I am just as happy that Gov. Romney lost the election, but I look forward with foreboding to a second Obama administration. Without having to think about running for reelection, the President will have much more leeway to act on his convictions than he did during his first administration. Unfortunately, I don’t think his convictions are what either his core supporters or enemies think they are.
I think that Barack Obama is the most skilled and talented American politician to emerge during my lifetime, but that he honestly believes in the world-view of the American corporate and governmental establishment. Here is what I expect for the next four years.
The Bill of Rights will be even more of a historic relic than it is now. The Obama administration will continue to prosecute whistle-blowers while granting immunity to torturers. If Julian Assange is still a free man, it will not be due to lack of effort by Obama and Eric Holder. What Glenn Greenwald has called the “Muslim exception” to the Constitution will be extended to all dissident groups.
Obama will draw down the number of U.S. troops in war zones abroad, while increasing the use of flying killer drones, covert warfare, and paramilitary forces outside the military chain of command and military discipline. By 2016, the United States will be involved in at least as many wars as now, but without as many American casualties.
The economic recovery will continue and strengthen. With luck, the next economic crash will be postponed until after 2016. But the current recovery will be weaker than the previous recovery, just as it was weaker than the one before it. Growth will be mainly in low-wage jobs.
Obama will strive for a bipartisan “grand bargain” with the Republican Party, which will involve a further weakening of Social Security and Medicare.
On the good side, Obama will make a good faith effort to make the Affordable Care Act a success. Romney, if elected. would not have been able to get Congress to repeal the law, but he would not have had a stake in making it work. Obamacare has the merit of making tens of millions of Americans eligible for health insurance. The question is whether it offers a sufficient means of controlling costs without affecting the quality of care.
Also on the good side, Obama is more likely than Romney would have been to try to make the Dodd-Frank law, especially the Consumer Finance Protection Board, a success. The law does not address the problem of the too-big-to-fail banks, or to limit reckless speculative investments with taxpayer-insured deposits, but it does provide a mechanism for correcting the worst abuses. I do not expect any important prosecutions for financial fraud, however,
Obama’s Supreme Court appointments will be based on political considerations, while Romney would have sought to pack the court with ideological conservatives.
Nothing of importance will be done in regard to climate change, to rebuilding the nation’s crumbling infrastructure or to winding down the so-called war on drugs. Warrantless surveillance will continue. The militarization of local police forces, and crackdowns on protests will continue. College education will be increasingly unaffordable and increasingly necessary for an economic future.
For me, the most important duty of a President is to fulfill his oath to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. During the Civil War, World War One and World War Two, basic Constitutional rights were suspended, but the United States returned to normal after a few years. Under the Bush and Obama administrations, a generation will have come of age without any memory of not having lived under wartime martial law.
The worst thing that President Obama has done has been to convince liberals that authoritarianism, war and rule by an economic elite are the best that can be hoped for.
Click on The Great Betrayal by Bill Black, a professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, for comment on Obama’s austerity agenda.
Tags: Barack Obama