President Obama told Oprah Winfrey that he deserves a "solid B-plus" for his accomplishments as president so far, and that if health care reform passes, that would raise his grade to an A-minus. This is bold talk from a man who has made history by achieving the lowest approval rating of any modern president at this point in his presidency. But if you like a government-run economy, astronomical deficits and a weakened America, you may well give Mr. Obama high marks.
Mr. Obama campaigned as a centrist who would bring bipartisanship and responsibility to Washington. Instead, we have seen him lead a year of irresponsible spending and wildly increasing government intrusion in the lives of Americans. Mr. Obama has pushed ahead with his Big Government agenda, heedless of the wishes of the American people, and people with dissenting viewpoints have been told to shut up and rudely shut out of the process. Mr. Obama does not have a bipartisan bone in his boney body.
We have witnessed government expanding by every means available. The government took control of two of the Big Three automakers, dictated which dealerships would have to close, and rushed through an expensive "cash for clunkers" handout that mainly benefited Japanese automakers. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued an endangerment finding on carbon dioxide that opens the way for government regulation of every aspect of manufacturing, distribution and travel outside of congressional oversight.
It's not only the industrial base that has been targeted. The administration has unilaterally imposed drastic government controls on the financial sector, and Mr. Obama bragged to "60 Minutes" that he "did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street." Yet this week it was reported that his administration has agreed not to collect billions of dollars in potential taxes from Citigroup as part of a sweetheart deal with the IRS. It seems some cats are fatter than others.
The president rammed through the so-called stimulus bill, which in essence was a $787 billion budget-busting slush fund used to create make-work jobs as political payback to unions and other special interests. It was the greatest act of cronyism in American history. The president claims credit for the stimulus staving off a second Great Depression, but a February 2009 Congressional Budget Office analysis of the stimulus bill found that in the long run, the economy would have been better off had the government done nothing. CBO, by the way, is run by the Democrat-led Congress.
Mr. Obama has imposed ruinous debt on our country. When he took office a mere 11 months ago, public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product was 41 percent. After a year of Obamanomics, the number stands at 53 percent, and it is rising fast. If Mr. Obama's spending policies continue unchecked, by 2022, the United States is projected to join Sudan on the list of countries with 100 percent public debt to GDP. Mr. Obama's government-centered economic model is not sustainable.
This president's foreign policy is an utter travesty but consistent with his worldview. His major accomplishments have been to denounce the policies of his predecessors, offer apologies for perceived American misdeeds and extend the hand of friendship to dictators, rogue states and other international troublemakers. The result has been to weaken the United States on the international stage and embolden our adversaries. The only Obama policy that has shown tangible results has been continuing the expansion of the unmanned drone attacks against terrorist targets overseas, a policy implemented by President George W. Bush, for which Mr. Obama's antiwar supporters give him a failing grade.
There is still much to be done. Mr. Obama is doggedly pursuing energy legislation in part because he is a sincere global-cooling denier, but also to expand government controls in new and creative ways. The cap-and-trade bill he favors would place large sectors of the economy under de-facto government control, further hamstringing the economy and making the United States less competitive globally.
Mr. Obama's crowning achievement may be the wildly unpopular government health bill that will raise costs, increase government obligations and expenses, lower the quality of care, further bureaucratize the health care system and ultimately determine who gets the care their doctors say they need and who does not. If he can get that done, he says, he deserves an A grade.
So, for expanding government, increasing debt, diminishing America's role in international affairs and promoting state involvement in every facet of American life, Mr. Obama can give himself high marks. From our perspective, however, his report card is nothing to brag about. In economics, civics and foreign affairs, Mr. Obama has flunked every test.