I received a link to a YouTube video today. The video is a mock up of someone from 2008 interviewing their current selves and dealing with all the crushing disappointments of the Obama Administration.
“Please, please, somebody tell me where she is wrong. I really want to know!”
I’ll try to suspend my skepticism that anyone circulating this sort of propaganda is truly interested in facts, or even willing to accept them, but I’m up for the challenge anyway.
The video contains a scarcity of actual data, but there are a lot of general claims. A few are fairly accurate, many are directionally incorrect, and a few are outright false. In the opening, the 2008 woman is going on about the utopia that would surely result from 4 years under Obama. Granted, there was a lot of optimism from his supporters upon his election, but anyone who believes any President can effect a utopian transformation of the country is delusional. If you think it can be done in the midst of the second largest economic downfall in the last century, you’re just plain nuts. It’s unfair to compare Obama to some vision of Nirvana. Rather, the accurate comparison is to the alternative, a McCain administration. Unfortunately, we’ll never know what that might have been. Maybe it would be better, maybe worse, but we can be pretty sure, based on the previous 30 years of mostly Republican administrations, that it wouldn’t quite be utopia.
The initial substantive claim is that the 2012 woman’s father died because his asthma medication was outlawed. This is flat out false. No asthma medications have been outlawed. Starting this year, CFC based inhalers were banned. Keep in mind that CFC propellants have been banned since the 70s in everything else in an effort to save the ozone layer. Civilization survived. Further, HFA inhalers are available as an alternative. Same medication, same dose, different delivery mechanism.
Next is a general lament about high unemployment. There’s no doubt that unemployment remains unacceptably high. However, looking at the data, private sector employment bottomed out in early 2010 and continues to climb steadily upward. But public sector employment is plummeting at a rate the private sector in a minimally expanding economy can’t ameliorate. Look at a comparison of Bush’s first term compared to Obama’s. Bush responded to the economic downturn in 2000 with stimulus by expanding government payroll. Obama responded by slashing government jobs in favor of private sector stimulus. Hmmm…
But Obama had a super-majority! Why didn’t he fix everything? Obama’s super-majority in Congress hinged on one man, Ted Kennedy. A man who had the gall to be suffering terminal brain cancer upon Obama’s election, and who died in August of that first year. Kennedy made special and heroic returns to the Senate floor to cast votes on the stimulus and on Obamacare, but otherwise was incapacitated. After his death, Scott Brown was elected and the Obama super-majority vanished.
Oh, the executive orders! There’s no specific complaint over any specific executive orders, but the implication is that Obama is issuing them all over the place. The data from the National Archives would disagree. Obama has issued 129 EOs so far. Pro-rating that for his entire first term puts him on pace to issue 147 by January. G.W. Bush averaged 145/term. Clinton averaged 181, Bush Sr. did 165, and Reagan comes in at 190. So Obama’s on the low end of recent history.
Why didn’t the stimulus fix everything as promised? First, we have to accept the 2008 woman somehow magically knowing about the 2009 stimulus package, but I’m nit-picking. Most stimulus proponents now agree the stimulus package was not up to the task. The enormity of the economic hole was much larger than anticipated and the level of stimulus was insufficient to achieve the desired results. However, it probably was the largest package that would have been politically do-able. But even then, did it have a positive effect? There is arguably legitimate debate here, although the consensus is that the stimulus did improve things. But even if it didn’t, there’s no one claiming it did any harm excepting a brief blip in the debt curve.
Next up is the assertion that all of Obama’s investments in green energy have gone bankrupt. One company, Solyndra, went bankrupt. That’s not quite all. There’s ample room for debate on whether the government should be subsidizing commercial energy companies, but the fact remains that the vast majority of the loans have not defaulted. Further, the $535M Solyndra debacle is a relative drop in the $34B DOE loan bucket. So minimally, this claim is blowing things out of proportion.
There’s a healthcare mandate, she says with a voice dripping in desperation. Yes there is. And unless we’re content with 30-50 million Americans going without medical care or getting it by indirectly increasing the costs of those of us who do get it, there should be. Even Mitt Romney (the unwitting father of Obamacare), was recently praising the Israeli heathcare system as being cost effective—apparently unaware that it achieves those results through government controlled universal coverage. If there’s a workable alternative solution, someone should put it on the table. Otherwise…
There’s a middle class tax hike, she says. No, there isn’t. Taxes are at historic lows. That is, unless you count the Obamacare individual mandate as a tax increase, in which case they are still at historic lows. But viewing the mandate as a tax increase is a spurious argument that also requires you to acknowledge the effective tax cut the rest of get for not having to pay for the care of those without insurance through our insurance rates, paycheck deductions, and co-pays.
Obama promised transparency! Yes, he did. And the record so far is abysmal by pretty much any measure. Transparency seems to decrease year after year regardless of who’s in office. This may be a result of the 24×7 instant news culture we live in. Be that as it may, this is still our government and we have a right to know what’s going on in there.
There are loads of lobbyists in the Administration. Yes, there are, and Obama promised there wouldn’t be. This is more than a little disappointing. It may be the reality of modern government. It may be that other administrations have done much the same thing, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a fundamental campaign promise on which Obama has failed badly.
African American suffer the highest unemployment rates. Well, yes. But historically that’s always been true. That doesn’t make it a good thing, but it’s hardly a remarkable thing.
Internationally we’ve never been more hated. This is simply pants-on-fire false.
But I thought the Muslim world would follow our lead to democracy? Well, yes and no. The Arab Spring has certainly been a profound and recent movement toward democracy in much of the Muslim world. However, in many cases it has resulted in the democratic election of parties and leaders that are not so very friendly toward the USA. The unfortunate reality of letting people choose is that you may not like their choices. Nonetheless, to say they followed our path is a little ludicrous. Further, Obama didn’t promise to bring democracy to the world. That was G.W. Bush.
Instead, we’re following Europe’s lead into debt. Yes and no, but mostly no. First, we aren’t following Europe. We aren’t racking up debt because they are or because we view them as some sort of economic mentor. Second, not all of Europe is debt ridden. Greece, Italy, and Spain are at particular risk. This crises was created because of the European Economic Union, which joins all the countries’ currencies without linking their economies. This is not the situation in the USA. we are not going the way of Europe. We may still get sucked down by them, but that’s not a function of debt, just a reality of global economies. Yes, the debt in the US is unsustainable. However, current debt levels are not a result of runaway spending. Spending increases are growing slower than at any time since the 50s. Instead, what we have is an unprecedented loss of revenue as a result of tax cuts, high unemployment, and a sluggish economy. Further, the US government is currently considered the most stable financial bet on the planet. At present, the Treasury is able to sell debt at negative yields. That means people are paying the US government to keep their money safe. This is beyond free money. Yes, we can’t rack up debt forever. When the economy recovers, we absolutely need to pay it down rather than giving ourselves tax cuts like we did in 2001. But there is no evidence that debt is an emergent risk to our economy.
I recognize this has been long, and I’m flattered if you muddled through to the end. If you have any energy left, I strongly encourage you to click through and read the reference material, or dig up your own. But please, dig up facts and not emotional appeals and sound bites. The video is a cute concept, but it is a message largely without substance.