The PJ Tatler

Videos: When Obama Promised to Cut the Deficit

While campaigning against President George W. Bush, Barack Obama promised over and over again that if elected, he would cut the deficit. Andrew Kaczynski has six examples over at BuzzFeed. Obama evidently didn’t mean a word of it: Under his watch, the deficit has gone up more in four years than it did under Bush in eight, and Obama has piled up more debt than all the previous 43 presidents combined.

To me, the fifth video in the group is the most hilarious.

OBAMA: We need to eliminate a whole host of programs that don’t work, and I want to go through the federal budget line by line, page by page, programs that don’t work we should cut. Programs that we need, we should make them work better.

From that line, Obama tellingly pivots:

Sen. McCain and I have a difference in terms of the need to invest in America, in the American people.

From talking about cutting, to promoting more spending, in one breath. It takes a special level of cynicism to pull that off.

It’s worth noting here that Obama had no private sector experience, and no experience effectively investing in anything other than his own rhetorical skills. Solyndra turned out to be the kind of investment that attracted Obama’s notice.

He goes on from that line above to talk about “investing” in preventative health care — how does the federal government do that, by the way, without dictating our private lifestyles? — and “investing” in a “serious” energy policy, and “investing in our young people and their ability to go to college.”

What has he delivered on all that? He never went through the federal budget line by line, because for the past three years, we have not had a federal budget. President Obama has submitted two budgets in his three years, both of which were so spectacularly unserious that they were both blasted out of Congress without earning a single vote. Even the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected one of them 97-0. The House clobbered this year’s Obama budget, 414-0.

His investment in preventative health care turned out to be ObamaCare, which is a down payment on government taking over the entire health care industry. His investment in an energy policy morphed into the gulf drilling permitorium, and unleashing the EPA to wage total war on coal. His energy policy was so serious that it didn’t even mention coal at all until ridicule forced him to change his plan. And his investing in young people bit turned out to be a cynical manipulative game over college loan interest rates, and a war on for-profit institutions while leaving the exorbitant costs of state schools to rise unchecked.

In short, Obama didn’t mean what he said about going through the federal budget line by line, and the rest is a skillful deployment of thick smoke and shiny mirrors.

I’ll give him this: Barack Obama is very skilled at sounding like something that he is not. In the clip, he sounds like a reasonable man who gets the private sector and is steeped in its language and thinking — every bit of government spending is cloaked as an “investment.” When speaking to a nation of people who own stocks and 401k’s, this language was obviously very effective for him. You almost need a Pop-Up-Video decoder to point that that when Obama says “investment,” he really means the government spending more money that we do not have, on pet projects that are very likely to fail, because he does not know the first thing about how the economy works. Without such pop-ups, it isn’t hard to see why he fooled people. He seemed young and dynamic and aware. His rhetorical style often put him to McCain’s right, while his actual ideas were far to the country’s left. Most voters simply didn’t know that his true ideas were there, thanks to the media calling him “god” and offering no analysis of what he actually believes.

Four years later, though, there’s less of an excuse for anyone to be fooled by him.