Leader or Crybaby?
Yesterday, Presdent Obama held a news conference. The sole purpose of said conference was apparently to whine about not getting his way on the deficit reduction talks.
Look, I realize the President has certain liberal economic ideas he holds dearly. I don’t expect him to abandon them simply because the political reality is they will never make it through either house of Congress. But I also don’t expect him to take over the airwaves for an hour in order to throw a temper tantrum. I bet Sasha and Malia don’t get away with that type of behavior in the White House; I see no reason their father should, either.
He’s supposed to be not only the leader of the United States, but the free world. Leaders don’t complain that nobody is following their lead. They don’t beg, plead and berate. (Well, really poor leaders do, but then they usually find a pink slip one day). No, principle number one in leadership is to recognize the problem, identify a solution and then get buy-in from everyone. Those three traits were all visibly missing yesterday.
- Recognize the problem: The problem, to quote another President, is the economy, stupid. All the talk about debt ceilings and corporate tax loopholes doesn’t amount to a hill of beans as long as the economy is still in recession. (It is, as you can read here). While nobody really wants to risk not raising the debt ceiling, the idea of rasing taxes during a recession is an economic no-no, whether you come from the Keynesian or Austrian school. Not even the ultimate Keynesian, FDR, raised taxes. Second half of problem: the Congress will not raise taxes right now, even if it means not raising the debt ceiling. Political reality – that’s how most of them got voted into office, in the first place.
- Identify a solution: So, how do you get the debt ceiling raised, reduce spending and get additional revenue, without raising taxes? Go back to a standard TEA party plank: restructure the tax code completely, simplifying the whole thing. Can it be done by August 2? Probably not. But put it out there – ok, we’ll agree to all of these cuts IF you agree to have the tax code completely rewritten in time for the 2013 budget, leaving nothing off the table.
- Get buy-in: It’s pretty hard to see who wouldn’t buy-in to that solution. Immediate problem of debt ceiling solved. Short-term problem of deficit reduction solved. Long-term problem of restructuring our finances solved.
Of course, the tactic the President chose is purely political. He’ll be certain to get a bump from his core supporters. But even the most liberal economists are already deriding the lack of any real plan behind yesterday’s posturing. And the right is eviscerating him for playing politics with the national economy.