BY FRANK SALVATO – President Barack Obama took to the stage at George Washington University to allegedly lay out an argument for what he perceived to be a need for “compromise” where the current debt, spending and budget issues are concerned. In the end, the President’s speech turned out to be nothing more than a partisan approach to the launch of his 2012 re-election campaign. But Mr. Obama did highlight the need to employ true compromise in approaching the financial crisis facing our country. And while this may be a notion that many on both the committed Left and committed Right will not be wont to hear, it is the truth, if in fact we are serious about reforming the way our government utilizes taxpayer monies.
The key word here, however, is “compromise.” For there to be true compromise several realities must be present, including honesty among the participants, a commitment to statesmanship over political opportunism and a true middle ground, to name just three necessary prerequisites. Sadly, those realities – the people who hold those qualities – do not exist in the nation’s capitol in large enough numbers to create an atmosphere where “compromise” can be struck.
When one reads the text of Mr. Obama’s speech and examines it for inaccuracies there are myriad opportunities to spotlight his deference to political rhetoric and opportunism at the expense of fact and history. For example, in his speech, President Obama stated:
“…our leaders came together three times during the 1990s to reduce our nation’s deficit — three times. They forged historic agreements that required tough decisions made by the first President Bush, then made by President Clinton, by Democratic Congresses and by a Republican Congress. All three agreements asked for shared responsibility and shared sacrifice. But they largely protected the middle class; they largely protected our commitment to seniors; they protected our key investments in our future.
“As a result of these bipartisan efforts, America’s finances were in great shape by the year 2000. We went from deficit to surplus. America was actually on track to becoming completely debt free, and we were prepared for the retirement of the Baby Boomers.”
Two events that come to mind in hearing this portion of Mr. Obama’s speech are the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996, or the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, and what many call the “Peace Dividend.”
Regarding the Welfare Reform Act, just like Mr. Obama has to have been dragged kicking and screaming to affect a Continuing Resolution extending the functioning of the federal government, then-President Bill Clinton reluctantly – and that’s putting it nicely – enjoined in advancing welfare reform. In fact, after vowing to “end welfare as we know it,” President Clinton then waited over a year before he proposed legislation that would have increased welfare spending by $14 billion over five years. In addition, Mr. Clinton vetoed welfare reform measures twice – first on December 6, 1995, and again on January 9, 1996 – before finally signing PRWOA on July 31, 1996, and then only under the spotlight of a re-election campaign. To the latter, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) said “If it were 14 weeks after the election, he’d say no.” Mr. Clinton also promised to undo many of the reforms.
Certainly, if not for the Contract with America, championed by a Republican/Conservative led Congress, Welfare Reform, which did cut federal spending on a Progressive/Liberal/Democrat sweetheart entitlement program, would have never seen the light of day.
As for the so-called ‘Peace Dividend,” after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, a significant amount of federal spending was eliminated for the fact that the United States was no longer engaged in a “Cold War” with the Soviet Union, a notion which some believe can be argued today. This perceived influx of federal tax dollar availability, coupled with a reckless emergence of personal and institutional borrowing throughout the 1990s, established the illusion that the federal government, along with the personal finances of the citizenry, were, as President Obama termed it in his speech, “in great shape.”
Reality mandates that we accept the fact that government is not supposed to operate like a corporation; it is not supposed to acquire wealth. Government is supposed to accurately reconcile the need for a level of taxation with the mandated expenditures pursuant to the entities charter. The federal government is bound by this premise just as are all levels of government. So, instead of insisting that the federal government could ever legally, ethically or morally retain a “surplus” of taxpayer dollars, constitutionally, the federal government should have been mandated to return any “surplus” to the taxpayers, from which it was extracted. No new spending should have been crafted with this money. If anything, it should have been proposed that it be used to zero-out any debt so that the federal government could absolve itself of the cancer of borrowing in the name of the American people.
That said, the false notion that the Clinton years were financially responsible where federal spending is concerned is nothing more than a canard. Legislation continued to be crafted by the elected spendthrift class that heaped federal spending project upon federal spending project, obligating the “Peace Dividend” to further government expansion. That we were “prepared for the retirement of the Baby Boomers” is simply not true, and, I suspect, included in Mr. Obama’s speech as purposely deceptive and misleading.
Add to Mr. Obama’s skewed recollection of history and unyielding quest for power statements made by Progressive Democrat leadership during the battle over the Continuing Resolution and we can see a purposeful pattern of deception, dishonesty and fear-mongering perpetrated against the American people.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said on the floor of the Senate:
“Republicans want to shut down the government because they think there’s nothing more important than keeping women from getting cancer screenings. This is indefensible and everyone should be outraged.”
US Rep. Louise Slaughter (P-NY) blurted:
“I went through this as co-chair of the Arts Caucus. In 1994, people were elected simply to come here to kill the National Endowment for the Arts…now they’re here to kill women.”
Slaughter added of the Republican push to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding reminded her of the Nazi Party.
Yet, under the deal struck with Republicans by the Progressive Democrats and Mr. Obama, $600 million for Community Health Centers – health centers which cater to the poor and that provide a full range of women’s healthcare procedures with the singular exception of abortion – was eliminated while funding for Planned Parenthood was protected.
“In 2010, Planned Parenthood and a California affiliate together spent more than $700,000 on federal lobbying efforts…By comparison; all other organizations that primarily advocate for abortion rights collectively spent $247,280 on federal lobbying efforts during the same period…
“The organization’s political action committee…donated more than $148,000 to federal candidates — almost all Democrats — during the 2010 election cycle. The PAC spent more than $443,000 overall.
“Planned Parenthood also recorded $905,796 in independent expenditures during the 2010 cycle — money spent in support of, or in opposition to, federal political candidates…The top beneficiaries of this money were Barbara Boxer (P-CA) and Patty Murray (P-WA).”
Understanding that Planned Parenthood is a big time political campaign contributor to Democrats, it isn’t hard to see that the outcry by Reid, Slaughter and the rest of the intellectually dishonest political opportunists on the Left was all about the flow of money and not about the issue of “women’s health.”
The penchant for manipulation and dishonesty established for almost the full complement of Progressive and Democrat leadership in Washington, it is absolutely fair to surmise that honesty among the participants and a commitment to statesmanship over political opportunism does not exist in Washington, DC, today, and this doesn’t even address some of the rhetoric coming from the Right, albeit to a much, much lesser degree in instances.
As to a “true middle ground,” ever since the introduction of Progressivism into the American political arena at the turn of the 20th Century, the order of the day has been incremental advancement of the Progressive (read: Marxist) ideology into the American philosophy. This incremental advancement has issue by issue, program by program, moved the “true middle ground” to the Left. From the institution of the Progressive Tax System (it’s named that for a reason – “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” – Karl Marx) to the establishment of the Nanny State, the Progressive Movement – a political ideology not indigenous to American politics – has moved the “true middle ground” from an honest center to a pro-rated center situated in favor of the Left. This makes true compromise impossible to achieve.
They say that the political pendulum sways back and forth over time, vacillating from Conservative to Liberal but always returning to the center middle ground through compromise. But when the Ship of State is listing to the Left, the center middle ground is always found increasingly to the Left, for the Ship of State is not gimbaled.