President Obama seems to have hit upon a swell way to get us out of our debt problem: why not just make somebody else pay it off? And why not the rich? After all, I mean, it’s not as if these jerks have anything better-like creating jobs-to do with their dough.
The president’s speech this afternoon shows a man fundamentally unchanged by the results of the midterm elections and the recent fight that came close to shutting down the federal government. Several times in the speech the president seemed shocked that we would ask any group of citizens to “fend for themselves” when we can ask the rich to assume all burdens.
Cato’s Michael Tanner had a good item on the president’s speech on The Corner (“One Good Thing about the President’s Speech”):
Essentially, the president declared that he still wants to raise taxes, that he is opposed to any substantive changes to entitlements – oh, and he wants to raise taxes. He did suggest that if somehow he hasn’t been able to cut spending by 2014 (anyone taking bets?), he would appoint a commission to recommend spending cuts and (surprise) tax increases. A commission: Now there’s an original idea.
But the president’s speech does accomplish one thing. As he intended, it draws a clear distinction between his ideas and those of his opponents such as Paul Ryan. The president wants to spend (or as he repeatedly put it “invest“) more and raise taxes to pay for it. As I wrote this morning, he envisions a smaller debt but a much bigger government. Congressman Ryan, in contrast, envisions a smaller debt as part of a smaller government that leaves both more money and more responsibility in the hands of individuals.
The president’s intransigence means that the coming debate about the Ryan budget is going to make last weeks’ wrangling look like charm school. I particularly disliked the speech because its soak-the-rich rhetoric promotes envy. The president also intuitively sees the United States as a country that only became great after certain of his pet social programs were enacted (see Jeffrey H. Anderson’s “Was America Not Great from 1776 to 1935?”).
Meanwhile, Fred Barnes proposes that the president “sank to the occasion” and lists some “lowlights” of this disappointing speech.