KUHNER: Obama’s real problem

Overspending threatens long-term U.S. economy

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President Obama says the government doesn’t have a spending problem. This is like saying actress Lindsay Lohan doesn’t have an alcohol problem. It is the epitome of narcissistic self-delusion. If Mr. Obama truly believes this, then America is doomed to suffer national bankruptcy and economic collapse.

House Speaker John A. Boehner recently told The Wall Street Journal that in a private meeting during negotiations over the “fiscal cliff” deal, the president said, “We don’t have a spending problem.” Assuming Mr. Boehner is telling the truth — and I have no reason to doubt him — then the American people have a real problem on their hands: Mr. Obama is profoundly disconnected from reality.

The facts are obvious and stark. The country is going broke. Under Mr. Obama, the national debt has soared to nearly $16.4 trillion. During his first four years in office, he has piled up more debt than did all the presidencies from George Washington to George H.W. Bush combined. He has presided over four consecutive trillion-dollar-plus deficits — the highest in U.S. history. When President George W. Bush left office, the national debt stood at $10.6 trillion. By the Obama administration’s own budget estimates, the debt will continue to skyrocket. It will hit $17.3 trillion by the end of the year. In 2022, it is projected to be a whopping $25.9 trillion. We are drowning in an ocean of red ink. America has achieved the unthinkable: We are the most indebted nation ever. It is practically impossible to pay off this staggering level of public debt.

Liberals love to bash Mr. Bush. Their mantra is that Mr. Obama inherited a mess. Hence, the president is not responsible for his fiscal recklessness and unprecedented deficit spending. For liberal Democrats, it’s George W. Bush’s fault: The expensive bill for two unfunded wars, a large tax cut benefiting primarily the wealthy and a prescription drug benefit has come due. Mr. Obama is simply paying — and unfairly being blamed — for it.

This argument has one seminal flaw: It’s false. Mr. Obama’s policies have driven deficits and public spending to unprecedented peacetime heights. The government now spends nearly 25 percent of gross domestic product — considerably higher than the average post-World War II norm of 20 percent. Furthermore, the president has created Obamacare. It is the largest and most expensive entitlement program in 50 years. His trillion-dollar economic stimulus, billions of dollars in green-energy boondoggles, and an explosion in the use of food stamps, Social Security disability and unemployment benefits have led to massive government expansion. His goal is to erect a European-style social democracy. A bloated Franco-German welfare state is not only interventionist, but it is also costly — way too costly.

It is the reason why Mr. Obama pushed for huge tax increases. He needs a larger revenue stream to fund his social democratic agenda. It also means he will need more tax hikes. The president ultimately is not interested in a “balanced” approach to reduce deficits. He wants to entrench the entitlement state, making it a permanent feature of American life. For him, big government and big debt are necessary to compel higher taxes.

It’s time Mr. Boehner and congressional Republicans waged a frontal assault on Mr. Obama’s welfare liberalism. The country’s very prosperity is at stake. The House speaker should hold a press conference, surrounded by fellow Republicans, and challenge Mr. Obama to publicly state what he says in private: America does not have a spending problem. If the president genuinely believes this, then voters have a right to know.

Mr. Obama’s comments open a window into his anti-American, socialist worldview. Either he is a brazen liar who knows we are living beyond our means, or he is a delusional, self-absorbed academic leftist who is so obsessed with transformational change that he cannot see that we are sliding off a real fiscal cliff. Whatever the reason, his presidency poses a mortal threat to the republic’s long-term survival.

We are becoming the United States of Argentina — an economic basket case with Third World debt levels. Mr. Obama’s tax-spend-and-borrow policy is stifling growth, sparking inflation, fostering private-sector sclerosis and eroding the middle class. Beyond out-of-control spending, America has a deeper problem: a president who does not care — or understand — that his nation is committing economic suicide.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a radio commentator in Boston.

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