Time to raise the demagoguery ceiling

(Centennial Felllow) House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says he was deferential, just asking if he might speak, when President Barack Obama took offense and walked huffily from the room, barking “enough is enough.”

Others see it differently. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Cantor was “childish” during the White House debt ceiling negotiations, although a quick check of the record shows Reid has never, ever said anything perceptive, sensible, accurate or adult himself, suggesting the possibility his slur may have been improperly employed.

The worst thing, of course, would have been if Cantor had stood up and said, “The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure.” There would have been an aghast gasp as Cantor continued, referring to “reckless fiscal policies” that weaken the country “internationally and domestically.”

But Cantor did not utter that denunciation. President Obama uttered it when he was Senator Obama, and then went on to vote against raising a debt ceiling without murmuring a word about sure–enough defaults making us a banana republic or the elderly and disabled being promptly immediately deprived of Social Security checks.

No, all of that would be reserved for another time, when another mode of attack was necessary and when Obama would again burst through the demagoguery ceiling, which really should be raised for the sake of a skull that will otherwise be perennially bruised. The flimflam of this all being the GOP’s fault and the worst possibilities happening immediately is not the whole story, however. The most scary part of Obama is the sincere part. He is absolutely a welfare–state enthusiast, a redistributionist, a devout believer in big government and, when recession wanders into the room, he is a Keynesian who thinks you can spend your way to glory.

Thus, on top of entitlement promises that cannot conceivably be kept, he gave us an unaffordable health–care abomination when an effective plan could have been adopted at a fraction of the cost. He backed a clumsily, corruptly crafted stimulus plan that is more a debt threat than a job creator. He added hundreds of billions to a 2009 George W. Bush budget and went crazy with a 2010 budget. The Heritage Foundation says our debt of $14 trillion–and–climbing comes to something like $45,000 per capita and is equivalent to every nickel’s worth of value produced in the country in a year.

That’s dangerous, and not only as seen by Tea Party activists, but as seen by one of the world’s foremost debt experts, Harvard’s Kenneth Rogoff, who says you’re in an unbelievable mess if you don’t reduce long–term spending. Even super–liberal, usually mistaken Paul Krugman of The New York Times recognizes the need of devising cuts down the road when things get better. What he doesn’t get is that politicians never do the right thing when the populace is relatively satisfied with the status quo, as I am not the first to point out.

Obama himself appointed a debt commission that called for tough spending reductions and revenue–producing reform giving us an efficient, fair system without all the dodges that now exist. Our president, who has already done twice the spending in one uncompleted term that Bush did in two, said thanks and then came up with a 2011 budget that, in its insane deficit projections over the next decade, would essentially mean the sinking of the good ship USA.

When House Republicans devised a contrary plan with cuts over 10 years and passed it while saying they wouldn’t go along with raising the debt ceiling minus spending cuts, Obama said he would get rid of trillions of dollars in expenditures. It was all mush with no details even for dessert. Skipping over seriousness about tax reform, which could well have garnered GOP support, he called for a tax on the rich that done at this moment would be a hindrance to new jobs.

Two good compromise ideas have come up, both from Republicans. One would reduce the cuts from what Republicans initially demanded, but Obama, conveniently converted to austerity at the last minute, says it’s all or nothing. While Congress should stop regarding debt ceilings as if they were electronic speed signs adjusting to however fast cars are going, we do need to raise this one at this point, and my suspicion is we will if Obama quits walking out of the room. He should. Enough is enough.


Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado and a Centennial Institute Fellow.

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