Taking back his “free” community college scheme was a public loss for President Obama.
A couple of days ago I asked if the President was happy that he no longer had to worry about the Democrat majority in the Senate. Whether or not he was happy to work alone, he should be having second thoughts now. Maybe.
The President’s State of the Union speech made his ideas for taxing college savings in order to pay for “free” tuition at community colleges a central new campaign. Now, days after grandstanding on the issue, Barack Obama is backing down. As the New York Times reported yesterday, “Obama Relents on Proposal to End ‘529’ College Savings Plans.”
President Obama, facing angry reprisals from parents and from lawmakers of both parties, will drop his proposal to effectively end the popular college savings accounts known as 529s, but will keep an expanded tuition tax credit at the center of his college access plan, White House officials said Tuesday.
The decision came just hours after Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio demanded that the proposal be withdrawn from the president’s budget, due out Monday, “for the sake of middle-class families.” But the call for the White House to relent also came from top Democrats, including Representatives Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the ranking member of the Budget Committee.
Ms. Pelosi pressed the case to senior administration officials on Air Force One as she flew with the president from India to Saudi Arabia, according to Democratic aides familiar with the discussions.
The move was an abrupt turn for the president, who had made the proposal during his State of the Union address only a week ago, a proposal he called part of his pitch for “middle-class economics.”
There are lessons here.
The first is the one I’ve already mentioned: The Obama team is really getting incompetent. I don’t want to go too far with this because, for all we know, the entire program was a distraction from another agenda the President really cares about. But still, even if it was only PR, it was a public loss. It is a humiliation. From now on, if he attempts to do anything more with “middle-class economics,” people will snicker.
A second lesson is that Obama is indeed going rogue. He made a major push relying solely on his executive branch resources and did not even bother to consult with Democrats in the Senate or Congress.
But another lesson is here for us if we ask ourselves why the President had to back down so fast. As I pointed out yesterday, the President really didn’t have any easy way to pay for his promise. The only way he could do it was by breaking a promise to not tax other families trying to send their sons and daughters to college. So while the opposition of Boehner and Pelosi is interesting, the real question is why they (finally) got so insistent.
The answer is simple. We are running out of money.
Even with debt and money-printing the government does not want to disrupt the economy. It can’t claim the right to simply “print” enough for new welfare benefits without causing a loss of confidence that would cause damage. The idea of infinite debt is more and more appearing to be the pipe dream that it always was. Even the CBO is admitting it.
So the state is running out of options. We are getting to the point that we can no longer “help” the Middle Class without also visibly and immediately hurting the middle class.
The government “business model” of borrowing money to bribe voters is truly coming to an end.
This was not just about Barack Obama. This was the humiliating public loss of the welfare-warfare state—of Big Government itself.