The United States is slogging through the deepest and longest economic malaise since the Great Depression. Millions of Americans are out of work. Over 50 percent of recent college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed. The housing market is still in the dumps. And the national debt continues to soar towards historic levels because of a broken entitlement system and profligate domestic spending.
Suffice it to say that President Obama should have a full plate.
Unfortunately, the only plates he’s dealing with are the star-studded $40,000-per-plate fundraisers that Obama has been having. And boy, has he been having a lot. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank writes:
“In a political culture that long ago surrendered to the permanent campaign, Obama has managed to take things to a whole new level. According to statistics compiled for a book to be published this summer, the president has already set a record for total-first term fundraisers – 191 – and that’s only through March 6. Measured in terms of events that benefit his reelection bid, Obama’s total (inflated in part by relaxed fundraising rules) exceeds the combined total of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter.”
Those numbers are only through March 6th! With a full eight months of what should be the most fundraiser-laden time in the lead up to the November elections still to go, Obama has already had more events than the last five presidents combined!
Since March 6th Obama has already held more than 20 fundraisers. By comparison, Reagan held zero during his entire reelection bid.
The constant fundraisers reveal just how insincere Obama was when he claimed that he would change the way politics were conducted in Washington. Does he really think we’ve forgotten just a few months ago, when in his third annual State of the Union address he lambasted the “corrosive influence of money in politics”?
Corroded is right. All the time he’s spending asking for money has completely eaten away at the time he’s had to actually govern.
Take the student loan issue that has dominated the recent headlines as an example. Both Republicans and Democrats have publicly agreed that rates should not go up on young borrowers. Allowing rates to rise would be bad for young adults who have disproportionately borne the brunt of the recession and be bad for the economy which needs young adults to spend their incomes on products, not debt service.
And yet Obama has been travelling the country, speaking to anyone who will listen, about the need to keep rates low.
“This week the president traveled across the country on taxpayers dime at a cost of $179,000 an hour insisting that Congress fix a problem that we were already working on,” said an angry Speaker John Boehner. “Democrats and Republicans fully expected this would be taken care of, and for the president to make a campaign issue out of this and then to travel to three battleground states and go to three large campuses on taxpayers’ money and try to make this a political issue is pathetic.”
For all his trouble, Obama’s constant campaigning and fundraising actually made it harder to get anything accomplished on student loans. By politicizing this the issue he drove a wedge between the parties, forced them to solidify their positions, and made it toxic to ever compromise. And all before the parties even had a chance to get to the bargaining table.
How ironic then that while speaking at an AFL-CIO event (which happens to be one of his biggest financial backers) Obama said, “Not everything should be subject to thinking about the next election instead of thinking about the next generation.”
[Sigh] . . . If only Obama would take some time between fundraisers to listen to himself.