Anybody who thought President Barack Obama would step up and provide genuine leadership on the issue large majorities of Americans worry most about — the federal government’s out-of-control spending, including its $14.3 trillion national debt — must have been bitterly disappointed by his address at George Washington University.
There were a multitude of flaws in this speech, but let’s focus on two.
First, by waiting until the last possible moment to stake out his own position, he was able to attack and misrepresent the proposal by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and the House Republican majority to reform Medicare and Medicaid while reducing federal spending by more than $4 trillion.
According to Obama, what Ryan and the House GOP really want is to leave 50 million people without health insurance, push millions more seniors off Medicare and deny Medicaid to legions of babies. Obama claimed the victims of the Ryan/GOP budget plan would include “middle-class families who have children with autism or Down syndrome. Some are kids with disabilities so severe that they require 24-hour care. These are the Americans we’d be telling to fend for themselves.”
This is exactly the sort of business-as-usual Washington, D.C., politics that most voters rejected in the 2010 elections.
Second, Obama resorted to Huey Long tactics by making a punching bag of “the rich,” that mythical top 2 percent of all Americans whose wealth the president famously told Joe the Plumber in 2008 that he just wanted to “spread around.” Obama put it a little differently Wednesday, claiming it’s as American as apple pie to insist that “wealthier individuals ... who have benefitted most from our way of life can afford to give a bit more back.”
But why just hike the tax rates on the top 2 percent and end some of the tax credits and deductions that benefit the most affluent taxpayers, as Obama proposed? Why not impose a 100 percent tax on the top 2 percent? As Washington Examiner columnist and economist Walter Williams pointed out, doing so “would yield the princely sum of $1.4 trillion. That would keep the government running for 141 days, but there’s a problem because there are 224 more days left in the year.”
Even if all the annual profits of the Fortune 500 were also taken, it would only keep the government funded for another 40 days, according to Williams.
In other words, Washington’s spending crisis is now so serious that professional politicians such as Obama defy reality when they claim the deficits can be eliminated by increasing taxes on the top 2 percent of Americans.
The Examiner will have more to say in the days ahead about the deceptive nature of Obama’s speech, such as his claim that Obamacare will reduce federal spending — which was flatly contradicted by the Congressional Budget Office. But for now, suffice it to say his address at George Washington University demonstrated much about why America faces economic decline.