George W. Bush drove the car straight toward the ditch, but the Obama-Pelosi-Reid team accelerated the vehicle and now we are either in the ditch or at best teetering precipitously on the edge. When Bush left office, the annual budget deficit was a shocking $460 billion and the national debt stood at a gaudy $10.63 trillion. Now, two and one-half years into the Obama era, encompassing two years in which the Dems controlled both the Executive and Congress, the annual deficit has reached a staggering $1.4 trillion – roughly 40% of the entire annual budget, and the debt has ballooned to $14.35 trillion.
This fiscal state of affairs has scared the hell out of the American people – yet it’s only one of three “achievements” of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid team that has mortified the populace. The second is the passage of Obamacare. The third is the Obama Doctrine of Constrainment (as explained by Douglas Feith and Seth Cropsey in the July/August issue of Commentary). Sayeth those sage analysts,
Two large ideas animate the Obama Doctrine. The first is that America’s role in world affairs for more than a century has been, more often than not, aggressive rather than constrained, wasteful rather than communal, and arrogant in promoting democracy, despite our own democratic shortcomings. Accordingly, America has much to apologize for, including failure to understand others, refusal to defer sufficiently to others, selfishness in pursuing U.S. interests as opposed to global interests, and showing far too much concern for U.S. sovereignty, independence, and freedom of action. The second idea is that multilateral institutions offer the best hope for restraining U.S. power and moderating our national assertiveness…the United States should drop its obsession with its own national interests and concentrate on working for the world’s general good on an equal footing with other countries, recognizing that it is multinational bodies that grant legitimacy on the world stage.
In short, Obama and the Dems have rejected the notion of American exceptionalism – which has been a staple of American belief since the Founders – and the people are aghast at the President’s anti-Americanism.
As for Obamacare, Americans realize that it heralds the arrival of socialized medicine in our land – which is guaranteed to dramatically curtail the quality of American health care – and that it will hugely exacerbate the deficit/debt problem. Unlike virtually all historic American legislation (Constitutional Amendments, Social Security, Medicare, Civil Rights laws) – which were passed with bipartisan support and substantial majorities, Obamacare was rammed through Congress in a blatantly partisan fashion with the barest of majorities via dubious legislative tricks. The unholy passage of Obamacare revealed clearly that the Left is determined to complete its march to the Euro-socialist nirvana at which it has been aiming for more than a century – irrespective of the nefarious and duplicitous means it must employ to do so.
That assessment is reinforced by the behavior of Obama and his henchmen in the current debate over raising the debt ceiling. Conservatives see the debt ceiling tap dance that the Congress has been doing for decades as emblematic of the big government calamity that has befallen our country. Conservatives have seized on the current installment of the dance as an opportunity to link this destructive act to a serious effort at federal spending reduction. They are determined to ransom the debt ceiling rise to a significant shrinking of the federal government behemoth in the belief that it will set the country on a course to reverse a century-long liberal stranglehold on the nation’s politics and culture.
Naturally, liberals see this as an existential threat. They fear, correctly, that any success by conservatives in truly reversing the growth of government might spell the death knell for all that liberals have “achieved.” Since liberals control the White House and the Senate, they can and will thwart any such conservative effort. Moreover, they will pull absolutely no punches in their attempt to do so. Thus:
- Obama, Geithner et al threaten that, if the debt ceiling is not raised, the country will default. But they know full well that there are sufficient incoming federal revenues to pay the interest on the debt, Social Security and Medicare obligations, unemployment benefits and military salaries. Other federal programs (e.g., all the useless and wasteful projects run by the Departments of Education, Energy, Commerce and Agriculture) might have to go unfunded, but Obama places off limits his personal, favorite boondoggles like “green jobs,” high-speed rail and unexpended stimulus moneys.
- The President explicitly threatens that Social Security benefits might not be paid, knowing full well that after the interest on the debt, and perhaps military pay, that is the next item that Americans will insist be paid. He is purposefully trying to terrify seniors and to direct that terror toward Republicans.
- The President and the Dems blame the oncoming “default” on unpaid bills incurred by Bush tax cuts, Bush’s Medicare Drug Prescription Plan and Bush’s Iraq War, ignoring the Obama stimulus, Obamacare, Dodd-Franks and the nearly $5 trillion dollars of budget deficits that the big O has racked up. In other words, “we Dems are completely innocent; it’s Bush and the Republicans’ fault.”
- Obama blatantly lies that 80% of the people favor tax raises as part of a debt ceiling deal, knowing full well that the polls do not support his assertion and that the mainstream media will not hold him accountable.
- The President and his attack dogs (like Senators Reid and Schumer) demonize business as part of their class warfare effort. They hope to galvanize the approximately 50% of the public that pays no income taxes into blaming the mess on what the Dems identify as the usual Republican cohorts of corporate jet owners, hedge fund managers, oil companies, the “rich” and “Wall Street.” This tactic is particularly divisive, mean-spirited, and subversive of the goal of national unity.
- The Dems assert that Bush, Republicans, conservatives and Tea Partiers are responsible for the unending recession, the housing crisis, the energy crisis, high unemployment, the out-of-control federal debt and impending high interest rates. Either they are blithely unaware or nefariously cognizant of the fact that their beloved big government, high tax, rampant spending, Keynesian policies are in fact the cause of all these calamities. If the former, they are incompetent and should not have the levers of power in their hands. If the latter – which I suspect is true of some Dems, including Obama – then the country is in mortal danger from Alinsky radicals who will purposefully push us over the aforementioned edge.
The Dems believe that they can repeat 1994-96. They have absolutely no intention of giving an inch toward meaningful spending reductions in return for a raise in the debt ceiling. They are daring Republicans to block a debt ceiling rise and hoping the Republicans will take the bait. The Dems intend to blame the ensuing financial difficulties – however serious they might be – on Republicans and they believe that the people will buy it. They might be right. But their cynicism, their wanton disregard for the welfare of the American people, indeed their depravity is on clear display – if the people will only see it.
Indeed the Republicans might be walking into a trap. If you play fair and your opponent plays dirty, it’s hard to prevail. Given that, it might be that no real start on reversing America’s slide to socialism can begin while the Dems control the White House and the Senate. Therefore, Republicans must unite behind a strategy and a candidate to retake those prizes. That seems to me a necessary – albeit, alas, not a sufficient – condition to achieve the goal of reversing America’s side into a liberal/socialist oblivion. The wildfire that started with Rick Santelli’s rant must spread further throughout the country and convert a substantial majority of Americans to the conclusion that the liberal trajectory of the nation over the last century has been a disaster and must be sharply reversed.
With minor exceptions under Coolidge, Reagan and fleetingly in the time of Gingrich, liberals have been in nearly complete command of the national political conversation in the last century. Like any spoiled brat, a liberal will do anything to preserve what he sees as his innate prerogatives. Liberal temper tantrums and underhanded behavior are on full display in the debt ceiling debate.
This article also appeared in The American Thinker and The Intellectual Conservative at these sites: