Given all the talk about all the Republican presidential candidates’ newly-fashioned economic plans, I was eager to hear what Obama economic advisor Gene Sperling would have to say in his speech yesterday to the Economic Club of Washington.

I have a lot of respect for Sperling. His tenure in public service has been distinguished, and he is considered among the most intellectually honest in Washington. I was ready to hear a detailed, rational account of the Obama administration’s take on the state of the economy and its plan to restore growth. After all, Sperling wrote a well-received book entitled, The Pro-Growth Progressive: An Economic Strategy for Shared Prosperity.” 

After the speech, my instinct was to PANIC, go home immediately and bury the silverware and other valuables in my backyard. I fear President Obama doesn’t have an economic plan at all, and that everything Republicans have said about the White House being filled with people who have never signed the front of a paycheck and don’t have a clue is completely accurate. 

Sperling delivered about 20 minutes of prepared remarks to an economic-oriented audience. He detailed long-term unemployment as the central problem within the American economy. Yet he never mentioned manufacturing or energy. He never mentioned construction. He never mentioned any private economic activity that could produce jobs. The closest he came to talking about the housing crisis was when he twice referred to someone he considered to be a distinguished guest in the audience: the, ahem, controversial former chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae.

Evil Republicans, meanwhile, warranted several references in Sperling’s speech. He pointedly blamed Republicans, precisely House Republicans, for being the reason our economy could not produce jobs. He even went back and reminded us that our economic plight is really President George W. Bush’s fault. 

I’ve watched with some discouragement as Democrats have belittled the Republican presidential candidates’ economic plans. But even though some of those plans constitute shallow political positioning, compared to the Obama plan, they’re as solid as Mt. Rushmore.

At this point, the Obama campaign must believe you can beat something with nothing, and the campaign is in charge. Sperling can’t really believe that this is a serious approach to our economic problems, or even good politics.