- - Wednesday, September 21, 2011

“We are witnessing the unmistakable collapse of an American presidency.” I wrote those words in this space almost one year ago, and events continue to prove them true. It seems the president himself now recognizes this reality. Thus his desperate Hail Mary.

The second Summer of Recovery failed to materialize, and now the Autumn of Despair is settling in. The president’s approval ratings are at record lows. Americans identify themselves as conservative by a 2-1 margin over liberal, and it’s widening. The Democrats just lost two House special elections, including one for a “safe” New York seat they’ve firmly held for 88 years. And this after taking a “shellacking” - the president’s own word - in last year’s midterm elections. But who should be surprised?

Obamanomics has become its own parody, a disastrous amalgam of wildly increased deficit spending, central planning, bailouts, takeovers, unconstitutional mandates, overregulation, crony favoritism, debased currency and increased taxes. The “smartest guy ever to become president,” as pundits used to call him, knows only one solution to every problem: Grow the government. Now his proverbial chickens have come home to roost and the landscape is littered with the results: Unemployment. High gas prices. Deficits. Food stamps. Poverty. Uninsured people. Foreclosures. Bankruptcies. Layoffs. Phony green jobs. Downgraded America. This is Obamanomics.

Obamacare has become emblematic of big government’s arrogant incompetence. It’s a 2,700-page monstrosity whose rules are still being written more than a year after its passage. Its supporters could not be bothered to read it before forcing it upon us, even as one of their own called it “a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing Bernie Madoff would have been proud of.” The landscape is littered with Obamacare’s broken promises: Keep your doctor. Keep your insurance. Cut the deficit. Reduce premiums. Create 4 million new jobs. All lies. Instead, connected friends got Obamacare waivers while the rest of America has seen an increase in premiums and the roles of the uninsured actually have increased. This is Obamacare.

It’s no wonder independents have long since abandoned President Obama, but now his liberal base - what’s left of it, anyway - is launching an open rebellion against him.

Liberals are vowing to mount a primary challenge against Mr. Obama. A columnist for his hometown newspaper, who endorsed his 2008 election, is calling on him to step aside for the good of the party. The Congressional Black Caucus, which previously boasted of Barack Obama as a member, revealed its racially suppressed desire to be “marching on the White House” - if only its current occupant weren’t black. Loyal Democratic consultant James Carville declared the obvious: It’s time for the White House to “panic.”

Indeed, it is.

The president offered up his latest plan, the only kind he knows: a tax increase. A massive tax increase. The mother of all tax increases. A $1.5 trillion tax increase.

Once again, the president, who earlier extended President George W. Bush’s “tax cuts for millionaires,” is entering self-parody mode. Mr. Obama is like an Apple iPhone commercial but not in a good way. Need jobs? There’s a tax for that. Want health care? There’s a tax for that. Support energy reform? There’s a tax for that. Feel guilty about your success? There’s a big tax for that.

Assuaging liberals’ guilt is never easy, but assuaging billionaire liberals’ guilt is darn near impossible, at least in the case of Warren Buffett. The Oracle of Omaha is the namesake of Mr. Obama’s so-called “Buffett Rule,” which, simply stated, is this: Billionaires like Mr. Buffett who refuse to pay their own billion-dollar tax bills can proclaim moral superiority by calling for increased taxes on hardworking, job-producing Americans who dare to earn $200,000 a year.

Leaving aside the unbelievably poor judgment of naming a tax-increase rule after a billionaire who is in a dispute with the Internal Revenue Service over back taxes (was “Timothy F. Geithner TurboTax Rule” already taken?) the plan is based on the outright false claim that millionaires pay less in taxes than middle-class earners. That claim is “nothing more than an urban legend,” according to an Associated Press fact check. This election ploy will not be mistaken for a serious economic plan. Heck, it won’t even be mistaken for a competent election ploy.

White House strategists, using the term generously, know this $1.5 trillion tax increase will never pass the Republican House. Instead, they actually believe that when it fails, voters will flock to the tax-increase side of the divide. Don’t pay enough taxes? There’s a tax for that. This transparent attempt to win back its base at the obvious expense of independents is proof positive that the White House knows the president is in big trouble.

Meanwhile, sit back, grab some popcorn and watch Mr. Obama debate Mr. Obama over tax increases during economic downturns. Here he is in a 2009 interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd: “The last thing you want to do is raise taxes in the middle of a recession because that would just suck up, take more demand out of the economy and put businesses in a further hole.”

The Republican campaign commercials just write themselves. Mr. Carville says the president should begin firing people, starting with whoever thought this tax-increase Hail Mary was a good idea. It doesn’t even pass the laugh test. They had to know this video of the president exists.

And so the presidential collapse continues unabated. I take no delight in this fact, recognizing it only as the least worst of possibilities, but this administration has become an affront to our liberty rather than a guarantor of it. As such, this president’s problems are of his own making, and history will not judge him kindly.

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