BY TOM TOTH | JANUARY 8, 2014
Barack Obama's agenda may be finished in 2014
If the president thought this last year was bad, he may want to take some time on his Hawaiian Christmas vacation to sit down and consider that his best days in office are most likely behind him. The months between now and November 2014 may be the last before his presidency, at least legislatively, is effectively over.
The sixth year of office is historically a difficult one for any two-term presidency – specifically the second mid-term election. Often, the national popularity of the executive is waning, his party has exhausted its political capital defending his policies, the opposing party is fresh off a painful defeat and ready to fight for a conclusive win, and the president's political coalition is simply not as engaged nor politically supportive as it was during the presidential campaign. These factors add up to big losses for the president's party and a national swing toward the opposition. Additionally, only three mid-term elections since 1870 have resulted in Congressional gains for a two-term president's party.
In 2014, you can take each of those cases and multiply them. For further analysis, consider Obama's first mid-term election.
In 2009, Barack Obama used the Democrats' filibuster-proof supermajority to force the unpopular "Affordable Care Act" (more popularly called "Obamacare") on the American public. The response from the electorate was the advent of perhaps the largest organic political grassroots movement in the modern history of the nation. The so-called "Tea Party" was a large, effective collection of Americans who were simply fed up with the left's grip on Washington and willing to mobilize against the government's historic overreach into the healthcare market. This movement attained historic notoriety (and the undying ire of the left) as the primary force behind the 2010 landslide midterm victory for Republicans which shifted the House of Representatives from a large Democrat majority to a Republican majority and eviscerated the Democrat's Senate supermajority in a night. All of this predicated on Obamacare as an idea and a bill.
Four years later, Obamacare was finally implemented with dismal results. Millions continue to lose healthcare coverage and access to their primary physicians, despite a multitude of speeches from Obama promising otherwise. Healthcare premium increases are rampant and severe, in many cases rising several hundred percent or more. The website was entirely out of service for months before the enrollment deadline passed and is, to date, still not optimally functional. This law, not supported by most Americans from the start, has put the nation's entire healthcare system in disarray and American families at risk.
On top of these and other mounting scandals from the White House, the backbone to Obama's coalition – the millennial young vote – is becoming increasingly disenfranchised with the President they twice voted for as they find themselves continuously thrown under the buss by his policies: Being legally forced to overpay for health insurance they don't want. Mounting student loan debt they can't repay because entry-level jobs with upward mobility are largely non-existent in this economic environment. And figuring out that the "Big Brother" NSA is recording everything they do on the web and their phones.
A recent Harvard University poll found that only 41 percent of young Americans now support the president, down from 52 percent at the time of the 2012 election. This pulls the rug out from under Democrats who were elected on the coattails of Barack Obama's popularity.
Senate Democrats up for election this year were last elected with the wave of support – and historic left-leaning voter turnout – for President Obama. They now find themselves accountable for the actions of a president they supported and at great political risk because of it, especially in vulnerable right-leaning states like West Virginia, Montana, North Carolina, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Arkansas. Indeed, if Republicans keep their seats and win only a third of the Democrat senate seats up for election in the upcoming year, Republicans gain the majority in both houses, officially rendering Obama a conclusive "lame duck."
Barack Obama finds himself with few supporters and fewer allies in Washington with a political party at the cusp of a great defeat. Owner of Politifact's "Lie of the Year" and Politico's most-exposed liar, Obama has little credibility with which to offer support to his party. The question is, though, who even wants it?
With history no longer in his favor, his keynote legislation hurting families as its launch sputters, and the once-thought most dedicated body of support dissolving by the day, 2014 very well may effectively mark the end of the Obama agenda.
Tom Toth is the social media director and a contributing editor for Americans for Limited Government.