Debt speech shows Obama’s diminishing presidency

Barack Obama, the once-iconic leader whose towering speeches and soaring promises swept him into the presidency and sent historians scribbling about the second coming of a great and virtuous president from Illinois, is today a man literally shrinking in the job.

For a presidency marked by more low points than White House czars, Obama’s speech two days ago on the nation’s debt crisis represents a new, nightmarish ebb. As Americans mark the 150-year anniversary of the beginning of a great and terrible war that divided a nation but proved the mettle of a man named Lincoln, a man named Obama unveiled a pathetically impotent plan that does little more than push-off and paper-over the great threat of this generation: the specter of self-imposed fiscal ruin.

Here is all you need to know about the mettle of Obama: Faced with a $14 trillion national debt and an alarming warning from the International Monetary Fund this week about the destructive impacts of America’s deficit spending on the world’s economy, Obama proposed a spending plan that does nothing to fix America’s entitlement meltdown until 2013, just after the next presidential election.

Obama may have earned the Nobel Peace Prize, but he stands no chance of making the cut for the next edition of “Profiles in Courage.”

Predictably, Obama’s primary debt-fighting instrument is a new round of heaving tax increases on the dirty, rotten capitalists who are among the nation’s wealthiest 2 percent. His plan: Roll back the Bush-era tax cuts for these top wage earners.

Remember the good old days of Al Gore when it was only the wealthiest 1 percent that Democrats targeted for higher taxes? Well now it’s the wealthiest 2 percent. When you discover the modest impact that a tax increase on the top 2 percent of wage earners has on our out-sized national debt, wage earners in the top 5, 15, 25 and 35 percent categories would do well to hunker down for fear of being next. That’s because soaking only the rich doesn’t generate enough cash to pay for all the government we’ve got.

Consider this from The Wall Street Journal: “Under the Obama tax plan, the Bush rates would be repealed for the top brackets. Yet the ‘cost’ of extending all the Bush rates in 2011 over 10 years was about $3.7 trillion. Some $3 trillion of that was for everything but the top brackets — and Mr. Obama says he wants to extend those rates forever. According to Internal Revenue Service data, the entire taxable income of everyone earning over $100,000 in 2008 was about $1.582 trillion. Even if all these Americans ... were taxed at 100 percent, it wouldn’t cover Mr. Obama’s deficit for this year.”

Obama does propose some cuts to Medicare, but offers no specifics, except that his 15-person Medicare “death panel” will make them after his re-election bid. Obama expects the American people to believe his political appointees will mete out big cuts — wink, wink — if only we trust him with 4 more years.

Obama, the cowardly lion, apparently thinks Americans are scarecrows, missing the frontal cortex of our collective brain.

Obama had the audacity to question the courage of Rep. Paul Ryan, the heroic author of a bold debt reduction plan that forced Obama into giving the speech in the first place. In an apparent gesture of goodwill, Obama invited Ryan to sit in the front row of his speech this week. But Ryan and the world were quickly disabused of any aspiration of goodwill when Obama wagged his proverbial finger in Ryan’s face, calling the Republican plan “anything but courageous,” among other things.

Obama’s unwillingness to seriously confront the gargantuan threat of fiscal meltdown is the latest and best evidence of a president shrinking to the rigors of the job. Obama’s speech this week has kept those historians scribbling alright — scribbling a bright-colored “strike through” over the top of all that naive conjecture about the second coming of a great and virtuous president from Illinois.

If Obama is the second coming of anything, his speech this week suggests it is of a bumbling, incompetent from Georgia.

Josh Penry is a former Colorado Senate minority leader and a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.


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