By Trevor Law
During the last seven years we have seen some BIG mistakes made by both U.S. parties. For the purposes of this list, this is purely from a policy and implementation standpoint. If I made an article about major scandals it would focus on just one, or a handful of people. I am more interested in the big strategic mistakes made during the Obama era. Here are the ones that stand out the most for me.
The Stimulus, In the early day of the Obama administration the country was in really bad shape. By April 1st of 2009 the country had already lost 2 million jobs. The country looked like it was heading into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The Obama administration decided to spend 787 billion dollars on a laundry list of projects intended to get the economy growing again, or at the very least get it to stop shrinking. Here is thing … it worked, according to the congressional budget office. However, had it been bigger we might not be trapped in the slow growth sludge we have been in. Both Obama’s failure to sell it, and make the program bigger will forever linger as one of the biggest mistakes of his presidency.
Yemen Drone Strikes This one may surprise a few people but under Obama the United States has been launching hundreds of drone strikes against Al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, even killing Anwar Al-Awlaki and hundreds of fighters. Here is the thing, he had the exact opposite effect he wanted. The United States was used by the local government to launch strikes on President Saleh’s rivals as well as AQAP. and this had the effect of swelling their ranks and destabilizing the country. Now they appear to have aligned themselves with ISIS and are a major player in the civil war. In addition, Saudi Arabia just sent troops into the middle of this debacle. Oh, and for good measure there is also an Iran backed group called the Houthis in the mix as well.
The Withdrawal from Iraq Bet you didn’t see this coming did you? The United States military pulled out of Iraq in 2011 and was more or less left to fend for itself. You see the Obama administration trusted the Maliki government to not be a bunch of sectarian jerk wads. Boy was he wrong. They totally alienated the Sunnis in Iraq and the Kurds essentially pulled back so they wouldn’t have to deal with whatever happened next. During the occupation the United States were the go betweens for the various factions and could be counted on to mediate. Obama abdicated this responsibility, and combine that with the the poor preparations of their military they were just primed for a full on invasion.
The Debt Deal After the 2010 elections the GOP was swept into power with a large majority in the House of Representatives. At the time they came into office the U.S. was about to reach its borrowing limit. Since the GOP was pretty anti deficit they wanted major changes to the budget before they would do that. They actually got a deal with Obama to slash the deficit and promptly threw it all away. It depends on who you ask, but what happened was the most conservative members of the house GOP didn’t want any deal that raised taxes — at all — in anyway. So they balked and instead got…tax hikes and cuts to the military, and nothing else. You see in a last ditch effort to raise the debt ceiling Mitch McConnell and Joe Biden worked out a deal that said they would raise the debt ceiling, but would do something called a sequestration. It essentially demanded a tax raise on the wealthy and 10% cuts on ALL military programs. I have yet to meet someone who thought it was a good idea but it was thought that it was so stupid that Congress would go back and fix it later. Yeah…good job guys…
The Red Line If you are noticing a theme of really poor decisions with Obama on foreign policy then you clearly have been paying attention. In August of 2012 the President said that if President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria used chemical weapons this would be a red line that would prompt a military response. A year later Assad does just that, gassing hundreds of his own people as part of a brutal civil war. The President seemed to well…debate..with himself…in front of the world, then asked Congress if he could do it…then did zero lobbying for it to Congress…the entire thing was a mess and was only ended with the Russians proposed dismantling Syria’s ability to produce certain chemical weapons. Thus, the President said to the world “I don’t care that you kill thousands of innocent civilians, but by God you had better not use WMDs to do it!”
The shut down This could be the single dumbest thing I have ever seen a political party do in my lifetime. To try and keep Obamacare from occurring the GOP, and really just the most conservative members of the GOP, refused to fund the entire government if Obamacare went through. Well Senate Democrats and President Obama said in very clear terms that will never happen, so the GOP shut the government down. Even Boehner and McConnell thought it was stupid but knew a lot of their members wanted to give it a try. To make it even more embarrassing the rollout of Obamacare was a disaster and the website just kept crashing, but instead of the media focusing on that, they got a nice, self destructive gift from the GOP.
The GOP’s response to Obamacare Way back in 2009 the GOP was able to rally the country into a repeal of Obamacare, and boy howdy did it work. They made huge gains in 2010 and could’ve really forced major changes to the bill, but…instead…they kept trying to repeal it…over and over and over again. You see they failed to take the Senate and the President was still…well in the White House. They thought if they could simply keep repealing Obamacare that the country would elect them to the Senate and the White House. Had they tried to get changes to the bill and leveraged their new found control over the House they might have been able to do just that, but instead, they sought total victory or nothing else…and got nothing.
Obamacare Wow what are freaking travesty this was. So in 2009 when this bill was being introduced the Democrats had several versions. They went back and forth over what to do and which version to go with so they decided on the most complex version that was written by Max Baucus, or…as he is known by me, the insurance industry’s best friend. Essentially the left wanted a big reform to the healthcare industry, and while it is reducing the cost of healthcare, albeit slowly, it is doing it more on the backs of the American people, and less on actually getting the cost of Healthcare under control. This is a huge missed opportunity on the Democrat’s part and I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next decade Democrats don’t repeal, or heavily modify the law themselves.
The Immigration deal This is another case of the GOP wanting it all and getting nothing. In 2013 the Senate was able pass a bipartisan bill reforming immigration. It provided a pathway to citizenship for non violent immigrants and would’ve saved the United States over a trillion dollars over 20 years. So what happened? The most conservative members of the house balked at the deal and Boehner refused to let it get a vote on the House floor. To add insult to injury the House could never offer an alternative and so immigration reform died then and there. Had it passed the United States would’ve saved hundreds of billions in the first 10 years, tripled border security and the GOP could have made a real effort to win over the Latino vote.
So what do I take away from this? One President Obama and the United States seem to have no idea what they are doing on foreign policy, and two the GOP has no idea how to govern themselves or the country…so…yeah that is actually pretty horrifying.