NRO’s eye on debt and deficits . . . by Kevin D. Williamson.

Ghost in the TelePrompTer



Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States . . .

Mr. Speaker, senators, members of the House, distinguished colleagues, legions of the unemployed, my fellow Americans:—

Let me begin by saying—Wait, legions of the unemployed? Is somebody messing with my TelePrompTer? Can I, uh, wait . . . okay—sorry. Yes, sorry, let me begin by saying, “I’m sorry.” Really, truly, sincerely sorry. About this. About all this. But, hey, it’s not like I don’t have some skin in the game, here. Quite a bit, in fact: I’m guessing that if unemployment goes up much in the next ten to twelve months, I’m, uh, basically done. That’s all she wrote, as I might say if I were trying to be folksy. Would that help? Folksiness?

Look, I don’t know what you want me to do. I gave a speech. I gave several speeches. Beautiful speeches. I’m here to give a speech again. You know how beautifully I speak, especially compared to George W. Bush. Remember him? Remember that guy? Awful times, right? But it’s okay. I’m here. I’m in charge. And I’m speeching, er, speaking, giving a speech, as it were. Let me be clear about that.

You know, you learn a lot on this job. There’s no real preparation for it. I mean, there’s some preparation you can get, like being a governor or a mayor, or an executive in charge of a large enterprise of some sort. Uh, yeah. But, you know, as things turned out, I didn’t. And I think I may have made a little strategic error, here, to the extent that I’ve in a way conflated the significance of giving a speech with the significance of actually doing something about the thing you’re giving a speech about. It’s mostly a communication problem, meaning that I’ve done a lot of communicating about the problem, the problem of unemployment, but my communication hasn’t been effective, at least not in the sense that might show up in the unemployment data, or, for that matter, in your paychecks and bank accounts. But I have made it very clear: I am opposed to unemployment. Unequivocally so. I have a vision, and in my vision unemployment is very low, especially around October and  November of next year. That’s my vision. Now, some people don’t share that vision. Because they like unemployment. Or something. I’m pretty sure my vision is mine, and shared by the members of my party, and of course the top experts I was in grad school with and that guy over at the New York Times who always writes what I’m already thinking. That’s our vision. A vision for America.

Except . . . and let me be clear, I’m putting it all out there, since, really, at this point I don’t have much left to lose that I’m not pretty darned likely to lose next year, anyway. So, I’ve decided to set aside the proposal I was going to make, which was—surprise!—extending the payroll-tax cuts, some make-work spending on stuff I’m still going to call infrastructure and clean energy, but which I’m sure as heck not going to call “stimulus” anymore—lesson learned!—and extending unemployment benefits, and more or less the same stuff I’ve been doing for a while now, but more so, or still more so, or, compared with the original stimulus, less so, but less in a way that is more on top of the more we did before, if you get my meaning. No?

Okay, so this is it: Armageddon. Really, is this the prepared text? I don’t think this is the prepared text. Okay, whatever. So, since the speeches aren’t really working, here’s what I’m going to do.

First, I’m putting a cap on federal spending. I’m not talking about any baseline shenanigans. I mean that I will veto any spending bill that goes one thin dime beyond what we spent this year. I’ll leave it to Congress to figure out how to do that. Yeah, Paul Ryan: I’m a big-picture president, now. You can figure out the details, tough guy. Good luck with that Medicare reform.

Second, I’m raising your taxes. Sort of. Since I’ve deleted Nancy Pelosi from my iPhone contacts list, I have a strange feeling of liberation. So, I’m asking Congress to pass the Simpson-Bowles tax plan: Cut the rates, eliminate the deductions, net tax increase, but I can make it look like a tax cut. I’m really that clever. In fact, if nobody has any use for Jon Huntsman — and I’m pretty sure nobody has any use for Jon — he’s got basically the same idea, so I’m going to put him in charge of it, and that’s the closest he’s going to get to the White House. You guys want bipartisanship? He’s still a Republican, and it’s too late to kick him out. So, there you have it. But we’re not doing this Bush-style: no “sunsetting” the changes so we have to fight over them every couple of years. This is one and done, at least as far as I’m concerned.

Third, I’m calling for the repeal of Sarbanes-Oxley and Frank-Dodd. I know: counterintuitive, right? Instead, we’re going to impose stricter old-fashioned capital requirements and limits on leverage, with the particulars specific to each class of financial firm — banks are one thing, insurance companies are another. You guys like simple, straightforward regulation, right? It doesn’t get much simpler than that. And speaking of things financial, we’re selling the Fannie and Freddie portfolios on a ten-year schedule, and then we’re closing them down.

Fourth: Lisa, Tim, Hilda, Steve, Rebecca, and Lisa — did I already mention Lisa? Well, Lisa twice, then. You’ve served your country honorably. Really. A fine crew. But you’re fired. It’s a bottom-line issue, guys. It’s not like you were going to keep your job in a Romney administration, and God knows what Perry would do with you. “Treat you pretty mean,” I believe the saying is. Also . . . Ben? Ben, I can’t fire you, you know, but keep that CV fresh, is all I’m saying.

So, now, I’ll pretend to take your questions, and try not to roll my eyes . . .

Tags: Fiscal Armageddon , Unemployment


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