It should be clear by now that Barack Obama will not be running for a second term based on his record over the past four years. After presiding over the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression, with a wreckage of still-high unemployment, reduced incomes, increased poverty and continuing home foreclosures in his wake, Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign won’t be running “morning in America” ads this year.
The kind of campaign he will be running became clear in his campaign speech at a community college in Ohio Wednesday when he leveled this personal jab at former Gov. Mitt Romney: “I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth.”
It was a dirty, below-the-belt swipe unbecoming of the high office to which he was elected.
For the record, The Washington Post points out that Mr. Romney and his wife “did not inherit their wealth.” He earned his fortune by working at Bain Capital as a venture-capital investor who took small startup businesses and turned them into successful, job-creating enterprises.
With Mr. Obama’s job-approval scores running in the mid-40s, and with him trailing Mr. Romney in the polls, the president and his advisers think his only chance to avoid becoming a one-term president is to take the low road. In fact, as low as possible.
He knows he can’t run on stronger economic growth and plenty of jobs - not with the economic growth rate at a mediocre 2 percent or less or with an unemployment and underemployment rate of 15 percent.
Four years after the recession started, “there are still almost 24 million Americans unemployed or underemployed. That includes 5.6 million who are long-term unemployed for 27 weeks, or more than six months, the highest since the Great Depression,” economist Peter Ferrara writes.
He can’t run on cutting the monster $1 trillion budget deficits in half or reducing the government’s ballooning $15 trillion-plus debt as he promised in 2008. His budget deficit this year will hit another $1.2 trillion, and the debt will climb to $16 trillion by December, the Congressional Budget Office predicts.
He has no plan to rein in spending and put the nation’s fiscal house in order, and the Democrats who control the Senate have refused to act on a budget for the third year in a row.
Meantime, he remains a disinterested bystander in the budget stalemate, preferring to demagogue the House-passed Republican budget for political gain, hurling one patently untrue charge after another.
The House budget sets overall spending limits for broad areas of the government, and then appropriations panels write specific funding bills for each department, agency and program within those limits. But first a budget must be passed.
In his campaign speeches, Mr. Obama has been applying the broad spending limits to specific programs of his choosing, estimating huge cuts for job training, poverty programs and student loans when no such cuts have been proposed.
“There is not a single statistic in the president’s speech that is accurate,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan told an event hosted by the American Spectator on Wednesday.
“It’s hard to compete with somebody who is not anchored in the truth,” Mr. Ryan said.
Moreover, Mr. Obama hasn’t had much to say about his widely unpopular health care law, either, even though it’s the centerpiece of his domestic agenda.
There is growing evidence that it is forcing employers to jettison their health care plans and has been driving up the cost of existing health care premiums.
Remember when Mr. Obama promised that “you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what”?
A McKinsey & Co. survey of 1,300 employer plans found that 45 percent to 50 percent of businesses say they definitely or probably will seek other alternatives to employer-sponsored plans once the law takes effect in 2014.
Democratic Sen. James Webb of Virginia was sharply critical of the president’s handling of the health care reform law this week, saying it will be his biggest liability in his uphill bid to carry Mr. Webb’s swing state in November.
“Obama’s had a difficult time selling himself as a decisive leader,” Mr. Webb told Bloomberg News.
He’s been campaigning for an anti-investment, 30 percent tax surcharge on millionaires and billionaires that he says is all about fairness. The tax failed in the Senate this week, but he intends to continue his crusade against the wealthy, conveniently ignoring the fact that the richest 10 percent of earners pay about 70 percent of all federal income taxes.
“But let’s take a step back. Where in this is a plan to accelerate [economic] growth and job creation?” asks Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post’s Right Turn blogger. “How does creating a new minimum tax for 4,000 taxpayers assist in the recovery?”
Exactly. It doesn’t.
Mr. Obama is out there talking about “fairness” when the hard times we’re still experiencing under his policies cry out for growth, jobs, business expansion and new startups that come from, well, investors with money that he wants spent on bigger government.
That’s what Mr. Obama will be attempting to sell in his low-road campaign for four more years: a fatter, richer, more costly government to make us even more dependent on its largesse.
And if he is able to divide Americans with this scurrilous class-warfare, anti-wealth-creation campaign, he will succeed.
Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.