So I was reading this week's issue of The Economist and it brought up some pretty good points. Before discussing, we must realize that yes, Obama is a liberal, and he will set forth liberal agendas, so accept that. Please don't argue over conservative/liberal principles, think in a liberal mindset.
- Stabilizing the Financial System
Obama's team resisted calls to take public ownership of banks and opted instead for a regime of stress tests... controversial, but it seemed to work. American banks are now better capitalized than they have been for decades. Also, for the car industry, Obama gave GM $50 billion in return for 61% of its shares, but the firm had to declare bankruptcy and fire its managers. This seems to have worked: both firms (GM and Chrysler) are back in profit, and the gov't intends to dispose of its stake.
When it was terrible two years ago, the banks had stopped lending and there was no consumer confidence. So on to the stimulus bill it was. According to the non-partisan CBO, far more people would have been out work work in an unstimulated America. However, post-stimulus recovery has faltered and unemployment stubbornly refuses to fall. That is why liberals in Congress wanted an even bigger stimulus. But, did anyone expect the economy to be in tip-top shape only two years from 2008? I certainly didn't.
Compels every citizen to buy health insurance or you get a fine. In return, the poorest buyers get a subsidy. And in return for receiving 30m previously uninsured people, insurances companies are obliged to offer more generous coverage (not denying customers on previous conditions, or putting a cap on how much health care they will pay over a lifetime). However, it does little to tackle soaring health care costs. Republicans, rightfully so, argue that it is unconstutional, because they ask, does the constitution give feds the power to force citizens to buy insurance they do not want?
Lastly, you don't see Dems boasting about health care because of the way it was passed. Obama came into office vowing to expunge the way Washington works in terms of how they passed bills, but when Obama realized that the health care effort was too big to fail, he resorted to all the tricks: appeasing special interests (hospital/pharmaceuticals industry), pork to wavering allies, and then resorting to the questionable budget procedure to defeat a filibuster. The Republicans felt it was 'rammed through' against the people's wishes.
... As for Republicans being the party of 'no', Eric Cantor (Republic whip in the House), said their unanimous rejection showed that they were the "adults in the room at a reckless liberal blowout on the taxpayers' dime."
Obama still has a bunch of stuff he vowed to fix, but hasn't: immigration reform, action on global warming, a faster exist for Afghanistan, the advancement of gay rights (Don't Ask Don't Tell), and Guantanamo.
So that about sums it up. Obama has definitely made mistakes, some minor, some major (major being how he focused on health care for an entire year at a time when his focus should be put into the economy). But it is very possible, even if the Democrats are screwed tomorrow at the elections, that he can get his mojo back and get a better economy going.
I give Obama a C+. A for effort, though.