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The Insiders: The president returns to returning to the economy

Amid a lot of buildup and raised expectations, the White House has announced that it is going to return to returning to the economy. That’s right: This week President Obama is going to make a series of high-profile speeches promoting his economic policy du jour in Illinois, Missouri and Florida. It’ll be interesting to see if any of these speeches highlights the glaring deficiencies of his previous plans for the economy. I don’t expect the White House to admit failure, but hopefully even it realizes that more of the same is undesirable. We’ve tried Obama’s stimulus. We’ve watched as this president has raised taxes, heaped regulations on businesses, been a friend of trial lawyers, declared war on coal and discouraged oil drilling whenever he thought he wouldn’t get caught. And the cascading calamity of Obamacare has united private employers and labor unions in their near-panic to avoid the crippling realities of the job-killing, so-called health care plan.

As I’ve said before, maybe it’s just me, but at a certain level, macroeconomics is pretty simple. You can increase spending or lower spending. You can increase the debt or lower the debt. You can increase taxes or lower taxes. You can increase interest rates or you can lower interest rates.  You get the point.

The only part of the Obama economy that has flourished because of Obama policy is Wall Street. Only the trickle-down from the wealthy financial players, who have thrived off Obama’s conveyor belt of money as it travels from Washington to Wall Street, has had much of a positive effect on the economy as a whole.

The clock is running out fast on the Obama presidency. This is probably the last best hope for Obama to initiate any pro-growth policies whose effects will be felt during his tenure in office. But I’m not holding my breath. I think the president has an ideological point of view that is resentful of and punitive toward the private-sector economy, economic growth and wealth creation for anyone but the privileged few he favors.

Even if the president is against the private-sector economy, perhaps he and his handlers are motivated to pretend otherwise by the approaching midterm elections. Corporate top-line earnings are mostly flat, small businesses remain anxious because of Obamacare and gasoline prices continue to rise. Not to mention, early forecasts indicate that “the economy grew at an annualized rate of just 1.5 percent in the second quarter” of 2013.  It certainly doesn’t feel like the Democrats will have any kind of economic tailwind when they face the voters in November 2014.

So this week, is the president going to double down on what hasn’t worked?  Are we going to hear more tired cliches about the need to “invest” or calls for people to “pay their fair share”? Are we going to see retreads of Solyndra-like “green job” initiatives? Undoubtedly, we’ll hear a lot about “balance.” The problem is, the president always seems to balance anything good he might do for the economy with a lot of things that are bad for the economy.

If we’re lucky, even if the White House doesn’t believe in the free market, maybe it will surrender to it. Maybe Obama will hoist a white flag and approve the Keystone XL pipeline, lower the corporate tax rate, unleash the development and exports of American oil and gas and do something to gracefully delay Obamacare until the 22nd century. Maybe then the president could salvage the economy and do something to boost the Democrats’ prospects in the next election.