Jewish World Review Sept. 19, 2011 / 20 Elul, 5771
Obama's do-nothing sequel
By Jack Kelly
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Hollywood moguls know enough not to make a sequel of a flop. Not so President Barack Obama, who unveiled Son of Porkulus before a joint session of Congress Sept. 8.
When Porkulus I (a.k.a. the stimulus bill) debuted in January 2009, Mr. Obama's chief economic adviser predicted it would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. Unemployment -- 7.6 percent when Mr. Obama took office -- is 9.1 percent now. The Congressional Budget Office thinks it will stay close to 9 percent through 2012.
Porkulus I consisted chiefly of giving gobs of taxpayer money to the president's political allies. All that did was to add massively to our national debt.
Son of Porkulus is more of the same. "The vast contributions to state and local governments, though pitched as a jobs bill, are in reality the latest in a series of bailouts for debt-ridden state and local governments," Harvard researchers Paul Peterson and Daniel Nadler wrote in The Wall Street Journal Thursday. "They are of special benefits to states in the blue regions of the country where the president's most fervent supporters reside."
The plan "contains not one idea that Obama hasn't tried before," said Investors Business Daily.
Mr. Obama proposes to pay for Son of Porkulus in part by raising taxes. If enacted, these tax hikes would virtually guarantee a "double dip" recession. But there is little likelihood of that, since even Senate Democrats are balking.
"We shouldn't increase taxes on ordinary income," said Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.
Elimination of tax deductions for oil and gas drilling "is not going to fly, and he should know that," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
"The best jobs bill that can be passed is a long-term deficit-reduction plan," said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.
President Obama said he wants the jobs bill passed "right away," but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, hasn't scheduled a vote. He "may be delaying a vote to insulate his party," The New York Times speculated.
The president knows the bill won't pass in anything like its present form. And that's all right with him, because he wants to run against a "do nothing" Congress next year.
"This was a political speech disguised as a policy address," said the London Spectator.
"Obama jobs speech venue part of election strategy," read a Reuters headline.
This is clear from the fact that Mr. Obama hadn't presented a bill to Congress at the time he urged lawmakers to pass it. The administration was so sluggish in actually drafting a bill that Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tex, seized Mr. Obama's focus-group-tested name "American Jobs Act" for his own bill.
This strategy doesn't thrill congressional Democrats, since they control the half of Congress that hasn't passed a budget.
Presidents rarely ask for a joint session of Congress. George W. Bush did so once, to respond to the 9/11 attacks. To use that forum for a campaign speech is an abuse.
The venue may have gotten Mr. Obama a larger audience, but it didn't do him much good. His job approval fell in Gallup, Bloomberg and CNN polls taken after the speech. By a margin of 51 percent to 40 percent, Americans doubt his jobs plan will reduce unemployment.
Concrete evidence of the public mood came Tuesday in special elections for House seats. In a Republican-leaning district in Nevada, the Republican won by 22 percentage points. In a New York City district Democrats have held since 1922, the Republican won by 8 points.
Mr. Obama has responded by making more speeches touting Son of Porkulus. "If you love me, you gotta help me pass this bill," he told a friendly crowd in North Carolina.
After Tuesday, Democrats are feeling less love.
"If the upcoming election is all about jobs and the economy, the president's campaign could very well be doomed," CNN's Jack Cafferty said Wednesday. He asked viewers if Mr. Obama should consider not running for re-election.
Nobody in Democratic circles is defending the president any more, John Fund of The Wall Street Journal told WMAL radio in Washington D.C. In a few months senior Democrats may go to Mr. Obama and urge him not to run again, Mr. Fund speculated.
If that doesn't work, expect Democrats to take a sudden new interest in Mr. Obama's birth certificate.
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration.
© 2009, Jack Kelly