Barack Obama has never had a limited view of his importance to America. This is a man who wrote two - two - books about himself before he ever held a real job. His nomination made his wife finally feel pride in her country. On the last night of the primary season in 2008, this humble man proclaimed, “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
So it should come as no surprise that President Obamafeels that America’s institutions, developed over 200-plus years, are inadequate to give most Americans a “fair chance” in life. In a major speech in a Kansas high school, Mr. Obama told us too many Americans no longer can become part of the middle class, whether or not they play by the rules. He blames not himself, of course, but large corporations and wealthy interests, many of which also contribute to his campaign. America has pioneered democracy, the rule of law, free-market economics and the Bill of Rights, but Mr. Obama thinks it’s our system that denies most Americans a “fair chance” to succeed.
A better answer is that the blame for our terrible economy and lack of upward mobility lies directly at the feet of the Obama administration. For two years, a pliant Democratic Congress enacted virtually his entire agenda. He got his stimulus bill, which didn’t create any permanent jobs. He got Obamacare, which threatens to explode the deficit and ration health care. His financial “reform” bill gives government bureaucrats more control over our financial system without touching the real culprits of the mortgage crisis, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If Americans are having trouble attaining the American dream, it’s less because of our country’s shortcomings and more because of Mr. Obama’s awful economic policies.
America was the first nation in the history of the world to provide a system in which the government is accountable to the people, not the other way around. Born in a world of kings, queens and dictators, the American Constitution was a radical experiment in a republican form of government. The founders added to that a Bill of Rights that guaranteed basic freedoms, freedom of the press, speech and religion in a world where the concept of individual rights was foreign. Finally, the American system codified the rule of law under which everyone is equal before the law and has an equal opportunity to succeed - ideas in stark contrast to the ad hoc legal systems and mercantilist philosophies of the day.
Yet according to our president, the American system is not working. Large corporations and wealthy individuals conspire to deny Americans economic opportunity. The president’s rhetoric is virtually the same as that of the sometimes-violent and always chaotic “Occupy” movement. Desperate politicians, especially those seeking re-election, can cause much mischief, and their grand schemes can undo much of the progress that we have achieved all of these years. If we aren’t moving forward, it’s not because of America’s political and economic system, but because Mr. Obama has taken a bad situation and remarkably managed to make things worse.
In his desire to remake America in his own image, Mr. Obama fails to realize that progress is not guaranteed, but rather predicated on a system that has been enshrined in our Constitution: a government of limited powers where individuals acting in their own self-interest increased prosperity and opportunity for everyone. Ours was a government of limited powers where Congress could act only pursuant to a power specifically mentioned in the Constitution. Likewise, government set the rules of the game but allowed the private sector to compete to provide products and services most desired by the people. The resulting economic competition guaranteed that consumers would be king and that markets would function effectively and efficiently.
In the Age of Obama, this has all been reversed. In Mr. Obama’s America, government can and must do everything, including dictating the kind of health care every American must buy. Likewise, Mr. Obama thinks the private sector cannot be trusted to run anything more than a corner Starbucks, so government must control the commanding heights of the economy, especially key sectors such as energy production and financial services.
But it hasn’t worked out well at all. We are still stuck with record-high unemployment. Deficits are spinning out of control. Mr. Obama rails at “millionaires and billionaires” not paying their fair share, but confiscating all their wealth wouldn’t come close to paying for his spending binge. The result is the worst economic record of any president since the Great Depression.
So who is preventing everyone in America from having a fair chance to succeed? Is it the small-business owner, who is not hiring and growing because he can’t figure out government’s next capricious move? Or is it an administration led by a desperate incumbent who makes things worse with every ill-conceived move to advance his re-election?
Thomas Jefferson noted, “The government that governs least governs best.” That philosophy has been good advice for 200 years, far better than Mr. Obama’s ad hoc justifications for the failures of his administration.
Frank Donatelli is chairman of GOPAC, the center for educating and electing a new generation of Republican leaders.