Yesterday, President Barack Obama ended his months-long press conference drought and faced the White House press corps. Unfortunately for the American people, questions on some of the biggest issues facing the country remain unanswered.
The 100-ton elephant in the room that wasn’t discussed? The economy. Though the President would like to revel in the country’s recent spate of moderate economic growth, all is not well in America. More than 8 percent of Americans remain unemployed — nearly 13 million in total. What’s more, only 63.7 percent of adult Americans are active in the labor force — the lowest amount since 1983. New jobs are being created, but not nearly enough. The current economic recovery is the slowest recovery in the post-war era. And four years after the recession started, the economy still has not replaced the jobs lost in the downturn.
So given this economic backdrop, one might think the President would be asked what he plans to do to spur growth, or three years after his much-vaunted stimulus, why is the recovery so slow? Another key question: The President once stated that raising taxes is anathema to economic recovery, and yesterday credited lower taxes on the middle class for economic growth. But he is still proposing raising taxes by two trillion dollars. How will massive tax hikes on job creators spur job growth, if helping Americans get back to work is his goal? If you wanted to hear those questions on the economy answered, you were sorely disappointed.
On a related subject, America passed a significant milestone since the President’s last press conference. It has now been well over 1,000 days since the Senate passed a budget, and meanwhile, according to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the President will not offer a plan to reform unsustainable entitlement programs. What does the President plan to do about it? The subject was not raised yesterday.
Fox News’ Ed Henry did raise an important question on the President’s position on gas prices — one of the ten questions that Heritage hoped Obama would be made to answer.
Henry asked, “Your critics will say on Capitol Hill that you want gas prices to go higher because you have said before, that will wean the American people off fossil fuels, onto renewable fuels. How do you respond to that?” While not denying that rising oil prices supports his long-term energy agenda, the President cited electoral politics as a reason he wouldn’t want gas prices to go higher this year, and claimed there’s “no silver bullet” to solve the problem. What the President didn’t address, though, is his decision to block the Keystone XL pipeline, the regulatory hurdles to more drilling and refining in the United States, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s insistence that it’s not his job to make gas prices more affordable.
A significant portion of the press conference yesterday was devoted to the issue of Iran and the United States’ relationship with Israel — certainly an important issue given Iran’s desperate pursuit of nuclear weapons. There were vital specifics on the issue he was not pressed on. Namely, does he regret his Administration’s hands-off approach to the Iranian Green Revolution? How can he answer for three years of failed efforts to engage with the likes of Syria and Iran, given that both are continuing to flout the international community? Why, if the President is a friend to Israel, is he pressing America’s ally to negotiate with a Palestinian authority that tolerates Hamas — a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel? And why, given these significant threats in the Middle East — and indeed around the world — is the President slashing military spending and undermining America’s ability to defend itself?
The final seminal issue that totally fell by the wayside was Obamacare’s assault on religious freedom. Under the President’s health care law, the White House mandates that virtually all religious employers, with the exception of churches, provide health care coverage for contraception — including abortion-inducing drugs — thereby trampling upon their constitutionally guaranteed free exercise of religion. Though the issue was discussed in the context of political rhetoric, the underlying question that brought this debate to the fore was ignored: Where in the Constitution does the President find the authority to issue a mandate that violates the conscience of religious organizations?
These are all vital questions that have vast implications for America’s fiscal future, its national security, and the very integrity of the rights protected under the Constitution. They are fundamental questions of the role of the federal government, the President’s ability to offer solutions to the country’s crushing fiscal crisis, and his willingness to stand by our allies in defense of their right to exist. Unfortunately, America must wait for these questions to be answered.
- In yesterday’s Super Tuesday primaries, Mitt Romney secured victory in Ohio and five other states, Rick Santorum picked up wins in three states, and Newt Gingrich won his home state of Georgia.
- Stocks fell sharply yesterday, dropping 200 points, making for the biggest decline so far in 2012. News of tepid global economic growth and more concerns over Greece’s debt fueled the loss.
- Six soldiers from the United Kingdom were killed in an explosion in Afghanistan on Tuesday. Prime Minister David Cameron said it was a “desperately sad day for our country.”
- As if California’s high-speed bullet train wasn’t going to cost enough already, analysts now say the state budget will have to allot more than $700 million each year to repay billions of dollars that will be borrowed to pay for the boondoggle.
- Does unprecedented deficit-spending on projects like highways stimulate the economy? You’ll be surprised at the conclusion reached in a recent story in The Washington Post. Read about it on The Foundry.