Obama's truth problem today
Today in a hastily arranged news conference, President Obama lambasted Republicans in the Senate for blocking a vote on his nominee to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray. The president said that American consumers need protection that the new government bureaucracy will provide and that Mr. Cordray is eminently qualified to do the job. Immediately after deriding Republicans in the Senate, he launched into a tirade about greedy business people who he said created the need for the agency. To quote the president, "Republicans ... would leave consumers without a watchdog to guard against the greed of Wall Street." It was typical Barack Obama -- class warfare, us vs. them, rich vs. poor, and business people vs. everybody else.
Notwithstanding Mr. Cordray's capabilities, the real problem is Congress and presidents like Mr. Obama. They instigated the difficulties that the new government agency is supposed to prevent. We need protection from them. As a recent 60 Minutes broadcast on CBS pointed out, they are getting rich personally via insider trading while they pass legislation to buy votes and increase campaign contributions. Problem is the CFPB wasn't created to watch Congress or presidents. Besides, the CFPB is unaccountable and costly. Senate Republicans were blocking the agency, not Mr. Cordray. Mr. Obama knows that, but he cleverly sidestepped the truth. Again, that was typical Obama.
Without missing a beat, the president talked about the short time remaining for Congress to pass his proposed payroll tax cut, and he made it clear that Republicans were blocking that legislation, as well. He said,
"I do not expect Congress to go home unless the payroll tax cut is extended and unless unemployment insurance is extended. It would be wrong for families, but it would also be wrong for the economy as a whole."
That's not the whole truth, either. As CNN pointed out,
"In all the talk about whether to extend the Social Security payroll tax cut, a lot of the focus is on the economy: Will the recovery suffer if Congress lets it lapse?
"Much less prominent in the discussion is the potential effect of the payroll tax cut on the Social Security trust funds."
President Obama completely ignored the Social Security Trust Fund (SSTF) issue and focused all of his attention on Republicans who he said were playing political games and trying to extract as much from him as they could before agreeing to the proposed payroll tax cut. He even resorted to his now famous "this is not about me" line in an attempt to ridicule legislators who have legitimate concerns about robbing the SSTF when it is already in jeopardy. That's disingenuous at best.
The United States has serious problems both at home and abroad. We need a serious president who will tell the American people the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Barack Obama is not that person.
Neil Snyder is a chaired professor emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily. His latest book is titled If You Voted for Obama in 2008 to Prove You're Not a Racist, You Need to Vote for Someone Else in 2012 to Prove You're Not an Idiot.