Barack Obama has finally seen the light. Upset with Congress, the president is taking his demands to the people, doing everything he can to drive a wedge between his 2012 campaign and legislators he blames for stalling vital fixes for our economy. He is trotting out some old ideas to get things moving again, like speeding patent approval, finalizing trade deals, and extending the payroll tax cut, none of which require boatloads of cash. The really good stuff, like another jobs plan and more ways to cut the deficit, is on hold until Congress comes back to work.
The president still confuses investing with spending. For those supporters who forget that there is a difference between the Federal Government purchasing jobs, and stepping out of the way so the economy can create them, the infrastructure harangue is alive and well:
Now is not the time for us to not invest in infrastructure. We used to have the best roads, the best bridges, the best seaports, and these days China has got better airports than us. Europe has better rail systems.1
Unfavorable comparisons between the U.S. and other nations aside, Congress is going to get tired of being on the receiving end of the president’s reelection worries. Labor Day has not yet arrived, and with lawmakers caught on break, the Obama campaign embarked on its Economic Bus Tour, or more appropriately, Economic Bust Tour. The president is either unaware, or is willfully ignoring the fact that he is engaging in the same self-interested behavior he finds unacceptable coming from Congress:
But we can no longer let partisan brinksmanship get in our way – the idea that making it through the next election is more important than making things right. That’s what’s holding us back – the fact that some in Congress would rather see their opponents lose than see America win.2
Telling voters “So there were a bunch of things taking place over the last six months that were not within our control.”3 is not a satisfactory explanation for 9.1% unemployment, America’s credit downgrade, and the massive growth of our debt on Barack Obama’s watch. Now that Washington feels comfortable with the word “brinkmanship,” the president should apply the term to himself. He bears much of the blame for the gridlock in Congress.
For two years the economy was vandalized by a Democratic House and Senate that cheered the president’s every whim, passing his Recovery Act, health care bill, financial reform bill, and a host of other measures that convinced businesses to go into bunker mode. President Obama pushed his congressional advantage to the absolute limits of tolerance, and when Republicans took over the House, the gap between his enablers and the new House leadership proved too large to bridge. The president is calling the government dysfunctional, but he continues to push the same policies that led to the stalemate, like buying more jobs when we have no money:
And so for us to say at a time when interest rates are low, contractors are begging for work, construction workers are lining up to find jobs — let’s rebuild America. We could be rebuilding roads and bridges and schools and parks all across America right now. (Applause.) Could put hundreds of thousands of folks to work right now.4
Barack Obama is a visionary. His visions are of massive public projects, union jobs, and a government that provides and takes away in whatever measure leaders deem appropriate. In a speech at a DNC function, he suggested that:
We’re going to have to revamp how all sorts of systems work in order for us to meet the challenge of the 21st century.5
Whatever “all sorts of systems” means, it sounds very expensive.