Obama: U.S. faces economic difficulties because it "had gotten a little soft"

Always adept at finding excuses for the economy’s poor performance under his watch, President Barack Obama recently blamed the nation’s economic difficulties on what you might call a national malaise:

President Barack Obama told a Florida TV station yesterday that the United States is facing economic difficulties because it has “gotten a little soft” during the last 20 years.

“This is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and we didnʼt have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades,” Obama said.

The fix is that “we need to get back on track,” he said, while urging Congress to pass his new $447 billion one-year stimulus bill.

Now, I’ve been known to say I’m looking for a leader who will say we are our own problem and we’re also our own solution. That’s not this. This is a president saying we’re the problem (and not including himself in the “we,” like a responsible leader would) and that the government is the solution. And he uses as evidence that we are the problem a lack of a competitive edge in the 1990s. Really? As a reminder, the 90s were the decade that produced companies like Microsoft, SiriusXM, Google, Facebook, Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Apple, Amazon and eBay, to name just a few (h/t to TheDC’s Neil Munro for that convenient list!).

If we had “gotten soft,” it wasn’t for a lack of technological innovation or entrepreneurship. It was because we allowed the government to grow too big, became too reliant on ineffective government programs and assumed we’d never actually have to pay for the profligacy. The Tea Party was a response to that complacency.

But the president still doesn’t grasp that. He boasts of the country’s abundant advantages — “the best universities, the best scientists, best workers in the world; the most dynamic economic system in the world” — but seems to think government is what has made the nation great. Our system of government has, yes, but precisely because it frees people for excellence (and also for failure).

At the very least, if the president refuses to take responsibility, he ought to pick an excuse and stick with it. Isn’t the cardinal rule of politicking to “stay on message”? What is the president’s message anymore? I flat-out can’t follow it.

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