The New York Times was very excited about President Obama's deficit reduction speech.
The Gray Lady's editorial Thursday began, "The man America elected president has re-emerged":
For months, the original President Obama had disappeared behind mushy compromises and dimly seen principles. But on Wednesday, he used his budget speech to clearly distance himself from Republican plans to heap tax benefits on the rich while casting adrift the nation’s poor, elderly and unemployed. Instead of adapting the themes of the right to his own uses, he set out a very different vision of an America that keeps its promises to the weak and asks for sacrifice from the strong.
Did he? Apart from saying that he wouldn't extend the Bush tax cuts beyond December 31, 2012, and that he wanted to reduce or eliminate itemized deductions for the top two percent of wage earners, exactly what did Obama propose Wednesday that would seriously reduce the deficit in the coming years?
As Fox's Charles Krauthammer noted on "Special Report" Wednesday, "[Obama] threw out these numbers suspended in midair with nothing under them with all kinds of goals and guidelines and triggers which mean absolutely nothing."
Indeed. Quite contrary to Congressman Paul Ryan's (R-Wisc.) deficit reduction plan submitted last week, the President's was large on rhetoric and short on details:
The first step in our approach is to keep annual domestic spending low by building on the savings that both parties agreed to last week. That step alone will save us about $750 billion over 12 years. We will make the tough cuts necessary to achieve these savings, including in programs that I care deeply about, but I will not sacrifice the core investments that we need to grow and create jobs. We will invest in medical research. We will invest in clean energy technology. We will invest in new roads and airports and broadband access. We will invest in education. We will invest in job training. We will do what we need to do to compete, and we will win the future.
So, the President Wednesday proposed $750 billion of spending cuts to be named later while talking about the things he wants to invest in. But what's he going to cut?
The President didn't say, and the Times didn't care. For instance, on defense spending:
Over the last two years, Secretary Bob Gates has courageously taken on wasteful spending, saving $400 billion in current and future spending. I believe we can do that again. We need to not only eliminate waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness, but we're going to have to conduct a fundamental review of America's missions, capabilities, and our role in a changing world. I intend to work with Secretary Gates and the Joint Chiefs on this review, and I will make specific decisions about spending after it's complete.
"I believe we can do that again...and I will make specific decisions about spending after" I talk to Secretary Gates and the Joint Chiefs. As such, this means nothing for the moment.
But the Times didn't care.
As for Medicare and spiraling healthcare costs, as far as the President was concerned, that's all been solved by ObamaCare. And Medicaid? No worries. "We will work with governors of both parties to demand more efficiency and accountability from Medicaid."
I guess the smartest President in history forgot what he said earlier in his speech:
So because all this spending is popular with both Republicans and Democrats alike, and because nobody wants to pay higher taxes, politicians are often eager to feed the impression that solving the problem is just a matter of eliminating waste and abuse. You'll hear that phrase a lot. "We just need to eliminate waste and abuse." The implication is that tackling the deficit issue won't require tough choices.
This appears not to apply to Medicaid.
But the Times didn't care about that, or this:
Now, we believe the reforms we've proposed to strengthen Medicare and Medicaid will enable us to keep these commitments to our citizens while saving us $500 billion by 2023, and an additional $1 trillion in the decade after that. But if we're wrong, and Medicare costs rise faster than we expect, then this approach will give the independent commission the authority to make additional savings by further improving Medicare.
Put another way, if his proposals for Medicare and Medicaid don't save $1.5 trillion by 2033, another commission will be appointed to create additional savings.
Got that? How's that for specificity?
In reality, as Krauthammer pointed out, there were no specifics given by the President Wednesday except for what he wouldn't do which was extend the Bush tax cuts beyond next year and:
I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry, with a shrinking benefit to pay for rising costs. I will not tell families with children who have disabilities that they have to fend for themselves. We will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the fundamental commitment this country has kept for generations.
A lot of "will nots" in this speech, but not many explanations for the "wills."
But the Times doesn't care because "Negotiations with an implacable opposition are about to get much tougher, but it was a relief to see Mr. Obama standing up for the values that got him to the table."
Yes, as long as standing up for values doesn't include any details as to how, which has been the media's problem analyzing anything this man says since he tossed his hat into the ring as a presidential candidate in February 2007.
They all seem to get a thrill up their leg because of what they perceive as an eloquence in his delivery, but they don't care at all about the content.
Politico's Roger Simon assured us earlier this month that this was going to stop and that "reporters are starting to concentrate more than ever on what he says rather than how he says it."
Simon apparently wasn't speaking for the Times editorial board, for they believe, "The man America elected president has re-emerged."
For those keeping score, that would be the man that can promise to cut $4 trillion from the budget in twelve years offering few details how and the Times will not only eat it up as the finest caviar on the planet but also publicly praise him for it on their editorial page.
That's some powerful ether to still have these folks swooning after all these years.