Obama lied; the econ­omy died

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Tony Blank­ley

Iam try­ing to cap­ture the spirit of bi­par­ti­san­ship as prac­ticed by the Demo­cratic Party over the last eight years. Thus, I have cho­sen as my lead, the propo­si­tion: Obama lied; the econ­omy died. Ob­vi­ously, I am bor­row­ing this from the Demo­cratic Party theme of 2003-08: “Bush lied, peo­ple died.” There are, of course, two dif­fer­ences be­tween the two slo­gans.

Most im­por­tantly, I chose to sep­a­rate the two clauses with a semi­colon rather than a comma be­cause the rule of gram­mar is that a semi­colon rather than a comma) should be used be­tween closely re­lated in­de­pen­dent clauses not con­joined with a co­or­di­nat­ing con­junc­tion. In the age of Barack Obama, there is lit­tle more im­por­tant than main­tain­ing the in­tegrity of our lan­guage — against the on­slaught of Or­wellian lan­guage abuse that is al­ready a bab­bling brook, and will soon be a cataract of ver­bal de­cep­tion.

The other dif­fer­ence is that Ge­orge W. Bush didn’t lie about weapons of mass de­struc­tion in Iraq. He was merely mis­taken. Whereas Pres­i­dent Obama told a whop­per last week when he claimed he was not for big­ger gov­ern­ment. As he said two weeks ago: “As soon as I took of­fice, I asked this Congress to send me a re­cov­ery plan by Pres­i­dent’s Day that would put peo­ple back to work and put money in their pock­ets. Not be­cause I be­lieve in big­ger gov­ern­ment — I don’t.”

This he as­serted though the bud­get he pro­posed the next day asks for fed­eral spending as 28 per­cent of gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP), higher by at least 6 per­cent than any time since World War II. More­over, af­ter 10 years, Mr. Obama’s pro­posed spending as a per­cent­age of GDP would still be 22.6 per­cent, nearly 2 per­cent­age points higher than any year dur­ing the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, de­spite the full costs of the ter­ror­ist at­tacks of Sept, 11, 2001, the Iraq and Afghan wars and the re­build­ing of New Orleans af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina.

Con­sider also his as­ser­tion in his not-quite-State of the Union ad­dress that:

“My ad­min­is­tra­tion has also be­gun to go line by line through the fed­eral bud­get in or­der to elim­i­nate waste­ful and in­ef­fec­tive pro­grams. As you can imag­ine, this is a process that will take some time. But we’re start­ing with the big­gest lines. We have al­ready iden­ti­fied $2 tril­lion in sav­ings over the next decade.”

But, lamentably, a few days later, The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported: “A se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial ac­knowl­edged yes­ter­day that the bud­get does not con­tain $2 tril­lion in spending cuts over the next decade. In­stead, the fig­ure rep­re­sents Obama’s to­tal ef­forts at deficit re­duc­tion, in­clud­ing tax hikes [of more than $1 tril­lion] on fam­i­lies mak­ing over $250,000 a year. It also in­cludes hun­dreds of bil­lions of dol­lars ‘saved’ by not con­tin­u­ing to spend $170 bil­lion a year in Iraq.”

Only a big gov­ern­ment man would think of call­ing a tril­lion­dol­lar tax in­crease a spending cut or “sav­ing.” Tech­ni­cally, of course, it is true. A tril­lion-dol­lar tax in­crease will re­duce spending by a tril­lion dol­lars for those pri­vate cit­i­zens who were taxed. And, from the per­spec­tive of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, a tril­lion dol­lars taxed is a tril­lion dol­lars saved from the greed of the tax­pay­ers who pro­duced the wealth — and might well want to spend or in­vest it in non gov­ern­men­tal ac­tiv­i­ties.

But the fore­go­ing are merely pet­ti­fog­ging num­bers com­pared to Mr. Obama’s big­ger ideas about en­ergy and health care.

Our pres­i­dent shares a fas­ci­nat­ing idea about en­ergy with most of what used to be known as the “small is beau­ti­ful” crowd. It is a cu­ri­ous phe­nom­e­non that one needs a very big gov­ern­ment to en­force the beauty of small.

As Mr. Obama’s en­ergy sec­re­tary, Steven Chu, said last year: The price of elec­tric­ity in Amer­ica is “anoma­lously low.” You see how much smarter that No­bel prize win­ner is than you. You prob­a­bly thought you were al­ready spending enough on elec­tric­ity and fuel.

And sure enough, Mr. Obama ex­plained last week that in or­der to make al­ter­na­tive en­ergy sources wind, so­lar — per­haps even­tu­ally hu­man mus­cle power? — eco­nom­i­cally com­pet­i­tive, he in­tends to raise the price of car­bon-based en­ergy un­til it is so ex­pen­sive that even so­lar power will be such-a-deal.

This level of de­struc­tive ir­ra­tional­ity can­not be ac­com­plished in the pri­vate sec­tor. It will take a very big gov­ern­ment in­deed to bring such inani­ties into be­ing. (dis­clo­sure: be­ing ra­tio­nal, I give pro­fes­sional ad­vice to car­bon-based en­ergy pro­duc­ers.)

If Pres­i­dent Obama were to try to mis­rep­re­sent his po­si­tions for the next four years, there would be noth­ing he could say that would ap­proach the inac­cu­racy of his claim two weeks ago that he is not for big gov­ern­ment. It is the essence of the man and his pres­i­dency. He doesn’t like Amer­ica the way it has been since its found­ing — and it will take an abu­sively big gov­ern­ment to re­al­ize his dreams of con­vert­ing Amer­ica into some­thing quite dif­fer­ent. If you don’t know that, you don’t yet know Barack Obama.

Tony Blank­ley is the au­thor of “Amer­i­can Grit: What It Will Take To Sur­vive and Win in the 21st Cen­tury” and vice pres­i­dent of the Edel­man pub­lic-re­la­tions firm in Wash­ing­ton.

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