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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

An Unserious President

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Charles Krauthammer catalogues the president's onging flight from responsibility and his resort  to class warfare  demogoguery.  We have a man in the White House who simply refuses to lead in a credible, responsible way. And the whole country is about to pay the price.

 

Here we go again. An approaching crisis. A looming deadline. Nervous markets. And then, from the miasma of gridlock, rises our president, calling upon those unruly congressional children to quit squabbling, stop kicking the can down the road and get serious about debt.

This from the man who:

l  Ignored the debt problem for two years by kicking the can to a commission.

l  Promptly ignored the commission’s December 2010 report.

l  Delivered a State of the Union address in January that didn’t even mention the word “debt” until 35 minutes in.

l  Delivered in February a budget so embarrassing — it actually increased the deficit — that the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected it 97 to 0.

l  Took a budget mulligan with his April 13 debt-plan speech. Asked in Congress how this new “budget framework” would affect the actual federal budget, Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf replied with a devastating “We don’t estimate speeches.” You can’t assign numbers to air.

President Obama assailed the lesser mortals who inhabit Congress for not having seriously dealt with a problem he had not dealt with at all, then scolded Congress for being even less responsible than his own children. They apparently get their homework done on time.

My compliments. But the Republican House did do its homework. It’s called a budget. It passed the House on April 15. The Democratic Senate has produced no budget. Not just this year, but for two years running. As for the schoolmaster in chief, he produced two 2012 budget facsimiles: The first (February) was a farce and the second (April) was empty, dismissed by the CBO as nothing but words untethered to real numbers.

Obama has run disastrous annual deficits of around $1.5 trillion while insisting for months on a “clean” debt-ceiling increase, i.e., with no budget cuts at all. Yet suddenly he now rises to champion major long-term debt reduction, scorning any suggestions of a short-term debt-limit deal as can-kicking.

The flip-flop is transparently political. A short-term deal means another debt-ceiling fight before Election Day, a debate that would put Obama on the defensive and distract from the Mediscare campaign to which the Democrats are clinging to save them in 2012.

A clever strategy it is: Do nothing (see above); invite the Republicans to propose real debt reduction first; and when they do — voting for the Ryan budget and its now infamous and courageous Medicare reform — demagogue them to death. 

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