March 24, 2008
The Clinton Campaign's OpportunityBy Lee Cary
Conventional wisdom says the debates between Clinton and Obama lack substance because their proposals are virtually identical. They do differ, though, in one important area that the Clinton campaign still has time to exploit - Barack's dramatic increase in foreign aid.
Clinton and Obama differ in the geographical reach of their social engineering designs. Hers are domestic; his, both foreign and domestic. Hers promise to be expensive. His would require a major reconfiguration and expansion of the federal budget.
Obama's core campaign document, The Blueprint For Change: Barack Obama's Plan for America, cascades a host of domestic social proposals offering cures for nearly every known societal malady, and some unknown. Although most of his Blueprint plans have no price tag, at least two do have numbers attached: (1) the plan to Create Millions of Green Jobs, $150 billion over 10 years; and (2) the K-12 plan package, $18 billion per year, indefinitely. Just two price tags out of a dizzying array of initiatives. Not one includes a projected staffing headcount.
Consequently, the total cost of Obama's domestic social programs is too fuzzy for a ballpark.
Remember, his first job was as a community organizer directing the Developing Communities Project on the south side of Chicago. Job One for most community organizers is securing funding from sponsoring organizations, sympathetic foundations, government programs and individual donors. The best organizers are experts at writing grant proposals because, by the nature of their jobs, they spend other people's money.
Obama's Blueprint reads like a community development grant request made to the Keeper of the Money Tree Orchard.
Consider his Plan for Universal Voluntary Citizen Service. (Is Universal Voluntary an oxymoron?) Sounds innocuous. But it has more moving parts than a centipede: Classroom Corps; Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, Veterans Corps; Homeland Security Corps: expanded Peace Corps; an American Voice Initiative; Global Energy Corps; Social Entrepreneurship Agency for Nonprofits "dedicated to building the capacity and effectiveness of the nonprofit sector;" Social Investment Fund Network as "a government-supported nonprofit corporation, similar to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting," and so on, and on.
The running list of his domestic social initiatives flows ad nauseam. But then, Hillary's are neither few nor cheap, so she has no leverage there.
She does have leverage in the area of foreign social program initiatives. The reach of Obama's foreign social action stretches far wider than Clinton's. In his Blueprint document, the oft repeated core of his global mission is disclosed under the heading Fight Global Poverty:
Pieces of Obama's global social activism are scattered throughout his speeches and legislative actions. For starters, he's sponsoring the U.S. Senate's version of the Global Poverty Act of 2007 (S.2433). Cost: $845 billion over 13 years, to be dispensed in conjunction with that paradigm of fiduciary integrity - the United Nations. He laid out the scope of his global social plan in an April 23, 2007 speech to the Chicago Council On Global Affairs.
In short, Obama's foreign aid vision for America is to bring "opportunity to those forgotten corners of the world...and begin the world anew." With each sentence the federal cash register rings "ka-ching."
Obama means to go global with his fight against poverty begun on the south side of Chicago, and fund it with dollars paid by taxpayers and borrowed from China. Funding for his Blueprint would require a reconfiguration of the federal budget.
All of which begs these questions:
How much of a tax increase, on individuals and corporations, will be required to pay for all this?
What will be cut from the existing federal budget, besides NASA's Constellation Program which Obama would put on hold for five years (same as killing it) to fund one of his education programs?
The only major new source of funding Obama mentions is money saved by leaving Iraq.
Here's what Hillary can say while she still has time:
That could play among the Democrat voters of Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. But she had better hurry. The clock is running.