A combination of conservative wins in the European Union and falling poll numbers on policy at home put the Obama administration on the defensive. With economic indicators — unemployment, gasoline prices and more — going the wrong way and with the effervescent Joe Biden admitting the phony “stimulus” is fraught with waste and fraud, the White House has spend several days promising that more money will be spent faster.
This is so far from reality, for the first time in this administration, the President’s policies were scrutinized by the mainstream media and he was criticized — even if only for a day or two.
The expectations were so high and the stimulus bill so flawed. Early in the process, Republicans tried to be heard on the flaws in the administration’s economic forecasts and claims of success. How do you quantify results of spending money that is not really there and is mostly in the “out years” of the stimulus package? For the first time since Obama-mania took hold of this nation, the numbers are being questioned.
News reports across the board in media outlets such as “The CBS Evening News,” or The Washington Post contended the administration and President Obama were merely repackaging their message and questioned the claims made of success. The Associated Press reported, “For the first time, the administration admitted the economic forecasts it used to sell the stimulus were overly optimistic.” In the Vice President’s Office, Jared Bernstein said, “At the time, our forecast seemed reasonable.”
This week, the voices of dissent around this administration were given a flicker of credibility by what the Media Research Center calls “The Cheerleaders of the Revolution” in the mainstream media. You can’t hide from the numbers, and President Obama had to tell a little of the truth this week. However, it wasn’t a revelation on every level. The president still insists on tying every economic issue to reforming the health care system. Nicole Wallace, the former White House Communications Director for President Bush, called it the “most arrogant kind of bait and switch.”
In the dark recesses of the message rooms of the Republican Party, this week there’s a hint of a smile. The Republicans were right on the president’s economic policy, but it’s bittersweet. In order to be right, it means the economy is worse. And using unemployment as the benchmark, it is worse. The promise was “pass this ‘porkulus’ bill and unemployment will not go over 8%.” We are quickly approaching 10%, and the people are panicked.
On Monday, the President lined up his economic team and myriad other Democrats in Congress to tout his 600,000 summer jobs program in the face of falling support of his policies. Seems to me, the president’s summer job should be the economy. And, Mr. President, health care is not the problem. The health care industry is one of the few sectors adding jobs each month.
The stimulus package was a ruse. The money was never frontloaded, so it was really never structured to be a short-term stimulus. Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) said on Tuesday, “When you look at the (stimulus) bill that was put out there, a lot of us said you are replacing a housing bubble with a government bubble. Throw a trillion dollars with interest and what happens when the government bubble bursts? This was supposed to be a temporary stimulus plan. It was alleged to create or save, although I don’t know how you measure saved jobs, up to 4 million jobs and then at the end of the day it seems that it doesn’t seem to be working.”
He went on to clarify, “Yesterday was an admission that it’s not working. I come from Michigan where there is 12.9 % unemployment on its way to 20 percent, thanks to the auto industry, and we’re looking at this stimulus and asking, ‘this is what you get for a trillion bucks?’ People are hurting out there and we want this economy to recover, but you cannot spend your way to a sustainable economy.”
Here’s the kicker. Once they spend the “fake” money in this temporary stimulus bill to create jobs, what happens when the temporary funds end? The created jobs will fall off too. Remember the 100,000 police officers on the street from the Clinton Crime Bill? They were the same kind of short-term-if-ever imaginary jobs.
The key to getting back on track in a Congress where conservatives are in the minority is the Blue Dog Democrats. McCotter said, “I hope that the Blue Dogs finally wake up and decide that government spending can’t create a sustainable economy.” McCotter sees the key to this is getting the Blue Dogs back to their conservative roots. He’s not hopeful because President Obama and the administration seem to be able to keep them in the fold. The Blue Dog Democrats were front and center with the President in his discussion of Paygo on Tuesday.
Republicans have to admit they didn’t live up to what they told the American people when they were in the majority. More importantly, they need to hold accountable the Democrats and the promises they made just a few short months ago. Democrats made promises to be the party of fiscal responsibility. With all the discussion of the runaway spending in the Bush years, in 5 short months, so much spending is on the books of the Obama administration you can’t even see the Bush spending from here.
On Tuesday the President tried to reinstitute the concept of “Paygo” or pay as you go — if you spend a dollar then the Congress has to save a dollar. However, he exempted about 2.5 trillion dollars of his priorities, including a health care reform jumpstart.
It’s just too much. When I saw that, I broke out laughing. Here’s the president who has spent about $12 trillion in his first few months in office, sqandering it on everything imaginable. Now he’s telling us to be thrifty?
The president received the first dent in his armor this week. It came from matching results to the promises he made. Republicans need to learn from this and find their voices to speak long, hard and continuously about the huge and ever-widening gap between Obama’s personality and his politcies.
Fiscal responsibility will be the clarion call of the next few months. The Republicans apparently are finally on the board and reflecting what the average American thinks on this issue. Let’s see if they can turn this in to a come from behind win in 2010.