President Obama’s first 100 days have been spectacularly successful. President Obama is the strongest domestic Democratic President since Lyndon Johnson. His ability to get Democrats in Congress to give him things that undermine their own power is impressive. In just 100 days, President Obama has been devastatingly effective in moving forward swiftly the most radical, government-expanding agenda in American history.
A European Model of Government Control
At home, in everything from his economic policy to his energy policy to his just-announced science policy, President Obama has successfully moved the country from a traditional American model of entrepreneurship and private initiative to a European model of regulation and government control. Abroad, he has succeeded in his apparent goal to be the un-George W. Bush; replacing aggressive, if sometimes flawed, American leadership with a humbled, weakened America on the world stage. Judged by these standards, President Obama’s first 100 days have been a remarkable success.
The Obama record in the first 100 days includes three instances of spectacular political impunity:
• Under the guise of “economic stimulus” he was able to pass a $787 billion gift for his liberal special interest base. And he did it so quickly that no member of Congress was able to read it before they voted.
• After campaigning on a pledge to end earmarks, he signed an appropriations bill loaded with 8,000 earmarks -- and paid no political penalty.
• President Obama has kept congressional Democrats marching with him in lockstep. House Democrats tow the party line an amazing 94 percent of the time and Senate Democrats vote Democratic 91 percent of the time.
Historic Bureaucratic Power Grabs
In these first 100 days, the Obama Administration has achieved two historic bureaucratic power grabs:
• President Obama has transformed the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) into giant engines of unsupervised spending. Together, they’ve spent the equivalent of the entire federal budget for 2007, without having to disclose where the money went.
• Just two weeks ago, the President presided over an unprecedented bureaucratic power grab when his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled that greenhouse gases pose a threat to public health. This seemingly innocuous decision opens the door to wholesale regulation of American life by government. The threat is so great that politicians and activists are using the specter of an out-of-control EPA to force Congress to pass a $1 trillion to $2 trillion energy tax in the form of cap-and-trade legislation.
Foreign Policy Weakness
The Obama 100 days record also includes remarkable weakness and self-delusion overseas:
• In an attempt to overcome anti-Americanism abroad by agreeing with it, President Obama has gone on a global apology tour, labeling America as “arrogant, dismissive and derisive” in front of foreign audiences.
• President Obama has unleashed a domestic war over the meaning of guilt by caving in to the anti-American left and leaving the door open to prosecuting Bush Administration officials over the interrogation of terrorists who plotted to kill Americans.
All Just a Prelude to His $3.5 Trillion Budget
But all these successful expansions of government at home and retractions of American leadership abroad are merely a prelude to President Obama’s looming crowning achievement: His 2010 budget which remakes our health care system, remakes our energy system, raises taxes and forecasts an amazing $9 trillion increase in the national debt.
As I write this, Democrats in Congress are fashioning a deal to pass the budget’s provisions on health care by preventing Republicans and moderate Democrats from having a voice in the debate. Think about that. The Obama-Reid-Pelosi political machine is going to pass legislation that fundamentally affects every single American -- as well as 17 percent of our economy -- by cutting the elected representatives of half of all Americans out of the process. If they succeed, the budget will be President Obama’s most enduring -- and devastating -- accomplishment.
Change We Can Believe In? Or Change in What we Believe?
One thing is clear at this point in President Obama’s presidency: His control of Washington Democrats has been so masterful, and his policies so successful, that he has officially claimed ownership of the American economy. Going forward, it won’t be possible to continue to place blame on former President Bush and the Republicans. If President Obama fails, it will be his failure and his alone. As for us, the “success” of the first 100 days of the Obama presidency raises a threatening possibility. As my daughter and columnist Jackie Cushman put it, if we’re not careful, instead of change we can believe in, we’re going to have change in what we believe. It’s something to ponder for the next 1,361 days.