Thomas Friedman thinks that President Obama should actually try to run on his record

From our good friend William Teach:

Friedman: “If Only Obama Would Talk About His Super Awesome Record”

May 27, 2012 – 8:20 am

The NY Times’ Thomas Friedman is a bit upset that his lord and master Barack H. Obama won’t talk about all his accomplishments, without realizing that most of Obama’s accomplishments are seen in a negative light by Americans

During a recent discussion in Seattle with a group of educators, one of them surprised me when she pointed out that even though their state did not win President Obama’s education “Race to the Top,” that program was critical in spurring education reform in Washington State. As I listened to her analysis, the thought occurred to me: I wonder how Barack Obama would do if he ran for president as himself. … How he would do if he ran for re-election on all the things he’s accomplished but rarely speaks about.

He’d probably be looking at a historic re-election loss.

Barack Obama is a great orator, but he is the worst president I’ve ever seen when it comes to explaining his achievements, putting them in context, connecting with people on a gut level through repetition and thereby defining how the public views an issue.

Yeah, he’s a great orator when speaking from a telepromptor. When you get him speaking without, he stumbles and stutters (which is also a sign that attempting to stretch the truth and/or lie)

Much more at the link. The President’s problem is actually a simple one: despite the esteemed Mr Friedman’s opinion and listing of what he sees as President Obama’s accomplishments, the country doesn’t seem to agree. Mr Friedman believes that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act actually ends “socialism” in health care — an argument I’ll admit to never having heard before — but it was the passage of ObaminableCare which helped to energize the TEA Party and the conservative resurgence in the 2010 elections; the majority don’t like it. President Obama and his minions don’t brag about ObaminableCare before audiences which might include undecided voters, because that message is a loser, not a winner.

Mr Friedman wrote:

But Obama is running even with Mitt Romney not simply because of what he didn’t say, but also because of what he didn’t do. As the former Obama budget director Peter Orszag notes, to get the economy moving again, what we’ve needed for the past two years is a plan of “combined boldness” — another stimulus focused on infrastructure that would grow jobs and enhance productivity combined with a credible, bipartisan plan for trimming future growth in Medicare and Social Security and reforming taxes to get our long-term fiscal house in order, as the economy improves.

In short, we needed more stimulus paired with some version of the Simpson-Bowles deficit plan. It is highly unlikely that you could “get one passed without the other, and you shouldn’t want to anyway,” said Orszag. Together they would launch the U.S. economy.

Emphasis in the original. Really? Well, it is an at least reasonable economic argument — though one with which I disagree, because I believe that the debt that would be added at the initial stages would so weigh down the economy in the outyears that growth would be stunted then — but it is a wholly implausible political one. The Democrats would never go for the austerities required by Simpson-Bowles1, and the conservatives would never believe that the Democrats would stick to their side of the bargain. We have seen these plans to address some particular issue now — usually involving either raising taxes or borrowing more money — while the actions which were supposed to be taken “to get our long-term fiscal house in order, as the economy improves,” never seem to materialize. Remember the 1990 deal, in which the elder President Bush agreed to tax increases in exchange for spending cuts?

The 1990 Budget Deal: Real Tax Hikes, Fake Spending Promises

The 1990 budget deal promised President George H.W. Bush $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes. The tax hikes happened, but the spending cuts didn’t.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush was promised $2 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes by Congressional Democrats. That’s not what happened.

All $137 billion in tax hikes went through. Most notable was raising the top marginal tax rate from 28 percent (the Reagan low) to 31 percent (itself a setup for the 1993 Clinton tax hike of this rate all the way up to 39.6 percent). There were also increases in “sin” taxes and the Medicare payroll tax, as well as the yacht “luxury tax”2 that President Obama seems so intent on re-visiting on the jet plane manufacturers.

Not only did the $274 billion in promised baseline spending cuts never materialize — baseline spending was actually $22 billion higher than what CBO projected it would be before the deal. This despite another tax hike/baseline spending cut deal in 1993 (the Clinton tax hike) and the GOP takeover of Congress in 1995.

The lesson is simple–tax hikes are real in these deals, but the spending cut promises are a fraud, plain and simple. Raising taxes for fake spending cuts is no deal at all.

Do you think that Republicans today should accept tax hikes in exchange for spending cut promises given what happened in 1990?

Well, no, I certainly don’t think so! Your Editor would be willing to accept arguments for tax increases, on everybody, after spending is actually cut, after those spending cuts are locked in through the budget and appropriations process, but to do so before such occurs is to, once again, buy the lies of the liberals.

And lies they are. From Investor’s Business Daily:

CBO Exposes Obama’s $2 Trillion Budget Sleight of Hand

Posted 03/16/2012 06:46 PM ET

Federal Spending: If you want to know why Washington can’t get spending under control, this week provided a prime example, when the Congressional Budget Office said President Obama’s “budget-cutting” plan would actually boost spending $1 trillion.

When Obama released his budget last month, he said the spending cuts contained in it would “generate approximately $1 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade.”

“Every department will feel the impact of these reductions,” he said, “as they cut programs or tighten their belts.”

But this week, the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of Obama’s budget.

And lo and behold, rather than cut spending by $1 trillion over the next decade, the CBO says it would increase it by more than $1 trillion.

Much more at the link. Mr Friedman’s argument that President Obama ought to run on his record assumes that his record is a good one, something with which a lot of people don’t agree. And his argument that Mr Obama should have gone for a plan of “combined boldness” is not only one the President didn’t adopt, but that no one could or would or should believe in the first place. When even The Washington Post, virtually an unofficial subcommittee of the President’s re-election committee, couldn’t swallow the bovine feces3 numbers of the Nutting argument that President Obama is some sort of unappreciated spending cutter, you know that the liberals are not only lying, but that their lies are so outrageous as to be beyond the realm of plausibility. The Post may be willing to shill for President Obama, but not to the point where they cannot plausibly claim credibility.

The good-hearted Mr Friedman thinks that the President has a great record on which to run; the Obama campaign apparently believes so differently that they have chosen to try to falsify their own record, to run on a lie that they hope that enough people will swallow — and some did — rather than to run on the truth.

At the heart of that is a very basic problem. While Mr Friedman believes that the President has compiled a good record, it sure doesn’t feel like a good record to the public. With an economy officially in recovery but still in the doldrums, and unemployment still above 8% officially — and much higher than that realistically — there is no “know it in your heart” feeling that the President has done a good job. Mr Friedman takes a decent amount of newsprint and bandwidth to explain to us why the President’s record is so good, but that is part of the problem. It’s like having to explain a joke: if you have to explain it, it isn’t a good one.


  1. Though they might say that they would, as a useful tactic for getting votes in the present while never intending to go through with the plan in the future
  2. Which devastated the American boat building industry. Wealthy Americans who wanted yachts either purchased them before the tax took effect, or purchased them from overseas, where the tax didn’t apply. Senator John F Kerry (D-MA) bought his yacht from a builder in New Zealand, although that purchase didn’t occur until after the tax was repealed, and berthed it out-of-state to avoid paying Massachusetts state taxes, almost as if a wealthy Democrat believes that yes, taxes on the wealth do encourage them to see ways to avoid those taxes.
  3. Ropelight appears to prefer the term equine feces.

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