May 2013

The Most Ideological President

by John Hendrickson

Robert W. Merry, who is editor of The National Interest and a noted historian, recently wrote that “the greatest myth in American politics today is the view, perpetrated by the Democratic Left and elements of the news media, that Barack Obama is a political moderate.”[1] As Merry argues:

In truth he represents an ideology that is barely within the American mainstream as understood over two and a quarter centuries of political experience. Indeed, the crisis of American politics in our time is a crisis of political deadlock, and it is a deadlock born largely of the President’s resolve to push an agenda for which he has no clear national consensus.[2]

John R. Lott Jr., a noted economist and author of More Guns, Less Crime among other books, has recently published At The Brink: Will Obama Push Us Over the Edge?[3] At The Brink is an examination of President Obama’s policies including the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the economy and fiscal policy, regulatory policy, and gun control. All of these major policy areas are being transformed by the President’s policies. As Lott argues:

What makes [President] Obama different is that he truly believes that the government is the solution to our problems. He actually wants more government spending, more regulations, more gun control. He simply does not rate individual freedom very highly.[4]

In dealing with the Great Recession the policies implemented by the President and Democrats in Congress have failed to bring out a solid economic recovery. Unemployment continues to remain high, uncertainty remains as an albatross on the economy, and the fiscal crisis is worsening as the national debt, close to $17 trillion, and deficits continue to demonstrate that the nation faces a spending problem rather than a revenue problem.

Lott argues that the nation “can blame Obama’s dismal economic record on his misguided principles,” and he compares the record of President Ronald Reagan, who “was able relatively to get America out of a recession that in many ways was even worse than that of 2008.”[5]  Currently the weak economy has escalated the number of people receiving both food stamps and increased the amount of people claiming disability.[6] It is clear that slow economic growth, high unemployment, and the increasing demand for welfare services demonstrates that the “recovery” is very fragile.

President Obama’s fiscal policies continue to call for more stimulus spending or “investment” in various sectors of the economy including green energy, transportation and infrastructure, and education. The Keynesian economic policies, first seen with the massive $825 billion stimulus, failed to resolve the jobs crisis.[7] The President’s policies, just as with the massive Keynesian-style spending utilized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, demonstrate that the federal government cannot spend itself out of an economic crisis.

Adding to the poor economic recovery is what Lott correctly describes as President Obama’s “war on business” as seen through his increase in regulations and in the regulatory power of government.[8] New regulations have been imposed in regard to health care (Affordable Care Act), environment, and the financial sector (Dodd-Frank), but as Lott argues, “we should not forget how Obama is transforming the country through a multitude of smaller regulations that for the most part have passed unseen.”[9] “All in all, Obama’s regulatory regime makes running a business more costly and will make markets more rigid, argues Lott.”[10]

President Obama is also following a policy of higher taxation and spending. His rhetoric is based on class warfare by attacking the “wealthy Americans” and asking them to “pay their fair share” in higher taxes. President Obama has also escalated federal spending:

During [President] Obama’s first four years in office, publically held debt increased by $5.5 trillion. And there is no let-up in sight. If the administration has its way, the debt will grow by another $8 trillion in the decade from 2013 to 2022. When [President] Obama took office, publically held debt stood at $20,600 per person. At the end of his first term it had almost doubled to over $37,000 per person. That figure is projected to grow to almost $49,000 by the end of his second term. That’s $195,000 for a family of four.[11]

As Lott argues “the federal government of the United States is ensnared in a fiscal crisis not because it doesn’t take enough from its citizens in taxes, but because it spends too much.”[12] The Affordable Care Act, increase in regulations, high taxes and spending, have all contributed to the dismal economic recovery and high unemployment.

At The Brink provides a substantial policy analysis of President Obama’s major policies that are transforming America, which is detrimental to our constitutional system. As Lott explains:

The United States has been on this unsustainable course for quite a while. What’s new is that a true left-wing ideologue is in charge. The one prediction we can make with confidence is that [President] Obama will try to impose a top-down government ‘solution’ for every problem we face. By the end of his second term, we could be left not only with a mountain of debt but also with expanded groups of people who think they ‘deserve’ a government handout. It is going to be very difficult to reverse course.[13]

President Obama’s fiscal policies, overhaul of the healthcare system, expansion of the regulatory state, use of executive power, and his crusade against the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms, all represent the serious nature of the need to restore constitutional limited government. By writing At The Brink, John R. Lott Jr., has provided citizens with a clear and concise review of President Obama’s policies and the need to return back to the constitutional principles that guided past Presidents such as Ronald Reagan.

John R. Hendrickson is a Research Analyst at Public Interest Institute.

The views expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of Public Interest Institute or Tax Education Foundation. They are brought to you in the interest of a better-informed citizenry.

[1] Robert W. Merry, “The myth of a moderate Obama,” The National Interest, May 1, 2013, <http://nationalinterest.org/article/the-myth-moderate-obama-8376> accessed on April 26, 2013.

[2] Ibid.

[3] John R. Lott, At The Brink: Will Obama Push Us Over the Edge? Regnery Publishing, Washington, D.C., 2013.

[4] Ibid., p. xii.

[5] Ibid., p. xiii.

[6] John Merlin, Record 8.9 million people now on disability, Investor’s Business Daily, April 25, 2013, <http://news.investors.com/042513-653555-disability-rolls-continue-to-explode.htm> accessed on April 26, 2013.

[7] Lott, p. 63.

[8] Ibid., p. 151.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid., p. 208.

[12] Ibid., p. 211.

[13] Ibid., p. 215.