Obama's Spend, Punt and Blame Strategy on Display with Supercommittee Failure

By Thomas J. Basile

The Supercommittee is a super failure, but how many of us are really surprised?  The whole concept of the committee highlights the fact that both parties in Washington are incapable of making the tough choices necessary to make government more efficient and less burdensome on the taxpayer.  You almost have to feel bad for the members of the committee who were tasked with doing a near impossible job under normal circumstances, but the current climate in our nation’s capital made it a failure from the start. 

For one thing, Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget for nearly three years.  The most powerful and exclusive deliberative body in the world under the leadership of Harry Reid has been a rudderless ship, adrift in the economic storm.  Senate Democrats have shown they can do nothing to escape their powerful liberal constituencies and their own political survivorship instincts while the nation looks for some form of decisive leadership in these uncertain times.

As for the Republicans, their failure was not pushing hard enough.  The committee’s mandate was laughable from the beginning with a target of cutting a measly  $1.5 trillion over a ten year period from a budget spiraling out of control.  What real conservative Republicans should have been demanding is far more than that – somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 trillion.  

The American, fiscally conservative grassroots want to see bold action to reduce the size and scope of government and its impact on real Americans.  So far, they haven’t seen it.  Entitlements are still projected to grow significantly and while conservatives in Washington are proud of the Federal hiring and pay freeze, they haven’t delivered significant reductions in the Federal workforce.   The budget deficit continues to grow and no one has been willing to stand up and say that we need to turn back the clock on the budget at least five years or more.

Despite Congress’s obvious complicity in this colossal failure, the biggest loser here is President Obama.  Our famously ubiquitous President has been playing hide and seek on our nation’s budget future for months.  Liberals used to be dubbed as “tax and spend” creatures.  Today, the Obama doctrine on domestic policy has been a strategy of “spend, punt and blame.”  The Supercommittee squarely fits this model.   On one hand, the President has helped contribute to the debt to the tune of $4 trillion, based in part on his record spending in the first two years of his Presidency.  On the other hand, while he knows the American people believe that government needs to trim its sails, he’s refused to lead by crafting proposals to reduce spending, punting the responsibility for making recommendations to others.  Lastly, he’s taken the road he so often has as President – when something goes wrong under your watch, blame someone else. 

Listening to the White House these days, it’s clear they’ve distanced themselves from this process intentionally so they could credibly blame the Congress for the failure to reduce spending and the deficit.  The President still reserves most of his ire for Republicans, but the White House has become so paralyzed and desperate to shift responsibility elsewhere, it’s making a habit of attacking Congress as the problem, effectively hanging Democrats out to dry as well for the Administration’s failure of leadership.   

Spend, punt and blame is a losing strategy for the American people and, though this might shock him, for the President as well.  Taxpayers are tired of the same do-nothing rhetoric coming out of the White House.  Obama’s leftist ideology and arrogance has had the opposite effect than what he had hoped.  It has effectively neutered his Presidency, making Washington even more intransigent to accept the wholesale reform we need to keep America affordable, competitive and free.

Thomas J. Basile is a Republican commentator and former Bush Administration official and former Executive Director of the NYS Republican Party.  Learn more about Tom at www.TJBasile.com.   

2011-2012Albert Solano