Political Collapse: The Three Issues President Obama Owns Outright

If we are witnessing the unraveling of the Obama agenda over the past several months, then it is arguably happening based on three major public policy issues: healthcare, immigration, and foreign policy/fighting terrorism.

Considering that this slate comprises the most significant and highest priority set of issues for the Obama presidency, this recent collapse of the Obama agenda raises an interesting question: Is there a common thread among these three issues? What is consistent among these issues that they would cause such a significant political collapse for the two-term president?

While recent polling will show that voters have more confidence in Republicans on economic issues, there is such a small gap in the poll results that it is evident that voters hold both parties responsible for the persistent economic malaise in America – even if Democrats are held more responsible (something to watch for in the upcoming midterm elections).

The great distinction between the poor economy as a political issue and the three major issues behind the Obama political collapse also points to the commonality amongst those three issues. In the case of healthcare, immigration and foreign policy, President Obama owns the responsibility for these issues unilaterally, comprehensively, and unquestionably. Republicans cannot be blamed for the outcome on any of these as they arguably can on the economy.

For instance, instead of addressing other issues in the 111th Congress when President Obama first took office and through spring 2010, he pushed for the Affordable Care Act. Well, he got it, and without a single Republican vote. Not one.

The outcome of the healthcare issue therefore rests solely on the back of this administration and the Democrats in Congress. When the healthcare.gov website turned out to be an abject failure late last year, there was no one across the aisle that Democrats or the President could blame regardless of how hard they might have tried.

Also, since President Obama took office, he has been under extreme political pressure from illegal immigration activists to push hard for the passage of amnesty. They were disenchanted when they had to play second fiddle to healthcare in 2009-2010, especially after the Democrats lost the majority in the US House of representatives in the 2010 midterm elections in direct response to the passage of healthcare reform earlier that year.

Then amnesty proponents had to wait until after the President was reelected in 2012 before he could politically justify moving on immigration. So now the pressure has intensified on the president, particularly as we now approach the 2014 midterm elections. Just this weekend, the President revealed that he will forestall executive action (bypassing Congress as he is wont to do) on immigration until after the midterm elections in November, angering both amnesty activists and Republicans for what is a blatant political move to try to avert the loss of the Democratic majority in the US Senate (see: Obama’s immigration train wreck).

Note that immigration is the sole responsibility of the executive branch of the federal government run by the Commander in Chief. President Obama owns this one too.

Finally, there is much that can be said about President Obama’s foreign policy and fight against terrorism.

Russia invaded Ukraine last week, the first such breach in Europe since World War II.

President Obama stated himself last week that he has no strategy to deal with the Islamic State, despite their dramatic takeover of territories in Iraq and Syria. They have snubbed their noses at President Obama because of the airstrikes that he has delivered to them with the YouTube beheadings of two American journalists, not to mention the slaughter of thousands of Syrian soldiers, Iraqi soldiers, women, children – an indiscriminate bloodbath.

As defined in the US Constitution, foreign policy is the jurisdiction of the Commander in Chief. More specifically, President Obama unilaterally dismantled our missile defense system in Eastern Europe in 2009. The reset policy with Russia was an innovation of his administration. He alone chose to remove all of our troops from Iraq instead of working to create a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq one way or another.

We can argue long and hard how the Obama administration and the Fed is responsible for the pathetic state of our economy, but it also takes the Republican-controlled Congress to pass our budgets with trillion dollar deficits. Since the US House of Representatives has the power of the purse, blame Republicans and Democrats for our lousy economy.

Even with issues for which the GOP could share the blame though, note that President Obama has chosen to dismiss Congress in many cases and use executive orders to form policy from the executive branch. While Republicans certainly have oversight over these three critical issues that have derailed the Obama agenda, they have had little impact on their direction or implementation.

What is unique about the three most critical issues of the Obama presidency is that he has sole responsibility for them.

He can caterwaul about the obstructionists Republicans in Congress all he wants, but the political walls are collapsing all around President Obama because of conflicts of his own policymaking on issues for which he indisputably and completely is in sole ownership.

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