Andrew Sullivan, the British writer for Newsweek and the Daily Beast , is truly unique. He was a big supporter of George W. Bush early in his term, before becoming disillusioned with Bush and conservatives in general over the Iraq War, Enhanced Interrogation Policies, and gay rights. Despite the fact that he still considers himself a conservative, he now sounds more like a liberal. At times, he seems like President Obama’s biggest fan, giving more credit to the President than even Obama himself does. In January 2012, he wrote a bombshell article for Newsweek titled “Why Obama’s Critics are So Dumb: How Obama’s Long Game will Outsmart His Critics.” In the article, he chastises conservatives and Republicans for what he considers unfair attacks on Obama and his record. He also criticizes the Far Left for being disapointed that Obama hasn’t been Liberal enough. Sullivan praises Obama for his brilliant political strategy, pragmatism, and competence (as opposed to the incompetence of the Bush Administration).
I know it has been a few months but I wanted to rebut a number of Sullivan’s claims he makes in the article with facts, exposing Sullivan for the “Obamaniac” and partisan shill he is. Many of his arguments are still relevant today, with the General Election between Obama and Mitt Romney looming. (Excuse the length of this article, Sullivan’s article was long and made a plethera of claims which i felt needed to be addressed)
The right’s core case is that Obama has governed as a radical leftist attempting a “fundamental transformation” of the American way of life. Mitt Romney accuses the president of making the recession worse, of wanting to turn America into a European welfare state, of not believing in opportunity or free enterprise, of having no understanding of the real economy, and of apologizing for America and appeasing our enemies. According to Romney, Obama is a mortal threat to “the soul” of America and an empty suit who couldn’t run a business, let alone a country.
Leave aside the internal incoherence—how could such an incompetent be a threat to anyone? None of this is even faintly connected to reality—and the record proves it. On the economy, the facts are these. When Obama took office, the United States was losing around 750,000 jobs a month. The last quarter of 2008 saw an annualized drop in growth approaching 9 percent. This was the most serious downturn since the 1930s, the chance of a systemic collapse of the entire global financial system, and unemployment and debt—lagging indicators—were about to soar even further. No fair person can blame Obama for the wreckage of the next 12 months, as the financial crisis cut a swath through employment. Economies take time to shift course.
RESPONSE: While it’s true that the 2008 recession/financial crisis cannot be pinned on Obama, and that we were losing bout 750 thousand jobs per month, Sullivan leaves out a couple of crucial points. He fails to mention the root causes of the Recession: The Sub-prime mortgage crises and the devaluation of mortgage- backed bonds. He also fails to mention that Obama and his Democratic Party strongly supported Government-backed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, along with other Private banks giving low income individuals mortgages. Many of these individuals could not afford their homes, eventually igniting the Sub-prime mortgage fiasco. Despite the Left blaming Wall Street Banks for the 2008 crash, the truth is that the Federal Government was responsible for 71% of the bad sub-prime loans.
Nobody blames Obama for the recession, they blame him for a slow recovery brought on by his Stimulus package and an increase in Governmental Regulations which have hurt the private sector.
But Obama did several things at once: he continued the bank bailout begun by George W. Bush, he initiated a bailout of the auto industry, and he worked to pass a huge stimulus package of $787 billion.
All these decisions deserve scrutiny. And in retrospect, they were far more successful than anyone has yet fully given Obama the credit for. The job collapse bottomed out at the beginning of 2010, as the stimulus took effect. Since then, the U.S. has added 2.4 million jobs. That’s not enough, but it’s far better than what Romney would have you believe, and more than the net jobs created under the entire Bush administration. In 2011 alone, 1.9 million private-sector jobs were created, while a net 280,000 government jobs were lost. Overall government employment has declined 2.6 percent over the past 3 years. (That compares with a drop of 2.2 percent during the early years of the Reagan administration.) To listen to current Republican rhetoric about Obama’s big-government socialist ways, you would imagine that the reverse was true. It isn’t.
RESPONSE: Sullivan’s claim that the stimulus caused the job collapse to “bottom out” cannot be proven. Economies contract and expand naturally without government interference. Yes, we added 2.4 million jobs but there’s no way to know if that number would be less (or even more) without the Stimulus.
Our GDP growth since the recession ended in 2009 has been anemic. The last two quarters our GDP has grown at rates 0.4% and 1.3%. This is horrible by historical recovery standards after a recession: from 1947 to 2011, the average rate of GDP Growth has been 3.3%. To say that the Stimulus “worked”, one must truly live in a fantasy world.
Sullivan goes on to point out that over the past 3 years, overall government employment has DECLINED by 2.6%. He’s trying to say that Obama really isn’t the Big Government Liberal that conservatives make him out to be. His problem is that the 2.6% number includes STATE GOVERNMENT workers; which obviously, Obama has no control over. Since Obama has taken office the amount of FEDERAL government workers has skyrocketed. Federal government jobs have increased by 173,000 (8.8% increase) from the start of Obama’s term to the end of 2010, the period of time where Democrats had a supermajority in Congress.
The right claims the stimulus failed because it didn’t bring unemployment down to 8 percent in its first year, as predicted by Obama’s transition economic team. Instead, it peaked at 10.2 percent. But the 8 percent prediction was made before Obama took office and was wrong solely because it relied on statistics that guessed the economy was only shrinking by around 4 percent, not 9. Remove that statistical miscalculation (made by government and private-sector economists alike) and the stimulus did exactly what it was supposed to do. It put a bottom under the free fall. It is not an exaggeration to say it prevented a spiral downward that could have led to the Second Great Depression.
RESPONSE: Again, Sullivan is making a claim that cannot be proven. He cannot prove that if the Stimulus wasn’t passed, there would have been a Depression. The Stimulus spent nearly 800 Billion Dollars, blowing a massive hole in the debt. Since it was passed Unemployment has not been below 8%. It’s pretty clear that the Stimulus did not do what it was supposed to and is a failure.
Unemployment went from 7.4% when Obama got into office up to 10.0% in late 2009 and back down to 8.1% today. We’ve been over 8% unemployment for the longest time since the Great Depression. And that 8.1% unemployment stat -while still terrible- is very misleading. The Unemployment rate only counts people looking for work. Discouraged workers- those who have stopped looking- are not counted as part of the Labor Force. The economy has been so bad that our labor force has shrunk to the lowest level since 1981. If the Labor Force remained the same today, as it was when Obama became President, the Unemployment rate would be 11.1% percent.
You’d think, listening to the Republican debates, that Obama has raised taxes. Again, this is not true. Not only did he agree not to sunset the Bush tax cuts for his entire first term, he has aggressively lowered taxes on most Americans. A third of the stimulus was tax cuts, affecting 95 percent of taxpayers; he has cut the payroll tax, and recently had to fight to keep it cut against Republican opposition. His spending record is also far better than his predecessor’s. Under Bush, new policies on taxes and spending cost the taxpayer a total of $5.07 trillion. Under Obama’s budgets both past and projected, he will have added $1.4 trillion in two terms. Under Bush and the GOP, nondefense discretionary spending grew by twice as much as under Obama.
RESPONSE: Here again, Sullivan makes several preposterous claims. Yes, Obama agreed to extend the Bush Tax Cuts at the end of 2010 but he did so very reluctantly. He only did it after getting trounced in the 2010 Midterm elections and in exchange for getting Unemployment Benefits extended. He’s consistently demanded that individuals making over $200,000 have their taxes raised from 35% to 40%. It’s true that over 1/3 of the Stimulus was tax cuts or “tax credits” (payroll tax credit, child tax credit, ect) but this temporary relief did very little to ignite the economy, as evidenced by the UE rate shooting past 10% since the Stimulus was passed. And he hasn’t lowered any tax brackets’ income rate. And it’s Absolutely true that Obama HAS raised taxes. Obamacare itself raises taxes on tanning salons, manufacturers of certain medical devices, as well as many other things .
Sullivan claims Bush policies on taxes and spending cost 5.07 trillion. This is true that under Bush, the National Debt increased by about 5 trillion. But he claims that under Obama’s budgets (past and future), he will have added just 1.4 Trillion in 8 years. I don’t know where Sullivan is getting these numbers. The national debt has already increased 5 trillion under Obama from (10.6 Trill to 15.6 trill).And remember, that’s with nearly all of the TARP money being paid back under Obama, so really it should be more like 6 trill. So more debt has already been added to the national debt that any other president. To suggest Obama adds only 1.4 trill over 8 years when his future budgets contain no serious Entitlement Reform is ludicrous.
The great conservative bugaboo, Obamacare, is also far more moderate than its critics have claimed. The Congressional Budget Office has projected it will reduce the deficit, not increase it dramatically, as Bush’s unfunded Medicare D Prescription Drug benefit did. It is based on the individual mandate, an idea pioneered by the archconservative Heritage Foundation, Newt Gingrich, and, of course, Mitt Romney, in the past. It does not have a public option; it gives a huge new client base to the drug and insurance companies; its health-insurance exchanges were also pioneered by the right. It’s to the right of the Clintons’ monstrosity in 1993, and remarkably similar to Nixon’s 1974 proposal. Its passage did not preempt recovery efforts; it followed them. It needs improvement in many ways, but the administration is open to further reform and has agreed to allow states to experiment in different ways to achieve the same result. Like Obama’s Race to the Top education initiative, it sets standards, grants incentives, and then allows individual states to experiment. Embedded in it are also a slew of cost-reduction pilot schemes to slow health-care spending. Yes, it crosses the Rubicon of universal access to private health care. But since federal law mandates that hospitals accept all emergency-room cases requiring treatment anyway, we already obey that socialist principle—but in the most inefficient way possible. Making 44 million current free-riders pay into the system is not fiscally reckless; it is fiscally prudent. It is, dare I say it, conservative.
RESPONSE: While the CBO may have said Obamacare is Deficit-neutral, this an Obama Administration Accounting gimmick. This takes account 10 years of taxes with just 6 years of Spending (Obamacare doesn’t completely go into effect until 2014). Also there have been numerous reports about how the cost of Obamacare will be far greater than initially predicted.
The CBO has consistently gotten government Spending calculations wrong in the future. Yes, there’s no Single Payer or Public Option but these are two things Obama clearly wanted and had to do without because of political reasons. Obamacare forces insurance companies to pay 80% of their premiums on medical care.It also places a massive burden on Small Businesses, and will be a major drain on the economy. Not to mention it more than likely will be struck down as Unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court this summer.
On foreign policy, the right-wing critiques have been the most unhinged. Romney accuses the president of apologizing for America, and others all but accuse him of treason and appeasement. Instead, Obama reversed Bush’s policy of ignoring Osama bin Laden, immediately setting a course that eventually led to his capture and death. And when the moment for decision came, the president overruled both his secretary of state and vice president in ordering the riskiest—but most ambitious—plan on the table. He even personally ordered the extra helicopters that saved the mission. It was a triumph, not only in killing America’s primary global enemy, but in getting a massive trove of intelligence to undermine al Qaeda. But where Bush talked tough and acted counterproductively, Obama has simply, quietly, relentlessly decimated our real enemies, while winning the broader propaganda war. Since he took office, al Qaeda’s popularity in the Muslim world has plummeted.
RESPONSE: Contrary to Sullivan’s belief, Bush did not “ignore” Osama Bin Ladin. Sullivan is likely hinting at Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, which took resources away from Afghanistan. But the hunt for Bin Ladin and intelligence for his whereabouts was still completely active during the Bush Administration. Sullivan may have forgotten about the dozens upon dozens of high value Al-Qaida detainees captured in either Afghanistan or Pakistan during the Bush Administration. Obama did increase troops drastically in Afghanistan (from 40,000 to 100,000) but all he did was follow the same CIA program to look for Bin Ladin. There’s no proof that if Bush was still President, Bin Ladin wouldn’t have been killed. In fact, Sullivan fails to note that much of the intelligence that led to Bin Ladin’s Abbottabad compound (like the name of his courier) came in CIA interrogations during the Bush era. Some of this intelligence, as Obama’s own former CIA Chief admits, was even obtained by Waterboarding KSM (or “torture” as Sullivan likes to refer to it).
Now, certainly Obama deserves credit to some extent with his War on Terror policies. He has continued many of the Bush era policies (PATRIOT ACT, NSA Wiretapping) and drastically increased drone attacks in Pakistan much to the displeasure of his far left base. He made the right call by Surging in Afghanistan though this has led to mixed results. And he deserves credit for successfully ordering Bin Ladin raid, without alerting the Pakistanis. But for Sullivan to say Bush simply “talked tough” and “acted counterproductively” is absurd. It ignores the fact that there was no successful terrorist attack after 9/11 and all the detainees captured.
Also, Sullivan’s statement that since he took office, AQ’s popularity in the Muslim world has declined is also misleading. It’s possible this may be moderately true, but this has nothing to do with Obama. AQ began to lose broad support across the Muslim World, especially in places like Iraq and Pakistan with their brutal terrorist attacks and harsh treatment of Muslims themselves. The drop in popularity started around 2007/2008 before Obama took office. The US is actually less popular under Obama in the Muslim World than under Bush, despite Obama’s insistence that he was going to improve our image.
Obama’s foreign policy, like Dwight Eisenhower’s or George H.W. Bush’s, eschews short-term political hits for long-term strategic advantage. It is forged by someone interested in advancing American interests—not asserting an ideology and enforcing it regardless of the consequences by force of arms. By hanging back a little, by “leading from behind” in Libya and elsewhere, Obama has made other countries actively seek America’s help and reappreciate our role. As an antidote to the bad feelings of the Iraq War, it has worked close to perfectly.. The Iraq War—the issue that made Obama the nominee—has been ended on time and, vitally, with no troops left behind
RESPONSE:Again, Sullivan is giving Obama way too much credit. Obama does indeed have an ideology he has tried to assert- the liberal ideology that if we are nicer around the world, this will benefit America in the long run. As pointed out, we are less liked in the Muslim World. In Europe and other places, we may be more “liked” but we are less respected and feared.
Sullivan fails to mention all of Obama’s foreign policy disasters. He removed the Missile Defense Shield from Poland because of Russian pressure but got absolutely nothing in return. He treats Russia and Putin like our allies (as President Bush did) when they are anything but. On Iran, his efforts to reach out to the government to stop its Nuclear program has failed. Iran is now likely 1 to 2 years away from a bomb. He has gotten only 1 set of UN Sanctions on Iran, when Bush was able to give 3 even though he was supposed to be a unilateralist Cowboy.
Obama has been dreadful to the only Mideast Democracy, Israel, in constantly pressuring them to not attack Iran, stop building settlements, and sit down with the Palestinians. He famously declared last year that Israel should return to the 67 borders, something no American President has said before. He treats the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a conflict where both sides equally share the blame- when in reality it’s anything but. But this likely doesn’t bother Sullivan, as he was the same person who in 2010 accused Israel of “carpet bombing civilians” during the 2009 Gaza War.
Obama’s “leading from behind” Libyan approach that Sullivan mentions was almost an abject failure. He could’ve supported a no-fly zone a month earlier when the rebels were poised to take Tripioli in March 2011. Instead, he showed his anti-war liberal colors ,only finally giving in when Ghaddafi’s forces were poised to slaughter the rebels in Benghazi and retake the country. Had Obama acted earlier, NATO could’ve ended the conflict earlier than the 6 months it took for the rebels to eventually topple the Ghaddafi government. And even though Ghaddafi is gone, there are troubling signs that Libya will not be “free”; the new government has declared that Islamic law will be the source of legislation.
Obama also backed the removal of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, which eventually led the Egyptian Army to remove Mubarak after an 18-Day Revolution. Mubarak was corrupt and authoritarian but he was a great ally to America in the War on Terror and steadfastly enforced the historic 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty. After Parliamentary elections, the Egyptian Islamists (Muslim Brotherhood plus an even more extreme Islamist party) now control 70% of the Egyptian Parliament and they appear poised to take the presidency.
With Afghanistan, Obama has increased troops but we have not been able to finish off the Taliban and lost more Troops already than under 8 years of Bush. He’s struggled to get more European countries involved in combat fighting, despite the fact that he campaigned as someone who could persuade the world to cooperate with us.
Sullivan praises Obama for ending the Iraq War without mentioning that Obama merely followed the Bush Status of Forces Agreement which required that all US Troops leave before 2012. Obama also failed to secure an agreement to leave a small contingent of troops there, which could be handy if there is ever a war with Iran. Obama didn’t win the Iraq War; Bush did- with his “Surge” that Obama and all Democrats opposed. Obama does deserve credit though for not withdrawing troops from Iraq too soon, however.
CLAIM 8: Defense is being cut steadily, even as Obama has moved his own party away from a Pelosi-style reflexive defense of all federal entitlements.
RESPONSE: Though Obama has said he would be willing to reform entitlements, he has made no serious attempt to curb the costs of Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid; which take up 43% of the Federal Government budget and are a big driver of the debt. He refused to adopt the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles Commission, refuses to agree to raise the retirement age, and ridiculed Paul Ryan’s Medicare Reform plan (even the Bi-partisan Ryan/Wyden one) without proposing a serious alternative. His latest budget (which didn’t get one vote in both the House and Senate ) calls for no entitlement reform, whereas Ryan’s plan cuts about 6 Trillion from the future Debt over 8 years. He and his party just continue to attack Republicans for wanting to “throw Granny off a cliff” for trying to reform the entitlements,
CLAIM 9: Under Obama, support for marriage equality and marijuana legalization has crested to record levels. Under Obama, a crucial state, New York, made marriage equality for gays an irreversible fact of American life. Gays now openly serve in the military, and the Defense of Marriage Act is dying in the courts, undefended by the Obama Justice Department.
REPONSE: While I believe Obama should be given credit for methodically overturning Don’t Ask Don’t Tell with the Military’s backing, to give Obama any credit for “marriage equality” and states legalizing gay marriage is beyond ludicrous. It’s true that New York, Washington State, D.C., Vermont and Connecticut have passed laws legalizing gay marriage in those states during Obama’s time in office. But Obama had nothing to do with this. These were STATE laws passed by STATE Legislators and signed by STATE Governors. Obama didn’t campaign for the passage of gay marriage in any of these places. Written before his Gay marriage flip, Sullivan doesn’t mention that Obama himself still was opposed to gay marriage, though he tried to have it both ways by saying his views were “evolving.”
CLAIM 10: Two moderately liberal women replaced men on the Supreme Court.
RESPONSE: How Obama gets points for merely choosing women is beyond me. If Obama chose Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan as SC Justices, would Sullivan be praising Obama for this as well? Also, there’s an argument to made that Sotomayor and Kagan are not “moderate” liberals.
Take the issue of the banks. Liberals have derided him(Obama) as a captive of Wall Street, of being railroaded by Larry Summers and Tim Geithner into a too-passive response to the recklessness of the major U.S. banks. But it’s worth recalling that at the start of 2009, any responsible president’s priority would have been stabilization of the financial system, not the exacting of revenge. Obama was not elected, despite liberal fantasies, to be a left-wing crusader. He was elected as a pragmatic, unifying reformist who would be more responsible than Bush.
RESPONSE: That may not be what Obama campaigned on but that’s what he is. If he was dictator, there’s no doubt in my mind Obama would enact a top tax rate over 50%, staunch Wall Street regulation, and Nationalized Healthcare like Europe, which he has praised in the past. Looking at his record as a US Senator, State Senator, his past associations, and quotes, it is not a leap for a conservative to label Obama a “Socialist”- at least in ideology.
His “pragmatism” has led to record deficits, debt and, unemployment. Not to mention the doubling of gas prices which he bears responsibility for because of his objection to Offshore Drilling and rejection of the Keystone Pipeline.
His “uniforming reformist” label couldn’t be more inappropriate. This is the President who failed to get any Republicans votes on Obamacare and only two on the Stimulus. He has had almost no success compromising with the Republican House on anything because he is so far to the left. He constantly demonizes the wealthy and corporations for not paying their “fair share” in taxes (despite the fact that the top 10% pay 71% of all tax revenue and our corporate tax rate is one of the highest in the world. And let’s not forget how he and his party consistently and unfairly label Republicans as racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-poor, and anti-women.
This is where the left is truly deluded. By misunderstanding Obama’s strategy and temperament and persistence, by grandstanding on one issue after another, by projecting unrealistic fantasies onto a candidate who never pledged a liberal revolution, they have failed to notice that from the very beginning, Obama was playing a long game. He did this with his own party over health-care reform. He has done it with the Republicans over the debt. He has done it with the Israeli government over stopping the settlements on the West Bank—and with the Iranian regime, by not playing into their hands during the Green Revolution, even as they gunned innocents down in the streets. Nothing in his first term—including the complicated multiyear rollout of universal health care—can be understood if you do not realize that Obama was always planning for eight years, not four. And if he is reelected, he will have won a battle more important than 2008: for it will be a mandate for an eight-year shift away from the excesses of inequality, overreach abroad, and reckless deficit spending of the last three decades. It will recapitalize him to entrench what he has done already and make it irreversible.
RESPONSE: My question is, how does Sullivan know Obama’s psyche so well? How does he know Obama is doing these things as part of a long term 8 year strategy, rather than the only way he can implement his left wing agenda. Obama couldn’t get healthcare passed sooner only because his bill had zero support from Republicans and Moderate Democrats had trouble with certain aspects. He only gave up the Public Option because he had no choice.
His West Bank policy is an abject failure, as it shows how tepid he is in support of Israel. This will hurt Israel and strengthen the Islamists in the long term, not the other way around.
Sullivan claims Obama did not “play into the Iranian regime’s hand” during the 2009 Green Revolution, where thousands of Iranians came out to protest the rigged Elections. But this is exactly what he did when he initially didn’t side with the protestors and famously said he didn’t want to comment on the election because he didn’t want the US to appear like they were “meddling.” This, despite the fact the Iranian government was slaughtering innocents in the street.
Sullivan says if Obama is re-elected, it will be a mandate for a shift away from the “excesses of inequality, overreach abroad, and reckless deficit spending of the last three decades.” Shift away from the excesses of inequality? Poverty has shot up drastically under Obama; Food stamps are at a record level. This isn’t all his fault, but Obama has certainly not proven to be the champion of the poor that he so claims to be.
Shift away from “overreach abroad”? Has Sullivan forgotten that Obama tripled the troops in Afghanistan, tripled the amount of Pakistani drone strikes, and supported a war with Libya? But Sullivan’s most outlandish claim is an Obama re-election would be a mandate for a shift away from the “reckless deficit spending of the past 30 years.” Obviously, Sullivan is referring to Reagan and W Bush, who did put up record deficits. But Obama has shattered Bush and Reagan’s deficit records. Reagan’s yearly deficits averaged about $292 million per year. Bush’s deficits averaged about $248 billion per year . Obama’s deficit average about 1.29 Trillion per year. Quite a drastic difference. So how does Sullivan conclude that Obama winning would be a mandate against reckless deficit spending when Obama will have added more to the National debt and by far averaged the highest deficits of any President in history? One can only guess
CLAIM 13: Yes, Obama has waged a war based on a reading of executive power that many civil libertarians, including myself, oppose. And he has signed into law the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial (even as he pledged never to invoke this tyrannical power himself). But he has done the most important thing of all: excising the cancer of torture from military detention and military justice. If he is not reelected, that cancer may well return. Indeed, many on the right appear eager for it to return.
RESPONSE: There are several problems with this claim. First, that it’s not completely true. Obama has continued the Bush policy of Rendition- sending suspecting terrorists overseas where they could be subject to “torture.” Secondly, there is a perfectly legitimate argument that there was no “Torture” practiced by CIA interrogators under the Bush Administration. The harshest form of interrogation known under the Bush Administration was Waterboarding- pooring water over a subject to create the sensation of drowning. Many argue this practice isn’t torture per se because it leaves no serious physical injury. Certaintly, reasonable minds can disagree whether this is “torture”…it is borderline at the very least. But obviously Sullivan doesn’t believe this.
Also, only 3 high level detainees were Waterboarded or “tortured” according to Sullivan. Sullivan makes it seem like Torture was happening left and right under the Bush Administration. As most liberals believe, Sullivans thinks Torture is contrary to American values, is ineffective, and is a major recruiting tool for Al-Qaida. Never mind that CIA Directors and interrogators have confirmed we were able to get a plethora of information from Waterboarding which led to the capture of more terrorists, thwarted future attacks, and saved lives. Never mind that Al-Qaida and the Arab media will claim we “torture” whether we are drilling holes in their heads or feeding them cookies.
CLAIM 14: He has offered to cut entitlements (and has already cut Medicare), while the Republicans have refused to raise a single dollar of net revenue from anyone. Even the most austerity-driven government in Europe, the British Tories, are to the left of that. And it is this Republican intransigence—from the 2009 declaration by Rush Limbaugh that he wants Obama “to fail” to the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s admission that his primary objective is denying Obama a second term—that has been truly responsible for the deadlock. And the only way out of that deadlock is an electoral rout of the GOP, since the language of victory and defeat seems to be the only thing it understands.
RESPONSE: As I noted in an earlier response, Obama may have made vague promises to cut entitlements but he has never proposed any serious Entitlement Reform.
Sullivan is wrong when he says Repubs have refused to raise a single dollar of net revenue. They have refused to raise TAXES but this is NOT the same thing as REVENUE. Republicans rationally felt that raising taxes- even on the very rich- could hurt an already fragile economic recovery. But many Republicans have supported raising revenue by closing tax loopholes and limiting Deductions. Yes, they have opposed income Tax rates raises but who cares where the money comes from. This Obama debt is more due to Increased SPENDING than lack of REVENUE.
Also, Sullivan fails to note that cutting taxes does not necessarily mean less revenue to the government. Over the course of history, Government Revenue almost always increases from year to year unless there is a recession. This is true coming after Tax Increases, Tax cuts or no tax changes at all. During the Reagan Administration the top tax rate was cut from 70% to 50% and then to 28%. Yet, Revenue to the government almost doubled during his time in office. Republicans want to grow the economy which will help bring in more Revenue to the Government and they believe raising taxes will hurt this.
Conclusion: As one can see, many of Sullivan’s arguments are severely flawed. One can only wonder how Sullivan evolved from a staunch conservative to one of President Obama’s biggest supporters; arguably our furthest left president ever. Perhaps Sullivan has been mesmerized- as many on the left and even some moderates were- by Obama’s style and vigor. Sullivan makes outlandish conclusions about Obama’s actions and future intentions that cannot possibly be proven. Obama is as much a Centrist, Pragmatist, and Competent President as Andrew Sullivan is a Conservative and Realist.