The President's Curious Speech Lacks Solutions
If you're looking for an iron-clad indictment of Barack Obama's failed fiscal policies, you don't have to look much farther than the President's own words in a speech he delivered yesterday at the Associated Press luncheon in Washington, D.C.
In what was seemingly an attempt to criticize House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-WI) FY2013 budget plan -- the only such proposal to emerge from either the House or the Senate -- the President dredged up his stale complaints about President George W. Bush's policies -- many of which he has maintained -- and turned to scary rhetoric about Trojan horses and social Darwinism in order to paint the conservative vision for fixing America's budget crisis as a radical one.
To help bolster his case that more Obama-style policies are needed, the President detailed the problems America is still facing, despite three and a half years of his own policies:
Whoever he may be, the next President will inherit an economy that is recovering, but not yet recovered, from the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression. Too many Americans will still be looking for a job that pays enough to cover their bills or their mortgage. Too many citizens will still lack the sort of financial security that started slipping away years before this recession hit. A debt that has grown over the last decade, primarily as a result of two wars, two massive tax cuts, and an unprecedented financial crisis, will have to be paid down.
To the extent that the President has identified the problems America is facing today -- an unemployment rate that is too high, an economy that is recovering too slowly, lack of financial security, and an out-of-control debt -- he's right. Thank you, Mr. President, for identifying the problems that we are well aware of. Unfortunately, this Administration has not offered any solutions that will fix them. Yet Obama yesterday had the audacity to criticize the Ryan plan -- the only budget to pass the House of Representatives that addresses America's fiscal crisis -- saying it would cause air pollution, disease, park closures, flight cancellations, and even a crisis in weather forecasting. Interestingly, President Obama's own budget was defeated unanimously in the House (414-0) as it was last year in the Senate (97-0).
Heritage's Patrick Knudsen explains that while the Ryan budget isn't perfect and could benefit from more aggressive entitlement reforms, "Its policies are measured and carefully crafted, rooted in sound conservative principles, and aimed at winning consensus." Meanwhile, Knudsen writes, the President is presiding over the fourth straight trillion-dollar-plus deficit of his tenure, has ignored the deficit-cutting recommendations of his fiscal commission, increased the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion without agreeing to any entitlement savings, and has proposed a budget that would increase publicly held debt to more than 76 percent of gross domestic product by 2022.
Contrast the President's total failure to confront America's debt crisis with the Ryan plan, which includes proposals similar to those in Heritage's Saving the American Dream plan. Heritage's Alison Fraser explains that under Ryan's plan, the debt crisis is squarely addressed; Obamacare is repealed and health care is moved from the hands of bureaucrats to patients and doctors; Medicare is preserved with a premium support system that allows America's seniors to pick the plan that suits them best; and the tax code is reformed not to punish the productive, but to increase growth, wages, and jobs. But under Obama's vision, Fraser writes, "we close our eyes and pretend that big government has all the answers to every risk and problem in society, real or perceived."
We have seen the results of that theory in the direction America is headed. Even the President acknowledges the country is in dire straits, yet he refuses to accept that he has had the privilege and responsibility to do something about it. Unfortunately, even though he has the power to help lead the country out of its fiscal crisis, he has consistently refused to do it. Instead he is criticizing those who are stepping up to the plate with real solutions for the American people.