WASHINGTON -- Franklin Roosevelt gave us the New Deal. John Kennedy gave us the New Frontier. In a major domestic policy address at Georgetown University this week, Barack Obama promised -- eight times -- a "New Foundation." For those too thick to have noticed this proclamation of a new era in American history, the White House Web site helpfully titled its speech excerpts "A New Foundation."
As it happens, Obama is not the first to try this slogan. President Carter peppered his 1979 State of the Union address with five "New Foundations" (and eight more just naked "foundations"). Like most of Carter's endeavors, this one failed, perhaps because (as I recall it being said at the time) it sounded like the introduction of a new kind of undergarment.
Undaunted, Obama offered his New Foundation speech as the complete, contextual, canonical text for the domestic revolution he aims to enact. It had everything we have come to expect from Obama:
The Whopper: The boast that he had "identified $2 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade." It takes audacity to repeat this after it had been so widely exposed as transparently phony. Most of this $2 trillion is conjured up by refraining from spending $180 billion a year for 10 more years of surges in Iraq. Hell, why not make the "deficit reductions" $10 trillion -- the extra $8 trillion coming from refraining from repeating the $787 billion stimulus package annually through 2019.
The Puzzler: He further boasted of his frugality by saying that his budget would reduce domestic discretionary spending as share of GDP to the lowest level ever recorded. Amazing. Squeezing discretionary domestic spending at a time of hugely expanding budgets is merely the baleful residue of out-of-control entitlements and debt service, which will increase astronomically under Obama. To claim these as achievements in fiscal responsibility is testament not to Obama's frugality but to his brazenness.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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