President Obama’s second term is off to a rocky start. The Congressional Budget Office says his signature Obamacare legislation will cost millions their employer-provided health insurance in the years ahead. A series of scandals involving the Internal Revenue Service, the National Security Agency and the Justice Department kept the administration on the defensive, and the roll out of the ObamaCare Web site was a complete disaster.
Is this the curse of a second term?
“There’s not a curse,” political strategist Scott Rasmussen told a gathering at Heritage this week. But change is happening, and the political process is lagging behind. “America is becoming more decentralized, more personalized,” he pointed out. Washington, meanwhile, seems stuck in a one-size-fits all model. Healthcare.gov will never work, he says, in an iPad era.
“Until one side or the other comes to grips with this, we’re going to have stalemate both in first and second terms,” he added.
That said, there are practical steps a president can take to get his second term off to a better start. “Don’t launch wars you can’t win, don’t abuse your authority, don’t spy on your opponents, don’t lie about sex and don’t be incompetent,” quipped John Halpin, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
Halpin admitted that some of Obama’s problems thus far are self-inflicted. “Nobody made the president botch the unfolding of the Affordable Care Act,” he noted. “That’s on him.”
It’s also a failure of the system, Rasmussen added. “There is a tendency to believe that health care can be fixed by Washington politics,” he said. But he predicted that a “conservative” plan that tried to solve every problem at once would be just as convoluted as Obamacare, and wouldn’t work any better.
Author Tevi Troy noted that “a lot of presidents see the second term as a chance to go and accomplish new things and get stuff done on the foreign affairs front.” But from Syria to Iran to North Korea, there seem to be more threats than opportunities abroad these days. If Obama is weakened at home, Troy doubts he’ll be able to accomplish much on the foreign policy front.
“There needs to be a way to shift the dynamic,” Rasmussen concluded. Indeed. The best prescription, for a healthy first and second term, would be to empower people, not bureaucracy