It is a cardinal mistake in any competition, be it sports or politics - and politics is a competition of ideas - to underestimate your opponent. All too often, underestimating your opponent leads to disaster. I believe that America, especially America’s political class, is vastly underestimating President Obama; and if we continue to do so, it will be a disaster for America. Specifically, I am worried about the growing political story line that the Obama administration is “failing” because they are just inexperienced and the president is simply “in over his head.”
It is true that Mr. Obama never held an executive position in his life prior to being elected to the presidency. It is true that Mr. Obama had only three years (2005-2008) in the U.S. Senate prior to going to the White House, and it is true that Mr. Obama had just seven years of experience (1997-2004) in the Illinois state Senate - where he cast more than 130 “present” votes rather than go on the record on contentious issues. However, we should be under no illusion that the president’s lack of leadership experience means he is “in over his head” or that he does not know what he is doing.
Mr. Obama knows precisely what he is doing: He is changing America into his vision of a European-style socialist utopia where the government controls every aspect of our lives. Consider the facts, since taking office, Mr. Obama has taken control of the student loan industry, the health care industry, the banking and financial sectors, and he orchestrated the bankruptcy and reorganization of two-thirds of the American automotive industry, leaving his political allies in the labor movement in effective control of the companies and allowing the administration to dictate the industry’s direction.
Although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi could not strong-arm enough Democrats to pass legislation to allow the president to take control of our energy sector, the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency is aggressively rewriting and reinterpreting environmental regulations to accomplish the same end result: government control of energy.
The pattern is unmistakable: Every solution proposed by the Obama administration to every problem is more government control. That is the textbook definition of socialism: “Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
Putting aside the fact that socialism is absolutely incompatible with the philosophy that made America a world superpower - limited government, light regulations, low taxes and maximum labor-market flexibility - the problem with socialism, as Margaret Thatcher famously said, is “that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” If you don’t believe this statement is true, how do you explain the sovereign debt crisis threatening to destroy the European Union?
While America’s debt crisis cannot be laid entirely at the feet of Mr. Obama, the fact is that in pursuit of his socialist agenda, he has accelerated the crisis with his reckless spending. The federal budget deficit in 2008, the last year before Mr. Obama took office, was $458.6 billion. The projected deficit for 2011 is $1.5 trillion - 323 percent higher than the nation’s deficit in the last year before President Obama took office. The president’s budget request for fiscal 2012 would lead us to the highest-ever budget deficit, roughly $1.6 trillion.
It is not yet too late to save America from financial ruin nor is it too late to save the American way of life. But to confront these threats, we must confront reality and that means we must stop viewing the president’s policies as the innocent missteps of a man who is “in over his head.” The president is not in over his head; he knows precisely what he is doing: rushing America down the path toward socialism.
Rep. Dan Burton is a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Indiana.