The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Voting 'Present'

In what amounts to a profound lack of leadership melded with a cynical political ploy, President Obama has submitted a 2012 budget that does absolutely nothing to cut spending this year or next. The Wall Street Journal comments:
From hard experience, we know that what matters are the cuts and reforms a White House is willing to make now. The Obama budget doesn't cut a penny from the deficit in the last seven months of fiscal 2011. Over the next three years—through 2013—the spending reductions in this budget add up to a paltry $20 billion net, out of a projected $3.5 trillion deficit. That's a 0.57% reduction in red ink and less than what the feds spend every two days.

As the President continues to kick the can down the road, it’s instructive to note that in the lead-up to the Obama’s budget, Democratic leaders and their media spokespeople roundly criticized Republicans for only cutting $100 billion from this year’s budget, suggesting that in a 3.7 trillion dollar budget, they could do much more. The Republican’s proposed cuts for 2011 are almost five times what Obama intends to cut in next 3 years.

It appears that Barack Obama does not understand that the President is supposed to lead, not follow. He’s afraid (that is the right word) to make hard choices for fear of alienating his big government base. Instead, he waits like a child for the adults in a Republican-majority House to make hard choices, and will then join the chorus of Democratic demagoguery that is sure to follow.

A year ago, Obama appointed a non-partisan commission to make budget reduction recommendations. In his budget, the President studiously avoided implementing a single one of the commission's recommendations, leading to criticism by Erskine Bowles, the commission's Democratic co-chairman.

The fact that current spending is unsustainable, that it will damage the country, and hurt the very people he purports to care most about, does not appear to penetrate the President’s ideological belief system. The fact that he’s saddling our children and grandchildren with unsustainable debt seems of no concern. The fact that he refuses to propose changes to major entitlements is to him a smart political strategy in the Chicago style. As a senator, Barack Obama often voted “present” whenever a tough vote occurred. Tells you something about the man.

He’s confident that by doing nothing—by voting present—he can cast the people who do make hard choices as the villains, and as a consequence, gain political advantage. One can only hope that the electorate sees past the hand-wringing that is sure to follow and sees the President’s lack of leadership for what it is—a venal display of political opportunism.