Typically if I take a vacation or break from following political news, I’m surprised at how little I miss. The same debates with the same players remain, and it’s easy to jump back in.


This time, after a week in a cabin in the woods by a lake, I’m surprised as I catch up on the news. There’s both a startling seriousness to debates that are going on today, and then even more startling un-seriousness of some supposed political leaders-most notably our President.


The current debt ceiling debate is really not about raising this debt ceiling. It’s about the direction we are going to move as a country. Is Washington ever going to slow down the pace of spending? Or are we going to wait for a Greek-like economic crisis, when the options are just grim and grimmer, to do something so that wasteful state spending doesn’t become an anchor sinking the private sector, the real source of wealth, and taking our economy down with it?


It’s an incredibly serious debate-and there are serious people who argue that it’s a mistake to try to fix the serious long-term debt crisis (particularly the entitlement spending crisis) today. We need to continue with government spending to replaced lost demand in the economy until the private sector expands again.


I don’t agree with the tact that government can spend us into prosperity, and it seems that the recent experience with the great government’s spending stimulus of 2009 is evidence that government spending isn’t a silver bullet for economic growth. But that’s a debate that can and should be had. Unfortunately, it’s clear that the President isn’t willing to actually engage in that debate. Instead he is using embarrassingly silly demagoguery about a tax credit for corporate jets–a tax credit created by the Democrats’ stimulus bill–as the key to solving our debt crisis.


For the record, I think a tax credit specific to corporate jets is bad policy. But how is this any worse – or any more tilted toward “the rich” – than big tax credits for purchasing fancy hybrid cards? Obama would explain the latter, of course, doesn’t just benefit the limousine liberals who take advantage of the “green” tax credit so they can have the fancy, politically correct cars. It also helps the auto workers who are making the vehicles for purchase. If that’s true, then surely the same logic holds for corporate jets. It’s not the companies alone that benefit from lower jet costs, but the workers who build and maintain those jets.


Again, I disagree with the logic of both tax credits-better to get rid of all of these credits that reward certain politically connecting industries and consumers while lowering tax rates across the board. But that’s not what Obama thinks. So it’s clear that his corporate jet schtick is plain class warfare (and very poorly done class warfare at that).


President Obama talks about the need for deficit reduction (probably because the phrase polls well), just as he talks about the need for political leadership, and then punts actual hard decisions about spending priorities to anyone he can – his vice president, Congress, another Blue Ribbon commission whose recommendations he can later ignore.


The good news is that Members of Congress, and even the media, seem to know that the President is stuck in an embarrassing spin cycle, and is just trying to turn this debate to his political advantage, in any way possible, no matter how contrived. And Americans are sick of this politics that is the equivalent of a big road to no where. They want grown ups who will debate economic policies on their merits. That’s bad news for our profoundly un-serious President, but good news for the country.