Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Slowly I Turn, Step by Step ...

Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress remind me of Bill Clinton and the Democrats in the Congress of the early 1990s more and more with each passing day.

Except that the stakes today are so much higher than they were in Clinton's day.

Instead of focusing like a laser beam on policies that would make job creation his administration's top priority, Obama has squandered most of the first year of his presidency pursuing the quixotic goal of health care reform.

Millions have lost their jobs this year. Hundreds of thousands are on the verge of having their unemployment benefits pulled out from under them. And Obama has been making concessions in the hope of appeasing enough Republicans to pass health care reform legislation.

Garden–variety Democrats assumed that having 60 votes in the Senate insulated them from setbacks. Not so. The Senate Finance Committee voted down the public option today by a vote of 15–8. All 10 Republicans on the committee voted against it, and they were joined by five Democrats — Max Baucus of Montana, Thomas Carper of Delaware, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Bill Nelson of Florida.

So, after devoting all this time and energy to health care reform, Obama might get some legislation passed. But it's going to be a watered–down version of the legislation he has been pushing for. Real reform will have to wait — perhaps for the next Democratic president.

Meanwhile, unemployment continues to get worse. How much worse? We'll find out on Friday, when the next jobs report comes out.

My guess is that it won't be pretty.

And here's another guess. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist may be right when he says Obama is headed for a defeat in 2012 that will rival Jimmy Carter's in 1980.

And it sure doesn't seem like a good time to be pressing for the Olympics to be held in Chicago.

Of course, by 2016, Obama may be back in Chicago, doing his community organizing shtick again.

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