The PJ Tatler

Was ObamaCare a blunder, or one of the biggest political blunders in American history?

Today’s unemployment numbers put President Obama in a rotten position politically, as Richard noted earlier. The increase to 9.2% weakens his hand in the debt negotiations and is likely to show up in the polls before long. “Generic Republican” already ties or beats him in most polls; a living and breathing Republican may match that soon. Contrary to Obama adviser David Plouffe, last seen whistling past the political graveyard, Americans do vote the economy, and the Obama economy stinks.

It didn’t have to be this way. The economy was already weak when Obama was elected, and the public was willing to give him some time before it became “his” economy. We were already hip deep in bailouts. Had Obama done two things differently, we might not be staring at 9.2% unemployment right now, and the fault might not be so obviously his to bear. The first thing he could have and should have done differently was the stimulus. He outsourced that task to Congress, then under the control of Nancy Pelosi in the House, and she and her cronies packed the trillion dollar bill with payoffs to Democrat constituencies (with Obama’s blessing, it should be added). Its “shovel ready” projects weren’t so shovel ready after all, as the president joked. That project failed so badly as a stimulus that the Obama administration ended up creating a fake new statistic — jobs “created or saved” — to measure it. No one was fooled.

But the bigger blunder came with the president’s and the Democrats’ tunnel visioned pursuit of passing ObamaCare at all costs. The backroom deals and party line passage damaged Obama’s brand — and it was always just a brand — as a “post-partisan president.” Democrats miscalculated that the passage of time would dampen the rancor over the bill; it hasn’t. Positions against it have hardened as companies report ObamaCare’s likely damage and families face the possibility of getting dumped from their job-related health insurance as a direct result of ObamaCare’s mandates. The individual mandate threatens young Americans with fines if they elect not to buy coverage that they may not even need for several more years. The thousand waivers pointed to ObamaCare’s unfairness and unworkability. A majority of the states are fighting ObamaCare in court. And now, it looks like many states won’t even be able to comply with the law’s 2014 deadline to set up the health insurance exchanges that are at the heart of the scheme, if the law survives the court challenges. And contrary to the Democrats’ sales job, ObamaCare has done nothing to alleviate unemployment or the national debt. Both have gotten worse since ObamaCare passed.

At a time when the national economy needed an experienced, steady hand in the presidency to ease troubled markets and promote economic stability and growth, President Obama gave the country a tilted stimulus bill that was bound to fail to stimulate, and he inflicted the most massive and complicated “reform” effort on a huge slice of the economy in generations. The Democrats under Obama just could not pass up the opportunity to pass their “historic” health care bill, despite having not read the bill and the continuing deterioration of the economy. Assuming that Barack Obama really wants economic stability and growth, by no means a given if you understand this president’s ideology, then ObamaCare was a huge waste of time that frittered away Obama’s brand and damaged the economy. As a political move, if the economy does not improve dramatically in the next year or so, ObamaCare will go down as one of the biggest political blunders in American history.