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Beyond Our Wildest Expectations

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Many on the right warned voters that if Barack Obama was elected he would spend even more money than George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress had spent.  They warned he would enact policies that fit his “spread the wealth” philosophy and that his administration would be hostile to business.  They warned that with a Democrat-controlled congress he would attempt to pass an very liberal agenda.  In one short month, President Obama has exceeded even the wildest expectations of many of his critics.


During the campaign, those warning Barack Obama would be a typical tax-and-spend Democrat were pointed to the example set by George W. Bush and the Republicans in Congress.  Voters were told the Democrats were now the party of fiscal responsibility.  It is not accurate to say President Barack Obama has shown himself to be a typical tax-and-spender.  He is an extraordinary one.  In one short month he has made sure our great grandkids will be paying our debts with his $800 billion “stimulus” bill.  At this rate, by the end of his administration George and Jane Jetson will be have a bill, too.  If he gets universal healthcare, daughter Judy and their boy Elroy might just owe as well.

During a campaign stop in an Ohio neighborhood, “Joe the Plumber” asked candidate Obama a simple question about small business and taxes.  Obama’s response gave voters a glimpse of the “spread the wealth” policies to come, but I doubt even Joe himself would have expected the newly elected President to move so quickly to enact them.  The Washington Post recently reported, “President Obama is putting the finishing touches on an ambitious first budget that seeks to cut the federal deficit in half over the next four years, primarily by raising taxes on business and the wealthy and by slashing spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, administration officials said.” 


Not only did Obama exceed the expectations of his critics when it comes to taxing business, but he went where few if any had predicted when he called for a government cap on executive salaries for financial institutions receiving federal bailout money.  Some Democrats in Congress even “one-upped” him by proposing restrictions to executive compensation beyond those President Obama had introduced. 

The record setting “stimulus bill” and the solutions President Obama has proposed to address the banking crisis and the suffering economy have exceeded the expectations of those who warned voters about extreme liberal policies to come.  They have not met the expectations of those on Wall Street though.  Stocks plummeted as President Obama signed the “stimulus” bill into law and after a month in office, amid speculation of extensive bank regulation and possible nationalization, stocks sunk to their lowest levels in a decade.

Not only have some of Barack Obama’s actions as President exceeded Republicans’ wildest expectations of how liberal they would be, but the response to them has been a surprisingly strong resurgence of conservatism among Republican lawmakers and the grassroots.  During the debate over the Democrats’ “stimulus” bill, Capitol Hill phone lines and email inboxes were swamped with traffic from those opposing it.  The bill passed the House with zero Republican votes and there were only three Republican votes for it in the Senate. 


The unifying force President Obama and the Pelosi-Reid Congress have been for Republicans has been an energizing force for many in the grassroots as well.  Although unable to defeat the “stimulus” bill, grassroots America appears ready to fight the next battle over spending and government bailouts.  A video rallying cry from CNBCs Rick Santelli in reaction to the proposed mortgage bailout has exploded on the internet inspiring not only the “Chicago Tea Party” he advocated, but similar “tea parties” all across the nation. 

In his analysis of Santelli’s “Shout Heard Round the World,” James Pethokoukis comments on the sharp and quick Obama sprint back to the Left following the election. “It's now clear why Team Obama was following Rahm Emanuel's "shock doctrine" recommendation of not "letting a crisis go to waste." When you are trying to govern a center-right nation from the left, you need to grab whatever advantages fortune hands you and then move fast and hard to exploit them. But did Obama really win a mandate to borrow and spend taxpayer money like never before, rescue bad banks and then bailout financially-inept or even fraudulent homeowners? Rick Santelli doesn't think so and that is why he talked back.”

If we continue to see the Obama administration move hard and fast to the left, the pushback from the right both from the grassroots and from congressional Republicans should grow even stronger.  Since the Obama followers have spent the past two years in campaign Hope ‘n Change mode, it will be interesting to see if they can rally the troops to support the administration’s proposals as they supported the campaign.    In contrast, conservatives over the past couple of years have had little motivation or inspiration, but now appear energized for a fight.  If they can maintain the momentum they have picked up over the past month, we might actually see them unite into a successful opposition force and achieve success beyond our wildest expectations.


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