Monday, June 13, 2011
No Regrets from 2008
When I voted for Barack Obama in 2008, it was the first Democrat I'd voted for in the presidential elections since 1992, and one of the few I'd voted for at the national level. Since then, the economy has been stagnant, an all-out ideological battle has begun over the role and size of government, and the 2012 presidential race is a constant source of speculation. With that in mind, many Obama supporters are asked if they have buyer's remorse. It's a necessary question.
In terms of Obama's performance, I'd put him at about a C. The initial push for health care reform was a mistake, but only because it was an over-reach. The bill is a monstrosity, and it was not a priority for most voters in 2008. On top of that, voters supported and the parties agreed on many components - as much as 80% - of the Affordable Care Act. The first major piece of legislation should have been a much smaller bill that covered common ground. It would have been good for America.
In terms of the economy, the idea of a stimulus bill was a good idea, but it was not focused enough on immediate infrastructure spending and labor that immediately impacts the economy. It was also too heavily geared toward tax rebates that produce no visible or guaranteed effects. The money should not have been about bailing out state deficits, and the Obama Administration has been rather inept about explaining the loss of revenue that has caused debts and deficit levels to rise. Military contract spending has not been adequately restrained. Medicare should be able to negotiate prices. Oil, ethanol, and farm subsidies should be closed, and the tax code should be simplified to eliminate wasteful spending such as mortgage deductions on second homes and those valued over one million dollars. Obama's leadership on all this has been mediocre, and I don't like this "lack of leadership" style.
That said, I have no regrets on the vote, considering the alternative. While I strongly supported John McCain in the 2000 election, I could barely stomach the version of McCain-lite that ran in 2008. He had completely sacrificed his pragmatic understanding of finance and tax policy, and had given in to the mis-guided supply siders in the GOP. And, of course, I am proud to have not voted for any ticket that had Sarah Palin's name attached to it. The same goes for the current crop of candidates who are so naive on the history of tax cuts and their impact on the economy that they continue to ignore decades of history.
So, no regrets. But no firm plans to vote the same way in 2012.