Tonight pretty much sums up the Obama Presidency.
We have members of Congress looking for ‘dates’ so they can look like they are civil. We have a President who will talk about entitlements, and then will avoid proposing any major changes to those programs. And then Mr. Obama will talk about deficit control, and no doubt will propose more ‘investments’ which will do more to worsen the deficit problem.
That, in a nutshell, exemplifies the Obama Presidency. It is more theater than reality; more rhetoric than action.
But the show must go on.
Obama will move forward in the only way he sees; by further cementing his liberal legacy of the past two years, and hold off conservative efforts to derail any of that legislation. As E.J. Dionne states, Obama plans to ‘Legislate, Hold, and Build’.
So, in other words, for Obama, it is simply more of the same.
The argument is simple: Obama will try to sell his legislative victories of the last two years. He will spend the remainder of his term attempting to convince the unconvinced American public that the Obama agenda is setting America up for long term wealth creation, job creation, and overall stability.
Good luck with that.
Obama’s rhetoric has been spot on for the past few months. First, he compromised with Republicans on the Bush tax cuts. Then, he called for civility after the Tucson shooting. Tonight, he will talk about moving the economy forward. For example, the NY Times points out that Obama began talking about the desperate need to foster competitiveness and innovation in the pursuit of American jobs.
The problem is, for Obama these words mean maintaining current government programs and spending. And that, simply, is not where the American public stands on these issues. The American public wants answers about the growing deficit…and Obama lacks any answers.
Obama’s big answer to the deficit problem? A 5 year spending freeze. That will accomplish virtually nothing, after Obama himself has increased government spending by 70% in two years. The Obama plan would save about $15 billion a year over 5 years…or the equivalent of how much debt we as a country run up in about 4 days. That is the definition of useless.
Liberals argue that maintaing the rest of this spending is essential to long term job growth. Someone, namely the President, is going to have to explain how many of these programs are going to cost jobs. Fine. which of the following are the big job producers that Democrats are going to argue for?
- USDA Sugar Program. $14 million annually.
- National Endowment for the Arts. $167.5 million annually.
- National Endowment for the Humanities. $167.5 million annually.
Sure, there are programs that are much more controversial to cut, such as education programs. But largely, these are programs that are good ideas…when you have the money. And the American people have decided we don’t have the money, and are ready to turn off the spigot.
Democrats still don’t understand this political dynamic. Americans don’t believe that government will save them, especially from their economic woes. The public doesn’t blame Obama for the recession…but they also don’t believe he will provide solutions to get us passed the economic doldrums either.
And with that dynamic, the last thing Americans want to do is plow down several trillion dollars more in order to achieve…well, nothing.
So, let civility reign tonight. Republicans and Democrats, happily dancing together, corsage in hand to their mate from across the aisle. I am sure Obama will give a roundly lauded speech about hope, change, and civility. But in the end, unless it is backed by real reform, it will amount to nothing.