The Corner

Surreal Logic

Robert Gibbs and others have lately tried to answer questions about why Obama’s vaunted economic plans have not led to the expected recovery from recession. Their reply seems to be something along the lines that the president does not control Congress, and therefore has not been able to implement policies that otherwise might have led to prosperity. 

That “do-nothing Congress” defense cannot be a serious argument, since Obama came into power with a large House majority and a filibuster-proof Senate, and still controlled both houses of Congress until January of this year — and thus could and did do anything he pleased. The keystones of his economic plan — a second massive stimulus, a federalized take-over of health care, multi-trillion-dollar deficit spending, massive green-power subsidies and discouragement of fossil fuel production, new financial and environmental regulations, large expansions of food stamps, unemployment insurance, and other entitlements, etc. — all were enacted through the end of 2010. 

And when Obama lost Congress, he was still able by executive fiat to sidestep legislative oversight on everything from the Defense of Marriage Act and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to the effort to shut down a Boeing plant and the decision to grant de facto amnesty by not deporting illegal aliens who are not wanted for crimes. 

The new apology seems to be, ‘The record four trillion dollars plus that I and the Democratic Congress borrowed in my first two years was still not enough Keynesian stimulus, and therefore we should blame the new Congress,’ which rode in on a near-record midterm wave of popular outrage over the deficits and with a public mandate to stop the borrowing. 

‘The public finally elected a bad Congress to stop me from doing more of what I wanted and which did not work’ is not a rationale for a second term. And by the same token, the left-wing argument against Obama (e.g., ‘He needs to fight more, he needs to get back to the agenda that elected him,’ etc.) is equally surreal, since it is precisely that agenda that brought him down to a 39 percent approval rating (26 percent voicing confidence in his economic plan), while his increasing alligators-and-moats, punish-our-enemies, divisive, partisan invective is tarnishing, not enhancing, his former popularity.


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