Debra J. Saunders

Before Wednesday night's debate, Team Obama sent out pre-debate "talking points," which posted, that hit John McCain for his "erratic and unsteady" response to the economic crisis, while lauding Barack Obama's "steady leadership."

I suspect that this sort of McCain-hot/Obama-cool setup does more than help Obama turn his banker-like demeanor into an asset. Democratic candidate Obama understands that the Beltway media expect him to move to the middle if he is elected. After all, Bill Clinton did it -- because ambitious Democrats know on which side their bread is buttered.

But Obama has not moved to the center. He continues to lurch to the left as he offers up underfunded new spending proposals -- all beneath the radar of talking heads, who seem to believe that if Obama's temperament is moderate, his policies also must be middle of the road.


To some, Obama may seem moderate because, like the Republican McCain, he frequently talks up "tax cuts," which is supposed to be a conservative plank. Except that Obama's alleged big tax cut -- heretofore called a "rebate" -- of up to $1,000 for families for "95 percent of Americans" is not as he advertises. found that Plan Obama would benefit 81 percent of households. And the rebate would go to the more than one-third of Americans who do not pay federal income taxes; for those families it's not a rebate, but a government handout. Meanwhile, the erstwhile rebate would not go to many workers who actually do pay federal taxes, such as individuals who earn more than $75,000 or couples earning more than $150,000.

In its first incarnation, the $1,000 check was "an emergency energy rebate." As oil prices have declined, it has morphed into the economic stimulus part of his "rescue plan for the middle class." (Obama also wants to increase home-heating subsidies.)

It apparently does not matter that the $168 billion stimulus package, proposed by President Bush and passed by Congress in February, failed to stimulate the economy as expected. Perhaps the real genius of Obama is that he is able readily to denounce the "era of easy money," while promising more easy money.

Angry about the $700 billion bailout? Steaming mad because the Democratic Congress added another $110 billion in sweeteners to the tab?

Hang on, the spending spree is not over. While the Obama rescue plan is supposed to cost $60 billion, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi already is talking up a new $150 billion stimulus package. Do you think Democratic leaders will split the difference? Or take the highest number, and then add some more?

Debra J. Saunders

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