United States: Presidential woes

A lackluster year for the US president after failure to achieve the lofty goals set out in his inaugural address.

Despite a difficult year, Barack Obama had a foreign policy win with Iran [Reuters]
Despite a difficult year, Barack Obama had a foreign policy win with Iran [Reuters]

At the beginning of 2013, the year was looking good for Barack Obama – he had just been reelected. Today, after what most analysts consider a bad year for the US president, he has about the same approval ratings as George Bush did at this point in his term. On average, 41 percent of Americans approve of the job he is doing.  

In his inaugural address, Obama set some lofty goals:  tackling climate change, reforming immigration, closing the wealth gap and passing gun control legislation. None of these have been achieved.   

Obama did have some political wins; he stared down the Republicans over defunding his health care law.  He won, to a point. The government was shut down and they threatened to default on the debt, but the GOP caved and he does now have a budget to work with for the next two years.         

He was able to strike a deal with Iran to begin formal negotiations over its nuclear program. That isn’t seen as a win by many on Capitol Hill who are promising to try and derail the negotiations with further sanctions next year.  So now, the rest of his year.

No one is winning

He failed to pass gun control legislation, even universal background checks. He had the support of more than 85 percent of the American people. He put his Vice President on the case, but it turned out the power of the office and the people was not as powerful as the pro-gun lobby.

Then there was Edward Snowden. The “young hacker” has put the US President and his administration on their heels. They have been consistently behind the curve responding to the stories that basically say the US government is spying on everyone, everywhere, but only a little in the US       

The biggest hit the US president has taken could be in just the beginning stages, his signature health insurance legislation rolled out badly. Meaning, the website to buy it didn’t work well for quite a while.  

People are also finding out how much this mandated insurance is going to cost them, what it actually pays for and many are not happy. If he doesn’t get the right people or enough of them to sign up, it’s not clear the mandate can survive.        

On the foreign policy front, Obama can claim that he struck a deal that he believes will eventually get all of the chemical weapons out of Syria. 

That has been the President’s year. He might take consolation in the fact that he’s not the least popular person in Washington, DC. Congress has a lower approval rating. They are the least productive Congress in history, passing 57 bills into law the entire year.

As we head into 2014, that is the political score card in Washington. No one it seems is winning.  

Source : Al Jazeera

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