Former New York Mayor Edward Koch used to gauge his job performance with the catch phrase, "How'm I doing?" Throughout his reign in the 1980s, the colorful Koch would repeat the question to the citizenry of the Big Apple, until it almost became synonymous with his tenure.
Roughly one year ago, I touched what was apparently a raw nerve with some readers when I penned my open letter to then President-elect Obama, congratulating him on his historic victory, but remaining justifiably skeptical about his grandiose promises to fix everything that was apparently wrong under the previous administration.
Therefore, in a twinge of nostalgia, I decided to apply Hizzoner's job-approval measure to Obama following one year in office.
Health care reform, the centerpiece of Obama's presidency, garnered its much-needed 60th vote in the Senate - albeit after the Senate majority leader dutifully plied several key states, such as Louisiana and Nebraska, with stocking stuffers, dismissing the blatant largesse as the normal course of doing business along the Beltway. But hey, what's another $1 trillion - the expected cost of the health care package - when you have an unprecedented $3.5 trillion budget?
Roughly one week prior to the Senate vote, we witnessed Congress OK raising the debt ceiling by nearly $290 billion to ensure that there was enough leeway for the demands of the $800 billion stimulus package, whose merits and after-effects continue to be widely debated, particularly when national unemployment figures continue comfortably in double digits. Add to that another $154 billion for the jobs bill and after a time, it all begins to appear much like Monopoly money - ironically, a colloquialism the president used last month when he cautioned about the dangers of continuous spending.
Correct me if I'm wrong: If you want to pare down spending, shouldn't you, well, stop spending?
But I digress. Tax reform, which to be fair has evaporated in past administrations, appears to be stalled yet again, as the tax subcommittee of the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board had, as of this writing, been scheduled to release its report on tax reform after the New Year. The group, headed by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, asked for comments, and then appeared surprised when hundreds began pouring in. It seems more than a few people have ideas on how to reform the Tax Code.
Want more good news? Though health care reform has garnered the majority of the headlines, let's not forget the tax tsunami better known as the 1,300-page Waxman-Markey Clean Energy Bill - more commonly known as cap-and-trade - that is lurking on the 2010 horizon.
An analysis compiled by the Heritage Foundation concluded that Waxman-Markey would cost a family of four nearly $2,000 annually by 2020 and nearly $7,000 per year by the year 2035.
On a more positive note, the House Financial Services Committee decided to soften language in an absurd amendment to the Financial Stability Improvement Act that would have given a systemic risk regulator the ability to rewrite accounting standards.
Gee, I'm sure that would not have evolved into a political arm-wrestling match. If anyone has any doubt about that, I direct you to the Financial Accounting Standards Board and fair value.
So, "How'm I doing?"
With an approval rating that was near 70 percent a year ago and is now teetering below the 50 percent mark and continuing to decline, the president may not want to hear the answer as eagerly as Ed Koch once did.
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