Is there a difference between a promise made and a promise kept?
This seems to be a foolish question, but it is becoming a critical one in this upcoming election. I am reminded of one of those homespun sayings my Mother used when I would wish for some change in my circumstances. “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” she would scold, her meaning clear. It is easy to wish for something, but if all it took were wishing then everyone would have what they want.
In 2008 the Democrat’s swept into office promising hope and change, a new civility in politics, and transparency in government. They promised to redress the failures of the Republicans, to resolve the financial crisis, address the problems with health care, bolster US stature in the world, and shore up the sagging safety nets the government first created during the last great depression.
Today I saw a poster with the latest round of promises. All seem wonderfully … well… PROMISING, just like those made back in 2008. The President will create 1 million new manufacturing jobs? Train 2 million new workers, give tax breaks, etc. What I don’t see is a clear plan to keep these promises any better than the ones he’s failed to keep from the last election. Yet all his party are behind him, except for those who are worried about reelection and want to put a little space in between themselves and the President and VP during the campaign. I would like to take a few minutes to talk about these grand illusions the President's campaign wants to call promises.
Starting with the first, and grandest… Most of the Government doesn’t manufacture a darn thing. There are some exceptions, but mostly what the Government does is spend money (also called tax dollars) on buying stuff, or paying its bills. Off the top of my head the only manufacturing jobs I know the President can actually create are either in the Department of Treasury or the Department of Defense, and I am not sure we want to create a million new jobs printing money or building the goods of war in government facilities.
We are going to train 2 million new workers in Community colleges to fill what? We have about 9% unemployment now; we have millions of workers out of work because the jobs aren’t there. Will half of these people be the ones who go to work in the million new jobs that will magically appear during the President’s next term? Do you now need an associate’s degree to work in a manufacturing job?
How about giving a tax break to a company that invests in America? Just about every company with an office somewhere in America would qualify for that break, because they are employing Americans, unless they are using illegal aliens, and they have supported the building industry by leasing or buying office space. If we give all these tax breaks how will we pay the million new people printing the new money? Oh wait, they can just keep some of the money they print!
Double America’s exports? What are we making that the third world can afford, or the developed countries can’t get cheaper from China?
Finally, how many Presidents have promised to cut our dependence on foreign oil? I can remember back to the 1973 embargo and the 55 mph speed limits. We’ve done, on the grand scale, next to nothing to change America’s appetite or need for cheap oil.
I wonder how many naïve, simple, people will buy into these illusions, dismiss the failure to keep the last set, and actually believe the President has either the ability or commitment to actually fulfill them?