Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is a world-class whiner, but he outdid himself this week. If Republicans' “mean-spirited” budget cuts go through, a “cowboy poetry festival” in his state would disappear, and “the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist.” Reid's comments demonstrate the utter lack of seriousness about cutting federal spending displayed by Reid and most of his Democratic colleagues in the Senate. His party's budget counterproposal — to chop $4.7 billion out of an annual budget with $1.1 trillion worth of red ink — expresses the same lack of seriousness in numerical terms. After House Republicans passed their fiscal 2011 spending bill last month, cutting federal spending from its current level by $61 billion, President Obama came back to the table with a counteroffer of just $6 billion in cuts. He then laughably claimed that he was meeting congressional Republicans “halfway” on the budget issue. If you're confused, don't worry — Obama has not yet repealed the laws of either mathematics or accounting. He was just demonstrating his striking fluency in Washington budget doubletalk, that intentionally deceptive language about which The Examiner regularly warns readers in this space. In this case, Obama's claim was so transparently deceptive that even a number of prominent liberal publications and talking heads have spent the past several days debunking it.
We could just chalk this up as one more intentional deception from the same administration that hides its meetings with lobbyists, tells Americans they will be able to keep their health insurance if they like it, and runs completely unsubstantiated smear campaigns against its enemies, like the one last year about “foreign money” backing Republican candidates for Congress. But far more importantly, Obama's actions at this moment undermine any pretense that he is or wants to be a real leader on the issue that most concerns Americans. Given a dire budget situation, and an opportunity to show genuine leadership, Obama has dramatically demonstrated this week that he would rather play the Washington political games he always used to deride, instead of actually making “the hard choices” he so frequently promised he would make. In order to save cowboy poetry and countless other wastes of taxpayers' money, Obama has chosen demagoguery over statesmanship.
And to add an exclamation point to his failure to lead, Obama skipped town last week to begin campaigning for re-election in Florida at a critical time in the budget negotiations. As long as he doesn't want to do his job, he should perhaps stay in Florida rather than return to the White House. Or he could go West, where we hear there is an interesting cowboy poetry festival near Lake Tahoe in May.