Paul Jacob

“If Americans are fed up with bank bailouts and bonuses going to their top executives,” Dan Balz wrote in The Washington Post, “Obama wants people to believe that he resents them just as much.”

The rub is that however much Obama claims to resent the banks, he stuffed as many billions of our tax dollars into bankers' pockets as did George W. Bush. Though mainstream media will likely ignore that uncomfortable fact, voters are well aware.

Further, bad-mouthing Wall Street and slapping banks with a new fee, after handing them sacks of taxpayer cash, seems a weak alternative to not handing them sacks of taxpayer cash in the first place.

Consider the failed $787 billion stimulus spending bill. Obama acknowledges it hasn’t much helped Main Street. So, in his State of the Union address this Wednesday, the president will take the bold step of calling for another “economic recovery package,” i.e. doing the same thing again.

If borrowing hundreds of billions to spend stimulating an economy crippled by too much borrowing doesn’t work, thank goodness there is always the option of borrowing hundreds of billions (if not trillions) more.

Feeling better yet?

Another issue is driving voter discontent: the fact that our country is going bankrupt. We’re $12.4 trillion in debt, spending $1.4 trillion in the red this year and expecting a decade of trillion-dollar yearly budget deficits. Now, so the Feds don’t run out of dough in three weeks, Obama and congressional leaders are pushing to raise the nation’s debt ceiling by another $1.9 trillion.

Here again, Obama and congressional Democrats recognize the problem. Well, actually Democratic leaders recognize two distinct problems. The first is the problem of the country going bankrupt, which concerns certain Democrats in Congress, folks like Sen. Kent Conrad. The second problem is the dramatic discontent of the voters, which might result in incumbent Democrats losing their seats.

The first problem is difficult and painful to solve. The second might be ameliorated by convincing disgruntled voters that a process is underway to get government spending under control.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) have introduced legislation for an 18-member task force, which could propose ways to rein in spending or reform the tax code that Congress would have to vote on — without amendment. Thus, the usual putrid deals made in the capitol’s cloakrooms would be eliminated and congressmen forced to cast meaningful votes on the record.

But Obama and congressional leaders have a better idea: The window-dressing of a presidential commission whose recommendations for fiscal reform would be made after the November elections.

Sen. Judd Gregg declared he would not serve on such a phony commission. He put it bluntly, and correctly: “It’s a nothing-burger.”

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.