That is a subheading from the August 1st Economist article called Crunch Time: A difficult Summer for the White House and it sums up how I feel about the Obama Administration so far. I did not vote for him (or McCain), but I had hoped that he would live up to his “post-partisan” rhetoric during his campaign and rise above the political fray. I thought there was a chance that he would be able to stop the “gotcha political culture” and really focus on big problems. So far, the Democrats’ plans have not lived up to their billing. The Economist explains it well:
Worse, the plans have usually ended up running away from tough decisions. With the stimulus bill the flaws were forgivable: there was an urgent need to give the economy a boost. But the House of Representatives has produced a cap-and-trade bill that is protectionist, riddled with exemptions and which gives away the permits that are supposed to force carbon-emitters to change their ways. There is a growing danger that this bill will not be passed through the Senate and reconciled with the House version in time for the Copenhagen summit on climate change in December.
With health care, Mr Obama’s preference for vague statements of principle rather than detailed specification has led to a House proposal that loads taxes onto the rich, sets up a state-run insurance scheme that many fear will put private-sector providers out of business and fails to contain, let alone reverse, the escalating costs of treatment while adding an expensive requirement that everyone have health insurance, with large subsidies where needed. Barely any Republicans could support this proposal as it stands. Frantic efforts to save the reform effort are under way in the Senate, but it is distinctly odd to note that the president’s signature policy is now being devised for him by a gang of six senators. Financial regulation is also stuck.
President Obama has allowed the Democrats in Congress, especially the House, to run the country, outsourcing the details, and arguably the Presidency, to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. This is not what most centrists and even some Democrats voted for. Right now, Obama is risking his Presidency by allowing the rest of his party to trot him out to support poorly thought out, unpopular legislation.
On health care, Obama has allowed the Democrats in Congress to take the easy way out (and protect their supporters): soaking the rich, refusing to touch tort reform (trial lawyers) and ruling out taxing health benefits (unions). He has made deals with Big Pharma and the insurance companies that do not address the rising costs of health care. These plans only try to bring the uninsured into the current system. While a noble goal, it could well bankrupt the country. Instead of truly trying to rise above partisan politics and making touch decisions to both cover all Americans and stem the rising costs of health care, Obama has outsourced his responsibilities and is risking his presidency. Until yesterday, Obama was silent when Democrats bashed real concerns about the competing plans voiced by Americans, causing his approval ratings to sink.
The Republicans are no better and possibly worse. Instead of trying to reach across the aisle or propose any solutions of their own, they are simply saying “no.” Its almost like the end of Rome when out of touch, rich, elites did everything they could to stay in power at the expense of the rest of the population. Both sides seem out of touch and angry whenever there is disagreement. Obama would be well served to tell Pelosi and Reid who’s boss and come forward with a detail oriented, innovative plan that cuts across constituencies and addresses both cutting costs and covering everyone.
What do you think? Do you agree that Obama has outsourced the tough decision to Congress? Should he confront Pelosi/Reid?