The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

A Big Nuthin Burger

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


Yesterday and today, the President pivoted for the 19th time to the economy and gave a one hour-plus speech on the economy.  On Wednesday, his first stop was Knox College in Illinois where he gave a commencement address in 2005.  Many news reports prior to the event predicted the President wouldn’t come up with any new policies.  They were right.  Here are some reactions from the papers:

He chided Washington for having “taken its eye off the ball” and declared that the economy would be the “highest priority” of his second term…

Obama, as he often does when criticizing Washington, glossed over his own status as the inhabitant of the city’s most powerful office…

Indeed the president’s remarks were void of new policy proposals or fresh solutions for breaking Washington stalemates.

          -Washington Post

President Obama tried to move past months of debate over guns, surveillance and scandal on Wednesday and reorient his administration behind a program to lift a middling economy and help middle-class Americans who are stuck with stagnant incomes and shrinking horizons.

          -New York Times

Obama, a president who gets a lift from supporters outside the Beltway and wilts in the D.C. hothouse, is hitting the road for all the expected second-term reasons: to regain his slipping leverage over Republicans ahead of the looming debt ceiling battle this fall, and to refocus his oft-meandering message back on the economy, which is all voters really care about…

It all kicked off with a loose, one-hour Obama set in the familiar climes of Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., the 2005 site of his first big economic speech as a U.S. senator, with a wide-ranging greatest hits address that offered little new in the way of policy but plenty of applause lines geared at firing up a struggling president and his most committed fans.

          -Politico

And these are his friends!  Generally the reaction to his speech is a big “ho hum.” And why not, after all, the president called for action on the economy just days after his election in 2008.  When his term began, Congress passed in true Keynesian fashion, a huge spending bill (ARRA) amounting to over $831 billion.  Its purpose was to create jobs immediately but unemployment remained above 8.0% until mid 2012 and has only dropped about 0.4% since then.

After passing ARRA, Obama then moved directly into healthcare reform, which ironically is killing jobs.  Three large labor unions stated in a letter to Democrat leaders on Capitol Hill that Obamacare “will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

During this latest version of his economic speech, President Obama talked about peoples’ misfortunes, college debt, and growing inequity, and said, “that’s why reversing these trends must be Washington’s highest priority.  It’s certainly my highest priority.  Unfortunately, over the past couple of years, in particular, Washington hasn’t just ignored this problem; too often, Washington has made things worse.”

Well, that certainly is true.  His policies of creating a bigger government, increased spending, and passing healthcare reform has placed a huge drag on our economy.  Obama bragged that under his administration some 7.2 million jobs were created in the past 40 months but compare that to the Reagan era.  During Reagan’s first 29 months, the private sector created 8.04 million jobs and GDP growth was at 7.2% in 1984, the end of his first term, while Obama’s GDP growth rate was at 2.2% in 2012.

The only way the nation will reverse these trends is by cutting spending, cutting regulations, cutting taxes - especially corporate taxes, repealing Obamacare, and for the government to get out of the way of business.  But unfortunately, that probably will not happen.  After all, the president couldn’t help himself and again attacked the sequester, the automatic spending reductions of $1.2 trillion over ten years, using the worn-out scalpel and meat clever analogy.  President Obama conveniently forgot the sequester was his own White House’s idea as Bob Woodward laid out in his book, “The Price of Politics.”

And for all the hand wringing about the sequester’s cuts, the government is still growing, just not as fast as the big spenders hope and continue to push for.  Currently, the only thing that is being done to reverse course on out-of-control spending is to essentially put the country in a holding pattern.

Most analysts believe the reason why President Obama decided to begin this new economic road trip is because his popularity has been dropping steadily, with 49% disapproving of the way he has been handling the economy according to an ABC/Washington Post poll.

So for the next few weeks Obama will focus on the economy…until something else grabs his attention or he starts his Martha’s Vineyard vacation during the slow days of August.  But then the fun begins in earnest in September.  Spending bills must be passed before September 30 or the government faces a shut down.  Plus, the debt ceiling must be raised again so the government can borrow more money to pay its bills.  Expect a lot of hot rhetoric about why Washington can’t cut spending.  CAGW will be there offering lots of suggestions.

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