The Incredible Shrinking President
President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress was every bit as inconsequential as his detractors expected and his supporters feared. It was yet another in a long line of shamefully political events that have trivialized his administration and deepened the public's already fathomless cynicism for all things beltway.
Urging Congress repeatedly to adopt his American Jobs Act "right away", Obama demonstrated once again that he is "The Incredible Shrinking President". What a long, strange, and painful trip it's been since the heady days of the 2008 campaign, when the one-term state senator from Illinois seemed to hold the country in the palm of his hands. Today, he can barely hold its attention.
As for the substance of his proposal, a $450 billion dollar shoveling of good money after bad, it is but a dismal repetition of that which has already been tried and found wanting. Targeted tax credits for business and individuals, while nominally good, are inadequate by orders of magnitude. Spending on infrastructure – schools, bridges, highways – will be similarly ineffectual. Bailouts for state governments and underwater mortgages promise only to draw out existing agonies.
We've seen all of this before. Recently, in fact – in 2009. The price tag for this new "mini-stimulus" may be a little smaller (though it's still obscenely large by any reasonable measure), but it comes without a shred of recognition that previous efforts of this type have been complete failures.
Obama's lamentable fondness for strawmen is as strong as always. There's no written legislation yet, so there's nothing for the CBO to score. Obama assures us everything is paid for, but a weary and skeptical nation with vivid memories of Nancy "We've Got to Pass the Bill to See What's In The Bill" Pelosi cannot and will not be led down this path again.
The President tasked the newly-created super-committee with combing through the federal budget to pay for the full cost of AJA. Are we to presume that the 12 men and women of this august body will be able to do so unscathed by the hyper-partisanship that accompanied the debt-limit wars last July? We'll believe it when we see it.
In the mean time the President assured the nation that the American Jobs Act consisted of ideas which he had been advocating for months. Really, Mr. President? We've been listening to you pretty closely and it seems to us you've spent the last few months hammering at the Republican leadership with class warfare rhetoric about "millionaires and billionaires" "not paying their fair share".
The Leftosphere, predictably, approves of all this new nonsense, and seems to have convinced itself that the American Jobs Act represents some sort of gauntlet which The Incredible Shrinking President has thrown down before Republicans. Far be it for us to disabuse them of this fiction (we couldn't if we wanted to). We urge Boehner and Cantor and Co. to pick what little meat there is off these bones and scrap the rest. The result will likely be a new carcass in the political boneyard, which Obama seems to think he can blame the GOP for. On this, as on so many other matters, he will be mistaken.