Yesterday, there were two big political stories, three if you count the reverberations from the president’s casting aspersions on judicial review, four, if you count the revelation (from the previous day) that once again the Obama campaign has disabled “AVS protections” from its donations pages such that Illegal Contributor could not only make a donation, but also (as of this posting) set up a contributions page on the Democrat’s own web-site.
Those big stories were Mitt Romney’s sweep of the day’s primaries, winning the District of Columbia, Maryland and Wisconsin and possibly all of the delegates at stake yesterday and the president’s luncheon speech to the AP. From the incumbent’s opening “joke” through the question-and-answer session, the address lacked class. The long and short of it was that he misrepresented the solutions Republicans were offering and failed to put forward a credible plan of his own, delivering bromides instead:
And yet, for much of the last century, we have been having the same argument with folks who keep peddling some version of trickle-down economics. They keep telling us that if we’d convert more of our investments in education and research and health care into tax cuts — especially for the wealthy — our economy will grow stronger. They keep telling us that if we’d just strip away more regulations, and let businesses pollute more and treat workers and consumers with impunity, that somehow we’d all be better off. We’re told that when the wealthy become even wealthier, and corporations are allowed to maximize their profits by whatever means necessary, it’s good for America, and that their success will automatically translate into more jobs and prosperity for everybody else. That’s the theory.
Now, the problem for advocates of this theory is that we’ve tried their approach — on a massive scale. The results of their experiment are there for all to see. At the beginning of the last decade, the wealthiest Americans received a huge tax cut in 2001 and another huge tax cut in 2003.
Well, we did see economic growth and job creation from 2003 until the recession hit a year after the election of a Democratic Congress in 2006. He otherwise presents a cartoon version of Republican economics — which sounds more like a college activist’s impassioned critique of Reaganomics than an elected leader’s considered response to his rivals.
House Republicans have put forward a budget which slows the growth in federal spending; it passed the House. The president offered a plan which couldn’t ever garner a single Democratic vote.
That budget seemed more a political than a governing document.
In his speech yesterday, the president, simply put, didn’t offer solutions, just attacks. Indeed, he went so far as to slam the Ryan plan as a “Trojan Horse”:
Disguised as deficit reduction plans, it is really an attempt to impose a radical vision on our country. It is thinly veiled social Darwinism. It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everybody who’s willing to work for it; a place where prosperity doesn’t trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class. And by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that’s built to last — education and training, research and development, our infrastructure — it is a prescription for decline.
Antithetical to our entire history? What government programs helped account for the prosperity of the nation in the second half of the Nineteenth Century when federal spending remained below 5% of GDP? Republicans aren’t gutting the things needed to grow an economy, but instead removing impediments to that growth.
And to hear Obama mock Republican deficit reduction plans, you’d think his plan at least shrunk the deficit. Instead, his own budget forecasts deficits for 2018 higher than the astounding figure he, in the third debate in 2008, equated with “living beyond our means.”
President Obama is not offering us real choice, he’s trying to dodge them. Commenting on the explosion of deficit spending “if Congress continues to behave in the future the way it has in the past”, that is, similar to the president’s proposed budget, the Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein faults the president for not making clear the costs of his alternative:
It’s one thing if Obama wants to argue to Americans that they should accept massive, across the board, tax increases to preserve his vision for government. But instead, he’d prefer not to offer solutions so he can have a free hand to attack Republicans in an election year. As Obama’s Treasury Secretary told Ryan in February: “We’re not coming before you to say we have a definitive solution to that long-term problem. What we do know is we don’t like yours.”
He’s the president and he’s running for reelection; he has a duty to put forward “definitive solutions.” As Jon Huntsman said about those those who criticized the proposals Paul Ryan offered last year to save Medicare, “Those who disagree with his approach incur a moral responsibility to propose reforms that would ensure Medicare’s ability to meet its responsibilities to retirees without imposing an unaffordable tax burden on future generations of Americans.”
Similarly, those who disagree with Mr. Ryan’s approach to our nation’s fiscal crisis have a moral responsibility to propose reforms which keep us, to borrow an expression, from “living beyond our means.”