Was Obama A Successful President? (Part 1)

obama-1bI used to be a conservative. Over a decade or so, I became a moderate who saw much more value and effectiveness in a position that embraced the best of libertarian, conservative and liberal perspectives and policies. Dedicated advocates of those three rich streams in American political culture and philosophy will benefit considerably by recognizing the insights, contributions and disagreements in each other and choose to cooperate and negotiate. Extreme conservatism has been dominating a lot of political decisions in America since President Reagan’s term (whom I agree and disagree with on various points). It’s gone much too far. Extreme libertarianism is an idealistic mythology of unending freedom disconnected from the real limits regarding how basic human psychology, economics, natural resource management and sociology can actually function. Extreme liberalism can create the kinds of communist societies that Fox News tells us every day are encroaching or have already ingrained themselves into American life. The word “fearmongering” may get thrown around too often for particular people’s tastes, but some or a lot of it *is* going on here.

Political Spectrum 11

political-spectrum-8a

I have a hard time empathizing with the apparent hatred and worry that a large portion of conservatives have toward socialism (even though they almost always want to keep their medicare, social security, business subsidies, etc.). Among a wide range of degrees, all modern industrialized nations utilize both socialist and capitalist economic models (including countries with a communist history like Vietnam, China, Russia, Laos, Cuba and North Korea). This combination can work very well as long as both systems are arranged to hold each other in check and allowed to contribute their multiple strengths toward the overall health and productivity of the society. Socialism ought not to be a threatening and suspicious word in the minds of conservatives just as capitalism doesn’t have to feel like a guaranteed symbol of oppression and abuse to liberals. We should be wary of extreme forms of either method and practice diligence in developing the best socioeconomic systems. Otherwise, we can feel reasonably safe to freely engage the opportunities available without dramatic apprehension.

With all of that said, I think that most people can recognize that there have been significantly positive and negative aspects of Barack Obama’s time in office, as goes with all presidents – with some clearly being more successful than others. Unfortunately, so much fearful and distortive propaganda has been distributed regarding this president that very few people know what he has actually said and done during his administration. As is often common in politics, two very partisan narratives about Obama’s performance in office are prevalent in America and they provide a somewhat balanced or at least polarized look at this topic.  One presents accomplishments and the other brings up failures. Of course, each action or event described might be effectively re-interpreted in a remarkably different way with additional evidence and commentary that either side might not be willing to include.  The animosity against Obama, however, seems to be at least as high as any other president in the past half century or more.  This distaste for the man and his viewpoints, arguably not understood well in the populace, was in place long before he had a chance to make mistakes or produce great results as president.  An outside observer could easily assume that his opponents would not give him credit for an achievement even if it was something they had long advocated for.  Nothing he could do would be acceptable to them.  As many Republicans said during his first term, their hope was for the administration to shipwreck – the president’s political agenda was so heinous and disastrous that only all-out rejection of his intentions would be acceptable – absolutely no compromise.  Long gone was the Reagan era and preceding times when Republicans were willing to make deals in which they didn’t get everything to line up with their philosophy.  Famously, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”  When that is the main target of their efforts, one could logically wonder how much energy and willpower they would have left for governing the country and negotiating with Democrats to pass new laws as needed.   They went so far as to shut down the government instead of compromise with him on policy. Is it really true, as some liberals assert, that Republicans want Obama to fail more than they want America to succeed?  I don’t have a definitive answer for that, but they do appear excessively committed to undermining Obama on virtually everything he attempts.  They have a perception that he is a radical left-wing aspiring monarch and the rest of the world largely sees him and his actions as being moderate by international standards.  A 2014 Pew Research Center global public-opinion poll showed that outside Middle Eastern countries, where resentment of decades of U.S. intervention is high, nearly all surveyed like President Obama.  In response to this study, The Economist pointed out, “The hope that having Mr Obama in the White House would transform America’s image has largely come true.”  The Pew document explained:

“The election of Barack Obama as the 44th U.S. president in 2008 was widely approved around the world, leading to high expectations for the new American leader. His election also coincided with a dramatic jump in favorability of the United States, promising an end to the anti-Americanism  that had plagued much of Washington’s relations with the rest of the world for several years….Today, Obama remains largely popular in much of the world, except the Middle East. Half or more of the public in 28 of 44 countries surveyed has confidence in him to do the right thing in world affairs.  And his median positive rating is 56%.  In most nations the public’s assessment of Obama’s  performance is largely unchanged since 2013. His image has dropped by double-digits in five nations – Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Russia and Japan. But it has risen  appreciably in Israel and  China….Western Europeans’ views of  Obama remain fairly positive.”

global-approval-of-obama-and-u-s-2016

u-s-and-obama-global-favorability-ratings

global-approval-of-obama-clinton-trump-in-europe-2016

The same could not be said about Bush.  In December 2008, Pew offered this conclusion regarding the small level of esteem he fostered worldwide while leading the nation:

“President George W. Bush’s popularity in the United States has sunk to the level of Richard Nixon’s just before he resigned from office. The president’s standing abroad is still worse….In 2008, the Pew Global Attitudes Project asked citizens of 24 countries whether they could count on Bush to do the right thing regarding foreign affairs. Majorities in only three (India, Nigeria, and Tanzania) said they had a lot or some confidence….On the other side of the ledger, majorities in 19 of the 24 countries had little or no confidence in the American president. In the four Western European countries surveyed, majorities without much confidence ranged from 81% in Britain to 88% in Spain. In the Middle East, majorities rose as high as 89% in Turkey and Jordan. Since 2003, confidence in Bush has fallen in eight of the 14 foreign countries where trend data are available. In the remaining six countries confidence has remained relatively low.”

global-approval-of-obama-and-bush-in-western-europe-2001-2016

A large portion of the international community views the Republican Party as being more on the fringe than ever before, inviting their conservative impulses to reach the maximum setting.  Developing a fair-minded evaluation in this context can be very difficult, but it’s worth pursuing.

In Washington Monthly magazine’s March/April 2012 issue, three researchers produced a list of what they saw as Obama’s top 50 accomplishments:

Passed healthcare reform, passed the stimulus, passed Wall Street reform, ended the war in Iraq, began drawdown of war in Afghanistan, eliminated Osama bin Laden, turned around U.S. auto industry, recapitalized banks, repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, toppled Moammar Gaddafi, told Mubarak to go, reversed Bush torture policies, improved America’s image abroad, kicked banks out of federal student loan program and expanded pell grant spending, created Race to the Top, boosted fuel efficiency standards, coordinated international response to financial crisis, passed mini stimuli, began “Asia” Pivot, increased support for veterans, tightened sanctions on Iran, created conditions to begin closing dirtiest power plants, passed credit card reforms, eliminated catch-22 in pay equity laws, protected two liberal seats on the U.S. Supreme Court, improved food safety system, achieved new START treaty, expanded national service, expanded wilderness and watershed protection, gave the FDA power to regulate tobacco, pushed federal agencies to be green leaders, passed fair sentencing act, trimmed and reoriented missile defense, began post-post-9/11 builddown, let Space Shuttle die and killed planned moon mission, invested heavily in renewable technology, crafting next-generation school tests, cracked down on bad for-profit colleges, improved school nutrition, expanded hate crimes protections, avoided scandal, brokered agreement for speedy compensation to victims of Gulf Oil Spill, created recovery.org, pushed broadband coverage, expanded health coverage for children, recognized the dangers of carbon dioxide, expanded stem cell research, provided payment to wronged minority farmers, helped South Sudan declare independence, killed the F-22.

And for a super in-depth list, see “A List of 400 Accomplishments by President Obama so far…With Citations”.

The meant to be scary warnings of America’s “soon coming demise” put forward by many far right-wing leaders did not come true, although many policies were enacted that they found abhorrent. In Obama’s first term he inherited the worst financial crisis and unemployment fiasco since the Great Depression of the late 1920s-1930s. The subsequent economic recovery has been so substantial that not only is Obama’s second term already encompassing private sector job creation more than five times that of his first term, but overall it’s on pace to exceed that of Ronald Reagan’s sizable achievement in the face of another recession, although it was much less devastating than the 2007-2008 debacle.

Great Depression 1929 vs Great Recession 2007

Unemployment rate, jobs added since start of 'Great Recession', Dec 2007 thru Nov 2011

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housing-prices-2005-2016

In the first few months of 2009, Obama implemented policies that helped to stop the rise of unemployment by October 2009 and then kept stabilizing and lowering it. The stats revealed by mid-2014 that more than 6 times as many non-governmental jobs were created under Obama than Bush, 7.7 million versus 1.3 million. Obama oversaw private sector job creation for more than 70 consecutive months, the longest in U.S. history. In a startling announcement, given how devastating the 2007-2008 crash had been, news outlets reported in December 2014 that the unemployment rate was the lowest since the late 1990s.

75 consecutive months of private sector job growth

This ought not to be surprising, given the historical trend – during Democratic presidencies since Truman, the average job creation rate has consistently been significantly higher than in Republican administrations. The last three Democratic presidents, Carter, Clinton, and Obama presided over the generation of more jobs (37.3 million) in 16 years than last six republicans, including Reagan, did altogether in 40 years (33.6 million). By itself, the Clinton administration outperformed our last five Republican presidents. The big data gathering able to make these points clear is the net job gain between 1932 and 2012, revealing a massive gulf in performance between red and blue American leadership and policy – 73.4 million for Democrats and just 34.8 for Republicans. Given all of this evidence, it’s remarkable that Democrats and the media don’t present these types of statistics adamantly and perpetually in a critique and challenge to the Republicans as they continue their endless propaganda saying they’re the party of job creation.

Average number of jobs created by president, 1932-2012

Job creation facts, Republicans vs Democrats, 1932-2012

Job Growth by President, mid 1974-mid 2014

Millions of Private-Sector Jobs Created per Year, FY 1940-FY 2014

Major Stock Indexes, January 2009-July 2014

S&P 500 Index, 2009 Through Jan. 11, 2016

In contrast to his critics’ charge that he was weak on foreign policy, he actually exercised great aggressiveness against terror groups worldwide, ordered many attacks in five countries beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, promoted the increased use of drone strikes against enemies to a controversial degree and, opposite of assertions by some military supporters that Obama has been recklessly defunding and dangerously weakening our defense network, he has regularly kept expenditures very high. Regarding drone strikes, as of September 1st, 2015, Obama had ordered 370 attacks which killed approximately 3,000 people.  Many terrorists along with civilians lost their lives.  This must be kept in perspective, however, as journalist William Saletan of Slate Magazine commented, “For civilians, drones are the safest form of war in modern history.”

By President Nixon’s secret order during the Vietnam War, the military flew large scale B-52 carpet bombing missions (1969-1973) into Cambodia and Laos that caused 100,000-200,000+ deaths.  Overall, Obama and Bush have led the country during a time of more calculated and careful (though still fierce and often brutal) American military engagement. General evidence of this can be recognized since the losses in the Vietnam War (1965-1975) for both major sides were at least ten times that of the Second Iraq War (2003-2011), in conflicts that lasted close to the same number of years.  In the earlier war, North and South Vietnamese together lost 1-3 million people and 58,000 Americans were killed.  In the recent war, 100,000-300,000 Iraqis died and nearly 4,500 American lives were lost.  The War in Afghanistan (2001-2014) took almost 2,400 American lives, about 26,000 from the Afghan government forces and 25,000-40,000 of the Taliban army.  ISIS has lost more than 45,000 members through U.S.-led coalition attacks since 2014 and they’ve killed less than 100 Americans (including 4 soldiers and 50 civilians in the Orlando mass shooting in June 2016, in which the terrorist had no contact with their organization).

In contradiction to accusations continually made by Obama’s political opponents that he has been feckless and wimpy against militant Islamic extremists, consider:

1) the large number of Al-Qaeda leaders that have been eliminated under his direction, including Osama bin Laden (on whom the macho swaggering Bush spent a much smaller portion of his administration’s combat efforts)

2) the massive amount of military resources used to attack ISIS (through Operation Inherent Resolve, June 2014-present)

Operation Inherent Resolve, Targets Destroyed, June 2014-May 2016

The Pentagon reported that 6,471 airstrikes were carried out against ISIS as of November 19, 2015. Compare that to the total attacks completed by all other coalition countries combined: 1,818 (Russia, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates).  Through December 2015, less than two years after operations began, 20,000 bombs and missiles had been launched at ISIS targets.  Jeffrey Goldberg, a prominent journalist and former Israeli soldier who strongly supported the 2003 Iraq invasion and is known to be very much of a military hawk, said in an article examining this topic, “Obama has become the greatest terrorist hunter in the history of the presidency.”

U.S. & Coalition Airstrikes Against ISIS, Nov 2014 - Oct 2015

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Stephen Van Evera, a political science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explains, “Obama has put higher priority on killing the leadership and cadres of the most dangerous global terrorist organizations, and has in fact killed considerably more of these leaders and operatives.”  Senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, says that Obama utilizes targeted attacks, especially through drone strikes, to a much greater degree than Bush did.  For example, around 60 strikes were ordered by Bush in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan which killed 400 enemy combatants at most.   Obama sent over 500 attacks in those countries and this led to 2,700-4,000 dead soldiers of the opposing forces.  See this animation illustrating the dramatic increase for drone strikes and death tolls provided by Pitch Interactive:

Politifact remarked on just how much larger are the amounts of carnage that inherently result when leaders choose carpet bombing, as opposed to the radically smaller drone statistics mentioned above:

“A single B-52 bomber could carry up to 108 bombs, each with 500 pounds of explosives. Hundreds of bombers flew thousands of missions over Cambodia. Based on data from the U.S. Air Force, history professor Ben Kiernan at Yale University reported that from 1969 to 1973, the United States dropped more than 470,000 tons of explosives on Cambodia. Other official estimates put the figure at over 500,000 tons.”

The statistics above can serve as an example of differing military strategy, partly due to improved technological options, but also because of an increased desire to protect human life anywhere and everywhere.  Carpet bombing jungles and entire cities and villages, especially when the enemy is only a small portion of the population is inhumane and ineffective.  And, just as the methods of bombing needed to change to meet higher ethical standards and new types of threats, our budget for the Armed Forces must be flexible and able to maneuver when it becomes apparent that our current choice in strategy, structure or inventory is misguided.

The Marine Corps has instituted an impressive “Ethical Warrior” training program that combines strength and compassion at a remarkable level. After describing how terrorists demonstrate a total lack of concern for the value of human life, one of founders of this Marine system of thinking and behavior, Jack Hoban, explained the best comprehensive response to this threat:

“American forces must, and will, close with and kill insurgent combatants. Yet, the role of the Ethical Warrior is not only to kill, but also to protect and defend life. Whose life? Self and others’. Which others? All others, even our enemies (as the U.S. forces are often called upon to do), if we can.”

Hoban said during an interview for psychologist Steven Pinker’s book on the millennia-long global decline in violence that the Ethical Warrior approach would have been unthinkable in military life during his years serving in the Vietnam War (pg. 266):

“When I first joined the Marines in the 1970s it was ‘Kill, kill, kill.’ The probability that there would have been an honor code that trained marines to be ‘protectors of all others—including the enemy, if possible’ would have been 0 percent.”

Obama continued and increased many aspects of Bush’s spending on national security and covert military operations, though in recent years he’s pushed for general decreases in defense spending back to levels in effect before 9/11.  If government waste and excess are to be evaluated and rooted out, military expenditures must be under consideration alongside the other departments.  The terrorist threats today don’t require the same kind of combat infrastructure as needed during the Cold War.  In 2014, Military.com noted, “The new defense spending bill includes $120 million for tanks that the Army has repeatedly said it doesn’t want.”  Unfortunately, this kind of waste happens a lot with military spending.  Business Insider explained in 2011 that even through the harsh financial hardships American taxpayers experienced in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 financial disaster, during “the past 13 years U.S. military spending has increased 114 percent.  That’s 8 percent higher than at the height of Reagan’s presidency and the Cold War.”

Defense budget by president, 1976-2016

U.S. and allies versus enemies military spending

Aircraft carriers by nation, February 2016 - d

All the world's aircraft carriers

In examination of the claims from many 2016 Republican presidential candidates that Obama had “gutted” the military and kept it in a weak state, PBS summarized their findings:

“Money spent on weapons modernization is on par with the George W. Bush administration. The military cuts that GOP contenders are complaining about were approved by Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill. The military budget is being squeezed by the insistence of lawmakers in both parties that money be spent on bases and equipment that the Pentagon says it doesn’t need.”

U.S. Defense Budget, 1996-2013

Obama's Proposed Discretionary Spending For Fiscal Year 2015

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The 2016 defense budget coordinated with the Pentagon is at a level close to, if not above (depending on how it’s calculated) that of 2007, when the country was fighting two large scale wars.  After all, our defense budgets are consistently not only the largest in the world by a very large measure, but beyond the size of the next half or full dozen countries combined (bigger than the next 13 in 2011 and outstretching the following 7 in 2014).  Are the global threats really that extensive and necessarily so costly?  Enough to justify the $70-100 billion spent annually to maintain over 700 bases in over 100 foreign nations?  All other major nations have a combined total of 30 bases outside their borders.

U.S. Defense Speding Is Larger Than Next 13 Countries Combined, 2011

Foreign bases in U.S versus other major nations combined

U.S. Defense Budget, 1940-2015

There must be ways to make the operations of our Armed Forces more efficient and lean, while being sure that they remain the most effective and powerful fighting unit on Earth.  I served in the U.S. Army Reserve for 5 years and can attest to the potential there for mismanagement, redundancy and gridlock just as within the various corporations, universities and charitable organizations that have employed me during my civilian career.  That would seem to be an obvious insight, to say that human nature is universal no matter what the environment may be like.  Yet, many Americans keep close to their hearts a deep intoxication and enamorment toward both adventurous soldiering and unfettered capitalism at such a profound level that it prevents them from seeing clearly the limitations and handicaps inherent in those fields (as is common in different ways to all endeavors and professions).  The positives are easy for them to acknowledge, but their intense devotion to these objects won’t allow a thorough reflection.  An alternative path is to apply the idea that we can be warriors when truly needed, competitive (but not cutthroat) in business and courageous enough to study methods from many other societies with a willingness to learn from them.  By being more open to criticism and re-evaluation, we might find improved ways to better defend the nation and make a living.  On one hand, the United States is well liked and admired for many reasons in many parts of the world – innovative, adventurous, diverse, humanitarian, productive.  Otherwise, in spite of the negative characteristics that much of the world notices in our people – stubborn, cocky, violent, condescending, wasteful – let us not be so prideful and hardheaded that we are not able to use wisdom in correcting excesses and redirecting our social and financial resources wherever actually needed.

  

At the same time, his administration’s diplomatic and economic interactions with the global community were received far more favorably than during the Bush presidency. Even though Republicans claim that Obama has no serious concern for the removal of government excess, he streamlined many segments of our national bureaucracy funded by America’s tax payers. For example, local, state and federal staffs were shrunk by 638,000 jobs by June 2015 (non-military). Compare that with the 1.7 million employees added to our public finance burden by his predecessor.

After all the heated talk about how Democrats and Obama specifically are exploding government in size and spending, it’s important evaluate that claim. Consider these results that the Pew Research Center released in January 2015, “Job shifts under Obama: Fewer government workers, more caregivers, servers and temps”.

Job Market Winners and Losers, Payroll Changes by Sector, Jan. 2009-Dec.2014

They mention some very positive changes during Obama’s term regarding the economy and job creation:

“All of that growth came from the private sector, while the public sector shrunk: Private payrolls have added 7 million jobs over Obama’s presidency, while government payrolls (federal, state and local) have contracted by a combined 634,000 jobs.”

“Government payrolls at nearly all levels also have been cut. Local governments have shed 446,000 jobs, about 3% of their total workforce; state governments have cut a net 121,000 jobs, with small growth in education more than offset by cuts elsewhere. And while the federal government has added 62,700 non-postal jobs, the Postal Service has reduced its workforce nearly 18%, or 129,400 jobs. The Postal Service now employs fewer than 600,000 people, its smallest payroll since 1964.”

“With the unemployment rate down to 5.6% as of December (the lowest since mid-2008), Americans are at long last feeling better about the economy. According to a new Pew Research Center report, 27% of U.S. adults say economic conditions are excellent or good, about twice the percentage who said that at the beginning of 2014. 31% expect the economy to be better a year from now, versus 17% who expect it to be worse, and for the first time in five years, more Americans say President Obama’s economic policies have made conditions better (38%) than worse (28%).”

U.S. Unemployment Rate, 2006-2016

Unemployment rate, 1947-2013

In the next post, I will explore the idea from many on the far-right that Obama is an extreme liberal who is destroying the American way of life.  In fact, many researchers have concluded that he’s much more like what used to be called a moderate Republican – before the 1980s saw the party begin moving a long distance away from the middle.  The Democrats then followed that general trend and largely ended up in the center.

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11 comments

  1. I love this site. I’ve never seen any other source align with my political/societal outlook so perfectly (an eclectic mix of viewpoints borrowed from various ideologies mainly rooted in justification based on fact, data, objectivity, science, and history – and the general philosophy that many policies are well-intended but do not achieve their aim and make most/all of us worse, and certain policies can make everyone/everything better off, and that these should be identified and pursued for the well-being of all society). Great Work, wish more people had a better understanding of how the world works and how it intersects with politics.

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    • Thanks very much, Grady.

      I have worked really hard to develop these posts since June – after researching, writing and debating on these topics since the early 2000s. I hope that what I’ve put online will contribute something significant. Mainly, I want to say this to America: “Please slow down, reflect, forgive the other political party, research and consider the possibility that your instincts are not completely based in fact.”

      I think we often catch the tenets of our worldview like a common cold. From my experience, study and observation, I think it’s quite rare for a person to come to a viewpoint through dedicated application of logical analysis and attempted unbiased evaluation of evidence. That’s a very tall order, one that very few ever try to pursue, much less get close to accomplishing. Personally, I have tried to go down that route. I believe that I’ve made a lot of progress, but also recognize the stark limits within human psychology. I will always have blind spots. The encouraging thing is that we don’t need perfection. Instead, what will improve things is for more of us to make a better effort to humble ourselves intellectually, listen to others on the other side and try to understand why they think and *feel* as they do. And then compromise. It’s the only way live together.

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  2. Very wellwritten article Grady. I totally agree with much of it. But I miss your part II and maybe an update (eg. Legalization of gay marriages). Furthermore you’ve only written about Obamas positive achievements, but not his failures. I’m not American but when I speak to Americans they often talk about the debts that have risen considerably under his presidency (change in debts vs. percent change in public debts) . Furthermore they tell me that even though Obamacare was established with good intentions, it doesn’t work to good in reality (yet). The problem contrary to my country (Denmark) were we have a (relatively) well functioning healthcare system is, that the US is a much bigger country, less homogenous, and doesn’t have an efficient digital registration system of its population. I guess these fears and point of views should also be taken seriously and addressed here. Best regards Doris

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    • Hi Doris,

      Grady commented on the article, but I wrote each of them for this blog site. Thanks for your feedback.

      It’s true that this article lists out mostly neutral or positive aspects of Obama’s terms. I think that most of the article can be said to be straight-forward reporting, even though the commentary certainly is not leaning far rightward. I’m an American and I’ve heard negative things about this president in such lopsided ways that his actual activities don’t get a thorough examination. I did include a link near the top of the page in the sentence: “One presents accomplishments and the other brings up failures.” The word “failure” connects to a site dedicated to criticizing Obama heavily: http://www.whatthehellhasobamadonesofar.com.

      I’ve written nearly 30 pages on the topic of “Has Obama Been A Successful President?”, but haven’t posted the other parts 2, 3, 4, etc. It takes a lot of time to write, edit and format these blog posts to the standard that I aim for. Your comment about wanting to read the other versions will encourage me to post them sooner rather than much later. If you “follow” my blog, you’ll get notified of each one as I add them online. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the other articles on this site.

      Regarding Obama’s spending, it’s certainly something I’m concerned about and researching. Here are some things I found so far……

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      First, here’s a comment by someone with the user name of “florindiana” that I found on a discussion page elsewhere that helps to summarize the issue:

      “Obama is clearly a victim of circumstances! Inheriting two unfunded wars, the unfunded Bush tax cuts and all the other unfunded spending which was underway when he took office. In addition the Great Recession has added at least three trillion dollars to the the national debt with the loss of federal revenue and the various stimuli to forestall the Great Recession from becoming a Great Depression. In summary, this is the first bogus analysis I have read by ‘The Fact Checker,’ In the future I now realize, I can no longer take ‘The Fact Checker’ as informing me of the whole story. Even “The Fact Checker” is not above taking the story out of context….About eighty percent of the amount which has been added to the national debt during the Obama Presidency is the direct result of Bush administration policies or the direct result of the Great Recession which began during the Bush Presidency. During the Bush/Cheney administration almost five trillion dollars was added to the national debt….Since Obama took office, the continuation of the Bush policies[unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the unfunded Bush income tax cuts (2001-Jan. 2011) which were extended in January 2011, Bush’s unfunded Medicare prescription drug benefits program, debt service on these unfunded endeavors and etc.] have added an additional 1.5 trillion dollars to the debt….At the same time the the financial crisis and the Great Recession and the aftermath for the years 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012 have cost or will cost the federal government at least 2 trillion dollars in lost revenue, this has also been added to the debt since Obama took office….In addition, Since Obama took office well over one trillion dollars has been added to the national debt to combat the effects and aftermath of the financial crisis and the Great Recession and forestall a second Great Depression, such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus), the extension of the Bush income tax cuts(beginning in Jan. 2011), the payroll tax cuts and expanded unemployment benefits….So policies and events which began during the previous administration have added at least 4 trillion dollars to the deficits and debt since Obama took office. President Obama has not been on a spending binge at at all, in fact it is quite the opposite. Obama inherited the out-of-control debt producing disaster from his predecessor and the vast majority all the deficits and debt which have occurred since Obama took office are a result of the policies of the previous administration or are the result of the financial crisis, the Great Recession and their aftermath.”

      Retrieved on 6/3/2012 6:10 PM EDT on http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/the-facts-about-the-growth-of-spending-under-obama/2012/05/24/gJQAIJh6nU_blog.html

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      A chart that Obama supporters have used this image to argue that he is the slowest spender in decades by a very large margin: https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/052312spending.jpg

      I tend to trust Politifact the most, this article presents a generally positive view of Obama’s spending, including evaluating the claims of the image on that last link above: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/may/23/facebook-posts/viral-facebook-post-says-barack-obama-has-lowest-s/

      Politifact says in a section of the article called, “Explaining the Results”:

      “So why the disconnect between Obama’s image as a big spender and the reality of how much federal spending has actually grown? First, Obama’s record on debt is a lot less flattering than is his record on federal government spending. During the same time that spending is poised to be increasing by 1.4 percent per year under Obama, the debt will be increasing by 14.6 percent per year. The reason? Year by year, federal revenues haven’t been keeping up with spending, due to the struggling national economy (which has held back tax revenues) and a continuation of tax cuts. And each year there’s an annual deficit, the national debt grows. Second, federal spending under Obama is higher as a share of gross domestic product than it has been in most of the previous 60 years. That, too is because of the economy, which has simultaneously slowed the growth of GDP and boosted government spending for programs such as food stamps and Medicaid. Third, the aging of the baby boomers has driven a rise in entitlement spending that is masking cuts Obama and the GOP Congress have made, and have promised to make, in discretionary spending. Using outlays as the unit of measurement, as Nutting and the Facebook post have done, means focusing on money already spent. It does not take into account future spending that’s been committed to but not yet carried out. And finally, many Americans associate Obama with the high-profile legislative activities of his first year or two, when initiatives such as the stimulus sent spending upward the fastest. Since then, spending has slowed, thanks in part to spending cuts pushed by congressional Republicans. Which brings us to another important issue: The president is not all-powerful, so his record on spending was accomplished in collaboration with congressional Republicans.”

      Here’s a negative view of Obama in comparison to Reagan regarding job creation: https://www.aei.org/publication/why-those-reagan-recovery-vs-obama-recovery-comparisons-dont-tell-us-much/

      Here’s a positive overview of his presidency, including jobs, budget deficits and other issues up through September 1, 2015: http://www.forwardprogressives.com/4-charts-prove-just-successful-president-obama/

      Here’s a very conservative site arguing that Obama is a very successful president, but against the wishes and agendas of his opponents: http://www.redstate.com/aglanon/2015/03/23/experience-doesnt-matter-barack-obama-successful-president/

      Positive on job growth and lowering unemployment: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/job-growth-picks-steam-sept-unemployment-rate-drops

      A frustrated poster wrote this to summarize how he thinks the Republicans contributed tremendously to the debt situation that Obama inherited:

      “Here is your team’s intellect; Spend five trillion dollars on unnecessary warring, help the rich get richer by reducing the tax base and then blame the deficit on food stamps. The most immoral move, your team has perpetrated, is the under funding of care for our warriors who come home injured, body and spirit. Of course, Halliburton and other war profiteers got taken care of.”

      Here’s a very critical article of Obama’s spending: http://www.aei.org/publication/the-stunning-chart-that-shows-the-obama-spending-binge-really-happened/

      Positive on spending: https://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/05/23/lies-damned-lies-and-statistics-2/

      Like

    • Here’s some of what my rough draft on Obamacare looks like:

      ———————————————–

      Obamacare is a great example of how a major aspect of political life used to be described as conservative by the Republicans until the party’s evolution into a far-right wing organization was complete. This healthcare plan was largely in line with and inspired by many influential Republicans during the past three decades. True left wing politicians would never approve of what was passed as the Affordable Care Act, yet conservatives have repeatedly added weighty drama to the zeitgeist with warnings that this extra liberal policy will bring America down into financial and social chaos. Leading presidential candidate Ben Carson said Obamacare was worse than slavery. That’s what any sane person would recognize not only as a false premise followed by a gross exaggeration, but also a piece of such reckless disinformation that it’s hard to believe a well educated physician and revered public figure said it. Of course, only a segment of the population admires this person and the kind of grandiosity that offers an inflated version of their wishes and biases. Liberals have their own tendencies to overstate or wildly mischaracterize the alleged worst villians on the other side, but the past decade has been filled with a disproportionately high number of loud Republicans saying off-the-wall things on a regular basis: Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Michelle Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Todd Akin, Paul Broun, Louie Gohmert, Steve King and dozens of others. One simply has to type “crazy things republicans said” into a search engine online to get back a flood of quotes packed with absurdities not common in American politics for at least a half century. The principle is true for anyone who travels increasingly farther out on the fringe. They become ever more likely to state positions and form interpretations that are devoid of a well rounded factual foundation.

      ————————————————————-

      Regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare), healthcare experts and Wall Street analysts have reported that the industry, partly due to the new business created through this law, is doing quite well. The structure of the new system was in line with Republican plans of the late 1980s-mid 2000s, including ideas promoted by President George H.W. Bush, Newt Gingrich, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Dan Quayle, Orrin Hatch, Alan Simpson, Bob Dole and Donald Trump. As of October 2014, the number of uninsured citizens had decreased by approximately 25 percent or between 8 and 11 million. These healthcare services have been available at prices that the majority of people could reasonably fit in their budget. Of those people who signed up within the normal enrollment period, 85 percent qualified for assistance in covering the cost of premiums through federal subsidies – which brought down the total amount by 76 percent on average.

      http://m.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/08/republicans-supported-obamacare-gingrich-dole-individual-mandate

      http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-04-25/business/35262161_1_individual-mandate-employer-mandate-cap-and-trade

      http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/27/us/is-the-affordable-care-act-working.html#uninsured

      Many critics complained that the Obama administration had been disingenuous or even deceptive related to whether formerly insured Americans could keep their policy once the ACA became law. This may be a real mistake on the president’s part, especially in that he and his team did not clearly and consistently explain that only about half would be able to remain on their current healthcare plan. Even with this apparent misstep and the clearly terrible opening performance of the new web site for the ACA (which was corrected later), this new system has largely achieved a positive impact for Americans – as I showed evidence for above.

      An NBC News story explains the problem with the promise of keeping ones’ earlier plan under Obamacare:

      ——————————————————-

      Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”

      That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them….

      The White House does not dispute that many in the individual market will lose their current coverage, but argues they will be offered better coverage in its place, and that many will get tax subsidies that would offset any increased costs.

      “One of the main goals of the law is to ensure that people have insurance they can rely on – that doesn’t discriminate or charge more based on pre-existing conditions. The consumers who are getting notices are in plans that do not provide all these protections – but in the vast majority of cases, those same insurers will automatically shift their enrollees to a plan that provides new consumer protections and, for nearly half of individual market enrollees, discounts through premium tax credits,” said White House spokesperson Jessica Santillo.

      “Nothing in the Affordable Care Act forces people out of their health plans: The law allows plans that covered people at the time the law was enacted to continue to offer that same coverage to the same enrollees – nothing has changed and that coverage can continue into 2014,” she said.

      Individual insurance plans with low premiums often lack basic benefits, such as prescription drug coverage, or carry high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. The Affordable Care Act requires all companies to offer more benefits, such as mental health care, and also bars companies from denying coverage for preexisting conditions.

      http://www.nbcnews.com/news/other/obama-admin-knew-millions-could-not-keep-their-health-insurance-f8C11484394

      Like

    • Here’s much more research on Obamacare:

      —————————————

      Was Obamacare a Republican idea?

      http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2013/nov/15/ellen-qualls/aca-gop-health-care-plan-1993/

      http://www.politicususa.com/2015/03/25/obama-drops-truth-bomb-gop-the-affordable-care-act-plan-adopted-it.html

      http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Robert-Reich/2013/1028/The-irony-of-Republican-disapproval-of-Obamacare

      https://www.whitehouse.gov/health-care-meeting/republican-ideas

      http://thinkprogress.org/health/2015/08/18/3692529/gop-no-new-health-ideas/

      http://prospect.org/article/no-obamacare-wasnt-republican-proposal

      http://ivn.us/2013/09/27/obamacare-was-originally-proposed-by-republicans/

      “Obama says Heritage Foundation is source of health exchange idea”:

      http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/apr/01/barack-obama/obama-says-heritage-foundation-source-health-excha/

      “Is the ACA the GOP health care plan from 1993?”

      http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2013/nov/15/ellen-qualls/aca-gop-health-care-plan-1993/

      Even Fox News recognizes this two decade lineage from 1989 Heritage Foundation proposal through several Republican legislative plans to the Affordable Health Care Act in the late 2000s:

      http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/06/28/individual-health-care-insurance-mandate-has-long-checkered-past.html

      “Reich says President Richard Nixon in 1974, ‘proposed, in essence, today’s Affordable Care Act.’ Thirty years later, then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, another Republican, “made Nixon’s plan the law in Massachusetts.”

      http://cnsnews.com/news/article/susan-jones/dont-obamacare-it-was-republicans-idea-says-liberal-democrat

      “The Democrats’ Version of Health Insurance Would Have Been Cheaper, Simpler, and More Popular (So Why Did We Enact the Republican Version and Why Are They So Upset?)”

      “In February 1974, Republican President Richard Nixon proposed, in essence, today’s Affordable Care Act. Under Nixon’s plan all but the smallest employers would provide insurance to their workers or pay a penalty, an expanded Medicaid-type program would insure the poor, and subsidies would be provided to low-income individuals and small employers. Sound familiar? ”

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-reich/the-democrats-version-of-_b_4166664.html

      *****************************************

      Reagan adding socialist elements to healthcare and increasing gun control:

      “Reagan’s health policy previewed Obamacare in three major ways. First, Reagan signed Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), the law barring hospitals from turning away patients on grounds of their insurance or citizenship — a preview of Obamacare’s ban on insurance discrimination against individuals with preexisting conditions. Second, Reagan doubled the size of Medicaid over the course of his presidency to pay for all of those new uninsured patients — a huge Obamacare-style Medicaid expansion. Third, Reagan pushed something called Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs), which essentially had the government set the prices Medicare was willing to pay for each Medicare admission rather than pay for reimburse doctors per cost. DRGs cut Medicare costs by $49 billion by 1986, proving a promising trial for the sorts of Medicare payment reform policies you can find in Obamacare.”

      “Before the National Rifle Association became what it was today, Reagan worked with them to ban guns. Specifically, automatic weapons: civilians were legally allowed to own fully automatic rifles until 1986, when Reagan signed the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act banning them. After his Presidency, Reagan backed the Brady gun law establishing many of the major restrictions on gun purchases today. His support for the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban pushed the ban to its two vote margin of victory — according to two of the Congressmen who made the difference.”

      From: http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2014/02/06/3258121/reasons-tea-party-hated-ronald-reagan/

      ******************************************************

      Here are some sites against Obamacare to check out:

      https://www.gop.com/the-case-against-obamacare/

      http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-pros-and-cons/

      http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/27/williams-why-are-we-against-affordable-care-act/?page=all

      Liked by 1 person

    • Regarding Denmark in comparison to the U.S., have you checked my article which compares all major quality of categories and finds the more extremely liberal or conservative countries to have the worst social ills?

      In the case of advanced Western nations and individual American states, those that are most conservative and religious have lowest quality life in more than a dozen categories:

      https://persuademepolitics.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/extreme-political-or-religious-views-create-dysfunctional-societies/

      Also, did you know that when Forbes evaluated which countries were best for business in 2015, Denmark was #1? This was followed by New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, Sweden, Finland and Canada. By a large measure, they obviously do not agree with Tea Party policies of extreme libertarianism, yet no conservative country is near the top of this “pro-business” list: forbes.com/best-countries-for-business. The United States ranks #22.

      Like

  3. Wow Andy, I am very thankful to you for the amount of time and effort that you have put into this. As a Canadian who had great hopes for President Obama, the unfolding of the opposition to his Presidency by the Republican Party was in my mind, unbelievable. I don’t profess to understand the inner political workings of your system but from an outsiders perspective it became relatively clear to me very early in Obama’s presidency that regaining power at the expense of the nation was the prime objective of the Republicans. Actually I believe it started even before he took office. As a Christian I have always found it difficult to comprehend the hatred I see by Christians in the U.S for President Obama and I don’t use the word hatred lightly. I understand the natural objection to pro-choice and gay marriage etc but my thinking is that he is one man and the positives greatly outweigh the negatives. I am looking forward to the book that President Obama writes on his Presidency. I sincerely thank you for confirming to some degree what I suspected. And then we have the current election, really looking forward to reading what you have to say. I will be following your blog from here on in. Blessings.

    Like

    • I appreciate the feedback.

      Blogging this much in-depth definitely requires a lot of work. 🙂 I enjoy the process and deeply care about getting information out to the public that might not be common knowledge. This article is part of a 3-4 part series that I didn’t finish editing. I plan to get that completed in the next month or so.

      In the meantime, I’ve almost uploaded a full 3-4 part article series on Trump. The first was posted recently: https://persuademepolitics.wordpress.com/2016/10/05/donald-trump-patriot-savior-or-tyrant-part-1.

      Given your Canadian background and ability to see things from a perspective outside that of the typical American, I think you’ll appreciate the data I’ve collected comparing quality of life between societies in my article, “Compare Quality Of Life By State And Nation, Liberal Or Conservative, Religious Or Secular”: https://persuademepolitics.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/compare-quality-of-life-by-state-and-nation. What I found over a period of several years in research was the data showing what many might think would be true generally anyway: extremely conservative and extremely liberal countries have poor quality of life. I also add that extremely religious peoples have the same problem. I summarize it this way:

      “When comparing quality of life conditions between advanced Western nations and individual states within the U.S., a growing amount of data available shows that those which are the most conservative and religious are the most violent and plagued with far greater social problems in more than a dozen categories like overall crime, economic mobility, infant mortality, overall poverty, environmental abuse, teen pregnancy, incarceration, life expectancy, poor educational systems, foreign aid percentage through public funds, murder, healthcare efficiency, business opportunities, childhood poverty, average worker to CEO pay ratio, paid maternity leave, obesity, income inequality and minimal worker’s benefits.”

      I’d love to hear what you think of that post and others I’ve written. Thank you for visiting and considering what I’ve posted. 🙂

      Like

  4. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” As a republican I felt this is one of the most shameful things I ever heard. Are they there to obstruct or govern? I looked at the job growth/job added charts. They (and others not here) always seem to measure new jobs created as a mark of progress but I don’t think any of them are net growth because more jobs have been lost over last two decades than created and the new ones are very low wage and many merely part time. I can give just one example in that in Miami Dade County the unemployment rate is three to four times the reported rates. There is vast glitter and wealth there but 90% of kids in school system qualify for free or reduced lunch which is an indicator of all the other welfare for which those families actually do qualify. I’ve always wondered why communism(which is actually dictatorship of the right) is at the far left of the spectrum. Certainly I would think Marxism and socialism belong of the left but not communism. Did not see fascist theocratic Islam on that chart which must be the most repressive of all. Thanks for your recent visit to my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

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