Obama in letter: I won't lie to you, recovery is another couple years off

Ah, honesty. How refreshing! In an October letter to an unemployed Portland, Maine, carpenter, President Barack Obama admitted what we’ve all known: A full economic recovery isn’t imminent. Paul Bedard reports:

“I won’t lie to you,” Obama penned in hand to Charles Oliver in October. “It will probably take another year or two to fully dig our way out of this hole.”

Oliver had written the president in June to ask: “Are we as Americans going to be alright?” Answered Obama, “Yes, we will be OK. Because America has gotten through tough times before, and because of good people like you.”

While happy for the response, Oliver told us that he hasn’t seen any of the recovery the president and media have been heralding. “He’s out campaigning saying everything is coming up roses. He’s a lying SOB,” Oliver said of Obama, who has tried to temper his hopefulness with cautions that the recovery could hit speed bumps.

Never have I understood the president’s attempt to stoke expectations that he would turn the economy around in a single term. As savvy and reelection-oriented politician as he is, I’d’ve thought he’d have given all of us the sterner stuff of this letter to Mr. Oliver. Rather than rhetoric about a one-term proposition, he could have proposed at the outset that his plan for recovery was a “two-term proposition” and thereby strengthened the case for his reelection. “These things take time,” he could have said — instead of, “We can’t wait.”

It’s not just that a full economic recovery isn’t impending, though: It’s also that the president’s policies have steadily darkened the fiscal future of the country. Case in point: The budget he released today does nothing to tame the entitlement beast and, in fact, just increases spending and taxes. The president will have a difficult time explaining on the campaign trail why unemployment was at the lowest point of his entire term on his first day in office and why deficits have steadily gone up under his administration.

If he wants to talk about the real hole we’re in — our debt — he’ll have to say it’ll take even more than a year or two to get out of it. It’ll take a generation.