Many pundits on the left and the mainstream media are currently lauding the President on his recent speeches in Milwaukee on Labor Day, and his "taking the figt to the opposition" speech in Cleveland. As proof that Obama is getting his mojo back, they point to the fact that he called out John Boehner by name on eight separate occasions in his speech in Cleveland, Boehner's back yard. Apparently, the Democrats and Obama have a new bogeyman to rail against- the orange-hued John Boehner. Of course, this tactic was used before shortly after the election in 2008 when practically every single publication out there- save conservative ones- proclaimed that Rush Limbaugh was the de facto leader of the G.O.P., then Sarah Palin, then Glenn Beck. Now, it's John Boehner. But, that will be the discussion of a future entry here.
Instead, I wish to look at some of the misleading statements Obama made in his Milwaukee speech which those on the left are now clamoring about. Turning his attention to social security reform, the President states: "And to those who may still run for office planning to privatize Social Security, let me be clear: as long as I'm President, I'll fight every effort to take the retirement savings of a generation of Americans and hand it over to Wall Street. Not on my watch." It is obvious that Obama has not taken the time to read or analyze Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America." Fortunately, the CBO has read and analyzed it and came to the conclusion that if we continue on the current path- which is basically the Obama plan- benefits would have to be decreased 24% by 2037. Conversely, under the Ryan plan, Social Security would face no deficits and be solvent by 2069, if not sooner. Those under 55 years of age would be given the option of diverting up to 12.4% of their FICA taxes towards personal investment accounts and contributions would be guaranteed by the government. Additionally, contrary to the populist assertions by Obama that this will enrich Wall Street to the detriment to retirees, it is the government, not Wall Street brokers that would administer the plan. Investments certainly contain risk. But if you are 20 years old entering the labor market with a retirement age of 60, that is 40 years of contributions that could be gaining in value and insulated- because of the length of time- against the ebb and flow of the stock market. Simply put, it is nothing more than the Thrift Savings Plan offered to federal employees.
He stated: "That's why we've given tax cuts to small business owners. Tax cuts to clean energy companies..." In the next paragraph, he states: "That's why we're investing in growth industries like clean energy and manufacturing." Oh yes, the "green energy" nonsense. Obama likes to trot out this canard when discussing jobs. What he doesn't tell anyone are some, excuse me, inconvenient truths. For example, there is no mention of the failed Spanish model upon which the Obama plan is based. He doesn't mention that it took $151 million of stimulus funds to keep a factory in Michigan alive to employ 300 people. That's an investment of $503,333 per every person hired. The fact is that this plant in Michigan would not exist if not for the government subsidies because, quite frankly, there is no market for an electric car which currently markets for $100,000.
Speaking of cars, Obama says: "When the naysayers said we should just let the American auto industry vanish and take hundreds of thousands of jobs down with it, we said we'd stand my them if they made the tough choices necessary to compete once again- and today, that industry is on the way back." Well, at best, the auto industry "success story" Obama talks about, the jury is still out. I suppose going from a negative ten to a negative eight could be considered "on the way back." And if memory serves me correct, no one ever called for the demise of the auto industry. What most people on the opposite side of Obama complained about was the destructive collective bargaining agreements which led to the fact that the American auto industry was producing inferior products for inflated prices. And there was a mechanism in place to address the problem at the time- it is called bankruptcy. It was a cheaper, time-tested device that worked and did not involve the government taking over an entire industry and micromanaging them in exchange for government largesse from the American tax-payer.
He then launched into his plan to rebuild America's crumbling infrastructure: "...we are going to rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads...we're going to maintain 4,000 miles of our railways...we're going to restore more than 150 miles of runways..." Excuse me, 150,000 miles of road, 4000 miles of railways and 150 miles of runways fell into disrepair since the last stimulus went into effect? Are there more "shovel ready" projects today than there were then? If not, how come this 154,150 miles of infrastructure wasn't addressed in the original stimulus package? This is like standing before a crowd in Milwaukee and saying, "Well, sorry folks but we sqaundered about $800 billion two years ago. But trust me now because another $50 billion will really work this time. Just trust me..." Does Obama really believe this politically expedient ploy will seriously make a dent in the unemployment rate? And if he is really serious, wanted to regain trust, and grew a set, he would have told that crowd in Milwaukee: "We're going to spend $50 billion to fix these things and we're going to get the most done for the least. And if that means hiring non-union people to do the same job union people do but for less cost, we are going to do that."
Then Obama ends his speech with his usual, boring partisan attack: "...almost every Republican said no...So they said no to help for small businesses. No to middle class tax cuts. No to unemployment insurance. No clean energy jobs. No to making college affordable. No to reforming Wall Street." Actually, in most of these cases, it was Republicans who said, "Whoa! Wait!! How are you going to pay for these things?" There were very few Republicans who were absolutely against unemployment insurance extensions. The real issue was not filibuster for the sake of filibuster; it was a demand for how the extensions would be paid for. Republicans never said no to help for small businesses, but they did to the strings the government attached to that help. Can anyone really say that college is more affordable today? And as for reforming Wall Street, how can an additional 2500 pages of law "reform" anything when existing laws, if enforced, could have done the same job? And implicit in this speech, notice how he fails to mention Obamacare.
Unmentioned by those on the left is the conspicuous absence of Russ Feingold from the very stage on which Obama stood. He had a "conflicting" engagement in his hometown of Racine that afternoon. The speech proved nothing and Feingold's absence along with Obama's avoidance of mention of Obamacare spoke louder than the garbage he spoke on Labor Day. It was simply a speech that played to a friendly audience of UAW, AFSCME, and SEIU members. It was typical liberal solutions of spend, spend, spend in order to pay off a core constituency. Again, the party of "Whoa! Wait!" has allies- his own party as many Democrats are coming out against this plan. They see the writing on the wall and they don't like their chances come November if they side with Obama. In the end, this is not Obama getting his campaign mojo back. It is the realization that a mistake was made in November 2008- a mistake that will be rectified in November 2012.