By James M. Perry
Blow your horn, Mr. President!
If you listen to the pundits and just about any Republican in the House or Senate, you would believe the Obama Administration is an abject failure. Obamacare, they say, isn't working and the economy is a shambles.
None of that is true. Obamacare is working for its target audience, those Americans who aren't covered by health insurance, and the economy is recovering. And this year, 2014, may end up as the best year for job growth in 15 years.
"How many Americans know how health reform is going?" Paul Krugman asked in a recent New York Times column. "For that matter, how many people in the news business are following the positive developments?"
"Not many," he concludes. "How is that possible?" he asks.
"Think relentless negativity without accountability." Obamacare, Mr. Krugman says, has faced "nonstop attacks," involving predictions of disaster which have not come true. And these people, once one prediction fails to come true, simply come up with another.
One of the problems, of course, is that the roll-out was bungled. But, for the most part, it's working so well these days that one Republican senator (John Barrasso of Wyoming) limply argued the other day that Mr. Obama and his henchman are guilty of "cooking the books." The fact is, as many as eight million Americans previously uninsured are enrolled and thousands more are covered by an expansion of Medicaid.
"The usual suspects will keep crying failure but the truth is that health reform is -- gasp! -- working," says Mr. Krugman, a Princeton professor and winner of a Nobel Prize in economics.
It might be that the people who complain the most already are safely enrolled in well-regarded insurance plans. And they have yet to hear from those who have been enrolled in Obamacare and say that for the most part they are pleased with their coverage. Costs average just $82 a month.
Steve Benen, a blog writer, says "2014 isn't just an encouraging year as compared to other years in the Great Recession era, it's actually a strong year on its own." Indeed, more jobs have been created this year that were created in any year in the 12 years one of the Bushes was president. The Labor Department reported Friday that employers took on 310,000 new workers in November, far more than anyone expected.
Franklin D. Roosevelt took office during a terrible time, the Great Depression, when millions of Americans were out of work and thousands of them had taken to selling apples on city streets. Mr. Roosevelt, the greatest presidential politician of them all, created a jumble of alphabet agencies to put people back to work. They didn't all succeed, but that's not the point. What Roosevelt did was use his bull horn to convince most Americans that happy days were once again on the way.
Mr. Obama is the anti-Roosevelt. He's all brain and not enough gumption. Mr. Roosevelt was all gumption and only as much brain as he needed. Mark Shields, a shrewd political analyst, believes Mr. Obama, by style and inclination, might be a better Supreme Court justice. Justices, after all, issue their opinions and then step aside and let others handle the fallout.
That's Mr. Obama's problem. He makes good decisions most of the time and then steps aside.
Now, with Obamacare and the economy working, it's time to step out, not aside.
James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.