Instead of asking ourselves if we are better off today than we were four years ago, maybe we should be asking if we will be better off four years from now? Without the need to woo skittish voters, and appease wealthy donors, President Obama would no longer have to carry on the ruse of upholding The Constitution. He would have the power, through executive order if need be, to continue his war on capitalist prosperity. Even without the blessing of Congress, he would assume the authority to appease our enemies while snubbing our allies. What would four years look like if President Obama is elected to another term? In the first of a four-part series, I’ll describe the America, Obama’s America, that is yet to come.
Though we don’t see the exuberance of four years ago, there is much celebration in the nation today. Seniors who feared cuts to Social Security and Medicare are now looking forward to the hope of a decent retirement. People who were previously uninsurable, or had children with catastrophic illnesses, who were already enjoying the benefits of the Affordable Healthcare Act are resting comfortably. Students who only a year ago, were protesting in the streets, now feel they have a future.
There is caution in the celebrating though, an almost palpable feeling that maybe, just maybe everything isn’t as it seems. Tentative hope has now been replaced by fear and uncertainty. For many in this country this is not a day to celebrate, it is a day filled with a sense of dread. The campaign slogans of “Hope and Change”, of “Forward”, of “Believe in America”, have been replaced by a new slogan, “Oh my God what have we done”.
The fifth year:
Obama wastes no time in pushing though his campaign promise of making rich people pay “their fare share”. At first, the extension of the Bush era tax cuts for the middle class, along with the Fed’s new policy of printing and circulating large sums of money has a small positive effect on the economy. Middle class wage earners, while not gaining any true increase in wealth, are feeling better about the future so they are starting slowly and cautiously to spend more.
Employment however, has not increased as much as expected. Small business owners who were waiting on the outcome of the election, before deciding whether to expand or hire, have decided to put it off. Even with the small increase in consumer spending, they are waiting to see just how much the Affordable Healthcare Act and the new wealth taxes will cost them. A few small business owners are eager to utilize the Obama administration’s new programs to reward “insourcing” and “green” business. The program has little success however, as the program’s stipulations, along with all the government’s restrictions, make it impossible for these businesses to be profitable.
The upper tier rich begin to look for ways to divest their income to avoid paying the new wealth taxes. Many are placing most of their funds in overseas bank accounts. Wealthy businessmen, concerned about maintaining the profitability of their companies, many of whom would never have considered it before, are moving overseas. Many wealthy individuals are starting to consider the wisdom of leaving the United States entirely and taking up residence in a foreign country. A policy that was supposed to generate more revenue for the government has the unexpected result of prolonging the employment crisis.
In spite of another drop in interest rates, the housing market has also remained flat. As the year progresses, the Fed’s influx of cash has led to inflation. The increase in the cost of living, coupled with the lack of well-paying jobs has people reluctant to buy a home. What was a slow and cautious economic recovery has now become stagnant.
Obama Care has given many people who worried about the cost of healthcare, a reason to be hopeful. Adult children can now be carried on their parent’s insurance, and a person can’t be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition. The trade-off is that now individuals are forced to carry health insurance or pay a penalty tax. In spite of subsidies, many small business owners cannot afford to cover their employees. This forced those employees to turn to the state insurance pools. While low-income people are given a tax incentive to cover the cost of this insurance, many mid level earners do not qualify. This leaves them with an added expense that they did not count on. Just one more item to juggle into an already tight budget.
In spite of continued attacks against American interests in the Middle East, President Obama expands his policy of acceptance and understanding of the Muslim culture. He meets regularly with the heads of radical Islamic groups such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. He maintains his stance that Prime Minister Netanyahu needs to stop the development of settlements on the West Bank. Meanwhile, Iran continues its so-called “peaceful” nuclear program. Even though this presents a clear danger to one of our most important allies, Obama is reluctant to call for stronger measures against them. He prefers to rely on the economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations, despite their lack of success………
As we see, during Obama’s fifth year in office, the world continues to be a dangerous and unstable place, both economically and culturally. While most Americans may not be worse off, very,very, few can say things are better. In my next post, we will see what it might look like during his sixth year.