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MICHAEL BARONE: The unhappy warrior – Campaign 2012

September 9, 2011

Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio applauds President Barack Obama during his address to a joint session Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Kevin Lamarque, POOL)

The unhappy warrior

By Michael Barone

Barack Obama looked and sounded angry in his speech to the joint session of Congress. He bitterly assailed one straw man after another and made reference to a grab bag of proposals which would cost something on the order of $450 billion—assuring us on the one hand that they all had been supported by Republicans as well as Democrats in the past and suggesting that somehow they are going to turn the economy around. He called for further cuts in the payroll tax (which if continued indefinitely would undermine the case of Social Security as something people have earned rather than a form of welfare) and for a further extension of unemployment insurance (perhaps justifiable on humanitarian grounds, but sure to at least marginally raise the unemployment rate over what it would otherwise be). He called for a tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed (unfortunately, these things can be gamed). He gave a veiled plug for his pet project of high-speed rail (a real dud) and for infrastructure spending generally (but didn’t he learn that there aren’t really any shovel-ready projects?). He called for a school modernization program (will it result in more jobs than the Seattle weatherization program that cost $22 million and produced 14 jobs?) and for funding more teacher jobs (a political payoff to the teacher unions which together with other unions gave Democrats $400 million in the 2008 campaign cycle). “We’ll set up an independent fund to attract private dollars and issue loans based on two criteria: how badly a construction project is needed and how much good it would do for the country.” Yeah, sure. Like the screening process that produced that $535,000,000 loan guarantee to now-bankrupt Solyndra. And Congress should pass the free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and South Korea. Except that Congress can’t, because Obama hasn’t sent them up there yet in his 961 days as president.

Obama assured us that this would all be paid for. But as far as I could gather, he punted that part of it to the supercommittee of 12 members set up under the debt ceiling bill. He now blithely charges it with coming up with more than its current goal of $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Oh, and he’s going to announce “a more ambitious deficit plan” that will “stabilize our debt in the long run”–11 days from now.

via The unhappy warrior | Campaign 2012.

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