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Hoping he'll change


July 15, 2009
Hope and change? There's certainly plenty of change, and with it much hope. Hope that what the administration considers "change" will soon end.

Since Barack Obama became president, he has made misstep after misstep. Almost as soon as he lowered his right hand after taking the oath of office, he signed an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention center without a plan as to where to house the detainees.

Obama later proposed moving them to the supermax prison in Colorado but received opposition from his own party. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and the rest of the Democrat-controlled Senate said they would withhold funding for the transfer of the detainees until Obama presented an acceptable plan.

Next came the stimulus bill. The administration in January predicted that without a massive "stimulus" bill, unemployment would reach just over 8 percent and a spending bill would keep unemployment under 8 percent. Unemployment now sits at 9.5 percent, and even the president recently admitted it will reach 10 percent.

Obama has said the some $800 billion bill has created or saved 150,000 jobs. How do you measure "saved" jobs? That's like saying you lost 10 pounds in the past two weeks, even though your weight has remained the same. You would have gained those pounds had you gone on vacation, because you would have eaten out every night, right? So, by staying home you actually lost them. Sure.

Only a small percentage of the total amount, including just about 1 percent of the funds dedicated to transportation projects, has been spent, even though the bill was rushed through Congress as Americans were told it was crucial to the country's economic health.

Perhaps we should have paid more attention to this comment shortly after last fall's election by Rahm Emanuel, whom Obama selected to be his chief of staff: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."

A review of some of the projects in the stimulus package — including more than $50 million for the development of bike and pedestrian paths in Indianapolis — shows they are, well, not quite so stimulating, at least not economically. Others just do more harm than good. Republican Sen. Tom Coburn named an upgrade to a wastewater treatment plant in his state of Oklahoma as the bill's most wasteful project. Accepting $1.5 million of stimulus monies has turned the $5 million project into a $7.2 million project and will force residents to pay 60 percent higher utility taxes.

In just the few months he has been in office, the president essentially has taken over Chrysler and General Motors, with the federal government owning 8 percent of Chrysler and 60 percent of GM, while the United Auto Workers health care trust owns 55 percent and 17.5 percent, respectively. In turn, Chrysler closed 789 dealerships, and GM announced plans to cut ties with 1,100 dealerships. According to National Automobile Dealers Association figures, the Chrysler dealership closures mean job losses for up to 40,000 people. Besides the loss in direct salaries, the closings will result in millions of dollars in lost auto sales tax revenue and income for supporting businesses. And what was the first vehicle that Chrysler restarted assembly of? The almost $90,000, 16-miles-per-gallon Dodge Viper. According to USA Today, only 289 of the cars had been sold in 2009 through May.

Obama now wants to essentially nationalize 17 percent of the country's economy. He favors a government-run insurance program, but says individuals can keep their current plans if they wish. That's disingenuous, as it is just a back-door way to a single-payer system. Private companies cannot compete with government-run programs, which simply can borrow from other programs (or China) or raise taxes to make ends meet. There would be no true competition, and, in the end, only the government plan would exist.

A single-payer system would be problematic, as the government would be able to set price controls, essentially limiting what doctors can earn. With already leaving medical school $140,000 in debt and having to take out large amounts of medical malpractice insurance to protect themselves against (in some cases, frivolous) lawsuits, young people would have less incentive to go into the medical field. That would result in a doctor shortage, which would increase waiting times to see specialists and receive procedures like MRIs. Just look to Canada, where the waiting time to see a specialist or have a diagnostic test has increased from 13.1 weeks in 1999 to 18.3 weeks in 2007.

Or, if you don't believe Canada's system is a valid comparison, just look at the government Medicaid and Medicare programs. Both are expensive, underfunded and inefficient, and wait times to see the decreasing number of doctors willing to take Medicaid patients are long. The government hasn't been successful in managing these much smaller health care programs, and we want to hand it 17 percent of our national economy?

Making matters worse is Obama wants Congress to have a bill on his desk by August. We're talking about nationalizing one-fifth of the nation's economy, implementing the largest government program in history, and he wants it done in less than two months. We should heed the lesson of the rushed stimulus bill and have a vigorous debate first. Health care may need reforming, but let's make sure what we do actually improves it.

The latest misstep was the president's questionable firing of a federal inspector general. According to legislation co-sponsored by then-Sen. Obama, the president is to give Congress 30 days notice before firing an IG. The Obama administration allegedly called Gerald Walpin to tell him he had one hour to resign or he would be fired. Walpin, inspector general of the AmeriCorps program, had investigated allegations of misused taxpayer money given by program to an organization founded by an Obama supporter.

However, Obama's biggest missteps may not have been with domestic policy. He has time and again told the world that America is wrong in its actions, while giving legitimacy to socialist or dictatorial regimes. He hasn't stood strong with our chief Middle East ally, Israel, telling it to quit building settlements, while his response to North Korea has been underwhelming and his unwillingness to offer authentic encouragement to the thousands of Iranians risking their lives to protest against the country's rigged election has been disheartening, to say the least. In contrast, he was quick to join Hugo Chavez and other dictators in calling for the restoration of Manuel Zelaya, the overthrown president of Honduras, despite Zelaya's plans to illegally change the Honduras constitution so he can stay in power after his term was to end.

Obama, however, has kept his promise: We are getting change, and a lot of it at that. However, not all change is good. Let's hope we realize that before it's too late and we've mortgaged away our economy and national security.

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  1. print email
    CHRIS ADAMS COLUMN truer words were never spoken
    July 15, 2009 | 08:23 AM


  2. print email
    Chris Adams hits the nail on the head
    July 16, 2009 | 04:27 PM

    Thank you Chris, it is refreshing to read the truth. Glad to know others here in Harrison county feel the same

    David N.
  3. print email
    Hoping he'll change
    July 18, 2009 | 02:08 PM

    An excellent article. Someone finally said what is true. We have an administration that is wrecking a once great country and the next generation will never see their way out of debt. Obama is taking from the earners, responsible people, and giving to those who are irresponsible and have their hands out. His healthcare debacle is just that, a debacle. Medicare is broke and he wants to add trillions more to the already trillion dollar deficit. It has to stop before we wind up like a third world country, which I think maybe his goal ie., another Chavez.

    Alma Medley
Schuler Bauer
Barbara Shaw
07 - 16 - 19

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