bipartisan Because It Had Policies He Assumed Republicans Would Support, Even Though Obama Had Not Consulted With Them. “‘It’s a bipartisan bill,” the President insisted, listing elements he assumed Cantor’s caucus would support. ‘Republicans like business expensing. They like bonus depreciation.’ Cantor resented Obama’s presumption that he knew what Republicans wanted, and what their priorities were, without consulting them.” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 17)
Obama’s Speech Attacking Ryan’s Budget “Widened The Partisan Divide.” “Ryan’s presence at the George Washington University speech fundamentally changed the public and media perception of what the White House had hoped would be a major budget moment. Instead of reshaping the debate, the speech widened the partisan divide. The contrast between the cool bipartisan talk at the White House in the morning and the attack on the Republicans was stark. Ryan felt betrayed. He’d expected an olive branch. What he got was the finger.” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 106)
- Obama’s Partisan Speech Attacking Paul Ryan’s Budget Made Alan Simpson Want To “Throw Up In The Tulips” And Erskine Bowles Say “I Was Disgusted.” “Back at the Capitol, Ryan took a call from Alan Simpson. ‘I’m going to throw up in the tulips,’ Simpson said. The president’s words and demeanor, he said, were way over the line. Then Erskine Bowles called. ‘I was disgusted,’ the longtime Democrat said. ‘I couldn’t believe that he did that. And I’m going to talk to the president about it.’ He said he was apologizing. ‘It’s not your fault,’ Ryan replied. ‘You don’t need to apologize for anything.’” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 106)
Larry Summers Said Obama “Doesn’t Really Have The Joy Of The Game” To Get Involved In Negotiations. “But the president was not satisfied either, Summers said. ‘Obama really doesn’t have the joy of the game. Clinton basically loved negotiating with a bunch of other pols, about anything. If you told him, God, we’ve got a problem. We’ve got to allocate all the office space in the Senate. If you could come spend some time talking to the majority leader in figuring out how to allocate office space in the Senate, Clinton would think that was pretty interesting and kind of fun. Whereas, Obama, he really didn’t like these guys.’” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 82)
- Summers Thought The Stimulus Not Receiving A Single House Republican Vote Made The Obama White House Look “Unreasonable And Partisan.” “Summers, Obama’s chief White House economic adviser, was also stunned. To win public support, the White House and the Democrats need to look like the reasonable people in the room, willing to compromise. But the zero votes made them look the opposite-unreasonable and partisan.” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 23)
Obama Chief Of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s Response To Any Republican Changes To The Stimulus: “We Have The Votes. F—’em.” “The $800 billion stimulus bill of new spending and additional tax cuts, introduced on January 26, was the first bill of the new Congress and the Obama administration. It was called, appropriately, H.R. 1, and it contained not one proposal from Eric Cantor and his conservative Republican group. The bill was drafted by the Democrats and whenever any Republicans tried to make changes, Emanuel’s response was, more often than not, ‘We have the votes. F— ‘em.’ This was the bulldozing that Obama had promised to avoid.” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 16)
- Emanuel Balked At The Idea Of Putting Alan Simpson On The Fiscal Commission. “These machinations did not meet Rahm Emanuel’s standards. There was no agility in the White House, no ability to get organized and move fast on critical issues like the fiscal commission. He emailed Summers and others on February 8, 2010: ‘This does piss me off that we have debated this internally for months ad nauseam and we are a day and a half before the announcement and just now reaching out to a Republican senator.’ Emanuel did not see the appeal of Simpson. ‘He’s going to be a headache. Our internal process is a f—— debating society.’” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 44)
Obama’s Team Was Adept At Budget “Gimmickry”
SHOT: In 2008, Obama Promised A “Net Spending Cut” To The Federal Budget By Going “Through The Federal Budget Line By Line, Page By Page.” OBAMA: “We need to eliminate a whole host of programs that don’t work. And I want to go through the federal budget line by line, page by page, programs that don’t work, we should cut.” (Third Presidential Debate, Hempstead, NY, 10/15/08)
- CHASER: Woodward Reports That Larry Summers’ Budget Solution To Addressing The Deficit And Jobs Was “Let’s Sort Of Just Gimmick It Up.” “Geithner, Orszag and Summers went to work on a strategy for the next year’s presidential budget request, which was due to Congress in early February 2010. They had to produce something that would show Obama was equally serious about deficit reduction and job creation. Back and forth they went, debating, defining and calculating. It was dizzying. ‘Let’s sort of just gimmick it up,’ Larry Summers said to Orszag at one point.” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 30)
Geithner “Conceded” That Savings From The Wars In Iraq And Afghanistan Ending Weren’t Real Savings. “The White House agreed to the $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years, but added a firewall that required that they be split evenly between defense and other general spending. Republicans resisted. The congressional appropriations committees ought to be allowed to make those spending choices. Geithner said that the savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – the overseas Contingency Operations fund – should be counted in the grand total. He conceded that this wasn’t real savings, but it was a peace dividend and it made the overall total look bigger. ‘We need to have this because the ratings agencies and markets believe in this stuff.’” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 241)
Then-OMB Director Peter Orszag Said That, On Budget Gimmicks, Obama Has “Come To The View … That This Whole Exercise Is Kind Of Silly Anyway, So Sure, Let’s Play The Game.” “The Doc Fix would continue, but it would be ‘unpaid for’ and ‘without offsets.’ On paper, it reduced the deficit by $25 billion, but it left future administrations to find the offsetting cuts or revenue. It was another gimmick, and it received a presidential check mark. But this check mark had a distinctly unsteady wobble on the upsweep. What did the president actually think about all of this? ‘He’s come to the view,’ Orszag later remarked to others, ‘that this whole exercise is kind of silly anyway, so sure, let’s play the game.’” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 32)
- Orszag: “It’s Almost Like We’re Saying, Well They’re [The Senate] Cheating Too, So We Will. So We Can Follow Their Lead. Welcome To Sausage Making.” “On the Doc Fix, the memo noted that the White House had at least some political cover. Senator Conrad, it read, ‘has expressed the possibility that the Senate could move toward a five-year unpaid-for-fix’ on the Medicare payments to doctors. Orszag explained: ‘It’s almost like we’re saying, well they’re [the Senate] cheating too, so we will. So we can follow their lead. Welcome to sausage making.’” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 32)
Obama’s Economic Team And Democrat Allies Voice Proposals That He Today Assails
SHOT: Obama Criticized Territorial Taxation As A Policy That Would Create 800,000 Jobs That “Wouldn’t Be In America.” OBAMA: “We have not found any serious economic study that says Governor Romney’s economic plan would actually create jobs — until today. I’ve got to be honest. Today we found out there’s a new study out by non-partisan economists that says Governor Romney’s economic plan would, in fact, create 800,000 jobs. There’s only one problem: The jobs wouldn’t be in America. (Laughter and applause.) They would not be in America. They’d be in other countries. By eliminating taxes on corporations’ foreign income, Governor Romney’s plan would actually encourage companies to shift more of their operations to foreign tax havens, creating 800,000 jobs in those other countries.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks At A Campaign Event, Cincinnati, OH, 7/16/12)
At The DNC, Biden Claimed Experts Have Said Territorial Taxation “Will Create 800,000 Jobs. All Of Them Overseas. All Of Them.” BIDEN: “Governor Romney believes in this global economy, it doesn’t much matter where American companies invest and put their money, or where they create jobs. As a matter of fact, in his budget proposal – in his tax proposal he calls for a new tax. It’s called a territorial tax, which the experts have looked at and they acknowledged it will create 800,000 jobs. All of them overseas. All of them.” (Vice President Joe Biden, Remarks At The Democrat National Convention, Charlotte, NC, 9/6/12)
- CHASER: When The Issue Came To Corporate Tax Reform During Debt Ceiling Negotiations In 2011, Geithner Said “The Goal Is Territorial.” “When the discussion turned to corporate tax reform, Boehner and Cantor thought they were onto something positive. The administration had tentatively – everything was tentative, it seemed – stated that corporations would only be taxed on domestic income and not from overseas income. This was a giant issue for companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google, any that operated abroad. Called a territorial corporate tax system, the business community would be overjoyed if it was adopted in an overhaul of corporate taxes. Not having to pay the U.S. corporate rate of 35 percent on overseas income would be a bonanza for corporate America. ‘The goal is territorial,’ Geithner said, starting to pull back. ‘I’m not sure we can commit to completely territorial.’ Maybe 95 or 96 percent. He added pointedly, ‘We are prepared to move off decades of Democratic orthodoxies.’ Treasury had been working on a corporate tax reform plan for some time. Decisions had been expected earlier in the year. Where are you? They asked. ‘Well,’ Geithner said, ‘we’re still working. But complete territorial we may not be able to get. But we’re going to get close, and we can work with you on that.’” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 242)
Obama Director Of Legislative Affairs Rob Nabors: “‘You Could Raise All The Taxes You Want On Millionaires,’ Nabors Made The Mistake Of Saying, And It Would Never Raise Enough.” “A band of angry Democratic senators, including former and likely future presidential candidates, cross-examined them on what kind of deal the president was trying to cut. Where was the revenue guarantee? Democrats had a winning hand, the public was with them on higher taxes on the rich. Why do we have to cut any Medicare? Don’t cut anything. You are playing on Republican turf. Talk of big spending cuts was weak and played into Republican hands. This whole debate should be about revenue. Stare them down. Why were Senate Democrats cut out of the process? Force the Republicans to raise taxes on millionaires. ‘You could raise all the taxes you want on millionaires,’ Nabors made the mistake of saying, and it would never raise enough.” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, pp. 272-273)
Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) Said The Only Way To Get More Revenue Is “Fundamental Tax Reform That Actually Lowers Marginal Rates.” “‘There is only one thing that works,’ Conrad said. ‘And that is fundamental tax reform that actually lowers marginal rates.’” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p.172)
- Conrad Said The Key To Generating Revenue Was To Lower Income And Corporate Tax Rates While Eliminating Deductions. “The key to generating revenue through tax reform, Conrad said, was not to raise the income or corporate tax rates, but to lower them while eliminating deductions. ‘Combined with entitlement reform and with going after wasteful spending.’ Conrad said, it was possible to get there.” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 173)
Reflections On A Recurring Promise
HOPE: In November 2009, Obama Told Then-Sen. Ken Conrad (D-ND) That He Was Willing To Be A One-Term President If It Meant Solving The Budget Crisis. “Standing in the way was a legislative process that, Conrad was convinced, had completely failed. The Senate had been squabbling over the federal budget for six months with no result, and government funding was now dependent on stopgap, short-term continuing resolutions. It was chaos. ‘I believe so strongly in what you’re saying,’ the president said. ‘I’d be willing to be a one-term president over this.’” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 28)
HOPE: Obama In 2009: “If I Don’t Have This Done In Three Years, Then There’s Going To Be A One-Term Proposition.” OBAMA: “That’s exactly right. And – and, you know, a year from now I think people – are going to see that – we’re starting to make some progress. But there’s still going to be some pain out there. If I don’t have this done in three years, then there’s going to be a one-term proposition.” (NBC’s ” The Today Show,” 2/2/09)
CHANGE:“The Mission Of Stabilizing And Improving The Economy Is Incomplete.” “The mission of stabilizing and improving the economy is incomplete. First, the short-term federal fiscal problem has not been solved. Instead it has been pushed off to the future, leaving the United States facing what is now called the fiscal cliff: By law, some $2.4 trillion in spending cuts must begin in 2013, along with an increase in income and payroll taxes. Just the cuts in the first year would amount to $240 billion, or nearly 25 percent of general discretionary spending – a staggering, unprecedented amount.” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 379)
CHANGE:“Second, The Long-Term Problem Of Unsustainable Entitlement Spending … Has Been Largely Unaddressed.” “Second, the long-term problem of unsustainable entitlement spending on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, highlighted by Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and familiar to all informed politicians and economists, including the president and Boehner, has been left largely unaddressed. The combined cost of the three programs in 2012 is about $1.6 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office projects that will nearly double in 10 years to $3 trillion.” (Bob Woodward, The Price Of Politics, 2012, p. 379)
As you can see, the evidence (if one chooses to look for it) is clearly not on the side of Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, or President Obama. No amount of spin, delusional warping of reality, or outright lies by the party of failure, can ever hope to fix or hide that fact…Period!