The Case Against Barack Obama – Part II — 5 November 2012

Last week, I laid out the first of my reasons to deny President Obama re-election.  On the grounds of competence alone, he has not performed well enough to have his contract renewed.  Herewith, I list a few more reasons.

Fiscal Irresponsibility.  Yes, this is about the debt and the deficit.  It is astonishing to me that a man as intelligent as the President can be so cavalier about repeated deficits in the trillions of dollars.  And yet, his campaign pitch about it is to “cut spending where we can” and to “ask millionaires and billionaires to pay a little bit more.”  That’s it.  His “millionaires and billionaires” tax increase will cover about two days’ worth of spending, and he barely mentions spending cuts.

These debts are unconscionable.  They mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren, who will spend their working years paying for the government we have long since consumed.  And that doesn’t even count the real fiscal train wrecks approaching, as Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid metastasize into gargantuan spending monsters that will suck up every available tax dollar and many more besides.

And what has the President done?  He ignored his own Simpson-Bowles Commission, which had a reasonable plan for deficit reduction.  He submits budgets to Congress that are routinely rejected by unanimous votes of both Houses.   And he adds to the mess by passing his own entitlement program, Obamacare, which like all entitlements is destined to cost far more than its original projection.

The country is already insolvent; if this administration’s policies are allowed to continue, we will truly be on the road to Greece.

Lawlessness.  The President takes a vow to “faithfully execute the laws” of the country he serves.  This President has not only made executive choices about what laws to enforce and how vigorously (the Defense of Marriage Act, the immigration laws), he has also on numerous occasions acted in direct violation of clearly-worded statutes.  Here are just a few examples:

–  In the auto bailout of 2009, Obama ran roughshod over the clear legal rights of secured bondholders, who had first priority for payments.  Bankruptcy laws and procedures have been solidified in court rulings for generations, and provide the underpinning in the rule of law for various levels of creditors to receive protection commensurate with the interest payments they receive.  Unsecured creditors get paid the highest coupon, but are last to get paid in a bankruptcy, if there is enough money; secured creditors get paid first in the case of a bankruptcy, but get relatively low interest.  Obama turned this on its head to reward the UAW, and those bondholders who thought their rights would be protected in court got back pennies on the dollar.

–   The 1996 welfare reform act that Bill Clinton signed had as one of its principle provisions strict requirements that recipients need to be actively seeking or attaining work; without strong requirements, its effectiveness would be lacking.  There is no provision in the law to relax those requirements, but President Obama did just that.  He claimed at the time to be making it flexible so that states could administer the law more effectively.  But the fact remains that the law as it was clearly written prohibited that kind of tinkering by the executive.

–  In January of this year, President Obama determined on his own that the Senate was not in session, which allowed him to make crucial recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau without Senatorial consent.  The Senate, however, had not recessed, and – while admittedly there were few Senators in their offices at the time – held pro forma sessions on the days before and after the appointments.  It is simply not within the Constitutional powers of the President to determine when the Senate is able to perform its advise and consent function, and in acting this way the President usurped powers that explicitly belong to the Senate.  He did it anyway.

– In August of this year, the Labor Department advised Federal contractors that they did not have to abide by the WARN Act, which requires them to advise their employees 60 days ahead of any significant layoffs.  With the fiscal cliff approaching on January 2, and with it the layoffs of thousands of defense and other contractors, the statute would require notices to go out to employees right about now – days before the election.  Rather than run the political risk of thousands of contractor employees taking out their anger with a vote for Romney, the administration told employers to ignore the clear requirement of the law.  What’s more, the notice said that the Federal government would cover the legal costs arising from any employee lawsuit related to non-notice under the WARN Act.  This is unprecedented: not only does the administration tell companies to violate the clear wording of the law, but it puts the taxpayer on the hook if any company gets hauled into court for it.

How, one might ask, does the President get away with all this?  As the chief law enforcement officer in the country, he knows nobody will arrest him.  It would take an act of Congress to bring him to account for these clear violations of the law; the politics of the moment do not permit that to happen.  And so the President can break laws with impunity.  That does not make it right, however.

There are many more reasons to fire the President that I could add here, if space and time permitted: Benghazi, Obamacare, Iran, just to name a few.  But I will close with the big picture:

Vision.  I believe Barack Obama genuinely believes that his vision for the United States is a positive one.  But I also believe he is tragically wrong in this.

I believe Obama seeks a society where the prosperous give up more of their wealth than they currently do, and that money flows to those who are struggling.  Obama described himself as a redistributionist, and famously told Joe the Plumber that “we’re all better off when we share the wealth a little.”

The problem is that once this principle is accepted, there is no limit to what “a little” amounts to.  Obama may call for higher tax rates on “millionaires and billionaires,” but he really targets those much less well-off.  And anyone making $250,000 in some of our higher-cost locales can tell you that’s not rich.  Yet they are expected to help foot the bill for Obama’s new society.

Beyond that, using government’s powers of coercion to play Robin Hood has negative effects on both ends of the transaction: the wealthy lose incentive to generate more income, and the indigent lose the incentive to go find work.  The economy grows more slowly, making it more rather than less likely that people will need more redistribution in the future.

And it diminishes the freedom of the individual to seek and to prosper according to his or her industry.  The great genius of this country is that it has always been the place where the energetic, the courageous, the ambitious can try out something new and become wealthy at it.  Obama’s society would cover that spirit with a blanket of discouragement, and the world would be worse off because of it.

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