The Terrifying Line in Obama's Speech That Everyone Missed
Posted 09/07/2012 07:03 PM ET
But critics overlooked one promise that will guarantee an even bleaker future.
There was plenty to dislike in Obama's speech. The language was flat, his delivery languid. The speech was stuffed with standard Obama chestnuts about the smallness of politics, the corrupting influence of money in politics, and how cynicism is our worst enemy.
Instead of stirring rhetoric filled with hope and promise, Obama pledged that under his leadership, "our path is harder" and "our road is longer."
Seriously? After four years of the worst economic recovery since the Depression, falling incomes, lower-paying jobs, increased hopelessness and exploding debt, all Obama has to offer is that he'll make this nightmare last even longer?
He also told the public that they "elected me to tell you the truth" not to "tell you what you wanted to hear," but then proceeded to hide inconvenient truths while filling the public's ears with sweet nothings.
For example, he pledged government help for everyone who could possibly want or need it, but managed to avoid any mention of the hard truth that the national debt just topped $16 trillion and entitlements are unsustainable.
He said he'd spend money saved from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on roads, bridges and schools. Even the liberal press wasn't buying this one. As the AP pointed out, Obama "laid claim to a peace dividend that doesn't exist."
Obama promised to "take responsible steps" that would "keep the promise of Social Security." But he failed to mention that the only options he's left on the table are raising taxes or cutting benefits. That may not be what people want to hear, but it's the absolute truth.
He trotted out his supposed plan to cut deficits by $4 trillion over the next decade. But his actual plan — the budget he presented in February — would add $3.5 trillion in deficits, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Then Obama said he'd create a million new manufacturing jobs, recruit another 100,000 math and science teachers, cut tuition growth in half, and reform the tax code. All by magic, apparently, since he's provided no detailed plans on any of this.
But while everyone was picking apart these and other flaws in Obama's speech, they overlooked the most frightening line of all. That was when Obama promised that he'd pursue "the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one."
That promise might have made liberal hearts swoon. But as Amity Shlaes explained in her outstanding history of the era — "The Forgotten Man" — it was precisely FDR's "bold, persistent experimentation" that was largely to blame for the length, depth and severity of the Great Depression.
Convinced that the government had to do something, FDR tinkered and experimented, she said, figuring that if he didn't "get it right the first time ... maybe he'd get it right the second time." But the very arbitrariness of FDR's actions, she found, made it impossible for businesses to make plans. And so, as FDR's bold experiments increased, business activity decreased and markets froze.
"From the point of view of a business," Shlaes said in a 2009 interview, "it is annihilating to hear Washington uncertain, and that itself retards recovery because you really don't know what to expect."
If Obama wants to conduct experiments, he should get a job as a high school science teacher, and not use the entire nation as guinea pigs, particularly when we already know how his tests will turn out.