The “second term agenda”: No immigration reform, no entitlement reform

posted at 12:01 pm on October 25, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Maybe this is the best recap ever of Barack Obama’s campaign, taken from Obama’s own speech this morning in Tampa Bay.  Obama starts off by attacking Mitt Romney’s economic agenda, and then momentarily can’t find his own:

That’s been the case for Obama since his campaign began in April 2011.  Instead of giving voters a reason to vote for Obama, the President and his campaign have made the argument for more than 560 days of “You can’t possibly be serious about the other guy.”  Only after getting drubbed in the first debate and unable to unring that bell in two successive debates did Obama finally cough up a semblance of a second-term agenda.

In my column for The Fiscal Times today, I argue that waiting 567 days to put out a second-term agenda is in itself a demonstration of contempt for voters.  But even beyond that, the document itself is an insult to voter intelligence — and perhaps to a key constituency:

The Barack Obama reelection campaign began its operation on April 4th, 2011, nineteen months before voters decide to send him back for a second term or send him back to Chicago.  In the 570 days between that day and now, Obama and the DNC have raised and spent several hundred million dollars.  Obama passed his 100th fundraising event months ago.

In that time, Republicans held more than 20 debates, primaries or caucuses in all 50 states as well as in American territories.  Both parties held their national conventions. The two campaigns fought in four national debates, finishing on Day 567 of the Obama campaign.

Finally, on Day 568, Barack Obama got around to telling us what he plans to do with a second term in office.

The booklet itself is mostly pictures, with no detail on some very familiar campaign pledges … most of which date back to 2008.  One in particular is missing, though — immigration reform.  This is a jobs-program pamphlet, but Obama has made the argument many times that immigration reform relates to jobs and the economy in key ways.  He has promised immigration reform since 2007, pledging as a general-election candidate to accomplish it in his first year as President.  In his picture book, there isn’t even a mention of it.

Nor is there a single mention of entitlement reform:

Obama’s new proposal has two glossy pages (mostly dedicated to a picture of a senior citizen) on “Protecting Retirement Security,” which talks about Medicare and Social Security without ever mentioning the need to reform either, or the $100 trillion or more in unfunded liabilities in both programs. Even his convention speech went farther than this “agenda” does. “Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul,” Obama said on September 6th, “but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care, not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more.”

The newly released 20-page pamphlet doesn’t mention the word “reform” once in this section. It does go on at length about what Obama won’t do to solve the problems of Medicare and Social Security (“Oppose efforts to gamble Social Security on the stock market,” “Stop proposals to turn Medicare into a voucher program”). These sound a lot like Obama in debates – attempting to talk about everyone else’s plans in order to distract attention from the fact that he has none of his own.

Nothing in this pamphlet can be described as a “plan,” let alone an “agenda.”  It’s a collection of slogans taken from the campaign trail that become incoherent when jammed together in this booklet, as Ed Rogers noted yesterday at the Washington Post:

A quick read of the “new” Obama blueprint for the future that the president’s campaign released Tuesday, suggesting this was his bold vision for the future, is little more than silly, stale platitudes.  I guess the campaign thought that it would get plenty of coverage from announcing the plan and that very few voters would bother to look at it closely.

Even the most cursory review reveals the plan to be just a bunch of glossy, flattering photos of President Obama, assertions that all is well and reiterations that Obama is for helping everybody.  To me, this is another example of the Obama campaign having nothing to say.

David Harsanyi also rips the so-called “plan” for its lack of seriousness and coherence:

Even if we accepted that this is a “jobs plan” at all — and one would have to stretch the imagination — there are perhaps two items even tangentially connected to the issue at hand. Members of the middle class will be pleased to learn that their children’s future will feature marginally smaller class sizes and work as a midlevel functionary in a green-energy factory. According to the president, the best way to grow the middle class outward (whatever that means) is to strive for more menial labor work in an unproductive manufacturing sector. Forward.

Obama supported cap-and-trade legislation, the sole purpose of which is to make fossil fuel more expensive, so let’s dismiss his contention that the administration would concern itself with expanding oil and gas work in a second term. Let’s focus instead on the green energy sector, which cannot sustain itself today — just look at the slew of clean-energy bankruptcies we’ve involuntarily invested in — or in the future. As The New York Times recently reported, “stimulus money is almost all gone, leaving many of these projects without a government benefactor and making them orphans in a competitive marketplace dominated by the deep-pocketed fossil fuel industries.” (Deep-pocketed industries will remain deep-pocketed if they continue to offer Americans things we value — you know, like energy.)

Another foundational element of Obama’s wholly unserious proposal is hiring more teachers — even though this isn’t a function of the federal government to begin with and even though, according to Lindsey Burke of The Heritage Foundation, since 1970 the number of students in public schools has increased by 8 percent while the number of teachers has increased 60 percent and even though hiring more teachers would, at best, have a marginal impact on economic growth.

It’s regurgitated nonsense, mostly resurrected from the 2008 campaign in a desperate attempt to shift strategies at the last minute.  Its sole purpose is to reveal, finally, that this President ran out of gas intellectually and politically a long time ago — and his picture book illustrates that very well.


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