Victor Davis Hanson

The U.S. stock market has nose-dived. Congress just approved the highest debt ceiling in American history, allowing the government to carry over $16 trillion in national debt -- prompting the credit-rating agency Standard & Poor's to downgrade America's multitrillion-dollar debt for the first time in 70 years.

Unemployment is still over 9 percent. Private-sector businesses may have more than $1 trillion in cash, but they will be scared into not hiring or buying as long as they fear a new tax, a new regulation, a new entitlement obligation, a new plant shutdown -- or a new harangue.

The Gross Domestic Product is almost static. Every classical Keynesian remedy -- massive government borrowing and spending ("stimulus"), near-zero interest rates, public works, expanded federal entitlements -- has been tried, failed, and is turning a modest recovery into another recession. Neither the example of the socialist European Union nor that of big-spending blue-state America suggests that massive government spending and entitlements lead to collective prosperity.

In response to this depressing news, President Obama still offers the same predictably stale sermons: George W. Bush did it. The Tea Party fiscal reformers are to blame. Government will fund "millions of green jobs." His political opponents want to destroy Social Security and Medicare.

But imagine if President Obama simply stopped diverting blame and tried something different.

Vast new finds of natural gas, oil and tar sands have been discovered offshore, in the American West, the Dakotas, Pennsylvania, New York and Alaska. This natural wealth represents hundreds of billions of dollars of savings in imported-energy costs and millions of new American jobs. Instead of lecturing about tire pressure, car tune-ups or trading in clunkers, the president could rally the country to go all out right now to develop its burgeoning fossil-fuel resources as a way to transition to future green energy.

Ever since he began campaigning for the presidency, Obama has hectored the private sector -- talking nonstop of higher taxes, "spreading the wealth," "fat-cat" bankers, paying your "fair share," "millionaires and billionaires," "corporate jet owners" and "unneeded" income.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.