Discover more from Bernard Goldberg's Commentary
Yes, Obama's the Great Pretender
Let's pretend just for a moment that the state of our country's economic situation is exactly how President Obama describes it. Let's pretend that the $5 trillion dollars plus added to our national debt since the day he took office really was unavoidable and was the amount required to save the country from a second great depression. Let's pretend that unless we continue to keep spending more and more (currently each newborn baby in the United States owes $50,000 and that amount is rising quickly), our economy will never fully recover. Let's pretend that gas prices really are beyond the president's control and that every cent of the 83% increase that has taken place since he was sworn in to the presidency is in no way his fault. Let's pretend that an 8.3% unemployment rate really is a promising number, despite the workforce participation rate being at an all-time low. Let's pretend that rising healthcare costs have nothing to do with the implementation of Obamacare. Let's pretend that the credit downgrade of our country really was politically motivated and doesn't reflect at all the credibility of our nation to pay back what we owe. Let's pretend that Paul Ryan's plans to fix our safety-net programs and balance the budget really are too draconian to implement. Hell, let's go as far as pretending that every single problem going on in this country right now was directly caused by George W. Bush and the Republican party.
For the sake of the argument, let's just go ahead and cede all of those explanations for why none of these problems are our president's fault.
With that in mind, let's ask a simple and logical question that I would hope every honest American would feel compelled to ask: What are Obama's plans to fix these problems?
After all, we vote presidents into office to fix problems, don't we? We don't just expect them to assign blame for current challenges and spend the rest of their term delivering speeches and attending fundraisers, right?
Now, I will give Obama credit for at least talking about fixing these problems. He hasn't completely ignored their existence. He's delivered eloquent speeches where he's framed these problems and expressed a desire to resolve them in front of cameras and cheering, enthusiastic supporters. And let's be honest... he looks good giving those speeches. With his shirt-sleeves rolled up, his dramatic pauses, and that powerful voice of his, he at least appears to be serious about wanting to fix them. On presentation alone, he delivers verbiage that rivals that of Bill Pullman, Morgan Freeman, and other Hollywood actors who have portrayed presidents on film. It's the primary reason his personal popularity ratings have remained consistently high.
Still, it seems reasonable to expect that Americans would believe they deserve more. You'd think that the electorate wouldn't be content with a president who offered endless pillow-talk, but no serious solutions to fix such problems. By serious, I'm not talking about ideas that meet some sort of conservative litmus test that would wow people like me. I'm not setting the bar that high. I'm merely talking about solutions that have some sort of plausibility behind them. I'm talking about coherent solutions that have some sort of fathomable chance of actually working.
If the problem-solving debates in our country were about opposing, realistic visions of how to best address difficult dilemmas, we could at least rest assured that our leaders were taking our challenges seriously. The truth, however, is that the president has offered nothing but pretend solutions to deal with very real problems. That statement's not a partisan assessment on my part. It's the assessment of any honest observer or number-cruncher who checks their ideology at the door.
When it comes to cutting the deficit, Obama has built an entire social narrative around the idea of increasing taxes on the rich as a solution. As the CBO and numerous economists have pointed out, you could tax all of these people at 100% and still not put a dent in our national debt. It's a pretend solution.
When it comes to high gas prices, Obama's answer is alternative energy which always sounds good but its practicality exists largely in theory. He mocks Republicans for having the gall to suggest that we increase domestic drilling to make our country less reliant on oil coming from volatile regions of the world. Then, with a straight face, he endorses the idea of converting algae into fuel. Yes, algae. At this point, I half expect him to suggest we harness the power of rainbows for energy. More pretend solutions.
Obama's pretend solution to deal with expensive healthcare has unfortunately already been signed into law. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has increased healthcare premiums (which the president said would not happen) by a national average of 9% in just a year and is on track to double within ten years. Obamacare is now projected to add hundreds of billions to the deficit (the president said it would actually cut the deficit), many people have been yanked off of their insurance plans (which the president said would not happen), and the law itself does absolutely nothing to actually bring down the cost of healthcare services (which was the entire stated point of reforming the system). It was a pretend solution laced with pretend benefits, but came at a very real and substantial cost.
Obama proposes federal annual budgets that are so nonsensical and ridiculous that he can't get a single member of his own political party to vote for them. Think about that for a minute... The current class of Democrats in congress is made up of some of the most liberal, big-spending elected leaders in our nation's history, and the president's budgets are too expensive even for them!
To grow the economy, Obama proposes infrastructure spending such as light rail systems (which we have no money to pay for) that receive a mountain of press coverage for a couple of days before they're never spoken of again and never revisited by the media.
Renewing the payroll tax cut to stimulate the economy is a pretend solution. It didn't work the first time around and just digs a deeper hole for the Social Security trust fund. Yet, our president doubled down on failure (like he often does) for the sole purpose of positioning himself politically.
I could go on and on with more examples, but you hopefully see my point. What we've seen for the last three years is a pretend leader who offers pretend solutions. The media has acted like a dream-team of defense attorneys who diligently use every tool at their disposal to protect their client (who they know is guilty as hell). They lend credence to his audacious claims. They distract the jury from opposing arguments and evidence. They play off people's emotions rather than letting them judge the president's ideas based on the facts.
With today's media as the messenger, there's little hope of the electorate getting a clear picture of the absurdity behind Obama's proposed solutions. That's a reality I wish was pretend. The media's not getting any more reputable as time goes on, so if voters aren't intellectually curious enough to research the content of our president's lip service, they'll most likely re-elect Hope and Change. And I can't pretend, even for a second, that this country can take another four years of that.