President Obama has a problem. After 40 months of unemployment above the 8 percent level, he needs a marketable plan to convince American voters that his re-election is their best bet for employment, economic growth, and fiscal stability. Mr. Obama has had an economic plan for over three years. The problem is, not only has it not worked, it has prevented an economic recovery from taking root.
The president frequently laments the horrible economic situation he inherited when he took office in January 2009. It was horrible and should have led to an all-out crusade by Obama to go full bore, 24/7, to turn the economy around. The president initially had strong Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate to advance whatever economic plan he deemed appropriate to improve the economy. So what was his plan?
The first proposal out of the box was to push "cap and trade" legislation that would restrict the use of carbon-based energy sources. The proposal would have killed jobs directly by impacting energy industries and indirectly by increasing energy costs on both consumers and businesses. The idea was so counter intuitive that the Democratic Congress killed it. The next rabbit out of the hat was the $800 billion "stimulus" plan that borrowed money from the Chinese and used it to pay back the public sector unions that supported Obama in his election campaign.
The nation got more debt, but little in the way of economic recovery. Following the "stimulus" debacle, the president launched his grueling effort to pass his health care initiative that a majority of Americans opposed. It is hard to discern the building blocks of a strong economic recovery program in this list of legislative initiatives. Instead of determining what would give businesses, investors and consumers the confidence to get the economy moving again, the president and his team heaped more uncertainty into the equation by adding more layers of regulations on businesses and escalating the class warfare rhetoric regarding tax increases.
President Obama and his advisors know better than to try to convince voters that his major proposals were a sound recipe for turning around the economy. However, they needed a plan. So what did they do? They borrowed one.
In almost every speech the president now gives, he uses the phrase "our plan" to describe the economic factors during Bill Clintonís presidency as the model Obama is employing to bring about recovery. The problem is it isnít true. Obama is totally committed to using the populist mantra of "taxing the rich" as the cure-all for solving the economic ills of the country. He cites the fact that President Clinton raised taxes and the economy grew. Of course, he omits a few facts. The economy was already growing at a strong pace when Clinton pushed his tax increases through. That isnít the case today. In contrast to Obama, President Clinton was not swamping businesses with a rapidly expanding level of costly regulations. When Clinton couldnít develop any appreciable level of bipartisan support for his health care overhaul, he abandoned it and moved on toward building a stronger economy, reducing the size of the federal government, and reforming the welfare system. President Obama is doing the exact opposite in each of the above areas.
You have to admire the brass of the Obama campaign advisors in their attempt to steal the Clinton agenda and try to dress it up as their own. If they had simply followed Clintonís blueprint of building bipartisan consensus on key reforms, reducing the rate of growth of the federal government, focusing on economic expansion and reduction of federal debt, they would be coasting to re-election. Instead, they are trying to hoodwink voters less than 90 days from the election.