The president promised his stewardship would result in an unemployment rate no higher than 8 percent. For 43 of 44 months of his presidency, the rate remained at or above 8 percent. He forecasted his policies would bring the unemployment rate to 5.6 percent this year; instead, the rate is 7.8 percent. 23 million are unemployed, and the U.S. labor force participation rate remains near a 30-year low.
The president also promised on the campaign trail to bring down the cost of healthcare and provide health insurance to more Americans. Over the last four years, the opposite has occurred; the cost of health insurance continues to rise and more Americans are uninsured. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the number of people without insurance climbed another 1.7 percent in the first quarter of 2012, bringing the total number to more than 47 million. The Health Care Cost Institute reports health insurance premiums rose another 4.6 percent in 2011, more than the Obama Administration’s 3.9 percent estimate. When the Affordable Healthcare Act, or “Obamacare” for short, comes fully online the Congressional Budget Office has estimated that as many as ten to twenty million Americans will be dropped from their employer sponsored insurance on to taxpayer and deficit funded healthcare.
And that raises the issue of the deficit and debt. In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama said President George W. Bush’s adding $4 trillion to the national debt over his eight years in office was “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.” President Obama pledged he would cut the debt in half in his first term. Instead the debt has grown from 10.6 trillion to what will be 16.6 trillion by the end of the year. In each of the four years of his presidency, the United States ran a more than one trillion dollar deficit. Through the end of October, the federal government will pay an astonishing 359 billion on interest alone, and that’s with a historically low interest rate around 2.6%. The average is closer to 5%. When the Federal Reserve abandons, as it must, its aggressive monetary policy the current debt service will balloon into a 700 billion dollar debt service payment! If the trend continues, the interest payment will reach a trillion dollars before the end of the decade; a payment the U.S. government cannot make. No internal threat has so jeopardized the future of this country since the Civil War.
On these three accounts, employment, health care, and uncontrolled deficit spending, President Obama has earned failing grades. Further, his inability to lock in on solutions to get Americans back to work, such as taking advantage of new technologies and new discoveries in oil and gas exploration, makes clear to the shareholders of America, “we the people”, it’s time for new leadership. It’s an ugly record, but unlike what President Obama said about small businesses, he did build that.
This November, Americans must do what every company’s board members and shareholders do: evaluate management’s performance and decide whether Barack Obama is still the person most qualified to lead; or, is it time for new management?
LeMieux is chairman of the board of the Florida based Gunster law firm, and a former Republican U.S. Senator from Florida.