[Hankyung Economy] Why Has President Obama’s Popularity Been Falling
John F. Kennedy is often considered the most popular American President. Since his victory in the Senate in 1952, the Kennedy family enjoyed its political glory days in Massachusetts, in the northeast part of the US.
The Democratic party, the party of the Kennedy family, has dominated both the US Senate and House seats of the Democratic Party for over half a century. Thanks in part to the influence of the Kennedys, the Republicans have not been able to make any headway into the state. Thus, upon the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, current MA Attorney General Martha Coakley was expected to win easily in the special election to fill Kennedy’s seat.
However, there was an upset. Due partially to declining public support for President Obama’s economic stimulus plan and proposed health care reform bill, the Republican candidate, State Senator Scott Brown, won the race. The defeat of the Democrats, despite strong support from the MA unions, was as shocking as Obama’s victory in the Presidential election a year and a half ago. Now the Democrats no longer have 60 seats in the Senate, and this might bring difficulties to the passage of the health care reform bill through the Senate, for which the Democratic Party and Obama risked their political lives.
Obama’s mistake came from trying to be a hero and push the health care reform bill through Congress in a short time frame, which past Democratic presidents had failed in doing, which led to the mistake of trying to get the bill passed relying solely on the Democrats’ overwhelming majority in Congress. He should have approached the issue more cautiously, not by trying to rush matters.
Obama’s popularity has not been helped by using $7.9 billion of the stimulus plan to bail out GM and a few financial giants on Wall Street, a move that didn’t help the nation’s economic recovery at all.
Just like the economic stimulus package, the cost of the health care reform bill is astronomical. Many Americans are worrying about our national debt spiraling even further out of control, as well as the looming specter of raised taxes to pay off these mounting debts. However, it is well known that raising taxes has not stimulated the nation’s economy in the past. In order to pay for the costs of the health care bill, Obama has proposed a “surtax” for the rich, a measure that is simply taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor. Another of his ideas is to force the cost of health insurance upon business owners, with a hefty fine levied upon those that fail to comply. This is nothing but a concept of socialist redistribution, a measure that would not create higher productivity and improve the unemployment rate.
According to a January 16, 2010 ABC poll, 63 percent of Americans believes that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Just one year ago, Obama’s popular support reached nearly 70 percent. The most important fact from this is that more than half of the American population does not want a big government. Americans prefer individual freedom to big government, and respect the principle of a free market economy. What Americans don’t want is socialism, emphasizing the redistribution of wealth over equal opportunities. Americans rejected the idea that big government should directly run the health insurance industry, which accounts for a 6th of the US economy.
A few days ago, Obama proposed an idea during a public speech whereby his administration would impose $1.17 billion of annual taxes for the next 12 years on banks with assets in excess of $50 billion, emphatically declaring that this was to get back our money. He said to the American people “I promise you, we will get it back.” This was a highly stylish speech. But it failed to mention all the bailout money given to GM and Chrysler, or that this speech was motivated by political calculation to make the unions happy, or that the government’s mismanagement of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae forced billions of taxpayer money to be spent in order to bail them out. The polls show that Obama’s remarkable speechmaking ability and charm have begun to lose their power. There is only one reason for that – Obama has failed to understand what Americans truly want.