Opinion: Obama’s legacy was doomed by one of his first acts

The Affordable Care Act is considered the signature law from Barack Obama’s presidency, understandably so given its nickname, Obamacare. But as he prepares to leave office and we begin to assess his legacy, an earlier law better symbolizes his time as president and explains why he isn’t being succeeded by a Democrat.

And unlike Obamacare, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a.k.a. the “stimulus,” can’t be repealed.

The sign-maker misspelled "middling." (Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

Years after the stimulus, President Obama was still trying to assure Americans the economy would be fine. (Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

The country on Jan. 20, 2009, was in a deep recession. Obama’s first priority was an economic-recovery package. Washington had tried its hand at “stimulus” before, including the $168 billion Economic Stimulus Act signed by President George W. Bush about a year earlier. These efforts were mostly futile. This did not deter Democrats.

Three days after his inauguration, Obama met with congressional leaders about a plan that would be five times larger at roughly $800 billion. The meeting is chiefly remembered for two words, which he spoke to a Republican who questioned devoting more than twice as much money to spending as to tax cuts.

Those words: “I won.”

For every Democrat who decries Sen. Mitch McConnell’s vow exactly 21 months later to make Obama “a one-term president,” there is a Republican who recalls Obama’s remark as the first crack in his veneer of bipartisanship.

That crack would only widen. But more damaging to Obama’s legacy was the bill’s poor construction, which yielded poor results.

The money was to fund “shovel-ready” projects, quickly employing the jobless. It would be a public-works revival, a short-term outlay with lasting benefits. Yet only a year and a half later, as signs of the law’s impact proved elusive, Obama acknowledged “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready jobs.”

One irony is most of the bill’s provisions didn’t come from the White House. By most accounts, they came from Democrats in Congress. It was not the last time Obama would fail to manage relationships on Capitol Hill — with either party — particularly well.

Thus the “stimulus” foretold the dysfunction between Obama and Congress, and between Obama and Republicans, at a great cost and little economic benefit. The post-2009 recovery, such as it was, is generally attributed more to the Federal Reserve’s historically loose monetary policy.

It also helped launch the tea party. Americans who had simmered at Bush’s profligacy would boil over in spring 2009, angry about a series of debt-fueled bailouts and spending bonanzas that made deficits soar. They dominated national politics for much of the next two years and in 2010 helped the GOP take over the House, permanently altering the course of Obama’s presidency.

Fast-forwarding to 2016, it’s also apparent the lack of a robust recovery in the Rust Belt (and elsewhere) provided fertile ground for Donald Trump’s economic populism. Dozens of Midwestern counties that went twice for Obama flipped to Trump. They can’t be called racists. They’re Americans who backed Obama out of hope but, eight stagnant years later, turned to Trump out of desperation.

There is no sterner rebuke to Obama’s presidency than Trump’s election. And while frustration with immigration policy and political correctness helped put Trump in the White House, and Obamacare stands to consume his attention early on, the roots extend to Obama’s first major, and failed, initiative. America is poorer for it.

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255 comments
FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Elizabeth Warren has lost her appeal. Progressive journalists are referring to her as a one-trick pony who seeks to steal the show by yelling at bankers during congressional hearings.

I couldn't agree more.

I've always said her drive for attention will do her in. It's just a matter of time.

She rode the wrong pony in the race. Out to pasture she'll be put. Another brooding mare, she'll be.

schnirt 

Doom classical lib
Doom classical lib

@FIGMO2


Warren's problem is that she is driven by emotion and long pent up anger. When she was growing up her dad failed at several business attempts and naturally the bank repo man came calling after another biz failure. That's what drove her to specialize in bankruptcy law and that's why the lady is consumed with bankers. Its never a good thing when pols are driven by their emotions and a bad personal experience. 

Bruno2
Bruno2

Looks like Joe Biden couldn't resist getting one last shot of sour grapes in:

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/epic-final-speech-joe-biden-102144882.html

"The gist of his speech was simple: At a time of "uncertainty" we must double down on the values that made Western democracies great, and not allow the "liberal world order" to be torn apart by destructive forces."

"Biden said Russia used "cyber aggression" to meddle in the U.S. election, an assertion supported by 17 U.S. intelligence agencies. He also warned that we will see further interference from Russia in the future and said the "purpose is clear" — that Putin wants to see a "collapse of the international order." 

"At a time when Trump and his advisors are talking about shaking up NATO, Biden said, we must "support our NATO allies. An attack on one is an attack on all. That can never be placed in question."

Drama much, Joe?? 

Doom classical lib
Doom classical lib

@Bruno2


What up Bruno? That medal has got to be the most undeserved medal, outside of Obama's Nobel peace prize, ever awarded. It was Joe Biden who completely flubbed the Sofa negotiations that failed and ultimately resulted in Isis running wild. Biden is likeable but is arguably one of the worst statesman evah!

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Bruno2 Apparently, you have never learned the meaning of the expression "sour grapes."

Bruno2
Bruno2

@Doom classical lib @Bruno2 That starry-eyed picture of Biden receiving the Congressional Medal of Freedom well symbolizes the obliviousness which most Libs operate under IMO.  This non-stop, hysterical, negative drumbeat since the election coming from the Libs is getting old fast.  For all of the complaining coming from the Left that Obama wasn't given a fair chance, these guys are 100 times worse. 

markmcf
markmcf

Beyond the lack of bipartisanship, the Divider in Chief took every opportunity to belittle and disparage Americans. Seriously, he rarely had an unkind word for foreign nations, their people, Muslims, refugees, illegal immigrants, and the list goes on. But no opportunity to condescend on people like me, middle class, working people who happen to believe in the Bible, family values, and yes gun rights. Comments like "I won" show his total arrogance and frankly his arrogance offends me.

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

@markmcf Never underestimate how appealing that  is to BHO's base - his ability to get under our skin.




OH:IO
OH:IO

MAJOR BREAKING NEWS! 


Politics

Kanye West Will Not Attend Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration, Source Confirms

OH:IO
OH:IO

2 days


Chilling the bubbly 

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

Enjoy the good times while they last (and remember to thank President O). Things are going to go to hell right quick.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@Eye wonder


I have nothing to thank Barry for but divisiveness, leading from behind and telling us we can keep our doctor and keep our plan. 


Oh, I forgot, one more. 


I want to thank him that there was not a smidgeon of corruption at the IRS. 



Laquedem
Laquedem

Kennesaw State offers an excellent course in macroeconomics, taught by several professors, many of whom would be considered to be quite conservative in their approach.  I believe you would acquire a sound foundation in this field that would significantly affect the way you think about how fiscal policy choices should be exercised in the wake of an economic shock that significantly reduces aggregate demand and drives interest rates to close to zero.  I think you'd find the course both interesting and stimulating.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

For the cons and their conned, recorded history began in January 2009.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

W spent about $19 trillion in eight years, Obama about $29.6 trillion.

Economic growth and family income were higher on W's watch.

Discuss.

Caius
Caius

@Lil_Barry_Bailout Neither W or O spent a dime.  All spending is by congress.

In the year ending 9/3016 congress approved a budget spending $4 trillion with $3.5 trillion in revenue.  Congress then borrowed the $500 billion shortage they had created.

Just the way things work.


SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Good job Kyle, you have the left wing Dem posters throwing their hissy fits and it's entertaining to watch.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Betsy Devos, like all Americans that want to use federal dollars to promote religion, sucks manure through a garden hose.  She's just another social conservative, just another traitor to her country.


Betsy Devos - just say no.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@breckenridge Seeing your favorite Democratic Senators on TV tells me your Party is in trouble for a long time. Example is Sen. Colonel Sanders, Sen. Al Frankenstein, and Sen. Pocahontas!

lighteredknot
lighteredknot

I won, was what muslim obama, told McCain.  obama's Hope was to move USA to communism. His Change was  to  inundate USA with muslims. He has accomplished that. obama's damage to USA, and the middle east,  by pulling troops from Iraq and allowing the islam isis to make huge headway, and to totally enable Iran to be given  funds and lift sanctions, will allow Iran to be nuclear very soon.  The weight of the debt and deficits will bring the breach point to America soon.  DJT's election, can not turn the ship back.  America is  now fiscally, and morally, undeclared bankrupt.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Demand Protest is the largest private grassroots support organization in the United States. We pay people already politically motivated to fight for the things they believe. You were going to take action anyways, why not do so with us!


We are currently seeking operatives to help send a strong message at upcoming inauguration protests.

PLEASE NOTE: You will be required to attend an in-person workshop and sign our standard non-disclosure agreement.

As a Demand Protest operative you will receive a monthly retainer of $2,500 on top of our standard per-event pay of $50/hr, as long as you participate in at least 6 events a year. We are extremely flexible and can work with almost any existing work schedule. Full-time operatives receive health, vision and dental insurance for families, flexible vacations, and paid trainings. Travel expenses are always paid.

All operatives have access to our 24/7 phone helpdesk in addition to in-person support at events.



If you do not understand what is wrong with this^^, you do not need to read any further. Who is financing this? The clintons? soros? What anti American hate group would pay people to protest the peaceful transfer of power known as the Inauguration? Do you not understand that paid protesters do not represent legitimate concerns of those who would protest without pay? Are you blooming idiots?

http://virginiabeach.backpage.com/MiscJobs/get-paid-fighting-against-trump/20851287

MDK2014
MDK2014

@AndyManUSA#45 This is totally fake as are the other so called protest groups...the same propaganda that said Trump would never be elected president.

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

"I won".

Reminded me of W's comment in November '04 shortly after winning his second term in office: "Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it".

Something about the flush of victory seems to incite pols to make these haughty remarks that don't withstand the test of time too well.

bu22
bu22

@stogiefogey So one said it in a classy way and Obama trash-talked.  Sounds like Obama spent too much time on the basketball court.

DrinkingAtNoon
DrinkingAtNoon

Nothing makes me happier than knowing that the braindead left has to live under President Trump. 


Suck it, losers. 

Spinoza
Spinoza

@DrinkingAtNoon The "losers" will be people like you who voted for a vacuum of a person with zero qualifications for political office.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@Spinoza @DrinkingAtNoon And a Community Organizer was qualified for political? Admit it, for once in your life, OBama was elected due to the color of his skin and nothing more?

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

Doomed?  It sounds like you are hoping Kyle.  In fact, most of the provisions of the Patient Protection Act are very likely to be preserved or be demanded for reinstatement if some knucklehead decides to discontinue them. Also, the historians are going to see that America finally adopted Universal coverage somewhere along the line - initiation credited to Obama - and Obama's real accomplishment will be in preventing total collapse of the American financial system - and probably the world's.  Kyle, memory and research should be a feature of any journalist attempting a regular column, otherwise one ends up with the mistakes you frequently make. 

DrinkingAtNoon
DrinkingAtNoon

@Ralph-43


Sounds like you need a diaper change, cupcake. Obama destroyed your democrat party. 

Spinoza
Spinoza

This guy is a intellectually second rate little ideologue who would never have been employed by a newspaper before they experienced their decline in the face of advocacy and propaganda sources of cable television and the Internet. The ignorance of this man is breathtaking and reminds one of the fool who is about to take up residence in the White House.


I recall his "review" or rather promotion of a laughable piece of propaganda masquerading as a film by Dinesh D'Souza which "exposed" Obama. He didn't even know who D'Souza was and cited him as the "president of a Christian college."  Yes, an unaccredited college which he left after he had a mistress and later convicted of making illegal campaign contributions. The employment of this little punk is one of the reasons I dropped the AJC altogether and just read some national papers and foreign press.

 

DrinkingAtNoon
DrinkingAtNoon

@Spinoza


Do the world a favor and please retake remedial English. You chastise Kyle yet you have some of the worst grammar I've ever read on his blog. You make Al Gore's dung look like Albert Einstein. 


Get a life, cupcake. 

Spinoza
Spinoza

@DrinkingAtNoon @Spinoza Get a brain. You can't argue or offer any rational criticism which seems to be the hallmark of the American right these days.  Hence, a fool like Trump, the laughing stock of the Western world.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@Spinoza While my posts show my deep disagreements with most Kyle’s columns and his arguments, I think your critique and attack are far too harsh. If nothing else, at least Kyle opposed Trump’s candidacy - that should count for something.

DrinkingAtNoon
DrinkingAtNoon

Obama has been the greatest asset to the GOP. He's the greatest gun salesman as well. 


Obama has single-handedly destroyed the democrat party. 


Thanks, Obama!