President Barack Obama’s rosy facade is cracking under the harsh light of reality as the young, inexperienced President’s optimism faces an increasing storm of record deficits, economic morass and failed promises.
Obama’s hope for a quick resolution on health care remains on life support while the sins of past President George W. Bush take center stage amid new revelations of expanding spy programs and CIA lies to Congress.
New polls show more erosion in Obama’s once sky-high approval ratings as more and more Americans question his ability to deal with the many daunting problems that face the nation.
President Barack Obama’s economic forecasts for long-term growth are too optimistic, many economists warn, a miscalculation that would mean budget deficits will be much higher than the administration is now acknowledging.
The White House will be forced to confront the disconnect between its original, upbeat predictions and the mainstream consensus about how the economy is likely to perform in a new budget forecast to be unveiled next month.
Christina Romer, chairwoman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, said in a POLITICO interview that the administration — like many independent economists — did not fully anticipate the severity and pace of this recession. She said the White House will be updating its official forecasts.
The new numbers will come as part of a semiannual review that, under ordinary circumstances, is the kind of earnest-but-dull document that causes many Washington eyes to glaze over.
This time, however, the new forecasts — if they are anything like what many outside economists expect — could send a jolt through Capitol Hill, where even the administration’s current debt projections already are prompting deep concerns on political and substantive grounds.
On the health care front, polls show Americans want the system overhauled but they are skeptical of Obama’s plans because of the high cost.
Most Americans say it’s important to overhaul health care this year, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, but they are less enthusiastic about some of the proposals to pay for it.
And while a majority say controlling costs should be the legislation’s top goal, more than nine in 10 oppose limits on getting whatever tests or treatments they and their doctors think are necessary.
The findings underscore the difficult path ahead for the White House and Congress as the health care debate enters crunch time. President Obama, who has called for the House and Senate to pass bills before their August recess, met Monday with two key congressional chairmen to try to hammer out financing for the $1 trillion-plus legislation.
Some are way of Obama’s lack of specifics in his health care proposals. Reports The Los Angeles Times:
The president’s decision not to spell out what he wants can be frustrating for rank-and-file members of Congress, said Chris Jennings, a senior healthcare advisor in the Clinton administration who also worked on Capitol Hill for 10 years. "There is always pressure to get more involved." But Jennings and other veterans of past healthcare battles said choosing sides too early can be risky.
"The president can only be used so many times," said Harold M. Ickes, who was a senior aide to Clinton. "And they [the White House] have to be careful so that when he really lays down the law, or tries to break a deadlock on any particular issue, that it’s done at the right time. Otherwise, he runs the risk of looking impotent."
In addition to divisions among Democrats — and near-solid opposition among Republicans — many leading interest groups that have supported the overhaul have begun voicing concerns.
"We know this is the first inning of a nine-inning game," said Michelle Dimarob, a lobbyist for the National Federation of Independent Business, which helped derail the Clinton administration’s push for a healthcare overhaul. "But we have not seen the things that small businesses need to see."
The bottom line: Americans, Republicans and even members of Obama’s own party are tired of the rhetoric. They want specifics, not rosy scenarios. They want action, not grandiose promises. The honeymoon is over. Reality has set in.