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The President and the Twin Disasters

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This Washington Post story on the Gulf spill and the damage it is doing to the president notes that President Obama made his typical maneuver yesterday: showering “withering criticism” on others.

The story also notes that even Congressional Democrats are beginning to wonder about the president’s handling of the disaster. As the enormous spill heads towards its one month anniversary without a solution in sight, the buck is pulling up to the Oval Office and about to stop there. An administration already known for its haplessness is being defined, again, as all talk and no successful action.

The picture of the scale of the disaster under the water is just becoming clear, and as that focus increases, so too will the impact on the president’s reputation. He’s the president and is supposed to be able to do more than point fingers. That’s the job of senators. “Cool” wasn’t supposed to mean “paralyzed.” Unlike his faux health care “reform,” speeches and 2,000 page bills won’t stop the oil from gushing into the Gulf, and unilateral declarations of “big deal” breakthroughs don’t carry any weight even if themedia is still fawning. When the rig exploded he and his team did nothing for more than a week, and when they began to try they still couldn’t come up with a solution.

Useless rhetoric unmatched by effective action also defines the president’s approach to our growing fiscal crisis. Read John Hinderaker’s brief but very troubling post on the “Looming Obama Debt Disaster.” The country has to take action on its hemorrhaging debt immediately, but Democrats are instead proposing even more new bursts of monopoly money for the states. The president is standing by and waiting for a debt commission to hand him a report because he doesn’t want to do any heavy lifting when it comes to cutting spending.

A new Congress is needed, one much imbued with the spirit of Chris Cristie. (See Scott Johnson’s post with the mail from a New Jersey reader.) If Tim Burns manages a huge upset in PA on Tuesday, even Nancy Pelosi might realize that the public is disgusted with and fearful of the course charted by her, Harry Reid and the president. But if the district’s Democratic registration advantage combines with the turnout generated by the Specter-Sestak race to let the Dems hold on to the seat, the delusion about their “mandate” may even deepen and with it the fiscal crisis that is every bit as menacing as the environmental/economic catastrophe in the Gulf.

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Spending Money We Don’t Have

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The Washington Post reported last night that the Obama Adminstration was supporting $23 billion in emergency funding for states to avoid teacher layoffs.

Politico’s Kendra Marr reports that the Administration’s $4.35 billion dollar grant program/contest for shcools is generating criticism across the country, even as the White House asks for another $1.35 billion for the program. (There is $3.4 billion not yet spent in the DOE’s coffers.)

Neither story mentions that the country is headed towards a deficit of between $1.4 and $1.6 trillion. An appropriation is simply borrowed money –another mortgage on the already bankrupt future of the country.

School systems across the country simply have to reboot, probably beginning with existing contracts and levels of employment. Like GM and Chrysler, and now Greece, unsustainable levels of spending are, well, unsustainable. States could and should reconfigure their spending priorities so that schools are right behind public safety, but state legislatures prefer to rush to D.C. to ask for bailouts.

The GOP has got to be willing to say no. Education budgets are the jobs of the states, not the feds, and the feds don’t have any money to begin with. At a minimum the $3.4 billion that Arne Duncan hasn’t yet spent on the “Race to the Top” should be redirected to any “bailout” before an even deeper debt hole is dug.

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