Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 10:31 am | Fair 72º

 
 
 
 

Michael Barone: The Convenient Fantasies of Obama

Promising Americans all good things at once catches up with the 'no-enemies-to-the-left' president

The resignation over the Labor Day weekend of White House “green jobs” czar Van Jones tells you some interesting things about the Obama administration.

Michael Barone
Michael Barone

One of them is that a man who proclaimed himself a “communist” in the 1990s and signed 9-11 “truther” petitions suggesting Bush administration complicitity in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was considered fit for a White House appointment.

Liberal columnists have been attacking Republicans because some of their voters are “birthers,” believers in the absurd charge that President Barack Obama was not born in Hawaii and thus is not a natural-born U.S. citizen. But they have failed to identify any “birther” that occupied a position in the Republican firmament comparable to that of “truther” Jones in the Obama administration.

Another interesting thing about Jones is that the administration seems enamored of his “green jobs” concept. There’s an understandable political reason. Legislation to restrict carbon emissions that is supported by the administration would undoubtedly kill a large number of jobs by increasing the cost of energy, and so you can see why its advocates might want to argue that there will be a compensating number of “green jobs” created — at least if the government spends a lot of money on them.

But this sounds like fantasy. If there was money to be made in green jobs, private investors would be creating them already. In fact, big corporations such as General Electric are scrambling to position themselves as green companies, gaming legislation and regulations so they can make profits by doing so. Big business is ready to create green jobs — if government subsidizes them. But the idea that green jobs will replace all of the lost carbon-emitting jobs is magical thinking.

Obama’s approach to health-care legislation, unless he made a major course correction in his speech to the joint session of Congress, is of a piece with his hiring of Jones. By ceding the task of writing legislation to congressional Democratic leaders and committee chairmen, he has been following a “no enemies to the left” strategy.

By refusing to rule out the government option — which its architects see as the road to a single-payer government insurance system — Obama has prevented the emergence of a set of policies that have a chance of passing the Senate. The Senate Republicans in the “gang of six” who have been negotiating with Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus aren’t going to agree on a bill without assurance from the White House that they won’t get rolled by hard-left House Democrats in conference committee.

On Tuesday, Baucus came out with his own plan, which includes a tax on high-value health-insurance policies. But this is likely to be rejected by the left, by labor unions that have negotiated such benefits from employers and by members of Congress from states such as New York where, because of state policies, almost all health insurance costs that much.

There is an element of convenient fantasy as well in Obama’s health-care statements to date. We are going to save money by spending money. We are going to solve our fiscal problems with a program that will increase the national debt by $1 trillion over a decade. We are going to guarantee you can keep your current insurance with a bill that encourages your employer to stop offering it.

The list goes on. We are going to improve health care for seniors by cutting $500 billion from Medicare. We aren’t going to insure illegal aliens, except that we won’t have any verification provisions to see that they can’t apply and get benefits.

Most politicians like to promise voters all good things at once. Democrats got in the habit of doing this in the past 14 years when they couldn’t pass legislation by themselves. Van Jones’ moment in the White House is over. Exposure of his record in conservative media made him politically unacceptable, even though mainstream outlets such as The New York Times ignored the issue entirely.

The Democrats’ health-insurance bills remain under consideration, and with large majorities in both houses passage of some bill cannot be ruled out. But August town hall meetings and national polls have put the Democrats on the defensive. No-enemies-to-the-left and convenient fantasies may work in Chicago. They don’t work so well when your constituency is the whole United States.

Michael Barone is a senior writer for U.S. News & World Report and principal coauthor of The Almanac of American Politics. Click here to contact him.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level
×

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >