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The 'nothing burger'

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Everyone makes mistakes — especially politicians. Most folks learn from those mistakes — but generally not politicians.

After the historic upset in which Republican State Senator Scott Brown grabbed the Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat held for nearly five decades by liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy, providing the critical 41st vote needed to block the unpopular health care legislation slithering its way through Congress, President Barack Obama responds.


“The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office,” Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopoulus.

Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution

Yes. The similarity is the outpouring of anger and frustration at a corrupt and out-of-touch Washington. The difference is that Mr. Obama is now the face and chief pitchman for that unholy cabal.

“People are angry and they are frustrated,” Obama went on to explain. “Not just because of what's happened in the last year or two years but what's happened over the last eight years.”

Again, as far as it goes, the President is correct. Americans have been sick and tired of dishonest and destructive policies emanating from the Feds of both R and D varieties for longer than his single year of fiddling, and, in fact, longer than George W. Bush’s eight years. For several decades, at least, Americans have been spitting mad about the state of their federal government.

So, what is our current Politician-in-Chief going to do about it?

For starters, let’s recognize what he’s not going to do. President Obama refuses to back away from the unpopular health care bill. Though polls show the plan remains as popular as an uncorked bottle of Eau de Skunk at a cologne counter, bearing significant responsibility for propelling Scott Brown’s victory in hopes of stopping it, Barack Obama told audiences last week, “I'm going to keep up the fight for real, meaningful health insurance reforms.”


What the president will do, in the age-old tradition of Washington, is to change the subject. He’s already found new areas of the economy to attack and demonize. First up are the banks.

“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.”

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