October 15, 2009
The endless campaign
During the 2008 campaign, President Obama promised over and over not to raise taxes on the middle class, which he defined as families making less than $250,000. It was, arguably, a centerpiece of his campaign. A cure all elixir designed to sooth away the compelling conservative argument that the election of Barack Obama would result in an increase in taxes for all Americans. "Look" his supporters said, "...he's promised not to raise taxes on those making under $250 K." That was somehow that.
Also during the campaign, Obama vociferously attacked first Hillary Clinton and then John McCain for their proposals to tax the most expensive health insurance plans, the gold plated "Cadillac" health care plans, in order to help pay for wider health care reform.
It seems as if many of the underpinnings of the Obama campaign are becoming well, unpinned. Not that the campaign ever ended of course.
The monstrosity of Obamacare "legislation" that is attempting to make its way through Congress at the moment represents a massive tax increase on the middle class and it taxes the most expensive health care benefits. These facts are demonstrably true. Obama has therefor begun the process of finding a way to dissatisfy both the fiscally hawkish blue dogs and the far left bastion of the labor unions, each representing a separate wing of the Democratic party. Not that there is anything close to an actual piece of legislation to concretely object to anyway, Obamacare at present is a highly nebulous collection of theoretical rules, regulations, and mandates held together with a liberal dose of fudged numbers. The Max Baucus "bill" is a wizardly crafted collection of cost hiding measures and budget gimmickry. Again, demonstrably true. I especially admire the craftiness of talking in terms of cost over the next ten years when in reality the legislation doesn't actually start taking effect for another two years. Furthermore, the only reason the non partisan Congressional Budget Office was able to somehow, through some sort of tortured logic, predict that it wouldn't add to the deficit is because there is no actual legislative language yet. There are no real numbers behind the pie in the sky numbers. At this very moment, the "bill" is being hammered out in a secretive congressional session of horse trading and influence peddling. The Opacity of Hope at work. Interestingly, there was a time when the Obama Administration promised to showcase a bill on-line for 72 hours before letting it be voted on. That promise went out the window about the the time when the Democratically controlled congress crammed a questionably effective stimulus bill down our throat without even reading it before they voted on it.
The rubber is finally starting to meet the road for The Bamster. All of the impossible sounding promises are, one by one, crashing to earth and reality. Even SNL and the other normally left leaning late night comedians are not covering for their boy anymore, and actually generating some decent comedy in the process.
Yet the campaign never ends.
The Obama campaign has declared war on Fox News in an attempt to subvert any arguments it can't win on the merits and they are using tax dollars to travel primarily to the 2012 election battleground states whenever it is that Obama is doing his used car salesman/ snake oil salesman routine for health "insurance" reform.
Cash for Clunkers, it strikes me, is a great way to sum up the Obama presidency so far. He takes our cash and attempts to promulgate clunker after clunker of pieces of legislation on a largely unwilling public.
However, I don't see how he gets there from here on healthcare reform. Even proponents of Obamacare have conceded that we are months away from seeing a final bill. Months away from seeing the final product of something that was supposed to have been signed into law in August. So months from now, even after the Democrats theoretically manage to coalesce around a single piece of legislation only then does the general public get to voice their opinion on Obamacare in earnest. Assuming that is even allowed in this "transparent" era of hope and change. In any event, I see Obama being able to live up to his arbitrary promise of closing Guantanamo Bay before passing health care reform. After all, closing Gitmo doesn't involve the wrangling of untold special interest groups and the remaking 1/6 of the economy while in a recession.
So far, even the far left would concede, Obama has committed the ultimate transgression for a used car salesman to commit. He's over promised and under delivered.
At some point perhaps, the time for campaigning will end and give way to a time for governing. Until that time, the Obama presidency AKA "cash for clunkers" will remain an endless campaign. At a time when we need Ronald Reagan we're getting Billy Mays on an endless sales call.