Barack the Mad

On Friday, right after his Democrat colleagues in the Senate used a procedural maneuver to kill the Cut, Cap and Balance Act without a real vote, President Obama held a town hall meeting at the University of Maryland before a carefully screened, very supportive audience.  He said a few interesting things in this relaxed and comfortable environment.

Obama blamed divided government for the debt ceiling crisis.  “I’m sympathetic to your view that this would be easier if I could do this entirely on my own,” he told a questioner who brought up the theory, fashionable in some liberal circles, that the 14th Amendment gives the President power to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally.  The President went on to remark, with a chuckle, that this would give him more time to spend with his daughters. 

In addition to recoiling in horror at the thought of America’s chief executive being arrogant enough to even speculate about the joys of dictatorship out loud, a thoughtful town hall attendee might ask why the Democrats didn’t balance the budget when they had total control of Washington from 2009 to 2010, and point out that they have controlled both houses of Congress since 2006.  But you’re not supposed to ask questions like that.  

Obama also told his audience that “it’s hard to keep up with all the different plans” for handling the debt crisis.  No, it isn’t.  There’s are only two real plans: the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, which enjoys the support of a huge majority of Americans, or leaving the debt ceiling where it is.  There are no other plans.  There are only vague outlines… absolutely none of which have come from President Obama, who has made no concrete proposals at all.

The President trotted out his focus-grouped buzz phrase, “balanced approach,” by which he means some combination of tax increases and spending reductions.  “It’s a position that has been taken by every Democratic and Republican president who’ve signed major deficit deals in the past, from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton,” he said.

Is that the full panorama of the American experience now?  Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton?  We’re lucky we have a genius President who can keep all that history straight.  And if these “balanced approaches” taken by three of the four previous presidents in American history – rather pointedly excluding George W. Bush – were so wonderful, then why the hell do we have a $14 trillion national debt?

But, again, you’re not supposed to ask questions like that, and Obama’s people made certain the “town hall” contained no one likely to do so.

On the topic of his conduct so far, the architect of the new Depression said, “we’ve made good choices so far.”  (I am not making this up.  He really said that.)  He also declared, “The United States of America doesn’t run out without paying the tab.  We pay our bills.  We meet our obligations.” 

Um… Mr. President?  Running a huge deficit means, by definition, that you are not “paying your bills,” and you are the one who keeps threatening that your government will not “meet its obligations,” by shutting off Social Security checks, veterans benefits, and other essential services.

It’s time to face the unpleasant truth.  President Barack Hussein Obama has gone mad.

He’s mad in both senses of the word.  Later on Friday, after House Speaker John Boehner declared he would no longer waste his time “negotiating” with Obama, the President gave an astonishing press conference that played out like a nervous breakdown.  I don’t know why the press covered it.  They really shouldn’t cover any of his press conferences anymore.  The price of a seat at the negotiating table is a plan, and Obama doesn’t have one. 

There is no reason to pay the slightest attention to anything else the President says, until he produces a concrete proposal with real numbers.  Otherwise, as Boehner discovered, no meaningful “negotiation” can occur. 

This is not an unreasonable demand.  Obama likes to posture as a lonely figure of reason caught between extremes, but in reality, he has an immense staff and the full resources of the Executive Branch at his disposal.  He can have a detailed budget proposal, with charts and tables and all the other trimmings, prepared in very short order… but he has repeatedly failed to do so.  Instead, he wastes America’s time holding dog-and-pony shows with university students, even as the debt limit doomsday clock that he’s always complaining about ticks down.

The immediate cause of Boehner’s walkout was that he actually did offer Obama the tax hikes he’s been screaming for – $800 billion worth of them, over 10 years – and Obama suddenly decided he wouldn’t settle for less than $1.4 trillion. That’s part of what makes Obama “mad” in the other sense of the word, and he’s far from the only lunatic in Washington. 

All these economy-choking tax hikes are bounced around as part of packages, like the “Gang of Six” proposal, that would cut $2 trillion or $4 trillion from the deficit over 10 years.  What good does that do us?  Under Obama’s current irresponsible spending levels, the deficit is $1.7 trillion.  Ten years on that baseline would add $17 trillion to the national debt, far more than doubling it.  Which of our deadly systemic problems does anyone imagine would be fixed by reducing those deficits by twenty or thirty percent? 

 American voters should have no patience for plans based on tax increases that never produce the amount of revenue they claim, in exchange for forming committees to discuss spending cuts that never actually happen, resulting in hypothetical deficit reduction that isn’t big enough to matter.

Do you recall what George Bush’s final deficit was?  It was loudly decried as a “record-breaking” figure in the mainstream press, and it was indeed far too high.  The amount was about $458 billion.  Barack Obama racks up that much debt in three months.  What sort of political “courage” can be found in a deal that trims a few hundred billion a year, and still leaves him with double the “record-breaking” deficits of his predecessor?

The angry President who railed against oil companies and corporate jet owners one more time on Friday is a man lost in delusions the rest of us should refuse to entertain.  He’s treating an existential fiscal crisis as a political opportunity to grab some more tax money, and goose his re-election numbers a bit.

He mouths the language of fiscal responsibility knowing the media will never even ask him to define the words he’s using.  Afterward, they hold round-table discussions that turn into Mad Hatter tea parties, because they pretend the President actually has serious ideas about deficit reduction.  Meanwhile, at the University of Maryland, Obama wrapped up his town hall by promising the audience… another “stimulus” package, and more “infrastructure” spending. 

Some “deficit hawk.”  This delusional President needs to be controlled and neutralized, not bargained with.  He’s demonstrated nothing more clearly than his determination to keep writing gigantic rubber checks, until the checkbook and pen are taken away from him.  He’s among the final champions of a system that sinks further into madness as its foundational assumptions are revealed to be expensive frauds.  Besides being delusional, this system is dangerously paranoid, because it thinks all of its problems can be solved by designating the proper combination of enemies.

Insanity, as defined by Albert Einstein, is doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results.  The President himself just said, before one of the last few friendly audiences his handlers could cobble together for him, that “every Democratic and Republican president” has tried the same thing he wants to try again… and yet, our insolvent sham of a government is about to slam into a debt ceiling 14.3 trillion dollars high.

As for the rest of us, sanity is still an option.  We won’t like what happens on the day it becomes inescapable.