RANCHO SANTA FE, Ca., August 15, 2011 – Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty demonstrated the kind of leadership that this country needs. He quit! Why can’t more presidential candidates follow his lead? In fact, why don’t they all follow his lead … for the good of the country?
Former Gov. Pawlenty was the perfect candidate. He is a likable guy, and he ineffectively spent an enormous sum of money on his Iowa Straw Poll campaign that garnered only 2,293 votes. Rumor has it that he spent in the range of $1.5 million. That’s just under $655 per vote. Given that ratio, he’d only need about a $42 billion war chest to capture a narrow victory in 2012.
Okay, maybe he was correct in his decision to drop out.
However, mathematics never was the strong suit of political candidates. So, it’s tough to come down too hard on former Gov. Pawlenty and suggest that only he should have stepped down.
Fox News broadcast its own version of reality television last week when it hosted what passed for a Republican Political Debate. It was within the context of that debate that stimulated the thought that perhaps all of the Republican candidates should withdraw from the Presidential Race.
Bret Baier asked the following question:
“Well, I’m going to ask a question to everyone here on the stage. Say you had a deal … a real spendings (sic) cuts deal, ten to one as Byron (York) said (in a previous question) spendings (sic) cuts to tax increases. Mr. Speaker (Gingrich), you’re already shaking your head. But who on this stage would walk away from that deal? Will you raise your hand if you feel so strongly about not raising taxes you’d walk away on the ten-to-one deal?”
All of the presidential candidates on the stage, former Gov. Rick Santorum, Mr. Herman Cain, Rep. Ron Paul, former Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Michele Bachmann, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Gov. Jon Huntsman, and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, raised their hands; although, in fairness, Mr. Cain seemed to be initially reluctant.
Perhaps, Mr. Cain’s reluctance was predicated upon the fact that he doesn’t sport a prior or existing government title. So, there’s a chance he has some common sense and can actually “do the math.” Unfortunately, he may have been a victim of peer pressure with respect to this question, but he caved just the same.
Just for fun, let’s do the math. A 10:1 spending cut to tax increase deal would work like this. Doing a little algebra (assuming it’s still taught in our public schools), let’s make X equal to the tax increase. Therefore, the spending cuts have to equal 10X. If we want to wipe out the entire $14.5 trillion in debt, the equation would be 11X equals $14.5 trillion. Solving for X, we’d be accepting a tax increase of $1.319 trillion in return for a spending cut of $13.19 trillion. The result: the complete elimination of our National Debt (which is really not even remotely required) and a return of our AAA rating and happy days for everyone!
Can we really achieve this type of cost reduction immediately? No! However, that wasn’t Mr. Baier’s question. The question was essentially whether the candidates would even consider it.
President Obama even mentioned the 10:1 deal at his town hall-type meeting in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, on Monday. In reference to the Republican candidates’ rejection of the theoretical deal and an apparent endorsement of this column, the President said, “Think about that. I mean, that’s just not common sense.”
Think about it indeed! It would be a sweetheart of a deal if it were spread over a relatively short period of time (say, five years). The reality is that marginal tax rates might not even have to be increased given the loopholes that could be eliminated in the 72,000+ pages of the tax code if the loopholes were to be considered first. In the alternative, even if increases in the tax rates were required, they wouldn’t need to be permanent since the National Debt would have been so radically reduced.
Why would all of the Republican candidates summarily reject the idea? Why would any rational candidate reject it completely? Then again, perhaps that explains it.
The raising of hands was little more than a symbolic expression of “solidarity” designed to assuage those strident supporters who demand form over substance. As a result, we should ask all of the Republican candidates to drop out of the Presidential Race. Given the likelihood that Gov. Rick Perry would have raised his hand as well, let’s just save time and ask him to drop out as well.
Moving right along, it’s time to address the Democratic side of the coin.
While fringe elements of the Democratic Party might float a primary challenger to President Obama, the Party itself will continue to “dance with the date that brought them to the Prom” as the saying goes. That’s too bad!
If the Democratic Party really cared about America’s middle class, it would run someone who could demonstrate at least a modicum of empathy for those people … without the assistance of a TelePrompTer.
This is a President who either didn’t have the leadership skills or the financial acumen to understand the necessity of addressing the issue of our National Debt before it became a true crisis. His proposed budget was shot down by a vote of 97-0 in the Senate, and he was missing in action relative to the debt ceiling debate until it was entirely too late. The fact that his specific personal recommendations could best be represented by a blank piece of paper speaks volumes.
Now that the President has chosen to pass the buck to a “super committee” (which former Speaker Newt Gingrich accurately described as “the dumbest idea Washington has come up with in my lifetime”), his leadership choices have been interesting. The President has played golf, gone on a 10-day vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, and now is traveling around the country on a bus tour to talk about his economic successes … seriously!
Press Secretary Carney came to the President’s defense last week when reporters challenged the President’s course of action particularly with respect to his decision to go on vacation. “I don’t think Americans out there would begrudge that (sic) notion that the President would spend some time with his family,” Press Secretary Carney said.
Of course, Press Secretary Carney is correct … because the President is in a class by himself.
Do you remember that little oil spill we experienced in the Gulf of Mexico last year? The White House excoriated British Petroleum’s then-CEO, Tony Hayward, for having gone to a yacht race with his son. Then-Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel called Mr. Hayward’s choice “part of a long line of PR gaffes and mistakes.”
During that same time in which our Nation was suffering from the disaster in the Gulf, President Obama was criticized for his concurrent decision to, once again, play golf.
Deputy Press Secretary, Bill Burton, said that the President had a right to decompress a bit after a hard week. “I don’t think that there’s a person in this country that doesn’t think that their President ought to have a little time to clear his mind … I think that a little time to himself on Father’s Day weekend probably does us all good as American citizens,” Burton explained.
When the President decides to recreate, it’s apparently in all of our best interests. When other leaders do it, it’s patently wrong. Welcome to the new caste system … just when you thought we no longer were ruled by the equivalent of a monarchy.
That’s why President Obama should declare that he is dropping out of the 2012 Presidential Race. He wouldn’t have to waste any more time on campaign junkets such as his current bus tour, and his staff wouldn’t have to struggle to frame such political boondoggles as actually being related to the Nation’s business. The President could just concentrate on doing his job until the end of his term. Then, he could use all of his time going forward to “clear his mind.”
If everyone would just drop out of the Presidential Race, maybe a new breed of candidate would arise who cares more about the country than he or she does about the grandeur of the position. Maybe someone with common sense and an uncommon commitment to the People would rise from the economic ashes to rebuild America and return our Nation to a period of true exceptionalism. At least, we can dream.
T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.
This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, The Common Sense Czar, in the Communities Section of The Washington Times.