- - Thursday, October 3, 2013

The quality of life in the United States has fallen dramatically in the Age of Obama, eroding the American dream, suffocating our economy, making jobs ever harder to come by.

Instead of uniting our country in one common purpose, President Obama has divided us by making class warfare one of the major weapons in his politics. He came into office with our nation sinking into a deep recession from which it has never fully recovered. He has talked endlessly about delivering good-paying, full-time jobs for everyone, but has never successfully delivered on his promise to do so. Not even close.

No issues before the American people are more critically important than the continuing decline of the once-mighty U.S. economy and the dimming of the American dream. These issues, however, have been effectively eclipsed by the fight over the government shutdown in an effort to force Mr. Obama to give in to GOP demands that he delay the start of Obamacare, or make major changes in its dictatorial provisions.

The so-called Affordable Health Care Act is imposing many regulations, taxes, penalties and costly regulations on the economy and businesses that will kill jobs. Indeed, it is already doing so, as small businesses lay off workers or cut back on their hours to skirt the threshold number of full-time employees and avoid providing them with health insurance.


No one’s talking about this, or the other troublesome economic repercussions in Obamacare. The discussion in much of the country and in the news media is all about the government shutdown; about programs and agencies that have ceased operations; about tourists who cannot enter government landmarks and national parks; and about the economic impact on the country.

In their refusal to send a “clean” continuing resolution to the Senate to fund the government, House Republicans hoped it would spark a needed debate over Obamacare, that it would lead to a one-year delay in its mandates and maybe a chance to take control of the Senate in 2014. That hasn’t happened. Instead, the political debate is all about the shutdown.

As I predicted in my previous column, the news is saturated with sad stories about workers who have been furloughed without pay and unable to pay the rent. Aged World War II veterans, making perhaps one last trip to their marble memorial on the Mall, found that it was fenced off. Food-safety inspectors are off the job and national-security analysts are not at their posts. The stock market is tanking on fears that this shutdown may last longer than expected, hurting the economy and in the process, shrinking retirement funds. These and other factors have blotted out any discussion about the Obama economy, high unemployment, slow job creation and weak economic growth.

In a perverse way, the battle over the shutdown has handed Mr. Obama a gift, a temporary reprieve from what is and has been his biggest failure as president. It has also helped him target Republicans, whom he relentlessly blames for all the ills that now beset the government, the country and his presidency. Mr. Obama brought in some of Wall Street’s top leaders to a White House briefing Wednesday, and they dutifully went before the cameras to warn of a looming catastrophe — especially if Congress doesn’t raise the debt limit before Oct. 17 and the government is forced to default on paying some of its debts.

He effectively blunted charges he wouldn’t meet with House and Senate leaders by calling lawmakers in late Wednesday. The meeting was “cordial but unproductive,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. No surprise there.

Mr. Obama has the bully pulpit in this fight and is using it for all it’s worth, while Republicans seemed unusually mute and confused about how to respond. If Obamacare is truly as harmful to the economy and the government’s future solvency, as I believe it is, then where were the arguments saying so? House Speaker John A. Boehner’s podium is no match for the White House pulpit and the unending TV reports of America’s government shutting down.

There is plenty of evidence showing how Obamacare hurts our economy, as reports have come in from across the land of employers reducing their hiring and health care premiums rising faster than workers’ incomes. However, it is nearly impossible to find any Republican in Congress who can fashion a compelling indictment of the Obama administration’s five-year record on the economy.

In his day, the late, great Jack Kemp effectively delivered the tax-cut arguments for stronger job growth, using John F. Kennedy’s anti-class warfare declaration that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” President Reagan embraced Kemp’s ideas for a rebirth of American capitalism that led us out of a severe recession in two short years. Republicans should be pounding Mr. Obama daily over his painfully lackluster economy, and dishing out the figures showing how Obamacare will make it much worse.

A Washington Post-Miller Center Poll late last month revealed a large majority of Americans have a much dimmer view of their economic future. Three-fourths of those polled said it’s harder to “find good jobs,” 71 percent said it’s harder to “save for retirement,” 66 percent said it’s harder to “get ahead financially,” and 54 percent said it’s harder to “find decent, affordable housing.”

Mr. Obama is not getting the level of blame he deserves for the economic hardships these Americans are enduring. It’s time for Republicans to take off the gloves and start hitting back harder in this shutdown fight. They’ve got some powerful ammunition but, tragically, they’re not using it.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.