Donald Lambro

Obama's job-approval scores are sinking, too: just 44 percent approve of the job he is doing versus 48 percent who now disapprove.

Democrats on Capitol Hill have complained that he is not showing leadership, staying above the fray. There is rebellion in his party's left-wing electoral base, which feels that he has betrayed the liberal agenda he ran on in 2008.

He has paid only lip service to the mountain of spending, deficits and debts that have piled up during his presidency, until the issue proved incendiary in last year's elections, toppling Democrats from power in the House and pounding them into a weak majority in the Senate.

The White House at first dismissed the idea of any cuts in this year's budget, calling Republican proposals "extreme," then Obama capitulated in a deal that cut nearly $40 billion in spending. It shook his party and his base, which now think he could cave even further to GOP demands for deeper budget cuts and debt reduction.

His speech on Wednesday -- sprinkled with excuses and blame-pointing -- was 90 percent campaign rhetoric and maybe 10 percent economic proposals. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the House Budget Committee chairman, fumed that "a speech is not a plan."

Now in the third year of his presidency, Obama is still blaming President George W. Bush's across-the-board tax cuts for all the economic ills that are happening on his watch. He did so again Wednesday in yet another flip-flop of a previous flip-flop.

He ran and governed on repealing the two top tax rates, pushing them to nearly 40 percent, only to throw in the towel last year after being lectured by GOP leaders, and some Democrats, that "this is no time to be raising taxes" on anyone. The lower Bush tax rates were extended for two more years, with Obama's blessing, which means they will expire at the end of 2012. House Republican leaders told Obama that tax increases are out of the question, not now, and not at anytime in the future.

Obama called for eliminating a lot of special interest tax breaks and other loopholes, but it wasn't clear to what end other than to squeeze still more money out of the tax-strapped economy.

His fiscal-reform commission called for closing tax loopholes to cut the 35 percent corporate tax rate to 25 percent. A sensible idea to help boost economic expansion, which will in turn increase federal tax revenues and thus cut the deficit.

But the idea of increasing economic growth was nowhere to be seen in Obama's budget, er, political speech.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.