Long-time Washington hands conclude the public honeymoon is over for President Obama, and I guess so — look at the "tea parties" as angry citizens protest his policies, carrying signs that says such things as, "Honk if I am paying your mortgage."
Poor, benighted souls. They still think self-responsibility matters, not just allusions to it in Obama speeches, but the real thing. That would entail squashing policies in which the government robs hard-working, frugal Peter to pay slothful, reckless Paul while excusing the crime as social justice.
The demonstrations, scattered all over the nation, are patterned after the anti-tax Boston tea party of the 18th century, and just may grow in the face of anger over $165 million in bonuses given to the executives of an insurance company sucking up taxpayer billions in a rescue package.
As obnoxiously avaricious as these AIG contractual bonuses were, it is authoritarian, unconstitutional overreach for the government to try to block them at this point. Obama does not care. He shares the blame for anger at the executives, having railed repeatedly and demagogically against economically insignificant CEO salaries, and now that this public fury is turning in his direction, his administration is making it clear it is perfectly happy to throw the rule of law overboard.
For all his articulateness and gift for oratory, this president seems to be spending his time in the Oval Office walking into walls. He has botched up more things in two months in office than most presidents manage over two terms, amply illustrating the campaign charge that his inexperience equipped him for next to nothing.
I was particularly shocked at how he engaged in fear mongering as he won rush-job passage of a sloppily constructed, do-little stimulus package that reversed the welfare reforms widely considered the most important achievement of the Clinton years. Now he whistles an optimistic tune. Did he finally get it that the more you talk down the economy, the further down it goes?
The likelier truth is that, after fear did its designated job, he turned booster as a way of justifying what could be the biggest, most costly budget that has ever come our way. Given that we have tens of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities from Social Security and Medicare and will spend incredible amounts to lift the economy, a very real possibility with such a budget is hyperinflation destroying the savings of everyone.
And don’t forget that Obama has already nodded his head yes as the Democratic Congress passed a bloated, dishonest, pork-ridden 2009 supplemental budget bill, as if he had never pledged to make up for astonishing expenditures through heroic waste reduction.
Though he wants to raise taxes on the so-called rich at the risk of curbing needed entrepreneurship and investment, Obama also signed a measure providing health insurance benefits for some of America’s best-off families. He intends to pay for this unneeded extravagance through tobacco taxes that will mostly afflict lower-income groups which constitute the overwhelming majority of smokers today.
He also wants a bureaucratically impossible cap-and-trade carbon tax that will boost everyone’s energy costs by an enormous amount and just might throw us back into an economic crisis, if we are already out of it before any such foolhardiness comes to pass.
In a bow to further inanity, this president has taken steps to turn auto emissions policy over to California, meaning that the nation’s most politically wacky state could end up killing the already wounded auto industry by dictating what kinds of new cars Americans can buy — much more costly ones than now.
There’s more, far more, but you get the idea, and so have others, as declining approval ratings show, and as we find in the tea parties. I can remember nothing like them so early in any administration in my lifetime.
Let’s hope they slow this president down some.
(Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. He can be reached at SpeaktoJay(at)aol.com.)