Both President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner gave addresses on the debt ceiling crisis last night. If you tuned into Obama’s speech, you could be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled into another of those summertime television reruns.
While Boehner’s remarks were short and to the point, Obama rambled on for fifteen minutes, launching into bizarre digressions about the Civil War. Apparently failing to raise the debt ceiling is equivalent to slavery now. It’s obvious what he’s trying to do – paint himself as an important player in the grand drama of American history – but it’s remarkable how clumsy he is when he does it. He’s come a long way from that nomination speech amid the phony Greek columns. His delusions of grandeur aren’t even worth a chuckle any more.
There was nothing new in Obama’s address, and I mean that literally. Every single phrase was something we’ve heard before, from his focus-grouped “balanced approach” code phrase from tax hikes, to cobwebbed class warfare about “the wealthiest Americans” who “don’t pay their fair share.” The man who makes non-negotiable demands for tax increases once again lectured everyone else about the importance of “compromise.”
There was even a slam at corporate jet owners, which is a talking point he seems determined to repeat until he feels he’s beaten it into the national consciousness like a railroad spike. He must feel really, really bad about working that tax break for corporate jets into his stimulus bill.
Obama’s class warfare rhetoric has become even more stale and wheezy. He’s hauling old Clinton phrases out of the deep freeze, perhaps hoping to recapture some of that Slick Willy magic. Thus, the small group of top income earners, who pay the majority of all taxes, are told once again that they’re not “paying their fair share.” How are we supposed to have some sort of rational discussion about the size and role of government, when Obama and his ilk keep peddling these tired old fairy tales?
Obama carefully explained that, unlike all other Presidents, his record-breaking, economy-crushing deficits were necessary, because they were “emergency spending” to save the middle class. Since every single prediction Obama made about the economy at the beginning of his term is verifiably false, and his unemployment rates are higher than what he said we would be facing without his massive “stimulus” boondoggle, it’s hard to believe anyone would take this worn-out excuse seriously. I guess he doesn’t have much choice but to keep playing that card. It’s not as if he’s about to admit he wasted and abused all that money. That’s one reason we’d be crazy to give him more.
It’s possible there are people watching Obama sing the praises of “compromise” who don’t remember him sneering “I won” when Republicans wanted some input into that stimulus bill, or telling audiences that “the people who got us into this mess” shouldn’t “do a lot of talking right now.” Those would be the people who weren’t laughing at the screen tonight.
“Let’s seize this moment to show why the United States of America is still the greatest nation on Earth,” Obama implored. “Not just because we can still keep our word and meet our obligations, but because we can still come together as one nation.” Except for those “wealthiest Americans” who “aren’t paying their fair share,” I suppose. They won’t be “coming together” with the rest of us, because they’re hated class enemies, and we need to seize their property by force.
Obama offered a bleak view of America when, desperately flailing for a poll-tested way to resist spending cuts, he insisted they would “place a greater burden on working families.” The implication is that “working families” are dependent upon the tremendous surge in government spending he’s produced, and the cruel Republicans want to yank the I.V. tube of federal benefits from their veins.
The President doesn’t want us to worry our pretty little heads about facts and figures anyway, promising he wouldn’t “bore us with the details” of all the deficit reduction plans we’ve been hearing about. Since absolutely none of those plans came from him or his Party, I doubt he could recite any of their details on a dare.
The only thing even vaguely new in the President’s address was his announcement of support for Harry Reid’s fraudulent budget plan. He didn’t mention Speaker Boehner’s far more honest and substantial proposal, which is still vanishingly small (did we really go through all the drama of the past few months for $4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years?) but at least it’s got real numbers, instead of accounting gimmicks.
Obama also said he’s not interested in any short-term deals, because they would supposedly leave our credit rating at risk – but making our titanic national debt even higher would be perfectly fine, no matter what those pesky analysts at the credit agencies say. Of course, a short-term deal would also cause this whole drama to repeat right in the middle of Obama’s re-election campaign, when he will be laboring mightily to make America forget everything that happened between 2009 and 2011.
Speaker of the House John Boehner gave a brief address after Obama, to declare that the days when “more spending and more debt is business as usual” are over. He quickly made hash of Obama’s talking points, chucking that in Washington, a “balanced approach” means “we spend more… you pay more.”
Boehner won the night when he said, “The solution to this crisis is not complicated: if you’re spending more money than you’re taking in, you need to spend less of it.” The President of the United States does his country no favors by trying to frighten us away from apprehending that simple truth.