President Barack Obama talks about Hurricane Sandy in the White House briefing room on Monday. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais~AP
Updated: December 1, 2012 6:20AM
One of President Barack Obama’s latest campaign themes is trust — that he can be trusted and Republican nominee Mitt Romney can’t. Thanks to his own words, we know that Obama can be trusted to put ideology ahead of commonsense economic goals to put people back to work.
In an interview with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, Obama was asked if he regretted his push to enact health-care overhaul legislation when he had huge Democratic majorities in Congress instead of emphasizing measures to fix the economy. “Absolutely not,” responded the president.
That must have come as a slap in the face to the 23 million Americans out of work, trapped in part-time jobs or given up looking for work; to the 50 percent of college grads who can’t find jobs or labor at doing something below their hard-earned college credentials, and to the 5.5 million unemployed women and the 27.5 million women in poverty, increases of, respectively, 500,000 and 3.6 million over the levels when Obama took office.
Obama’s excuse for “absolutely not” was GOP opposition in Congress. Early in his term, Republicans had just 40 votes in the U.S. Senate, not enough to stop legislation with a filibuster unless they had help from Democratic members. More important, the GOP opposition Obama cited wasn’t formidable enough to block his drive to pass Obamacare. In other words, he was willing to take on Republican “obstructionism” in the name of a long-cherished liberal goal of overhauling the health-care industry but not to combat the unemployment crisis.
Of course, if he had been open to working across the aisle, to accepting conservative fiscal ideas, the president could have picked off some moderate Republican senators — for example Olympia Snowe or Susan Collins of Maine, who voted for the $831 billion stimulus package — for further economy-bolstering measures. But no, in discussing the stimulus bill with Sen. John McCain, the 2008 defeated GOP nominee, and other Republicans at the White House in early 2009, Obama made clear his view was all that counted when he said, “I won” the election.
During the 2008 campaign, voters heard Obama promise to end the bitter partisan and cynical politics of Washington. Looks like that was one campaign promise where the president couldn’t be trusted to deliver.
Obama’s remark to the Register editorial board — which later endorsed Romney, the first time the paper has backed a GOP nominee in four decades — shouldn’t have come as a surprise. During the 2008 campaign, he didn’t shrink from proclaiming an ideological goal even when the facts argued against it. During a debate, Obama said he advocated increasing the capital gains tax even when told lower rates produce more revenues by encouraging investments in the economy. Obama said higher taxes were a matter of fairness. Obama wanted the pie split up fairly even if his policy meant a smaller pie.
A smaller pie is exactly what the American family has ended up with after four years of his policies. Household income has fallen, and most of that came during the Obama recovery, the weakest in modern history. Economic growth, as measured by Gross Domestic Product, has slowed and some experts worry the recovery may be stalling and headed back toward recession in 2013. So the issue of trust is a simple one. The record shows Obama can be trusted to deliver more of the same ideological agenda that has kept too many people out of work and eroded the American dream.