Clinton should have addressed entitlements but was too busy chasing interns. “The least consequential two-term president in our history.”
Bush made Medicare worse (the drug plan) and failed in his attempt to fix Social Security because of the intransigence and partisanship of the Dems. I might grant him a little more slack – he had an unexpected war and a divided country largely because Al Gore lacked the grace and judgment of Richard Nixon and contested what was essentially a tie election. (Our voting “system” has enough fraud and outdated technology that it can’t really measure +/- such tiny %’s.)
Why did Obama pile on yet another unaffordable, unfunded liability?
When Barack Obama won the election in 2008, he was quite right that the old system needed fixing. America’s debt, its poorly educated youth, its imbalances in trade, its counterproductive tax system, its out-of-control annual spending, its culture of entitlement and subsidies, all in perfect-storm fashion were starting to coalesce and weaken America from within and the perception of America abroad. The statesmanlike thing to do — in the manner of a once-naïve Harry Truman, who woke up to the threat of Soviet-inspired global Communism, or of a Bill Clinton, who finally addressed some of the contradictions of the welfare state and deficit spending — would have been to overhaul the tax system, recalibrate Social Security and Medicare, cut spending, lecture the citizenry on personal responsibility, and address the therapeutic curriculum in our failing schools. With a 70 percent approval rating and supermajorities in both houses of Congress, Obama could have done almost anything throughout 2009.
Instead, he chose the path of Jimmy Carter and the pre-1995 Bill Clinton — even more redistributive state programs, more stifling regulations, more petulant talk about “them,” more class warfare, more debt, and more failed big government.
As a genuine reactionary wedded to the dream of the 1960s, Obama not only rejected the idea of national renewal, but hastened by a decade or so our day of reckoning with the out-of-control welfare state. Was he naïve in thinking that the private sector could be hectored and harassed, and still create enough new wealth to fund his growing redistributive agenda? Or was he Machiavellian in seeing that only by massive new debt, government regulations, and spread-the-wealth programs would America be reduced to the status of just another indebted European-style socialist state — in itself a good and long-overdue thing?
Finally, one last paradox remains: The once-divine Obama will do more to discredit the Left than any other progressive in modern history — as its greatest dream becomes its worst nightmare.