Obama not taking the debt crisis seriously

January 29, 2011


— The November election sent a clear message to Washington: less government, less debt, less spending. President Obama certainly heard it, but judging from his State of the Union address, he doesn’t believe a word of it. The people say they want cuts? Sure they do — in the abstract. But any party that actually dares carry them out will be punished severely. On that, Obama stakes his re-election.

No other conclusion can be drawn from a speech that didn’t even address the debt issue until 35 minutes in. And then what did he offer? A freeze on domestic discretionary spending that he himself admitted would affect a mere one-eighth of the budget.

Obama seemed impressed, however, that it would produce $400 billion in savings over 10 years. That’s an average of $40 billion a year. The deficit for last year alone was more than 30 times as much. And total federal spending was more than 85 times that amount. A $40 billion annual savings for a government that just racked up $3 trillion in new debt over the last two years is deeply unserious. It’s spillage, a rounding error.

As for entitlements, which are where the real money is, Obama said practically nothing. He is happy to discuss, but if Republicans dare take anything from granny, he shall be Horatius at the bridge.

This entire pantomime about debt reduction came after the first half of a speech devoted to, yes, new spending. One almost has to admire Obama’s defiance. His 2009 stimulus and budget-busting health care reform are precisely what stirred the popular revolt that delivered his November shellacking. And yet he’s back for more.

It’s as if Obama is daring the voters — and the Republicans — to prove they really want smaller government. He’s manning the barricades for Obamacare and he’s here with yet another spending — excuse me, investment — spree. To face down those overachieving Asians, Obama wants to sink yet more monies into yet more road and bridge repair, more federally subsidized teachers — with a bit of high-speed rail tossed in for style. That will show the Chinese.

And of course, once again, there is the magic lure of a green economy created by the brilliance of Washington experts and politicians. This is to be our “Sputnik moment,” when the fear of the foreigner spurs us to innovation and greatness of the kind that yielded NASA and the moon landing.

Apart from the irony of this appeal being made by the very president who has just killed NASA’s manned space program, there is the fact that for three decades, since Jimmy Carter’s synfuel fantasy, Washington has poured billions of taxpayer dollars down a rat hole in vain pursuit of economically competitive renewable energy.

This is nothing but a retread of what used to be called industrial policy, government picking winners and losers. Except that in a field that is not nearly technologically ready to match fossil fuels, we pick one loser after another — from ethanol, a $6 billion boondoggle that even Al Gore admits was a mistake, to the $41,000 Chevy Volt that only the rich can afford (with their extended Bush tax cuts, of course).

Perhaps this is all to be expected from Democrats — the party of government — and from a president who from his very first address to Congress has boldly displayed his zeal to fundamentally transform the American social contract and place it on a “New Foundation” (an Obama slogan that never took). He’s been chastened enough by the election of 2010 to make gestures toward the center. But the State of the Union address revealed a man ideologically unbowed and undeterred. He served up an insignificant spending cut, yet another (if more modest) stimulus, and a promise to fight any Republican attempt to significantly shrink the size of government.

Indeed, he went beyond this. He tried to cast this more-of-the-same into a call to national greatness, citing two Michigan brothers who produce solar shingles as a stirring example of rising to the Sputnik moment.

“We do big things,” Obama declared at the end of an address that was, on the contrary, the finest example of small-ball Clintonian minimalism since the days of school uniforms and midnight basketball.

From the moon landing to solar shingles. Is there a better example of American decline?


Richard Heckler 7 years, 3 months ago

What did Obama get after two years of trying to force bipartisan support?

  1. If Democrats try to pass something without Republican input, Republicans filibuster.

2.If Democrats try to pass something with Republican input, Republicans filibuster.

3.If Republicans propose legislation and Democrats agree to it, Republicans filibuster.

Don't expect anything different.......

oldvet 7 years, 3 months ago

Then how did the stimulus bill and the health care bill pass the Senate if the Republicans could filibuster them to death? Republicans voted in block against both (not counting the 3 rino's, Collins, Snow and Specter, of course).

Better check your numbers, merrill... Republicans didn't have the numbers required and the dems passed anything they wanted... until the blue-dogs got worried...

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 3 months ago

Put the crack pipe down and back away slowly.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 3 months ago

Well, this is a nation that put up with the abuses of the bush administration for 8 long years, so I think you are right to be scared, Tom

And who do we have to thank for the stupidity of Jersey Shore? The fine folks at Viacom, the 4th largest media conglomerate in the world.

Ain't media consolidation grand?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 3 months ago

There is no such thing as a monolithic "the voters."

Which, of course, means that Krauthammer can't be their spokesman, no matter how badly he wants to claim that title.

sr80 7 years, 3 months ago

there once was a guy named obama who ran into a very big problama he spent upwards of 3 trillion saying its not even close to a zillion.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 3 months ago

Why should he take it seriously? No one else does. Google announced they were going on a hiring spree. 6200 new jobs. Their stock immediately tanked on Wall Street because their investors thought they were "overspending" and "cutting into their profits". The private business sector could care less about pulling this country out of the morass it's in. Obama isn't getting any support from the public sector either. I'm looking forward to 2012. So many of you libs (and I'm not talking "liberals") and Repubs and right wingers want to "take back the country". Well here, take it! And when you're rolling in the gutter with the rest of us try not to whine...too hard. Just one recommendation. Liquidate your assets a week or so before the election and hide it under your mattress. Then hope to god inflation doesn't eat it up.

shadowlady 7 years, 3 months ago

As I've said all along, Obama is nothing but a pretty boy con artist. So far he has done a good job of conning a lot of people, the ones that are not smart enough to see through all of his malarky!!

jonas_opines 7 years, 3 months ago

"The people say they want cuts? Sure they do — as long as it doesn't affect them personally."

Fixed that.

Jimo 7 years, 3 months ago

Obama fights to keep the GOP from adding another(!) $700B in tax-cut-debt and fails and it's OBAMA who doesn't take debt seriously?

Last I checked, the GOP's most ambitious hope this year is to cut $60-$100B from the budget - out of a deficit expected to be $1,500B (out of total spending around $3,500B). In reality, it'll be no more than $50B. Math doesn't seem to be the Republican's best subject.

(A) Americans want their spending. (B) The GOP gave away all the revenues in December before the Tea Party people could be sworn in. It must be so discouraging to be a Tea Party member!!


Scott Drummond 7 years, 3 months ago

But your storefront mannequins have the unfortunate tendency to talk, and most still don't like what they're saying.

But she's hot, right?

Scott Drummond 7 years, 3 months ago

Let's see, sister Sarah is a good bet to quit 1/2 way through.

Tim What's His Name who might just bore the country to death.

Mitt the Morman, who implemented Obamacare before it was Obamacare.

Michelle "I Can Too Read a Teleprompter" Bachmann?

Where are you Tom? Who's your best guess at this point? Has Faux not yet decided who you are supposed to back?

yourworstnightmare 7 years, 3 months ago

"Obama not taking the debt crisis seriously"

So he is like every GOP president since Reagan.

Only Bill Clinton took the debt crisis seriously and balanced the budget and gathered a surplus.

jayhawklawrence 7 years, 3 months ago

As far as Krauthammer's contribution to the political discussion goes, I would rate it at about the same level as fast food.

I would predict the shine wears off his career at about the same rate as Sarah Palin is losing hers.

Let's think of the Tea Party as a wake up call for the corrupted Republican Party. The same thing surely awaits the Democratic Party over the next two years. The sooner the better.

It is inevitable that we need to reform our politics so that we don't always reach for the checkbook and call it a solution, an investment or an improvement.

weeslicket 7 years, 3 months ago

i don't know how all you all read passages like this, but this is what i read: (feel free to skip all the rest)

charles krauthammer says: in the abstract punished severely until 35 minutes in It’s spillage but if Republicans dare take anything from granny, he shall be Horatius at the bridge. pantomime Obama’s defiance November shellacking excuse me, investment those overachieving Asians the magic lure of a green economy
our “Sputnik moment,” billions of taxpayer dollars down a rat hole in vain more-of-the-same American decline

i read about a bit for some proactive, practicle suggestions from the editorialist, but found none. not so sure what to make of all of this.

introspector 7 years, 3 months ago

I had way more fun reading these comments than the article. Its all opinionated garbage honestly though. Since we have all mastered economics and were all arguing its safe to say we should probably get started on building a massive bomb shelter so we can stock it full of canned foods, toilet paper, and whatnots pre-locking ourselves in preparing for when the proverbial dook hits the proverbial fan. whos with me? haha

For real! Stop crediting Clinton for doing such a great job with the economic situation. In the Clinton days things weren't bottomed out as they happen to be now. Irrelevant but necessary: the fact that any changes to our economical structure wont produce over night the miracles everyone is gnashing teeth about same as any changes Clinton made wouldn't effect us until sometime down the road: NAFTA. To really get down and dirty with the economic situation in the light of having troops over-seas we need to analyze our economy in respect to every other economy that exists on earth taking into account their respective countries positions in aforementioned conflict then we can decide what the best steps to take will be. It sucks, I know, but its not all about you sitting on your couch eating potato chips with your thumb where it shouldn't be- there are people dodging rocket propelled grenades right now. The objective may or may not be clear to anybody why exactly we were/are "freeing Iraq" but I do recall Bush saying something along the lines of "Were gonna tear these mofos apart" and everyone everywhere was all WOooOOo!!! and the like- Lets see how many of you will notice our flag half-mast next sept 11th now. Of course our economy is bad atm and THAT is what Obama SHOULD have been talking about considering his position but barely mentioned in the whole speech he gave. WAR!!

MQ-9 Reaper UAV: $53.5M Hellfire missile: between $50-$70,000.00 each. if you do the math- thats a metric butt-ton of money just to arm 1 aircraft with a single missile. War is not cheap. Economy isn't going to flourish until war is over. WAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa WAaaaaaaaaaaaaaa WAaaaaaaaaaa!!


jayhawklawrence 7 years, 3 months ago

Looks like George Will and Charles Krauthammer is strategizing together before they write their columns.

Both are trying to say that Obama does not care enough. I suppose they are trying to find a way to make his demeanor an issue while he gives a speech.

Silly stuff.

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