Wednesday, March 04, 2009
I am trying to capture the spirit of bipartisanship as practiced by the Democratic Party over the past eight years. Thus, I have chosen as my lead this proposition: Obama lied; the economy died. Obviously, I am borrowing this from the Democratic theme of 2003-08: "Bush lied, people died." There are, of course, two differences between the slogans.
Most importantly, I chose to separate the two clauses with a semicolon rather than a comma because the rule of grammar is that a semicolon (rather than a comma) should be used between closely related independent clauses not conjoined with a coordinating conjunction. In the age of Obama, there is little more important than maintaining the integrity of our language against the onslaught of Orwellian language abuse that is already a babbling brook and soon will be a cataract of verbal deception.
The other difference is that Bush didn't lie about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. He merely was mistaken. Whereas Obama told a whopper when he claimed that he is not for bigger government. As he said last week: "As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by Presidents Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets, not because I believe in bigger government -- I don't."
This he asserted despite the fact that the budget he proposed the next day asks for federal spending as 28 percent of gross domestic product, higher by at least 6 percent than any time since World War II. Moreover, after 10 years, Obama's proposed spending as a percentage of GDP still would be 22.6 percent, nearly 2 percentage points higher than any year during the Bush administration despite the full costs of Sept. 11, the Iraq and Afghan wars and the rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina.
Consider also this assertion in his not-quite-State of the Union address: "My administration has also begun to go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs. As you can imagine, this is a process that will take some time. But we're starting with the biggest lines. We have already identified $2 trillion in savings over the next decade."
But lamentably, a few days later, The Washington Post reported: "A senior administration official acknowledged yesterday that the budget does not contain $2 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. Instead, the figure represents Obama's total efforts at deficit reduction, including tax hikes (of more than $1 trillion) on families making over $250,000 a year. It also includes hundreds of billions of dollars 'saved' by not continuing to spend $170 billion a year in Iraq."
Only a big-government man would think of calling a trillion-dollar tax increase a spending cut or "saving." Technically, of course, it is true. A trillion-dollar tax increase would reduce spending by $1 trillion for those private citizens who were taxed. And from the perspective of the federal government, a trillion dollars taxed is a trillion dollars saved from the greed of the taxpayers who produced the wealth and might well want to spend or invest it in nongovernmental activities.
But the foregoing merely are pettifogging numbers compared with Obama's bigger ideas about energy and health care (regarding health care, more in future columns). Our president shares a fascinating idea about energy with most of what used to be known as the "small is beautiful" crowd. It is a curious phenomenon that one needs a very big government to enforce the beauty of small.
Obama's secretary of energy, Steven Chu, said last year that the price of electricity in America is "anomalously low." You see how much smarter that Nobel Prize winner is than you? You probably thought you already were spending enough on electricity and fuel.
And sure enough, Obama explained last week that in order to make alternative energy sources -- wind, solar, perhaps eventually human muscle power -- economically competitive, he intends to raise the price of carbon-based energy until it is so expensive that even solar power would be such a deal.
This level of destructive irrationality cannot be accomplished in the private sector. It would take a very big government indeed to bring such inanities into being. (Disclosure: Being rational, I give professional advice to carbon-based energy producers.)
If President Obama were to try to misrepresent his positions for the next four years, there would be nothing he could say that would approach the inaccuracy of his claim last week that he is not for big government. It is the essence of the man and his presidency. He doesn't like America the way it has been since its founding, and it would take an abusively big government to realize his dreams of converting America into something quite different. If you don't know that, you don't yet know Obama.
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