Monday, July 11, 2011
Obama's Trading of Wisdom for Power
In light of the continuing horrendous jobs report regarding our nation’s unemployment rate and the severely anemic economic growth, this tact seems particularly imprudent. President Obama appeared to have understood the danger of such tax increases during a recession once upon a time. Indeed, in August of 2009, during a trip to Indiana to shore up support for his stimulus plan, President Obama told NBC’s Chuck Todd in an interview that exact message. An Elkhart, Indiana resident by the name of Scott Ferguson asked a question of the President via Mr. Todd. His question was, “Explain how raising taxes on anyone during a deep recession is going to help with the economy.”
President Obama agreed with Mr. Ferguson’s premise in his response. “First of all, he’s right. Normally, you don’t raise taxes in a recession, which is why we haven’t and why we’ve instead cut taxes. So I guess what I’d say to Scott is – his economics are right. You don’t raise taxes in a recession. We haven’t raised taxes in a recession.”
One wonders what has changed between then and now as far as President Obama’s understanding goes? Indeed, if anything, unemployment and the economic crisis are in an even more dire situation that would suffer more greatly from the effects of such tax increases now.
Of course the whole debate on raising the debt ceiling so that the federal government can continue its unabated spending seems preposterous in the extreme too. Once again, this is a fact that Senator Obama seemed to once understand. While sitting as Illinois’ Senator during the Bush administration, Obama said, “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here’. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”
Senator Obama was absolutely right- back then. Why the change of thinking on this now that he is president? Indeed President Obama’s economic advisor Austin Goolsbee argued at that same meeting Sunday night that a congressional refusal to increase the government’s debt ceiling, which currently sits at $14.3 TRILLION, would be “catastrophic” and a sign of “insanity”. Oh, how the times have changed now that Senator Obama is President Obama.
Of course, that was another topic on which Barack Obama’s wisdom on the subject seemed to devolve also. Indeed, back in 2004 after just having won his U.S. Senate seat, he was asked if he would consider running on a national ticket. His wise response back then was, “I am a believer in knowing what you are doing when you apply for a job, and I think that if I were to seriously consider running on a national ticket, I would essentially have to start now before having served a day in the senate. Now there’s some people that might be comfortable doing that, but I am not one of those people.”
Despite Obama’s record as one of the most liberal members of the senate in his very brief career there, he did at least show some signs of wisdom back then in his words, if not always with his deeds. One wonders why the huge difference now and the diametrically opposed shifts in his points of view on these major issues since then? Is the imbibing of the elixir of power so intoxicating that what once seemed like wisdom in defense and representation of the people of the United States can now be abandoned in order to satisfy certain constituencies and powerful special interest groups to thereby hold on to that political capital and power that has been obtained? For President Obama trading that wisdom for power seems to be acceptable.