A couple of weeks ago I got totally fed up with the conservative readers of my blog demanding to see Barack Obama’s plan for the next four years. In the comments section, I told them in essence “Dammit, I’ll find his plan and give it a full analysis”. After all, how hard could it be? Obama’s Deputy Campaign Manager, Stephanie Cutter said it was out there on the web for all to see.
Since I didn’t listen carefully enough to Ms. Cutter, I started my analysis over at Barack Obama’s campaign web site. There I found points scattered among several sections of information. I started devoting a browser tab to each section and I started reading. But I also said to myself, why should this be so hard? The web site relies heavily on past accomplishments with the implicit message that past is prologue. There are a couple of great interactive graphs charting private sector job creation and auto industry job creation. Manufacturing jobs have also been created:
With that said, it was still a lot of work to cobble together a cohesive plan. I watched Cutter’s video again and heard “whitehouse.gov”. OK that’s better. Giving it more thought, it made sense to me that your plan for governing should be on your government web site and not on the campaign web site.
At the official White House web site, the problem is similar to that of the campaign web site, information scattered everywhere but at least here I found a forward-looking message, namely the President’s blueprint which was published in January of this year. So let’s take a quick look at the blueprint and then go down a side road with the American Jobs Act.
The blueprint breaks down into three basic parts:
Boosting Manufacturing — Through tax incentives and closing loopholes the 2nd term administration would discourage offshore outsourcing and reward domestic job creation. Trade reform will force our trading partners to play fair. Infrastructure enhancement will create jobs (which syncs with The American Jobs Act).
American-made Energy — Like Romney, Obama is advocating an all-of-the-above approach for energy. His history with the Keystone pipeline might make one skeptical about this but with no re-election to worry about, Obama might be more free to tell the environmentalists to take a hike. Specifically, Obama is proposing exploitation of our oil and gas reserves, a focused approach on developing clean energy resources, and battery innovation for vehicles. While the administration calls this “all of the above”, there is little if any mention of nuclear or coal.
College Affordability — On the premise that America cannot compete long term with an uneducated citizenry, the administration proposes a number of programs to provide incentives for lower cost and higher quality in higher education.
The American Jobs Act
This proposed legislative package has been sitting on the shelf for about a year now while Congress fiddles as Rome burns. The package includes:
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the American Jobs Act and estimated a 3 billion dollar savings over ten years. Unfortunately, that score assumed some progress would be made by the Deficit Committee which ultimately imploded heading us toward a fiscal cliff at the end of this year.
I cannot find, in any of these plans a serious discussion about deficit reduction. Obama’s budgets which included deficit reduction were rejected by Congress.
So what is the difference between the President’s plan and Romney’s plan? The most noticeable difference is cosmetic. While Romney also has a web site with information scattered all over the place, he does consolidate his ideas into one 87 double-paged PDF file. When you look under the hood, the 174 page document is 50% Obama bashing, 40% typical corporate filler (you know … that PowerPoint pitch your company makes that is twice as large as it needs to be so you can fill up the presentation time) and 10% concrete ideas. The other clever device is a page defining Day One Executive Orders and Bills. And of course the 59 policy proposals which are the political equivalent of Henny Youngman one-liners, some pretty well defined, others pretty generic.
Let’s be honest. Every administration is a living breathing organism that reacts to the changing complexities of the globe on a daily basis. Neither of the candidates is going to propose a binding plan. If elected in November, both of these candidates are going to fall short of their plans and be castigated for it. With that said, the conservative request for a plan from Obama has validity only in that Obama has not done proper packaging. As usual his administration falls short on communication. There is no excuse to not have a single document that maps out the next four years so voters can have some idea of what they might get in a second term.
Mr. President, we need a real plan, a properly structured road map (or blueprint to use your language) that communicates future direction. You won’t get it done in time for the Democratic National Convention but I think you better get it done soon thereafter. It would be a shame to see Mitt Romney beat you simply because he has a well documented plan for failure while you have a poorly documented plan for success.