- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2011

With President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, in charge, liberalism took a big step forward on the domestic front in 2010. Fortunately, the public’s icy response to big government’s advance means the new year represents the perfect opportunity to take two steps back toward fiscal responsibility.

Consider Mr. Obama’s signature achievement, the nationalization of health care. A Democratic Congress rammed through the first draft of Obamacare on Christmas Eve in 2009 having shut Republicans - and the public - out of the process entirely. Mr. Obama signed the final version of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act into law on March 23, and ever since the scheme has been on life support. In August, 71 percent of Missouri voters approved a ballot measure blocking implementation at the state level. Arizona and Oklahoma voters followed with state constitutional amendments accomplishing the same goal. In the wake of Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli’s court victory striking down the individual mandate last month, a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey indicated that 60 percent of the public opposed having the government force people to buy health insurance.

The failure of Mr. Obama’s Keynesian economic policies to restart a stagnant economy represents 2010’s other big story. The year opened with unemployment at 9.7 percent, but doling out cash during the downturn was supposed to kick-start the economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. According to the White House, a total of $585.8 billion in entitlements, contracts, loans and targeted tax breaks from 2009’s so-called “stimulus” bill had been handed out as of Dec. 18. A CNN poll in January found that 63 percent believed the “stimulus” money was allocated for political purposes and provided no economic benefit. The public was right, as the unemployment rate was a tick higher - 9.8 percent - by year’s end. Of course, the stimulus spending spree came at a great cost, with Congress borrowing $1.3 trillion from future generations. Mr. Obama made that possible on Feb. 12 when he signed legislation raising the debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion. As astonishing as that figure might seem - it represents a cost of $157,564 for each American who paid taxes - Mr. Obama will likely need to raise it again before March.

Despite the scale of Uncle Sam’s intervention, most Americans felt they weren’t getting their money’s worth. Mr. Obama’s bungled response to the massive Gulf coast oil spill from a company that once billed itself as “Beyond Petroleum” offers a case in point. The president’s own commission examined what happened and reported in October that, “the federal government created the impression that it was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem.”

Even though 2010 was filled with many such examples of Big Brother’s failure, Mr. Obama did his best to expand his reach. By Thanksgiving, even the most intimate parts of travelers were not out-of-bounds as the Transportation Security Administration installed X-rated x-ray machines at airports and instituted mandatory gropings for anyone who complained about the privacy invasion. Even the virtual world felt Mr. Obama’s touch as the Federal Communications Commission took the first step toward government regulation of the Internet.

These heavyhanded policies enhanced Mr. Obama’s reputation for being arrogant and out of touch, and his party paid the price at the ballot box. Republicans will add 63 members to the House of Representatives this week. The Senate will swear in hardcore, Tea Party-inspired fiscal hawks. The new year promises an exciting showdown between these newcomers and the big spending business-as-usual types.