President Obama has done a lot of public appearances and press conferences by this point in his administration, but somehow each time he does a new one I come away marveling at what he says.
Today's press conference began with a classic Obama straw man: "Our economic challenges are not going to be solved overnight," he said. No one claims they will be. But at this point, Mr. Obama hasn't been president just "overnight," he's been president for two and a half years.
It proceeded to classic Obama misleading statements. "I spent the last two years cutting taxes for ordinary Americans," the president said. Not Americans who smoke cigarettes or use tanning salons, and not Americans who choose not to buy health insurance, all of whom the president raised taxes on.
Mr. Obama then proceeded to classic Obama divisiveness, pitting "millionaires and billionaires," "oil companies," "hedge fund managers" and "corporate jet owners," against having to "cut some kids off from getting a college scholarship." Come on. The money from the college scholarships actually winds up in the pockets of college professors, a key Democratic constituency.
More Obama class warfare: "The revenue that we're talkin' about isn't comin' out of the pockets of middle-class families that are strugglin'" but rather from "people who are doin' extremely well."
It's as if Mr. Obama thinks that raising taxes on oil companies or corporate jets will take money out of the pockets exclusively of CEOs, rather than of the shareholders of these companies, who include lots of "middle-class families" and public and union pension funds.
The president kept pressing this point about what he called a tax break for corporate jets, at one point pitting the tax break against not just college scholarships but also "the National Weather Service" (there's a left-winger's idea of a necessary and successful government program that can't be done privately and is oh-so-reliable-and-accurate!), "critical medical research," and "food inspection." The president said he didn't want to "compromise your kid's safety so that some corporate jet owners can get a tax break."
This from a president who flies around in a 747 and a helicopter that are completely paid for by the taxpayers. The "tax break" he is apparently complaining about is one that provides a five-year depreciation schedule for "Part 91" corporate jets, versus a longer seven-year depreciation schedule for "Part 135" commercial jets. Whatever the federal revenue is at stake on this one, it can't be so large that it's worth Mr. Obama turning himself into the accountant-in-chief.
In response to a question from NBC's Chuck Todd about whether he thinks the debt limit or the War Powers Act are constitutional, Mr. Obama said, "I'm not a Supreme Court justice." What an astounding default from a president who takes an oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." Mr. Obama was willing to say that the Defense of Marriage Act signed by President Clinton is unconstitutional, though on the question of whether he favors same-sex marriage, Mr. Obama, who has in the past said he personally opposes it, said, "I'll keep on giving you the same answer until I give you a different one, and that won't be today."
The president, who recently visited Puerto Rico, went on an extended tour of Europe, and spoke at Democratic National Committee fundraisers in Florida and New York, lectured Congress about the debt-limit negotiations, "You need to be here. I've been here. You stay here, let's get it done."
In defense of his war on Libya without congressional authorization, Mr. Obama lamely offered, "I've had all the members of Congress over to talk about it...such consultating [sic] is entirely appropriate."
Mr. Obama touted his administration's review of regulations by claiming, "This is unprecedented. No administration has ever done this before." He must have missed Vice President Gore's 1999 speech: " In the United States, we forced agencies to cut 16,000 pages of needless regulation, and 640,000 pages of internal rules."
In support of a trade deal with Korea, the president claimed that there are a lot of Korean cars on American roads, but "you don't see any American cars in Korea." In fact American government statistics show that in the first four months of 2011 America exported $141 million worth of cars to South Korea.
What a performance. What a president.