George Michael: Promises, promises: President hasn't kept his

October 14, 2012

In February 2009, a month after he took office, President Obama told Matt Lauer on the “Today” show that if his stimulus plan failed, his presidency would be a “one-term proposition.”

“I will be held accountable,” he said. Maybe voters should hold him to that promise.

The president said that unemployment would not go above 8 percent if we passed his $862 billion stimulus plan. The rate climbed above 8 percent and stayed there for 42 consecutive months, the worst record since the Great Depression. By dropping more people from the work force, the administration was able to get the official rate down to 7.8 percent for September. The number of workers who have fallen through the cracks and are no longer counted since January is 1.2 million. The irony is that the lost jobs make his unemployment record look better. 

Actually, the situation is much worse than the standard rate reflects. About 7 million have been dropped from the rolls in the last four years. The U-6 unemployment rate, which accounts for all of those who could work if there were full-time jobs available, remained steady in September at 14.7 percent.


In early 2009, the president said in a press conference that he would trim the annual deficits in the federal budget by half by the end of his first term in office. He made it clear that the current deficit situation created by George Bush was totally unacceptable. He promised that his administration would attack and solve this problem. “We cannot spend as we please” he said back then. What happened to that claim? 

What has happened is that annual deficits have been over a trillion dollars a year, more than double the average under President Bush.  The national debt has increased by $5.5 trillion since President Obama was sworn in. All of his big government spending initiatives have added to our debt while having little impact on actually improving the economy. Once again, Keynesian economics has been tried and found wanting.   

To put it another way, the amount of debt incurred in the first 220 years under the 43 previous presidents combined is two-thirds of our total current debt. The other one-third has been added by President Obama in less than four years. The debt was a big issue four years ago but now it doesn’t seem to matter.

During his campaign, the president promised to close Guantanamo Bay, bring terrorists to trial in civilian courts in the United States, create more respect for America around the world, be much more transparent in his policies than Bush and be a unifying force, not a divider. 

In truth, he has divided the nation with his class warfare rhetoric, his “War on Women” attacks directed at Republicans, his belittling of his political opponents and distortions about their records. It is enough to qualify him for the “Most Divisive President” award. The discrepancy between what he said four years ago and what he has actually done could not be greater.

There are at least some accomplishments for the president. Eighteen million have been added to the food stamp rolls and more than one-third of Americans are now receiving welfare, according to Charles Kadlec in an article on Forbes Magazine online. It seems he wants more Americans dependent on the government.  

The president’s new tactic is to hammer on the idea that what he inherited was such a big mess it will take more than four years to recover. Apparently, a majority of Americans are willing to accept his excuses and fanciful explanations.   

So, what is his major economic plan to turn the nation around at this point? It is to add 3.6 percent to the taxes on a portion of the marginal incomes of the top 2 percent of taxpayers. Now isn’t that bold and dynamic!

“Hope and Change” has turned out to be a lot of “Smoke and Mirrors.”  It helps to explain why he did so poorly in the first debate against Mitt Romney. It is nearly impossible for him to defend his record. His only options are blame and excuses.

George Michael, who lives in Williamsport, is a former principal of Grace Academy. His email address is

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