1. The Buffett rule. The U.S. federal government is $11 trillion in debt and may rack up another $11 trillion over the next decade. The U.S. labor market is 15 million jobs short of getting things back to where they were before the Great Recession. Yet the Obama White House (and campaign) is focusing valuable political capital on a millionaires tax that would create zero jobs and make, at best, a rounding-error contribution to deficit reduction. As Warren Buffet himself once put it, “A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought.”

2. The Bowles-Simpson debt reduction panel. At the first meeting of Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform in April 2010, the president said he was “going to be standing with them as they come up with the recommendations.” But he didn’t endorse the panel’s recommendations the following December or ever push a budget that reflected them, making the whole affair look like a political stunt to create the appearance of fiscal probity.