- The Washington Times - Monday, January 21, 2013

In the 1946 film, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” an angel appears to the suicidal George Bailey to show him what the world would look like had he never been born. Bailey learns his friends and neighbors would be dead, living sinful lives or in financial ruin had he not been around to help over the years. With President Obama’s first term officially behind us, it’s worth considering what the United States would be like today had someone else taken the ceremonial oath of office.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projections from January 2009 expected the 2012 deficit to be $264 billion, but Mr. Obama put us on a different trajectory. His guiding hand has brought the nation closer to financial ruin with a deficit of $1.1 trillion last year. By the time the next president delivers his inaugural address, our debt will have doubled from $10.6 trillion in 2009 to more than $20 trillion.

Mr. Obama promised “hope and change” without delivering either to those struggling to find work. Today’s unemployment rate of 7.8 percent is as high as it was when Mr. Obama came to office. There are 23 million people unemployed, underemployed or who have simply given up looking for work.

Thanks to Mr. Obama’s policies, 994,000 construction jobs and 757,000 jobs in manufacturing have been lost. Long-term unemployment benefits keep being extended because 5 million have found themselves out of work for over six months. It’s no wonder this grim economy has left 46 million people on food stamps.

Without a President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may have actually produced a budget. The Nevada Democrat has avoided his legal duty by hiding behind Mr. Obama’s Oval Office desk. A clear decision from the House and Senate on budget priorities would have replaced the current system of backroom deals, forcing Democrats to be more open about their massive spending proposals. In this scenario, the United States would have found itself more on track to getting its finances in order.

Had Mr. Obama never arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., we wouldn’t have socialized health care now. Obamacare may turn out to be the most enormous expansion of the federal government into people’s private lives. It’s already making things worse with health care premiums on the rise and choices and quality on the decline. It will only get worse when fully implemented in 2014.

To make matters worse, the Democratic law created $820 billion in new taxes to fund the mandate. These levies come on top of the income and investment tax hikes Mr. Obama forced Congress to pass on Jan. 1 to pay for his spending.

A quick recap of the phrases we would not have seen on the front pages of newspapers if not for Mr. Obama’s presidency: Operation Fast and Furious, Obamacare, war on coal, Solyndra, “flexibility,” Benghazi, moratorium on drilling in the Gulf, “you didn’t build that,” assault weapons ban, Sandra Fluke, “shovel ready” and the Buffett rule.

In the Frank Capra movie, Mr. Bailey sees the world without him as one where people die, go broke and feel desolate. By contrast, the United States without Mr. Obama as president looks like a very prosperous place.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.