There are two problems with the president-as-prophet. In the first place, despite Obama's welcome nods to the entrepreneurial spirit and inventiveness of the American people, his goals and timetables are ultimately a top-down and government-centric approach. Obama's aides promised a Reaganesque speech full of optimism. But Reagan's philosophy was to govern as lightly as possible so as to unleash the creative powers of the American people. Obama's philosophy is to lead us by the hand to the happy opportunities he perceives for us. He would substitute the wisdom of Obama for the wisdom of the market.
More importantly, Obama's chirpy futurism failed utterly to grapple with the central issue facing the government -- avoiding bankruptcy. And the president's freeze proposal is frankly fallacious.
It isn't programs like NASA or even Synfuels (yes, some of us remember that sinkhole of federal dollars) that threaten our solvency as a nation. It is the open-ended entitlements, particularly Medicare and Medicaid. Fully aware that these programs are growing beyond our ability to pay for them, the president irresponsibly added yet another medical care entitlement -- and now has the gall to insist that Obamacare will reduce costs. This is not "optimism"; this is deep dishonesty and irresponsibility.
Obama has budgeted $635 billion for Obamacare over the next decade. Even those not given to panic, like the CBO, estimate that $1.2 trillion is closer to the mark. But even that is probably way too low. The bill doesn't really kick in until 2014. From 2014 to 2024, the more likely costs will be $2.5 to $3 trillion. That added burden, along with the stimulus and other spending during the two years in which he enjoyed a Democratic House, is the inescapable yoke of Barack Obama's presidency.
We are not facing a Sputnik moment. This is a spendthrift moment.