"This is the worst economic recovery America has ever had," "CBS Evening News'" Scott Pelley reported in July. And this past Friday's Gross Domestic Product report from the Commerce Department, showing the U.S. economy grew at an anemic 2 percent in the third quarter, confirmed Pelley's conclusion. Since the Obama recovery began more than three years ago, the economy has grown at the slowest rate of any recovery since World War II.
There are many reasons why President Obama's policies have failed to create an adequate environment for even an average economic recovery. But one of the most important was his decision to embrace a governing blueprint published by a progressive think tank, the Center for American Progress.
Published just days after Obama suffered a historic defeat at the polls in 2010, the CAP's "The Power of the President" report outlined how Obama could keep moving the ball on his progressive agenda without congressional approval.
"In the aftermath of this month's midterm congressional elections, pundits and politicians across the ideological spectrum are focusing on how difficult it will be for President Barack Obama to advance his policy priorities through Congress," CAP President John Podesta wrote in his preface.
"Some debate whether the administration should tack to the center and compromise with the new House leadership. As a former White House chief of staff, I believe those to be the wrong preoccupations. President Obama's ability to govern the country as chief executive presents an opportunity to demonstrate strength, resolve, and a capacity to get things done," Podesta concluded.
And "get things done" without Congress is exactly what Obama has done. This week, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., released a new report, titled "The Imperial Presidency," detailing more than 40 separate occasions where Obama has written, rewritten or ignored federal law without any input from Congress.
For example, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 requires all federal agencies to produce semiannual regulatory agendas in April and October every year. But after businesses freaked out over last year's Environmental Protection Agency agenda -- an agenda that self-reported more than $130 billion in annual regulatory costs -- Obama's EPA failed to issue either of the required regulatory plans this year. As a result of this illegal omission, businesses now lack the information necessary to make investment decisions. Regulatory uncertainty translates to less business investment. Less business investment means fewer jobs. That's a major reason why Obama is still a net job-killer as president. U.S. businesses employ 61,000 fewer Americans today than they did when Obama took office, even though the working-age population has increased by 9 million.
Even when issuing its regulations, Obama's EPA often fails to follow the law. In striking down an EPA rule regulating power plants earlier this year, a federal court said that Obama's EPA "seems reluctant to acknowledge any textual limits on its authority under" the Clean Air Act.
Conservatives are not the only ones who have documented Obama's assault on the rule of law and its impact on the U.S. economy. Every year, the World Economic Forum issues a Global Competitiveness Report, ranking more than 100 countries on a number of key economic indicators. When Obama was sworn into office, the United States was ranked as the best country in the world to do business. After just four years under Obama, the U.S. has dropped to seventh. The report specifically cites the collapse in the rule of law in explaining this decline.
Before Obama was president, the U.S. ranked 40th in "favoritism in decisions of government officials." Today, the U.S. ranks 59th, a fall of 19 places. Before Obama was president, the U.S. ranked 50th for lowest "burden of government regulation." Today, the U.S. ranks 76th, a fall of 26 places. Before Obama was president, the U.S. ranked 28th in "transparency of government policy making." Today, the U.S. ranks 56th, a fall of 28 places.
Our nation was founded on the idea that freedom could only be preserved if a strong executive branch of government was checked by an equally strong legislative branch. By choosing to assert his executive power over Congress at every turn, Obama has weakened our freedom. High unemployment and weak economic growth are direct results.
Conn Carroll (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior editorial writer for The Washington Examiner. Follow him on Twitter at @conncarroll.