Kick the Can is a fun, simple game for kids. However, teenagers and adults generally move
on to more sophisticated games. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the Obama Administration. Kick the Can is apparently still theirfavorite game.
On a wide range of critical issues, they prefer to kick the can down the road rather than deal with them head-on, as adults. President Obama has consistently kicked the can on the most serious issues facing our country today: jobs, entitlements, and the soon-to-be sixteen trillion dollar deficit.
When he was elected in 2008, along with a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a 257 to 178 seat majority in the House of Representatives, he focused on jobs long enough to sign a partisan stimulus bill spending close to one trillion dollars and assumed he was done with jobs. He has done nothing more than give lip service to jobs since the stimulus bill passed.
Obama promised during the 2008 campaign that he would reduce the deficit by half in his first term. Instead of a deficit of five trillion dollars as he promised at the end of his first term, we will soon reach a stunning deficit of sixteen trillion dollars. That’s a whopping sixty percent
increase instead of the fifty percent decrease he promised.
To prove his commitment to reducing the rapidly ballooning deficit and addressing the impending collapse of Social Security and Medicare entitlements, in 2010 he appointed the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (commonly known as the Simpson Bowles Debt Commission). Again, as on jobs, Obama assumed he was done once the commission finished its work. He has studiously ignored all of their proposals, kicking the can down the road.
Keystone XL Pipeline
Another important issue on which he keeps kicking the can is the Keystone XL Pipeline. This pipeline, which the U.S. State Department estimated would produce between five and six
thousand jobs, would bring Canadian oil to refineries in the United States, potentially reducing the cost of oil in the United States and reducing our dependency on obtaining oil from countries such as Venezuela that regularly oppose us. Following several earlier delays of the pipeline by Obama, on November 11, 2011, he caved to the environmentalists and kicked this can at least to 2013.
Obamacare is a great example of the Obama Administration’s love of Kick the Can. Most of the key provisions included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act were kicked into later years. Indeed many of the regulations of the act are still waiting to be dictated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
One additional way the Obama Administration has kicked the health care can down the road is through handing out temporary waivers to favored businesses. These waivers allow businesses to kick their own cans as they delay implementation of Obamacare.
Fast and Furious
The gun-running operation, Fast and Furious, which was approved and conducted after Obama took office, encouraged several thousand guns to be sold to suspected criminals without any attempt being made to arrest the criminals and retrieve the guns. On February 4, 2011, a letter, drafted by Assistant Attorney General, Ronald Weich, was sent to Senator Chuck Grassley of the Senate Judiciary Committee insisting that no guns had been allowed to walk. On November 8, 2011, nine months later, Attorney General, Eric Holder, admitted under testimony in a congressional hearing that guns had indeed been allowed to walk.
Subsequently, Senate Judiciary Committee has attempted to determine who was responsible for the February 4, 2011 letter and the misrepresentations included therein. Attorney General Holder produced only five percent of the documents requested by the Committee, despite repeated requests. On June 20, 2012, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recommended holding Holder in contempt for failing to respond properly to their requests. True to form, Obama kicked this can down the road by invoking executive privilege over the remaining approximately 133,000 documents.
One additional “kick the can” example that ties directly to Obama’s Department of Justice and Eric Holder is the lack of convictions, let alone arraignments, of any Goldman Sachs employees for their roles in the 2008 financial crisis. After three and one half years, not one person has been held accountable for any of the fraudulent activity that was in large part responsible for the fiscal meltdown.
After kicking this can down the road year after year, the Justice Department, in an extraordinary move, announced that the case is closed and no one will be prosecuted. Be
assured that this has nothing to do with the many former Goldman Sachs employees who have served in the Obama Administration or with the over one million dollars that Goldman Sachs employees donated to the Obama 2008 campaign or that Goldman Sachs is a client of Eric Holder’s former law firm. This can has been kicked completely out of sight.
On the Other Hand
Obama does occasionally stop kicking some cans. He stops kicking when it is politically convenient.
The Bush Tax Cuts
In 2010, after spending months proclaiming that he would never sign an extension of the Bush Tax Cuts for everyone, and after being upside down in his approval ratings from July through December of that year, he finally capitulated and did just what he said he would not. Unfortunately for Republicans, this rare act of Obama doing the right thing resulted in his approval rating exceeding his disapproval rating, and it stayed on top for several months.
While campaigning in 2008, Obama said, “I cannot guarantee that it is going to be in the first 100 days. But what I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I’m promoting. And I want to move that forward as quickly as possible.”
What he meant was. “I’m going to kick that can down the road until I really need your votes.” Mitt Romney has turned out to be a more formidable opponent than Obama expected. Recognizing that he had done nothing on immigration for three years and in need of shoring up minority votes, Obama ruled by fiat that the immigration laws in place would no longer be followed. When it is politically expedient, Obama will occasionally switch games.
Pandering to a different group of voters who had regularly heckled him for ignoring them, Obama “evolved” (the liberal term for flip-flopped) on the gay marriage issue. He decided this can had been kicked long enough. The only thing that apparently changed was Obama’s need for this core Democratic constituency’s votes. That was enough for evolution to occur. Darwin would be amazed.
Obama is the Kick the Can President
My main point in drafting this long blog post is that we need to attach Kick the Can to Obama just as we attached Flip-Flopper to John Kerry. It is simple, descriptive, and entirely applicable. It can have a devastating impact without being overly negative. The Romney Campaign or his Super PAC supporters need to embrace this line of attack as an effective way to define the difference between the Obama Administration and the Romney/Ryan team. Obama just wants to kick the can down the road as much as possible while Romney and Ryan recognize the seriousness of the issues we face and are offering the hard, adult, but much needed solutions.