Last week, the president’s flagship supporters decamped with unusually harsh farewells.
The Economist, which endorsed Obama in 2008, called his budget a “cop-out.”
The Washington Post, another endorser, noted that the president “kicks the hard choices further down the road.” Evan Thomas of Newsweek referred to the administration’s budget as “a profile in cowardice.”
Their frustration is late to the game, but the tardiness is to be expected. Editors have witnessed the early missteps of presidents before. The Oval Office requires growth, and seasoned editors exhibit the patience of those who’ve seen it all.
Last week, they had seen enough.
This president seems of another reality. He has hinted at giving states the option to increase payroll taxes — as unemployment nears 10%. Payroll taxes are what businesses pay to employ people. They provide an easy source of revenue for governments but act like a penalty for hiring people. Payroll taxes dictate not only how many people a company can afford to employ, but how much those workers are paid. At best, the president’s suggestion betrayed a fool’s understanding of commerce. At worst, it’s an overt attempt at fattening the unemployment rolls.
He followed this economic appetizer with a budget that sidesteps the challenges of our time; one that sits like a hemlock salad upon the table of the young. There was no substantive mention of entitlement reform. Not since James Buchanan has an American president so blatantly avoided the central domestic issue of his time. Constantly being off the point begs the question: Are there no adults at the president’s ear? Surely there must be someone the commander in chief finds agreeable, to say: America is losing an entire generation.
The young have been sacrificed upon an altar of indecision. No group is struggling in more ways that threaten America’s long-term viability. Yes, there are retirees concerned about their pensions. Yes, the unions are irate — in point of fact — because the public can no longer afford the deals won behind closed doors. By dismissing reason to satisfy ideology, the administration condemns America’s future. No one knows what events may come; there is no oracle prophesying what trials the next generation will face. The young deserve, at the least, to meet those trials free from crippling debt. Yet the administration’s budget seems to instead answer the question “Have you no shame?” Its architects had their time; they experienced the most prosperous period in human history and had their opportunities — they should now have the decency to give the next generation theirs.
Clean up this mess.
The young are the last to be hired, the first to be fired, and today watch as their 20s become a lost decade. They accept that they will never see a dime from the Social Security Trust. Social Security contributions have become just another tax — one in which the young are penalized for the crime of having a pulse.
To close the week, on February 18, The Washington Post reported that the White House’s political machine, Organizing for America, mobilized thousands of protestors in Madison, Wisconsin — an effort to sew civil unrest inside the United States.
This is a far cry from John F. Kennedy taking on the Teamsters; or Harry Truman — a New Dealer who enjoyed the support of unions — recognizing that his first responsibility was to the American public, and taking the United Mine Workers to court.
The administration does not have the maturity to make real budgetary choices. By organizing protests, they seek to punish those who do.
Ironically, by not making any choices the president invited the public to look closer at the nation’s strife. They are looking on in hi-definition at unchecked entitlements, lucrative retirement plans and benefits greater than those they enjoy. When Obama promised “transparency,” this is hardly what he had in mind.
Looking upon these raids on the public coffers, Americans are now asking, “How was that possible? How did we survive that?”
We haven’t, yet.
The responsibility has been left to the states; because this president abdicated his.
Eben Carle served in the White House as an Associate Director on the Homeland Security Council from 2008-2009. He received a master’s degree in American studies from Columbia University and is currently writing his first novel.