Mona Charen
I've never felt so simpatico with Joe Biden as I did after President Obama's Great Deficit Speech. Ol' lunch bucket Joe seemed to doze off during the president's oration. Perhaps he only appeared to be snoozing. But I can report that your faithful correspondent, despite the best intentions, did actually nod off a few times in the course of the address myself.

The first time I found my lids drooping was around paragraph four, when the president rhapsodized about the greatness of government: "We've laid down railroads and highways to facilitate travel and commerce. We've supported the work of scientists and researchers whose discoveries have saved lives, unleashed repeated technological revolutions and led to countless new jobs and entire industries. Each of us has benefited from these investments, and we are a more prosperous country as a result."

Who would not, at this point, yawn and grumble, "I've seen this movie before"? Obama never tires of invoking the interstate highway system as the model of government activism (though we do tire of hearing about it). He's mentioned it in all three of his State of the Union addresses, when proclaiming the glories of the stimulus bill ("We will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s"), and in defense of his "investment" in high-speed rail.

It's a truism that, as the president said, some tasks can be performed only by government (national defense, courts of law, etc.). But Obama's frequent invocation of government's greatest hits, along with his tendency to attribute economic growth to government action is part of his utterly conventional, myopic, Great Society, liberal worldview. Snore.

What startled me out of my slumber was this nugget in paragraph 11: "America's finances were in great shape by the year 2000. We went from deficit to surplus. America was actually on track to becoming completely debt-free, and we were prepared for the retirement of the baby boomers. But after Democrats and Republicans committed to fiscal discipline during the 1990s, we lost our way in the decade that followed."

This "it all started with George W. Bush" trope is more than tiresome -- it's shallow, pandering, and dishonest. The entitlement crisis was the most predictable (and predicted) fiscal train wreck in history. The math about entitlement spending has been evident for decades. In 1994, to cite just one warning that predated the Bush bogeyman presidency, President Clinton's bipartisan commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform reported that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and civilian and military pensions would exceed total federal revenues by 2030.


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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