Get a Mirror — or a Plan

by Douglas Holtz-Eakin

The Complainer-in-Chief just hijacked the airwaves for another moment of presidential petulance:

“Two weeks ago when the Republican House had put forward a budget that will have huge consequences potentially to the country. And when I gave a speech about my budget and how I felt that we needed to invest in education, in infrastructure, in making sure that we had a strong safety net for our seniors even as we were closing the deficit.

During that entire week the dominant news story wasn’t abut these huge monumental choices that we going to have to make as a nation. It was about my birth certificate.”

The president needs to understand that the problem is not that the press is nonserious. It is that he has failed utterly to give it something serious to cover. The controversy over his birth certificate was more substantive than the impact of his plan because there was no plan.

If there were a plan, there would be a nice table from his Office of Management and Budget that showed, year-by-year for ten years, the impact of his proposals compared with those in the House-passed budget. Instead, there was a “fact sheet” that asserted savings over 12 years. Why 12? To make sure the numbers looked bigger and that one could not compare it to the House plan.

If there were a plan, there would be no need for another “commission” led by Vice-President Biden to develop … a plan!

If there were a plan, there would be no need to promise across-the-board cuts in everything … except Social Security … and Medicare … and low-income programs, meaning Medicaid … and the Affordable Care Act — that is, cuts in everything but the source of the problem.

The president’s first budget led to a debt spiral, but he excused it because of the financial and economic crisis. The president’s second budget led to a debt spiral, but he excused it because the Bowles-Simpson commission was going to fix it. The president’s third budget led to a debt spiral, but he whined that he had to do that because Republicans might criticize a real budget.

The comparison to the House budget was so shaming he was compelled to give a speech on a new “plan” to end the greatest threat facing this nation. But there was no plan. Just another speech. And today, more whining.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin is president of the American Action Forum.

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