White House advisor Dan Pfeiffer billed the president’s speech today at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, as a big deal. As he said on the White House website, “I just finished reading the draft of a speech the President plans to deliver on Wednesday, and I want to explain why it’s one worth checking out.”
Well, it didn’t amount to much. To be sure, it is the first of a series of speeches (he’ll be giving another one later today in Missouri) that will deal with the economy, but it contained no new proposals and lot of the same old the-rich-aren’t-paying-their-fair-share rhetoric.
As always, it’s everyone’s fault but his. “We’ve seen a sizable group of Republican lawmakers suggest they wouldn’t vote to pay the very bills that Congress rang up–a fiasco that harmed a fragile recovery in 2011, and one we can’t afford to repeat. Then, rather than reduce our deficits with a scalpel–by cutting programs we don’t need, fixing ones we do, and making government more efficient–this same group has insisted on leaving in place a meat cleaver called the sequester that has cost jobs, harmed growth, hurt our military, and gutted investments in American education and scientific and medical research that we need to make this country a magnet for good jobs.”
The sequester, of course, was an idea that came out of the White House and it was the White House that refused to turn it into a “scalpel,” expecting public pressure to force the Republicans’ hands. That proved a political miscalculation.
The next few speeches might have more substance and perhaps—dare we hope?—some new ideas. But I wouldn’t bet on it.