Want to get your New Year started off right? Let’s recap 2014’s biggest blunders from the left. (Why only seven? Our time is limited.)
7. The child migrant crisis at the border. The Obama administration floated an amnesty for young illegal immigrants, preventing the removal of people who would have benefited from the DREAM Act — which Congress pointedly refused to pass — by executive fiat. Tens of thousands of teenagers and families from Central America came across the border, including unaccompanied minors.
Coincidence? The 1986 amnesty and six smaller subsequent amnesties were followed by an increase, not a decrease, in illegal immigration. Additionally, the Obama administration was warned at least a year in advance, according to The Washington Post, that a border crisis was brewing. Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions said “the rising crisis at the border is the direct and predictable result of actions taken by President Obama.”
Conditions in the country of origin aren’t likely to change soon. Neither are the conditions here in the United States. After the midterm elections, Obama made his proposed executive amnesty a reality. It’s not clear what, if anything, congressional Republicans will do about it in the New Year.
6. The Democrats’ abortion obsession backfired. The tide finally turned in the “war on women.” Democrat Wendy Davis ran for governor of Texas, of all places, on the color of her running shoes and the strength of her support for late-term abortion. Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall campaigned for reelection with a heavy emphasis on abortion and his challenger’s supposed desire to ban birth control.
Udall found himself mocked as “Mark Uterus.” A top local Democratic donor jeered him on abortion: “That’s not the only thing you stand for! Jesus Christ!” Davis lost the women’s vote (though Salon predictably concluded these women voters were the real failures). Republicans Cory Gardner and Greg Abbott defeated Udall and Davis, respectively.
5. France was forced to abandon its “super-tax” on the rich. It’s no secret American liberals look to Canada and Europe to see what policies to impose next here. So it’s worth noting that the French will bid au revoir to Socialist President Francois Hollande’s 75 percent tax on earnings over 1 million euros, or approximately $1.2 million. Critics had warned it would turn France into “Cuba without the sun.”
It wasn’t “Atlas Shrugged.” Defenders of the tax point out the feared mass exodus of high earners never happened. But it did cause French employers to take to the streets in protest for the first time in 14 years. Reuters reported “the damage to France’s appeal as a home to top earners has been great, and the pickings from the levy paltry.”
“The reform clearly damaged France’s reputation and competitiveness,” Jorg Stegemann, head of an executive search firm based in France and Germany, told the wire service. “It clearly has become harder to attract international senior managers to come to France than it was.” You don’t say?
4. Vermont had to shelve its single-payer health care system. Remember what I said about liberals emulating Canada and Europe? There’s probably no better example than the American left’s infatuation with single-payer health care. They refer to major industrialized democracies without it — namely, the United States — in tones normally reserved for describing a lack of indoor plumbing.
Vermont attempted its own version of single payer and was hailed as a trailblazer by USA Today as recently as August. And while its architects already stood poised to blame the “completely dysfunctional U.S. health system” and its “abysmal structure” in the event it failed, experts always warned it would require a big tax increase — perhaps as high as 160 percent.
The state threw in the towel. To paraphrase Ted Kennedy, the single-payer dream shall never die. Neither will the talking point that single payer is single-handedly responsible for countries experiencing better health care outcomes at lower prices. But as Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle has repeatedly pointed out, there’s actually no precedent for any country cutting its health care spending by as much as it would take the U.S. to get to European levels, through single payer or any other means.
In the immortal words of P.J. O’Rourke, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free!”
3. The spending cuts that didn’t cause a recession. Barack Obama boasts that the economy is now the best it’s been since he took office. But if you listened to many of his economic advisers and supporters, that shouldn’t have been the case, thanks to the sequestration spending cuts.
New York Times columnist and former Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman warned about the “sequester of fools” that could cost 700,000 jobs (in a blog post mocking others’ false predictions). A group of 350 economists — including Jared Bernstein, Robert Reich and Robert Kuttner — predicted it would kill perhaps 1 million jobs and the economic recovery. Others sounded the alarm against “premature austerity,” which sounds like something out of a Viagra commercial.
Federal spending fell below 20 percent of GDP in the third quarter of 2014, down from 24 percent since 2011. The budget deficit declined to less than 3 percent of GDP. The economy nevertheless grew at the fastest pace in 11 years and unemployment (at least among people who haven’t given up looking for jobs) is expected to be around 5.7 percent.
2. All things Gruber. Forget HealthCare.gov. Health care policy wonk Jonathan Gruber went from being the architect of Obamacare to its one-man wrecking crew. Gruber was caught admitting transparency would have killed Obamacare, thanks to the stupidity of the American voter. He suggested premium subsidies would in fact be limited to the state-based exchanges. He acknowledged Obamacare wouldn’t control costs, an admission he once made of his previous project, Romneycare. He said it “wasn’t supposed to” control costs.
While MSNBC thought it was pointless, Gruber became a campaign issue. Even if he wasn’t a household name, he did symbolize what a lot of voters thought about Obamacare: that it was complicated, that it wouldn’t help them, that it might prove inferior to their pre-Obamacare health care arrangements. And then it cost the Democrats another midterm election.
1. Republicans won in November. Not only did Republicans recapture the Senate, after failing to do so in 2010 and 2012. Republicans will hold the governorship in Democratic states like Massachusetts, Maryland and Illinois. Troubled incumbent GOP governors won reelection in Kansas, Maine, Florida and Wisconsin. Republicans held Ohio in a landslide. Republicans will control 69 of 99 state legislative chambers, a record high.
Democrats blamed low turnout for their losses, but in Gallup’s polling more people disapproved of Obama’s job performance than approved for 450 days from September 2013 until almost the end of 2014.
W. James Antle III is the editor of The Daily Caller News Foundation and author of the book Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped? Follow him on Twitter.