September 1 2011
Carrie L. Lukas
Yes, be sure to update your calendars. Next Thursday, the President is going to address a joint session of Congress to talk about our mess of an economy and to offer a sketch of the President's long await plans for boosting unemployment while addressing our long term deficit problems.
Does it seem like the President is always calling the attention of the nation to him for his latest pronouncement? I haven't seen a tally of the numbers, but it seems like there have been an awful lot of prime-time, networks-must-cover, speeches held by this President, compared to his predecessors. Or perhaps it's just that so little of substance is actually said during all the speeches that makes them a blur.
The suspicion that this upcoming speech is a campaign event, rather than an occasion to offer a real, meaningful plan to change the trajectory of the economy, was enhanced by the timing of the speech. The President requested that his speech trump a long-scheduled Republican primary debate; Speaker John Boehner pushed back and asked that the speech be pushed back a day, which the White House has accepted.
According to Poltico, even many Democrats were unhappy with the President's late request for a joint session and the timing of the request, which would clearly create the appearance that his intention was more about upstaging Republicans than tackling the economic crisis:
"The narrative about the jobs speech has now become about when the speech is given, not the substance of the speech," said a senior Democratic congressional aide who thinks the White House delivered a self-inflicted wound.
This is a minor political dust-up, but one than acerbates a theme unhelpful to the White House, and to the nation. It seems that the President is all about posturing and politics, rather than policy. It contributes the general feelings of insecurity about the economy and political environment that businesses will face as who knows what is contemplated by a profoundly unserious Washington.
Ok, The President will certainly propose some ideas and actual programs during the speech. Fine. Will an actual, on-paper proposal follow? As the CBO has said before, you can't score a speech. The President failed to offer any actual plan during the debt ceiling debate, revealing himself to be feckless and, in the end, almost irrelevant to the conclusion of an important debate about our country's future.
Yes, great leaders make great speeches. But they also offer actual plans and policies for the nation. We know that President Obama can give a speech. Can he offer the later? We will soon see. And if no actual plan follows, it will be clear that this speech has nothing to do with the actual policy discussion about the future of the American economy, and was merely another stop on his re-election campaign.