The Obama administration spent much of its first year building the infrastructure it needed to run the country as it saw fit. Publicly its signature achievement was the passage of the The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Behind the scenes Obama was busy building a team of czars and department heads that would do his bidding. Men and women, many of whom had resumes that would not in normal situations make them eligible for a security clearances, were put in charge to run major parts of the federal government. In fact some of the picks for his czars seem to be downright strange from a qualifications standpoint but of course made perfect sense from an ideological one.
As pointed out in Part 1, Obama seemed showed little interested in building coalitions his first two years, just exercising power and pushing limits. He told Republicans elections have consequences and brushed them aside to concentrate on his agenda. An agenda made all the more easier by the financial crisis. Obama’s adviser at the time, Rahm Emmanuel, said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste”. He would go on to explain himself by saying “this crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.” It is uncertain which was more frightening, his statement or the explanation. In either case it for certain President Obama took his friends advice to heart.
During Obama’s second year he tried to capitalize on the fact he now had in place the lackeys he needed to propel his policies forward with or without congressional approval. Even though his party still had majorities in both houses the existence of conservative Democrats facing reelection was becoming more and more of a nuisance to him. If the congress wouldn’t pass cap and trade he would just institute the same restrictions through the EPA. If the congress and the courts got in the way of his scheme to regulate the internet he would just have the FCC declare the internet a type of phone service and put his scheme in place anyway. If congress said go ahead with offshore drilling he would simply not let it happen.
It seemed the rule of the day was what Obama wants Obama gets, at least that was the philosophy his administration seemed to be following. Americans for Prosperity created the chart below to illustrate the power expansion Obama was pulling off with little opposition. Like King George III’s attitude toward Parliament, if congress was willing to go along the better but he was not going to let their objections get in the way of his plans.
Of course the President did much more then go around the congressional objections, many times he didn’t even bother with them at all. Why when you have a vast network of executive office agencies that the founders never imagined at your finger tips. Through these agencies the Obama administration implemented a two prong strategy that was meant to advance his hope and change agenda. The strategy can be summed up in two words, finance and regulation.
First in this time period of rampant spending that has seen the deficit grow by a third under his leadership and U.S. credit rating get downgraded twice the administration funneled billions of dollars into pet programs, mostly in the energy sector. In the name of jobs and energy security he ended up sacrificing both by squandering money on ill conceived green energy projects and political cronyism thinly disguised as stimulus projects. Most people have heard of Solyndra but it was just the tip of an iceberg of wasted tax dollars by the Obama administration on various projects. Many of of these were touted as shovel ready job creators. In the end most were neither shovel ready nor did they produce many jobs. Something Obama famously joked about later, as if billions of wasted dollars was a laughing matter. The only real debate here is which wasted more money, the administration’s failures or what it touted as successes.
Secondly he used the regulatory authority of the agencies under his control to stifle energy production, increase regulatory burdens, shut down new projects that didn’t fit his agenda and give unions new powers against employers. As business leaders became more and more under fire by the Obama administration agencies they also found themselves being demonized by the President. President Obama was becoming the most anti-business president since FDR. At the same time he was claiming he was doing all he could to create jobs; of course the only jobs he was successful at creating were government jobs.
All of this did not come without a political price. The summer of 2010 can easily be called the summer of voter discontent. From sea to shining sea congressmen were inundated with constituents that were mad as hell. The uprising actually started in 2009 as a reaction to the bailouts of Wall Street and those who bought houses they knew they couldn’t afford. Although Democrats tried to label the uprising as manufactured the truth was the anger was very real. The President and the Democrats had been trampling over desires of the public and putting the country’s financial future at risk and the people knew it. This movement took itself a name from a rant by CNBC host Rick Santelli against the bailout excesses. His anger hit a chord with many others who were feeling the same way. In the video he suggested everyone go down to the river and have a Tea Party protest and with those words a new movement got a name.
The Tea Party was in reality not a party at all, just groups of citizens who were saying they were mad as hell and were not going to take it anymore. They were made up of all races and from both parties. They also took on candidates from both parties. The commonality of these many groups from around the U.S. was to drive the country back towards constitutionally limited and fiscally responsible government; something the mainstream media and the Democrats would try to label as extremism. When the extremist label didn’t work they tried to label them racist. One thing the Democrats nor the media never picked up on is much of what the Tea Party was saying was identical to what they were complaining about George Bush just a couple of years before. It would be an imperial hypocrisy that would fly right over their heads. They also never understood that many of the Tea Party folks had little respect for many of Bush’s policies either. To them Bush was bad but Obama was much, much worse!
In the end the Tea Party would throw out candidates of both parties and deliver Obama a crushing defeat. Of course the defeat just meant that now Obama would have to act even more unilaterally then ever.
If this made you think pass it on