A couple of back-to-back statements by President Obama at a town hall rally in Des Moines, Iowa, tell us all we need to know about his economic philosophy and that we aren't going to climb out of his recession and begin to slow the growth of the national debt as long as he's calling the shots.
Voters, he said, tell him to "cut government spending." But "most spending is for veterans, for education, for defense. ... Finding $700 billion is not easy."
Yet a few minutes earlier, in response to criticism over illegal immigrants getting health care in the United States, he had said, "It is very important that we have compassion as part of our national character." (How about compassion for future generations of Americans?)
Does anyone see the disconnect here? If Obama believes our national character is deficient unless we expand the welfare state to illegal immigrants, then how could he ever preside over a balanced budget?
His wildly inaccurate statement about where the money is spent is equally revealing. For fiscal year 2010, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and other sources, benefits for veterans constituted about 3.5 percent of the budget; education expenditures were 3 percent; and defense and security totaled about 20 percent.
Even worse than these errors is his defeatist statement that "finding $700 billion is not easy."
Well, of course it's not easy if you have no desire to trim the size, functions and intrusiveness of government.
Didn't he just say again the other day that he is "committed to fiscal responsibility"? Hasn't he incessantly argued that President George W. Bush is the one who ran up these outlandish deficits?
We all know what a distortion and exercise in scapegoatery that is. President Bush fulfilled his promise to cut the deficit in half by 2006. In fiscal year 2007, the deficit was $161 billion. Hard to believe, isn't it?
That's just three years ago, and Obama says it's nearly impossible to trim much? Even the final Bush year, which Obama continues to blame for all "this mess" and which Obama has used to establish his new deficit base line, was not actually the alleged $1.3 trillion, but closer to $800 billion when TARP repayments are factored in.
Assuming Obama even wants to bring down the deficit, his economic philosophy precludes him from advancing policies likeliest to do it. You cannot make much headway on the deficit in a period of recession, and his policies are leading us toward a double-dip recession.
Indeed, the dirty reality is that Keynesian policy works as a double whammy against fiscal sanity. It involves government's spending money it doesn't have, which, by definition, increases the deficit and debt. And it also increases the deficit by smothering the private sector and deterring real economic growth. There is no appreciable "multiplier effect" from monies that are spent by government fiat, as opposed to those spent in response to true market forces, including real consumer demand -- as opposed to government (SET ITAL) command (END ITAL).
We saw the devastating impact of reckless Keynesian policies during the Great Depression, and we're witnessing them again today. As long as Obama is married to his redistributionist profligacy, we cannot reduce the deficit. And it's even worse when you consider that Obama wants to raise taxes on the primary generators of economic growth, small businesses, during a slow economic period.
With his signature audacity, Obama told town hall attendees their taxes haven't gone up in his administration. Puleeze! Obamacare, anyone -- for starters? He also said Republicans haven't been honest with voters about what needs to be done to revive the economy. "We can't pretend that there are shortcuts," he said.
Sorry, but he's the one being dishonest. The Bush years saw robust economic growth until the last year of Bush's second term. The policies that led to the subprime collapse, the recession and the skyrocketing deficit in his final year were brought upon mostly by liberal Democrats hellbent on demonstrating their "compassion" for people by insisting on loans to people who couldn't repay them and cynically resisting President Bush's efforts to rein in Fannie and Freddie.
President Reagan didn't continue to blame Jimmy Carter for his malaise-ridden economy during his term. He didn't implement policies that didn't work after promising they would and then whine that it would "take 10 years to get out of this mess because it took us 10 years to get into this mess." He passed tax cuts that launched an unprecedented period of peacetime growth -- and not at the expense of federal revenues, as has been falsely alleged.
I don't expect President Obama to come clean with the American people or to ever accept responsibility for his disastrous policies, much less to voluntarily change course, but it's gratifying to see that people, including some of his supporters, are finally onto him.