Can Bill Daley’s ‘Harry Truman Strategy’ Salvage the 2012 Election for Barack Obama?
Can It Work? Not if Paul Ryan Gets on the Ticket for the Defense.
Some day after we’re all dead, revisionist historians will calculate that this 44th president, Barack Obama, in addition to being the worst president from the standpoint of patriotism pro-U.S. motivation, was the most inept.
They will likely cite as Evidentiary One, his utter failure to craft a budget. The American people would have been informed about this incompetence long before this but the national media, accustomed to its role of running interference for him on his murky background, scant evidence of scholarship, mysteriously unavailable college records and dearth of classmates who knew him in Indonesia schools as well as Occidental, have covered up his ineptitude once again.
As this is one of the few places you’ll get the news straight about this so-called genius’ deficiencies, consider his two—yes, two—budget addresses.
Obama’s Two Phony Budgets.
The first one was delivered as the Constitution provides, last February. He forecast that it would reduce the $14 trillion deficit by a trillion. But the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office which examines such things as economic assumptions and baselines, said: Uh-uh, sorry Mr. President. It won’t reduce the deficit by a trillion over 10 years but using your assumptions we can tell you it will hike the deficit by $2.1 trillion.
Then Wisconsin’s Republican congressman Paul Ryan, a numbers whiz whom Obama earlier had praised, produced a counter-budget and submitted his numbers, economic assumptions and baselines to the CBO for scoring i.e. getting approval for using the right forecast. Ryan’s is a very tough budget but since worry about the deficits are high on the public mind right now, his roadmap convinces many that it’s the kind of tough, bitter medicine the nation gets to get back on a solid track.
The CBO gave Ryan’s masterwork a full frisk and said its assumptions are right on the mark: If followed as Ryan wrote it, his budget will reduce the deficit by $4.4 trillion over ten years. Ryan had set into place a master framework so we will be moving ahead to eradicating the entire deficit of $14.5 trillion within the following five years. Ergo: This 41-year-old kid working with a constricted House staff and directing the study himself showed up the entire Obama administration, its treasury secretary Tim Geithner (who was found to be in arrears on his own income taxes), budget director, Commerce Department and auxiliaries, getting a perfect score from the CBO which the Obama people couldn’t get.
Now as we all know, Barack Obama wants to get reelected in 2012 which is why he hired William Daley of Chicago as his chief-of-staff. Daley believes that the only way Obama will win is by demagoguery the way FDR did in 1936 by condemning the “economic royalists” and the strategy Harry Truman used in 1948 to condemn the rich no-good members of Big Business “special interests.” The fact that Bill Daley made $32 million in wages last year serving those special interests is apart from the case.
Well, Paul Ryan has been getting so much attention with his counterbudget, that Bill Daley, the Chicago boss’ son, decided that Obama should make another pass at a budget—but this time use it as a campaign document to fire up the listless troops in Obama’s base: the liberal papers like The New York Times from which every “mainstream” news oracle takes the lead—from Brian Williams of NBC to Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos of ABC, to wide-eyed Katie Couric and Bob Schieffer of CBS (Schieffer known particularly as an eager recipient of every liberal line).
So Daley and his crew drafted out a story line for the new budget. It came close to what Teddy Kennedy on June 21, 1987 said would happen if Bob Bork got confirmed for the Supreme Court. “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchlldren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.”
Similarly before a single budgetary statistic was collected, Bill Daley had his speech writers say that in his counter-budget, Paul Ryan would give us “a fundamentally different America…than what we have known throughout our history.” America would be a fundamentally different country than we have known. Autistic and disabled children would be turned out into the street and left to tend to themselves. Moreover just to drive a car in America would be precarious since collapsed bridges would go unrepaired: the country would be on the brink of stagnation.
When he re-read the rhetoric, Bill Daley figuratively rubbed his hands in satisfaction. Now to pump in figures that would cut the deficit and keep the massive superstructure of New Deal-originated social benefits augmented by LBJ’s Great Society plus the $1 trillion worth of ObamaCare.
When the figures were pumped in, crafty Bill Daley ordered that the economic assumptions should be based on 12 years—not 10 as all other presidents and Paul Ryan did—this to confound the CBO from making a line-by-line comparison. With the most shoddy work of guest-timating, Daley concluded that Obama’s new budget would cut the debt by $4 trillion (the same as Ryan had calculated only taking two years longer to accomplish). The figure could be accomplished by hiking taxes on the rich, which thrill the hearts of the Left which were becoming disenchanted with Obama. Then like dispatching a schoolboy, he sent Obama off to make the speech last week at D.C.’s George Washington University.
Now it just so happened that the statistical wizard of the Congress, Paul Ryan, wanted to catch Obama’s speech. When he showed up at the college auditorium, Ryan was ushered by White House minions down to the front row where he would sit right under Obama’s nose. Obama had two teleprompters rolling so that he could turn his head right and left and appear like he was talking conversationally. He spoke for 43 minutes, blasting Ryan as unfeeling, almost un-American.
He kept his eyes from making contact with Ryan. And when the speech was over, two things were clear. One, Obama wasn’t going to negotiate anything but two would use the speech not as an economic document but as a campaign broadside to get reelected.
The liberal media was titillated. Sweet little Katie Couric was overjoyed and The New York Times gushed that it was so-o-o-o good to have the old lefty Obama back in the ring again. So far so good for Obama and his guru Bill Daley.
Except then something bad happened. Standard & Poor, the nation’s leading credit rating agency, read the Obama speech and became so pessimistic about the evident failure to get consensus on the deficit that it warned there is a 1-in-3 chance that this country will lose its impeccable AAA credit rating on debt in the next two years.
And then something worse. Sitting in the front row, Paul Ryan wondered where Obama got his figures, his economic assumptions which enabled him to claim he would cut the deficit, slap higher taxes on the rich, and return the country to economic solvency—because the assumptions sure didn’t square with what Ryan had found. So the next day he called the White House to get the verification.
Guess what? The White House had no official verification—just a reiteration of the unsupported numbers on the bottom of its press release. Next Ryan called the Congressional Budget Office to see if this nonpartisan entity could defend the numbers Obama and Bill Daley conjured up. No, said the CBO: Obama used twelve years—a highly unusual projection instead of the 10 years everybody else including Ryan had used. Aha. No mystery why Bill Daley used twelve years—to cover his tracks and to keep the CBO from contradicting Obama as it had in the first go-round.
But Bill Daley’s twelve-year instead of 10 year ploy wasn’t working. Standard & Poor smelled something fishy and instead of putting the issue to be, the rating agency by capturing SuperBowl style publicity guaranteed that the signal issue of 2012 will be Obama and Daley’s hoaky budget of floating numbers vesus Paul Ryan’s legit budget projection.
The House GOP’s Phony CR.
But lest you believe the Dems have a monopoly on phony-ness, consider the Speaker Boehner Continuing Resolution aka CR that averted closing down the government. Remember the Tea Party’ers and a large number of freshmen conservative congressmen wanted Boehner to cut $100 billion off the 2011 spending list. He said he wouldn’t do it. All right, they said—how about $67 billion. He tried and couldn’t get agreement from the Dems.
But he announced he could cut $38 billion. Rush Limbaugh wasn’t buying that—saying the amount was too miniscule. But $38 billion…if they were real cuts… was something at least so most of the House GOP majority was willing to go along—until they looked at the numbers and found that the sacrosanct Mr. Boehner had in his own inimitable way played games with the numbers to arrive at $38 billion.
It turned out there were all kinds of fudging…$2 billion from unused highway construction funds that couldn’t be spent because some states couldn’t scratch up matching funds…a “savings” of $4.9 billion from a one-time unspent fund on housing that was due to expire anyhow…a $3.2 billion “cut” from the Children’s Health Insurance program unspent because some states weren’t able to qualify. A few billion of unspent funds left over from the 2010 census. In other words it’s like me telling my wife I just saved us $279,000 by my decision not to buy a new Lamborghini.
The hard outlay of savings…again totaled by the Congressional Budget Office…said what was really saved was a meager $352 million. Well the Tea Party and the new members threw a fit that hit the fan. Fifty nine mostly conservative GOP members decided to vote no.
Boehner had to appeal to Dem Whip Steny Hoyer to give him enough Dem votes to make up the difference. So 81 Dems joined 179 Republicans to save Boehner’s lying hide. But Hoyer’s nominal boss Nancy Pelosi said she still thought the cuts were too drastic and disavowed the CR and Hoyer.
That’s the tale of two factions—one led by a duplicitous Bill Daley pulling the strings for Barack Obama but getting sandbagged by Standard & Poor and the other by a fibbing John Boehner who got singed by the Tea Party and his own members. Couldn’t happen to more deserving two guys.
The conclusion this octogenarian makes is this: I’m old enough to remember the 1948 Truman-Dewey campaign where Truman was supposedly on the ropes until Dewey blew it. Dewey blew it because he was unwilling to defend the record of the Republican 80th Congress….unwilling because he was a rival of Sen. Bob Taft who crafted a monumentally good record which Dewey neglected to defend.
Hear me out now: The defining record of this Congress is the Paul Ryan-designed counter-budget to Obama’s which saves Medicare and removes ObamaCare. For Republicans not to have Ryan on the ticket…my druthers would be as vice-president with Chris Christie as president…would be folly. Do you think Romney would defend the counter-budget—he as the godfather of Massachusetts’ RomneyCare? Or Mike Huckabee? ANSWER: In anybody’s hands but Ryan’s the Ryan budget would go largely undefended…and Obama under Bill Daley’s expert guidance would win the game.
Ryan at 41 and a House member is indispensable for the ticket. If he were to be paired with Christie, a tough former United States Attorney and a brilliant governor, I think the duo would be unbeatable.
Let me know what you think.
Tom Roeser is the Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Chicago Daily Observer
image Jack Benny with Harry Truman on accompanying piano