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White House "Panic Week" Yields No Change in Direction

A Commentary By Howard Rich

Friday, January 29, 2010

Barack Obama’s “Panic Week” has come and gone, but did his White House learn anything from the historic repudiation of his leftist agenda? Putting the question another way, has Obama made the necessary course corrections or is he still refusing to hear the message that America is sending him so loudly and clearly?

Given the Democratic Party’s stunning defeat in Massachusetts, its November losses in New Jersey and Virginia and its increasingly bleak 2010 electoral prospects, one would think Obama has no choice but to follow the route Bill Clinton took to the right sixteen years ago when he stared down similar circumstances. After all, with the exception of passing his so-called “economic stimulus” bill, Obama has been unable to get any major legislation through the U.S. Congress - this despite the presence of a sizeable Democratic majority in the House and (until recently) a filibuster-proof Democratic “super-majority” in the Senate.

Imagine how tough he’ll find the sledding now.

Unfortunately, Obama remains completely tone deaf to the will of the people. In fact, the only thing that has changed in his White House as a result of these repeated electoral setbacks is the way he is pursuing his socialist agenda.

“Hope and change” obviously didn’t work, so now it’s time for some good old-fashioned “smoke and mirrors.”

After picking their jaws up off the floor following Sen.-elect Scott Brown’s shocking victory in Massachusetts – a race in which Obama’s intervention actually moved voters away from Democrat Martha Coakley – the very first thing the White House brain trust did was to “elevate the role” of a professional political operative. In fact, Obama’s “elevation” of former campaign manager David Plouffe signaled right away that any attempt on the part of his administration to recalibrate its political compass would be purely cosmetic in nature.

In fact, just three days after his party’s Massachusetts defeat, Obama was out looking for “low hanging fruit,” or a convenient enemy that all Americans – but particularly independent voters – could join him in opposing. He quickly found that enemy in Wall Street bankers, who are the same “fat cats” who then-Senator Obama supported via the TARP bailout, ironically.

Now boasting that he was “ready for a fight,” Obama proceeded to propose a new tax on these financial institutions – one that a recent Rasmussen Reports poll found was supported (conditionally, at least) by 56% of Americans.

Of course that poll also found that nearly 70% of Americans oppose extending the tax to banks that did not receive bailout money – while 72% believe that bailout recipients like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be required to pay any new tax, as well.

Next up on the agenda for Obama’s crass populist propagandists? Spending.

Because polling has consistently shown that independent voters are leery of government’s unsustainable deficit spending, Obama’s next move was to unveil a so-called “freeze” on budget growth. Unfortunately, his “freeze” only applied to 17% of the budget, and whatever “deficit reduction” it purports to accomplish would be completely consumed by growth in entitlement spending – as well as hundreds of billions of dollars in interest payments that taxpayers are forced to pick up as a result of our skyrocketing national debt.

Yet while these two populist stories were being pushed by the White House press office, behind closed doors top Obama administration officials were working harder than ever to resuscitate the very radical policies that spawned all this voter angst and distrust in the first place.

Just four days after Brown’s victory in Massachusetts, for example, Obama’s chief-of-staff Rahm Emanuel met with a group of Senators at the White House in an effort to revive “cap and trade,” Obama’s massive energy tax hike. Similarly, Obama has been meeting regularly with Congressional leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in a no-holds-barred effort to ram his socialized medicine proposal through Congress – despite its collapsing public support and weakened legislative position.

Clearly a string of defeats for Obama – including a historic setback in Massachusetts – has done nothing to deter him from his leftward march.

Of course the silver lining is that the more stridently Obama pursues these objectives in the face of mounting public and Congressional opposition, the more strident public and legislative opposition becomes toward him.

Howard Rich is the Chairman of Americans for Limited Government and Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports.

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