- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Winning an election isn’t enough to claim a mandate. Claiming a mandate depends on what the candidate promised, and President Obama has broken so many promises during the first month-and-a-half of his presidency that it is hard to keep track. Certainly on economic policy and the budget it is hard to see him claiming virtually any mandate.

Last October Mr. Obama promised a net cut in government. He promised no earmarks. He promised to limit tax increases on those making over $250,000 to just the restoration of tax rates at their levels under the Clinton administration.

Take the third presidential debate: Mr. Obama railed against the budget deficit and promised to rein it in by cutting spending. When asked what he was going to do about the deficit, Mr. Obama promised: “There is no doubt that we’ve been living beyond our means and we’re going to have to make some adjustments. Now, what I’ve done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut.”

Or take the second presidential debate on Oct. 7. Mr. Obama noted that eliminating earmarks was “important” but, even more important, “I want to go line by line through every item in the federal budget and eliminate programs that don’t work and make sure that those that do work, work better and cheaper.” This was his constant theme during the presidential debates to cut government.

So how do you go from campaigning to cut government spending and ban earmarks before the election on Nov. 4 to start talking about a $500- to $700-billion stimulus plan in mid-November? No one has asked Mr. Obama or his administration exactly what changed during this couple week period. Someone should.

What exactly did he learn immediately after the election about the economy that caused him to go from a budget cutter to proposing the biggest increase in spending ever? Prior to the election, Mr. Obama was already regularly claiming that the economy was in the worst financial crisis since the Depression. Do you cut spending when you are in the worst financial crisis since the Depression, but massively increase it if you can claim that things have gotten a little worse two weeks later?

But it hasn’t just been the $787 billion stimulus plan. Now we have a $410 billion package “to keep the government running” through September. This bill will increase federal spending across a wide range of cabinet departments by an average of 8 percent, a huge sprouting.

We are told now that the large increase in spending and the 8,600 earmarks are on Mr. Bush’s watch because, as chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other Obama officials noted, “that’s last year’s business” and “this is a $1.7 trillion deficit [Obama] inherited.” Mr. Obama isn’t responsible? Is this any way to run a government?

Mr. Obama blames Mr. Bush for the entire deficit even though President Obama’s stimulus, children’s health care, and budget increase all are being passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by Mr. Obama? Can anyone keep a straight face when hearing this?

Mr. Bush may have been a disaster on growing government, but there is a simple reason why this 8 percent growth (on top of the stimulus) and the earmarks didn’t go through last year. What the Democrats wanted was too much for even indulgent Mr. Bush.

In January 2008, the Congressional Budget Office put out a 10-year government-spending forecast. At the end of Mr. Bush’s spending spree, the CBO saw government spending in 2009 at about $3 trillion, increasing to $4.3 trillion in 2018. President Obama’s plans, he says, will raise spending to $4.9 trillion in 2018 - about $550 billion more than what Mr. Bush had planned. So where are Mr. Obama’s promised cuts in government spending? The Paul Bunyan chopper has become the Johnny Appleseed planter.

If Mr. Obama simply waited until after the election to reveal his policy views, he can’t claim a mandate for his “new” policies. What should really be questioned regarding this matter is President Obama’s truthfulness to the American people.

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