The fundamental un-seriousness of both President Obama, and the electorate that put him back in office, was on full display during a brief “press conference” he held on Wednesday to discuss the looming “fiscal cliff.” As usual for this President, he took no actual questions at this “press conference”… but he did announce the establishment of a Twitter hashtag, #My2K, so Americans can flood social media space with urgent pleas for tax increases.
Yes, the President’s response to the great crisis of the age was to launch a Twitter hashtag game. To be fair, he wasn’t really talking about the great crisis of the age at all. Americans have been taught to view the “fiscal cliff” as entirely a question of insufficient government revenue, resulting from selfish rich people enjoying a tax cut party dating from the Bush years. That’s not even remotely true, not even to within an order of magnitude. Even the current budget deficit could not be significantly reduced by the tax cuts Obama has in mind… or even by higher taxes upon the people he regards as “rich.” And the current yearly deficit is only a small part of the $16 trillion debt mountain towering above us, or the even larger unfunded liability mountain looming over that.
This is entirely a problem of government spending, but President Obama did not have a single word to say about spending cuts. No surprises there – he’s the one who wanted a “clean” debt ceiling increase with no spending restraint whatsoever last time, remember? He spent the entire press conference once again discussing the fine details of the tax increases he wants to impose on everyone except the Sainted Middle Class. That subject has been talked to death, but we’ve still received absolutely no details of the spending cuts component of Obama’s vaunted “balanced approach.” A thousand pounds of government flab sits on one side of this see-saw, endlessly hectoring the malnourished little taxpayer on the other side about how he needs to push down harder.
As usual, the President marches some human props on stage to stand quietly behind him, as if the trillion-dollar doomsday machinery of insolvent government will grind to a halt if the right group of twelve or thirteen people pose for the cameras and look deeply concerned. The almost delusional unseriousness of the President’s rhetoric was highlighted by a passage in which he assured the people he wants to soak with higher taxes that they’ll still kinda-sorta be getting a tax cut, because the rates on their first $250,000 of income will remain at the “discounted” Bush-era rates. It was an astonishing non sequitur for anyone who understands how progressive taxation works… but that doesn’t include most of Obama’s voting base, and that’s who he was talking to. The point of this “press conference” was to gin up populist energy against selfish “millionaires,” not seriously discuss fiscal policy. At some future date, either Obama or his surrogates will surely cite how many Tweets piled up under his “my2k” hashtag as evidence that everyone agrees with his “balanced approach” rhetoric.
And really, even beyond the entirely reasonable suspicion that this “balanced approach” of Obama’s will consist entirely of tax increases if he doesn’t put some spending cuts on the table pronto, it’s long past time for the American people to be educated about the spending cuts, isn’t it? Obama spent much of his press conference talking about the horrible suffering of middle-class Americans if Taxmageddon hits, and the Bush tax rates expire for them, knocking $2,000 off their disposable income. (Funny, we didn’t hear much about that magical $2,000 from liberals when Bush proposed those tax rates, did we?)
But we’re not hearing anything at all about how their lives will change when we implement the better part of a trillion dollars in government spending cuts – which is what Obama will have to propose, if he’s actually serious about balancing the budget, once the puny income from his hotly desired tax increases has been counted. That’s going to be a big deal, isn’t it? And the people dependent on those government programs will need a lot more help dealing with the loss of their benefits than middle-class taxpayers need to cope with the loss of $2000 a year.
Obama is spending an awful lot of time cushioning the wrong people against the wrong blow. It doesn’t make a bit of sense if you believe he’s a serious leader who really cares about the sacrifices all Americans – most definitely including those who work for, profit from, and depend upon our insolvent government – will need to make, in order to avoid the real “fiscal cliff” we are approaching. But it’s perfectly understandable if you view Wednesday’s press conference as one more populist tirade from someone who thinks the American people are easily stampeded, and the champions of the private sector are easily intimidated.