Brett Decker, consulting director at a strategic consulting organization called the White House Writers Group, devotes a USA Today column to the electorate’s growing sense that the federal government and its leaders are incompetent.
As every president does, Obama recited a litany of new things he promises to do to turn things around. Playing to part, Democrats stood and cheered while Republicans sat on their hands. This Washington theater isn’t inspiring to anyone.
On numerous occasions, Obama said he would use his authority unilaterally if necessary to get things done with or without laws passed to do it. “Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.” A few minutes later, he made clear again, “I will act on my own…”
This makes for impressive grandstanding, but Congress has the power of the purse. Nothing gets funded without congressional appropriation. And anything implemented through executive order can just as easily be undone with one stroke of the pen by the next president.
Both parties are misreading the public mood by believing the primary problem is a political logjam holding up their respective agendas. Obama has won most policy showdowns with Republicans on Capitol Hill over the past five years, but his approval rating is stuck at record lows because a majority does not trust him on the economy.
It’s not just partisan gridlock that frustrates voters, or only that important things (for example, responsible budgets) don’t get done; it’s the idea that current government is incapable of solving our nation’s problems because it is incompetent. More programs won’t solve this fundamental lack of faith in the system.
Defending his signature legislative achievement, Obama said of the Affordable Care Act, “I don’t expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law.” This misleadingly makes growing lack of support for Obamacare sound like a partisan issue when in fact 64% of independents oppose the health care legislation.
Sentiment towards Obamacare declined consistently after the launch was botched. A lot of that was reaction to the system looking like it wasn’t going to work as much as — or more than — ideological opposition to the idea. Americans want things to work. They can’t believe a nation that went to the moon on a short timetable now cannot make a website work.
They also can’t believe a government led by The One could be this clueless.