Tuesday, June 28, 2011

CBO: We don't estimate speeches

The country is facing a fiscal disaster greatly exacerbated by the policies of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats, but so far the president has refused to acknowledge the problem or act to alleviate it. He has been struggling to avoid making tough choices, hoping instead to paper over our troubles with words and so distract voters from the need for action. -- YUVAL LEVIN
He is a speech-giving machine. Just point him in the direction of the nearest teleprompter and podium and he will perform as if he were playing the classical Canon in D on piano or Pachelbel.

So imagine my surprise when Congressional Budget Office (CBO) director Douglas Elmendorf whose job is to give factual analysis on U.S. fiscal policy and government budget matters, was asked about the president’s budget which he proposed in February of this year and a subsequent speech he made in April outlining the president’s goals and policies. Mr. Elmendorf response was, “We don’t estimate speeches.” (see story)

The Democratic Senate has not proposed a budget in either of the last two years. In February, President Obama offered a budget that would actually increase the deficit. Then in a speech in April, he essentially retracted it, and offered in its place a vague and incoherent series of policy goals that left Democrats with no particular agenda. On June 23, at a hearing of the Budget Committee, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf was asked what his agency made of the proposals in that presidential address. “We don’t estimate speeches,” he said. “We need much more specificity than was provided in that speech.”

But Mr. Elmendorf words are important. Our president has told us so. He and his Democrat colleagues spend a great amount of time speaking to the American people about things like “hope and change” and how everything that is wrong in America is Bush’s fault.

So why can’t you take the president’s April speech and tell us if what he’s proposing is going to actually reduce the deficit? Oh that’s right what the president said was just words and you need specific data on which to base any estimates.

All of which reminds me of what Hillary Clinton said about president Soetoro in the 2008 campaign. Ms. Clinton told us all that Barry Hussein Soetoro would not be a leader. According to Mrs. Clinton Barry Soetoro is a speechmaker and very little else. (see :23sec video)

“Speeches don’t put food on the table,” Mrs. Clinton said at a General Motors plant in Warren, Ohio, on Thursday morning. “Speeches don’t fill up your tank, or fill your prescription, or do anything about that stack of bills that keeps you up at night.”
“My opponent gives speeches. I offer solutions.”

“It’s about whether you choose the power of solutions over the power of speeches.”—2008 presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton

The word is the president is now going to join in the budget talks. My hope is that talks turn into some actionable debt and deficit reduction policies. If they don’t the president is in jeopardy of losing any credibility that his words many have ever had.