Obama: Smartest guy in the room?
Last night on our podcast we discussed some of the economic arguments and statements President Obama has been making lately. Among us we can’t quite figure out if they are the sum of an abysmal understanding of basic economic theory or a result of ideology or a little bit of both (one feeding the other). But I continue to see such statements filter out from various speeches, statements and interviews. For example, this from Steve Kroft’s 60 minute interview:
KROFT: [Republicans] say it’s your insistence on raising the taxes to the wealthiest Americans, that you’re fixated on that. And that there are other ways to raise revenue.
OBAMA: Steve, the math is the math. You can’t lower rates and raise revenue, unless you’re getting revenue from someplace else. Now, either it’s coming from middle-class families or poor families or it’s coming from folks like you and me that can afford to pay a little more. I mean, I think the average American understands that.
Well, Americans certainly understand that the “revenue has to come from someplace else” if the tax base has shrunk, but my guess is they also understand that you can lower taxes and increase revenue in what situation?
Oh, yeah … in a period of economic growth. So perhaps the answer is to work on a long-term solution, you know, like stimulating economic growth, instead of a temporary, short-term half-assed solution like raising taxes on the “rich”? Perhaps?
Not to the smartest man in the room. Not even a mention of economic growth or stimulating it. Instead it’s all about raising taxes on the class he’s attempted to demonize for months.
And he’s invented a new “bargain” for his campaign to do so:
People in the audience at his speech, Obama said, want to know, “What’s happened to the bargain? What’s happened to the American deal that says, you know, we are focused on building a strong middle class?” Americans are “concerned about inequality” and he’s trying to remedy it by placing new rules on Wall Street, by intensifying consumer protections by getting his Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fully up and running, and by asking the rich to pay more in taxes to fund government spending on investments in the future like education and health care.
“To fund government spending on investments in the future like education and health care”? When did we make that a part of any sort of a “bargain”? What “American bargain” is he talking about? I know about the “American dream”, but that has nothing to do with a “bargain”. When did we enter into this so-called bargain that apparently guaranteed a middle class life even if it has to be funded on the back of others? How is that an “American bargain”?
Of course this cobbled up premise takes our man to these sorts of simplistic (but politically expedient) conclusions:
OBAMA: If I can’t get Republicans to move, partly because they’ve made a political, strategic decision that says, “Anything Obama’s for, we’re against, because that’s our best chance of winning an election,” I don’t think the American people would see that as a failure on my part. My preference is that they’d have a different attitude. You know, I’ve been joking with my staff lately that I think in my next speech, I am gonna say, “I am adamantly opposed to investing in education and putting teachers in the classroom. I’m adamantly opposed to rebuilding America and putting construction workers back to work.” And I’m thinking maybe suddenly Republicans might be for it. But, you know, keep in mind, I’m talking about Republican members of Congress. I’m not talking about Republicans around the country.
Mr. Black and White. It is either “I’m totally behind Obama’s plan or I’m totally against it”. Stark but utter nonsense. An attempt at political framing which ignores the reality of the day – we can’t afford most of the things Obama wants and the fact that he continues to want them doesn’t change that. So instead of bowing to reality (like he has most foreign leaders), Obama chooses to pretend that’s not the problem and Republicans oppose him simply because they want to win an election. And throwing lines like this out there about essentially opposing things that might help teachers and construction workers is another among many attempts to demonize the opposition with baseless claims.
In the meantime he’s punted a decision that would indeed employ thousands of construction workers and, oh by the way, raise tax revenues, by delaying the decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.
Did anyone call him on that? Of course not.
Did Steve Kroft remind him he had a majority Democratic Congress for two years and did nothing to address the economic situation or this “American bargain” he’s made up?
Of course not.
The middle class wasn’t important then. And frankly it’s not that important to him now. It’s a political device he hopes to use to distract and demonize. He has to distract the voting populace away from his dismal record (which finds 54% saying in a recent poll that he doesn’t deserve reelection) and he feels he has to demonize his opposition to do that – all the while waving the false flag of concern over the middle class.
For such a smart guy, this is an exceedingly transparent and obvious attempt to change the subject – yet somehow the media seems to have missed it completely (at least to this point). There is no “American bargain”. Never has been. There is no guaranteed level living. There is no short-term fixed to the problem of government insolvency, especially taxing the “rich”. And the opposing party isn’t at all adamantly opposed to the things Obama would like you to believe they are opposed too. What they’re opposed to is the huge debt Mr. Obama’s administration has piled up, the class warfare he wants to conduct rather than work on real solutions and his insistence that the cause of most of the problems we face is also the solution to them.