Thursday, January 7, 2016

Obama Legacy: The Great Experiment
A great social and economic experiment , noble in motive and far-reaching in purpose.
President Herbert Hoover, referring to Prohibition
The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican form of government, are justly considered at deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.
President George Washington, the first inaugural
I look upon the 8 years of the Obama administration as a great experiment, whether a President  can change human nature and direct it towards a new humanism  as  seen and dictated by progressive ideology.  Whether this great experiment will succeed depends upon how American voters react to its blessings and curses in the 2016 election.
Rich Lowry  expresses his thoughts on what has transpired and what will be President Obama’s legacy in the 2016 January-February  issue of Politico Magazine, ”Barack Obama’s Legacy: The Interlude,”  Lowry is the senior editor of the National Review. 
  This year’s presidential election is, in large part, a contest over what will become of it—meaning Obama will have more at stake on November 8 than anyone but the contenders themselves.


 If Hillary Clinton  loses, the Obama presidency will look more like an extravagant interlude, a gamble on a leftward lurch that devastated the Democratic Party at the congressional and state level without creating an enduring legacy at the federal one.

Obama the liberal culture warrior is, in part, a function of his political base, what journalist Ronald Brownstein calls the “coalition of the ascendant”—the minority, young and affluent white voters who powered his election and reelection.
Foremost among his goals was universal health insurance, although that’s not what Obamacare ended up providing. It has covered about 18 million additional people, but at unnecessary disruption (throwing millions off their existing coverage) and cost (more than a trillion dollars over 10 years). The administration expects to have 10 million people signed up on the exchanges by the end of 2016, half of what had been the June 2015 Congressional Budget Office estimate. Roughly another 10 million have signed up for Medicaid. For a sense of scale, consider that CHIP, an insurance program for children passed in the Clinton administration, today covers about 8 million.
The program also hasn’t reduced the overall cost of medicine; health care inflation is slowing, but that trend predates Obamacare. And by increasing mandates and regulations, it actually made insurance more expensive in many states. The cost is masked with subsidies for some lower-income people, but not everyone, which is one reason sign-ups have lagged. A study by Wharton School economists concluded that nearly half of formerly uninsured people will face “both higher financial burden and lower estimated welfare.” The expansion of Medicaid is better than nothing, but according to reputable research, not by much.
Obama’s governance from the left has imposed a steep political price. Democrats got wiped out in the House in 2010, losing more than 60 seats, and were punished again in 2014. Republicans now have their biggest House majority since 1928, and they control some 60 percent of the governorships. It is impossible to say how many promising Democratic politicians had their careers snuffed out in the carnage.

The presidency has, in many ways, exposed Obama: his disdain for the give-and-take of governing; his high-handed view of his own powers.

Yet he will be a sainted figure on the left, and why not? He is a rare political talent. He tapped into the public mood perfectly in 2008. At his best, with his high-wattage smile and sense of cool, he is an undeniably winsome figure. He built a state-of-the-art political operation that got him reelected after the rebuke of 2010, even though he didn’t make a turn toward the center. Republicans would be delighted to have a standard-bearer who, as a matter of pure political horseflesh, is as talented.

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