Obama Moving to the Center? Wanna Buy a Bridge?

January 24, 2011

For those who argue that Obama deserves a second chance at proving he’s not at war with American business and the free market, I ask what he has done to indicate he’s changed his philosophy that drives that war.

It’s admirable to give people the benefit of the doubt in personal relationships, but we are talking about more than a personal relationship here and have a responsibility not to ignore the evidence. That evidence tells us that he is still an intractable left-wing ideologue committed to destructive progressive policy prescriptions.

Most liberals, such as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, understand that Obama’s gestures toward the center during his State of the Union speech will be just that, gestures. They know that by invoking the vernacular of the right — e.g., promoting competitiveness — Obama will merely be engaged in what Krugman calls “packaging.”

But the left is not Obama’s target audience. His goal is to convince moderates and some credulous conservatives that he is willing to move to the center so that he can acquire the political capital to do precisely the opposite.

Has Obama once acknowledged that his policies haven’t worked, but have driven the nation further into the financial abyss? Has he ever apologized for any policy failure?

He said that we needed his nearly trillion-dollar stimulus package to “jump-start the economy” and “put people back to work” and that if implemented, it would prevent unemployment from going above 8 percent. When his stimulus failed to stimulate and unemployment soared and remained way above 8 percent, he didn’t say, “Oops, sorry I wasted your children’s money. I’d better have a course correction.”

Instead, he said President Bush left us an even worse mess than he’d told us before, as if it’s conceivable that he could have bad-mouthed Bush worse than he had. Obama said that he actually didn’t spend enough money and that he needed $50 billion more to spend on infrastructure, all the while insisting he was committed to fiscal responsibility.

He also retrospectively invented this blame-avoiding device of claiming he’d been employing a two-phased approach from the beginning: First he would save the economy; next he would create jobs.

But are we all supposed to have amnesia? He never told us that “saving the economy” would involve a bifurcated process. He wouldn’t have dared to make such an absurd claim, because everyone knows that you can’t divorce jobs from a proper evaluation of economic performance.

But it’s worse than that, because from day one, Obama promised that jobs were his No. 1 priority. Remember all the smoke and mirrors about “saved and created” jobs? And when the jobs never appeared, he continually pretended that he had never promised his policies would yield jobs and that each time he repeated it, he was saying it for the first time. Check the record; this has happened multiple times in the past two years.

Now, with the State of the Union speech, he’s going to try it again, but this time, he’ll “package” it in a form more palatable to moderates and conservatives. But until he has an epiphany that government doesn’t create private-sector jobs — a truth validated by the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom, which shows an inverse relationship between government spending and economic growth — he will not change course.

He would have us believe that he’s going to launch a new era of cooperation between government and business — that this time when he says he’s a “fierce advocate of the free market,” he truly believes it. But all this means is that he’s going to continue to stick government’s nose where it doesn’t belong and get it even more involved in picking winners and losers.

Only a progressive thinks in such terms — that the way to increase a competitive business climate is through a government-business partnership, as if business can’t blow its own nose without the superior wisdom of socialist bureaucrats.

If Obama intended to change course, would he be signaling his intention to call for new domestic spending on education and infrastructure under cover of the euphemism “investment”? Even his virtual admission that he deceived the people with his promise of shovel-ready jobs hasn’t led to a change in policy. Just more of the same — with different packaging.

Obama may throw business a few bones, e.g., reducing the corporate income tax rate, but until he abandons his class warfare against producers and wealth, declares a cease-fire in his war against domestic energy production, complies with the people’s will not to have socialized health care, gets serious about entitlement reform, shows the slightest inkling toward meaningful spending reductions, and commits to revamping the nation’s smothering tax system, for starters, we’ll know that any apparent shuffling to the center is designed only to disarm the conservative opposition so that he can continue on the same leftist path.