Morning Jay: Obama's Speech Was Meant to Reassure the Left
6:00 AM, Apr 15, 2011 • By JAY COST
Lately, I’ve been staying up late at night because I’m just too stressed over the state of the union. Unable to sleep, I often find myself toggling between scores of Excel spreadsheets, crunching all sorts of numbers to get my mind around the gaping budget deficit that is threatening the country. It isn’t pretty, as we all know, and unfortunately my computations have only made me feel worse.
For instance, take the president’s FY 2012 budget. CBO’s analysis of it indicates that it will add about 8.8 trillion in inflation-adjusted dollars to the deficit by 2021. That’s a lot. But it could be a lot more. CBO projects that real economic growth over the next decade will average 2.9 percent per year. If, however, real growth over the next decade mimics what we saw in the last 10 years (1.7 percent on average), my back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests we’d be talking about at least an $11.3 trillion inflation-adjusted deficit. That’s an additional $2.5 trillion just over an assumption about the economy.
Late at night, while deriving these sorts of utterly depressing numbers, I often wonder to myself, is President Obama by any chance up tonight as well, worrying about the deficit and the feasibility of his own plan?
On Wednesday, I got my answer: No, he’s fast asleep.
Not only was Obama’s speech on Wednesday political, it was completely rote, by-the-book Obama politics. He couldn’t even bring out an interesting twist to his stock partisan speech. Here’s how it always goes, with Wednesday being no exception:
So, the only interesting question to me is: If this was a political speech, what was its purpose?
If we look at the “proposals” to curb the deficit in this speech, we see three big ones:
None of these proposals will appeal to independent voters in the center. Not a single one. In fact, Bill Clinton enacted deficit reduction in the early 1990s by pushing the first two items, and they contributed to the Democratic debacle in 1994.
So, if it wasn't to win over the center, what was the political point? Check out how the New York Times gushed over the speech:
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