Last night, I watched the King’s Speech for the second time and despite Timothy Spall‘s appalling (and historically inaccurate) portrayal of Winston Churchill, the film holds up, meriting the many honors bestowed upon it.
While the situation in the United States is not nearly so dire as it was in the United Kingdom in 1939, we need today what our friends across the pond needed then — and what King George VI gave him, a leader who will come before us and spell out the tough path that lies ahead and the choices we have to make. As our chief of state he delivers his speech on our nation’s growing burden of debt, he needs also conclude on an upbeat note, saying that we will weather this storm and the nation will emerge stronger from it.
The idea for the speech germinated when I saw a poll (linked by Glenn Reynolds) showing how little appetite there is for cutting government spending in specific areas. People may favor smaller government, but all too many are unwilling to specify where they’d cut. We need a leader who will come before the American people, tell us that we can no longer afford to live beyond our means and must make cuts even in cherished programs because, simply put, we don’t have the money to pay for them.
Not just that, as the recent negotiations over maintaining the tax rates established by the Bush spending cuts showed, politicians, at least those in Washington (but perhaps not in Springfield, Illinois or Sacramento, California) understand that the Americans don’t want to pay higher taxes, at least not in a recession.
It doesn’t appear, however, the president’s tough words notwithstanding that he will be delivering that speech any time soon. His budget will fall short of of his own debt commission’s savings plan:
President Obama’s 2012 budget request to be released on Monday will reduce budget deficits over the next decade by only a quarter of the amount proposed by the presidential debt commission in December, a senior administration official confirmed Sunday.
Whereas the debt commission’s mix of spending cuts and tax increases reduced deficits by $4 trillion over 10 years, the Obama budget will reduce the combined deficits by $1.1 trillion.
Instead of making the “draconian” cuts our elected officials need make, the president is only cutting anticipated increases. (For a good explanation of this, read this piece by Dan Mitchell.) Panning “the president’s proposal for a spending freeze,” House Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) points out that the freeze would come “off an extremely high base.” (Via Instapundit.) As would the “cuts.”
Looks likes we’ll have to wait at least two years for the President’s Speech.