Flog that strawman!
Obama’s latest rhetorical nonsense: ‘We can’t just cut our way to prosperity’
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If you had to pick out one Barack Obama habit to peg as his most annoying . . . well, I know, you’d have a lot to choose from. But I think the winner for me would be his tendency to not only set up strawmen as the manufactured enemies of his policies, but to come up with rhetorically nonsensicial slogans to use in flogging said strawmen.
The latest such slogan from the man who would rather die than cut spending is this: “We can’t just cut our way to prosperity.”
As with so much of what Obama says, it takes on an argument that no one is making in order to distract attention from the real shortcomings in an Obama policy. In this case, the policy in question is: Borrow and spend like crazy and never, ever cut spending.
There is no way to create an objective, factual defense of Obama’s spending. He has run deficits in excess of $1 trillion every year he has been in office. This year, with the deficit forecast to be slightly under $1 trillion (but certainly not guaranteed, especially coming off -0.1 percent GDP growth in 4Q 2012), they’re acting like we should throw them a party for this wonderful “achievement.” Obama doesn’t even have a plan for long-term budget balance, and when Republicans try to pressure him to offer one, Democrats run interference for him by calling the move a “gimmick” and in the words of Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-New York), “stupid legislation.”
Obama is the most fiscally irresponsible president in this nation’s history. He has no competition whatsoever for that dubious distinction.
So if you’re in his position, how do you evade accountability for what you’re doing? If you’re Obama, you redefine the issue and present it rhetorically in terms favorable to you: “We can’t just cut our way to prosperity.”
Let’s consider the false premise behind this statement. Most glaring is the suggestion that Republicans see spending cuts as a means to the end of “prosperity.” Who is suggesting that? A fiscally healthy enterprise - whether it’s a household, a business or the federal government - needs to perform well on two sides of the ledger. One is the earning of revenue. The other is the limiting of expenses as much as is reasonably possible. Prosperity comes from economic growth, which comes from the productivity of the private sector. The federal government can enact growth-friendly policies (which have little in common with Obama’s policies, by the way), but contrary to what Keynesians stubbornly insist on believing, government spending is not the driver of sustainable economic growth, nor is reduced spending a proposed Republican strategy for boosting GDP.
Spending cuts are designed to address the other side of the ledger. Even if we had robust growth (which we do not), we still wouldn’t get our fiscal house in order if we kept spending way beyond the revenue we’re taking in. If you saw my piece yesterday, you know that the Congressional Budget Office (please take your grain of salt here) is projecting that federal revenue will double in the next 10 years, but we will still have a deficit of almost $1 trillion because spending is that out of control.
Obama has no business experience, of course, and that’s bad for the nation but good for the business sector, because God help any business that would ever have him as its CEO. To apply Obama’s thinking to business, the higher the cost of doing business, the more prosperous the business would be.
Now of course, every business needs to make investments in things that facilitate growth, and when Obama defends his profligate spending, he is rhetorically clever enough to couch it in those terms. But Obama has no ability to distinguish between necessary investments and politically driven expenditures that do nothing to promote growth. He is forever demanding that we spend more on infrastructure, education and research/development, asserting that these “investments” will spur growth with little or no evidence to support this assertion.
But regardless, his constant insistence that “we can’t just cut our way to prosperity” is a complete lie, as it ascribes to his political opponents a belief they are not expressing. You cut your way to fiscal solvency. You grow your way to prosperity. But that doesn’t matter to Obama, whose intention all along has been to spend his way to political power by creating a larger dependent class to demand continued federal beneficence - thus ensuring continued electoral success for Democrats.
The only thing more annoying than Obama’s nonsense is the fact that the media refuses to call him on it.