Face It Progressives, Obama Was a Lousy President

Photo by Anuj Biyani | CC BY 2.0

Sometime before the end of June this year the Supreme Court will deal a deathblow to public sector unions, declaring that the mandatory collection of dues violates the First Amendment. When that happens, it will be the latest example of yet another loss to progressive politics that  can be attributed to Barack Obama.

It’s time that the left in America admit that Barack Obama was a horrible president when it came to progressive politics. He was simply yet another neo-liberal Democrat who sided with corporate America, ignoring the plight of working class America.

Obama’s political and policy mistakes are more magnified over time.   Granted he did not have a 60 vote filibuster-proof Senate until July 2009 when Al Franken was seated.  But he took office with broad popular support and Democratic control of Congress during a crisis, and could have claimed a mandate and moved a progressive agenda.   He failed to do so.  Yes, he faced a horrible economy but his plans for saving the banks largely helped them and did little for homeowners. In fact, his Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner largely admitted the goal was to make it more orderly for banks to process foreclosures than to save homeowners.   The Troubled Assets Relief Program or TARP, started under  Bush, largely stayed  the same under Obama.  Bailouts of major businesses such as GM might have saved them, but neither the jobs nor the wages for workers rebounded or reappeared.  The boomerang effect of blowing off home owners and workers created the seeds for the emergence of the Tea Party and later the abandonment of working class America for Trump in 2016.

Had Obama pushed the Employee Free Choice Act in 2009 to update the New Deal era National Labor Relations Act the fate of union America might not be where it is today.  Nor might the plight of inequality in America had been as bad if he empowered a new union movement.  Moreover, maybe inequality in America would have been less than today had he pushed hard on changes in the tax code to benefit working class America.  Consider also had Obama in working to pass Dodd-Frank which reformed banking laws he also insisted in reinstating Glass-Steagall which separated commercial from investments banks and which  the  repeal under Bill Clinton led to the mortgage market speculation and crash of 2008.  Or what if he had pushed to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, how might that have changed talk radio and television, including the power of Fox news?  Or had he pushed for a renewal of the assault weapon ban and other gun measures, how many mass shootings might have been prevented?

Consider also had he pushed for a single-payer health care proposal instead of the Heritage Foundation plan he adopted and which was also first supported by Republican Mitt Romney.  There would not have been an individual mandate that Congress would have repealed last December with the tax overhaul.  Or think about how so slow he was initially in filling federal court appointments, his reluctance in endorsing marriage equality, or his hypocrisy   in decrying Citizens United but being the first major presidential candidate to opt out of the public financing system.  Obama could have ordered the SEC to issues rules to require corporate disclosure or shareholder approval of corporate political expenditures, but he did not.  He could have issued procurement rules to limit the ability of government contractors to make political contributions or independent expenditures. Arguably, Obama helped break the regulations on money and politics and did nothing to fix them.

True, Obama could not have passed all the progressive agenda wish list. But the list of what Obama failed to do when he had a chance is enormous.  His presidency is full of could ofs, would ofs, should ofs. He inherited a presidency with some of the largest Democratic majorities in decades at the state and national level, leaving in 2017 the party weaker than it had been in generations. The roots of the regressive conservative Republican-Trump agenda we see today are the product of Obama’s failures and what he did not do. Obama was a horrible president who simply failed to lead a progressive agenda, setting up America for many of the problems today.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Roberto J. González
The Mind-Benders: How to Harvest Facebook Data, Brainwash Voters, and Swing Elections
Paul Street
Deplorables II: The Dismal Dems in Stormy Times
Nick Pemberton
The Ghost of Hillary
Andrew Levine
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Paul de Rooij
Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot
Chuck Gerhart
Sessions Exploits a Flaw to Pursue Execution of Meth Addicts
Robert Fantina
Distractions, Thought Control and Palestine
Hiroyuki Hamada
The Eyes of “Others” for Us All
Robert Hunziker
Is the EPA Hazardous to Your Health?
Stephanie Savell
15 Years After the Iraq Invasion, What Are the Costs?
Aidan O'Brien
Europe is Pregnant 
John Eskow
How Can We Live With All of This Rage?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Was Khe Sanh a Win or a Loss?
Dan Corjescu
The Man Who Should Be Dead
Howard Lisnoff
The Bone Spur in Chief
Brian Cloughley
Hitler and the Poisoning of the British Public
Brett Wilkins
Trump Touts $12.5B Saudi Arms Sale as US Support for Yemen War Literally Fuels Atrocities
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraqi Landscapes: the Path of Martyrs
Brian Saady
The War On Drugs Is Far Deadlier Than Most People Realize
Stephen Cooper
Battling the Death Penalty With James Baldwin
CJ Hopkins
Then They Came for the Globalists
Philip Doe
In Colorado, See How They Run After the Fracking Dollars
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Armed Propaganda
Binoy Kampmark
John Brennan’s Trump Problem
Nate Terani
Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
Steve Early
From Jackson to Richmond: Radical Mayors Leave Their Mark
Jill Richardson
To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done
Ralph Nader
Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Sam Pizzigati
Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk
Sergio Avila
Don’t Make the Border a Wasteland
Daryan Rezazad
Denial of Climate Change is Not the Problem
Ron Jacobs
Flashing for the Refugees on the Unarmed Road of Flight
Missy Comley Beattie
The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities
George Wuerthner
Isle Royale: Manage for Wilderness Not Wolves
George Payne
Pompeo Should Call the Dogs Off of WikiLeaks
Russell Mokhiber
Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections
Franklin Lamb
Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely
Montana Wilderness Association Dishonors Its Past
Elizabeth “Liz” Hawkins, RN
Nurses Are Calling #TimesUp on Domestic Abuse
Paul Buhle
A Caribbean Giant Passes: Wilson Harris, RIP
Mel Gurtov
A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring