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What the President Cannot Say Tomorrow Night



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He will not renew calls for civility and a kinder, gentler public discourse. He will not use the word “stimulus.” He will not invoke the mantra “millions of new green jobs” or “vast new investments in wind and solar power.” He will not use the phrase “shovel-ready.” And the reasons he won’t are, at this point, known to most Americans.

The real mystery is the Republican response to Obama’s latest post-stimulus, post-shovel-ready, New Deal–like massive borrowing for public-works projects. It is not easy to convey the message, in sound-bite form, that less — as in less regulation, less debt and borrowing, less take-overs, less class-warfare talk, less promises of new taxes, less subsidies — is more, if what you want to do is spur job growth. 

And of course, neither party has bluntly told Mr. Hoffa and the American worker that in a cut-throat global economy, millions of high-paid American workers will have to be better educated, more disciplined, and more innovative than cheaper-paid workers abroad to justify companies’ higher payroll costs. Such a message inherently would mean a vast overhaul of our education system — not in terms of greater funding but in discarding much of the therapeutic, non-academic curriculum in our schools — far less labor regulations, a completely new attitude to resource usage, especially fossil fuels, farming, timber, and mining, and a new encouragement to employers who would have to be seen as potential saviors rather than, in Obama/Hoffa fashion, as fat cats, enemies, and greedy outsourcers. Otherwise our shared future is the Greece/California model of steady erosion and decline.



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