Fans of President Obama cheered his jobs speech to Congress not so much on the substance but on the style. I don’t blame them. They wanted feistiness and they got it. On innovative or inspiring job creation measures, not so much.
It is remarkable that a man who campaigned on bringing the country together and who has hectored the nation about civility is now receiving his highest marks for divisiveness and sarcasm.
The breathtaking aspect of Mr. Obama’s speech, if there was one, is that after weeks of working up this presentation, he utterly failed to propose how the nation will pay for the $450 billion program.
This lapse, or inability, undermines Democrat assertions that the skirmish over the debt ceiling reflected stubborn GOP ideology, or an unseemly effort to undermine the president, or crippling indigestion.
The brinksmanship engaged in by GOP leaders was deadly serious and for a purpose. They refused to allow “business as usual”. In a country with $14 trillion in debt, business as usual is spending money we don’t have.
In his jobs speech, President Obama again resorted to the notion that we can inflate our budget deficit today, to generate economic growth, and push off the day of reckoning into the future.
Encouraging public-private partnerships to build shipping terminals or bridges is actually a good idea, and I have written on that topic. I also embrace the idea that drastically cutting government spending today, and throwing thousands more onto unemployment, will not help our struggling recovery. But, like many others, I have no confidence at all -- none -- that this government (or possibly any other) will make the hard choices about future budget cuts, and agree to make those difficult decisions permanent. Thus, it is irresponsible to embrace yet another ramp-up in current outlays.
President Obama’s blindingly simple approach to avoiding this responsibility is to charge the so-called Super Committee, already assigned the unpopular and difficult take of cutting future spending, with paying for his American Jobs Act. Few observers believe that the Committee will find the $1.5 trillion in cuts that they have been assigned. Even fewer imagine they will come up with another $450 billion.
There has been much discussion of how the political climate has changed. Without a doubt the nation’s discourse has become more heated. This isn’t the result of a massive personality disorder that has overtaken the country; it is because our nation’s finances, and fortunes, are threatened as never before. Standard & Poor’s made official what most Americans suspected – that our budget deficits are out of control.
In calling for setting up the Fiscal Deficit Commission in the 2010 State of the Union Address, President Obama said the undertaking “shouldn’t be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem.” How prescient. One of the most egregious failings of this administration has been the president’s refusal to embrace any long-term corrections to our spiraling debt – even those put forward by his own hand-picked committee. In fact, Mr. Obama virtually ignored the Simpson-Bowles recommendations, since they were politically dangerous; the Commission turns out to have been just another Washington gimmick.
Now we have another Washington gimmick --The American Jobs Act. In “kicking the can down the road” – President Obama is our very own David Beckham.