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A 'king' & his fairy tales

| Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Watching President Obama's inaugural, I was confused. It looked like a new king was being crowned. At a time when America faces unsustainable debt and terrible economic troubles, why such pomp?

Maybe it's because so many people tell themselves presidents can solve any problem, like fairy-tale kings.

Before America's first inauguration, John Adams suggested George Washington be called “His Most Benign Highness.” Fortunately, Congress insisted on the more modest title, “President.”

At his inaugural, President Obama himself said, “The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few.”

But then Obama went on to say that his privileged few should force the rest of us to do a zillion things.

He said, “We must do these things together.” But what “together” means to big-government folks is that they have a vision — and all of us, together, must go deeper into debt to pay for it, even if we disagree.

We can afford this, as the president apparently told John Boehner, because America does not have a spending problem.

But, of course, we do have a spending problem and a debt problem, and the president knows this.

Just a few years ago, when George W. Bush was president, then-Sen. Obama said, “I rise, today, to talk about America's debt problem. The fact that we are here to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure and our government's reckless fiscal policies,” according to the Congressional Record.

Obama was right to worry about the debt and right to call it “a hidden domestic enemy ... robbing our families and our children and seniors of the retirement and health security they've counted on. ... It took 42 presidents 224 years to run up only $1 trillion of foreign-held debt. This administration did more than that in just five years.”

It's hard to believe that Obama chose those words just seven years ago, because now his administration in four years has racked up another $6 trillion in debt.

It's also a shock that Obama believed this: “America has a debt problem. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.”

Yet this year, he demanded that Congress raise the debt limit without conditions.

I want the old Barack Obama back. He made sense. The new guy, he scares the heck out of me. Like a king, he assumes that the realm will be better if he can spend as he pleases.

I might not mind presidents behaving like kings — if they at least made the tough decisions that the government needs to make, such as balancing the budget. But no president has tried to use an executive order to eliminate whole programs or cut spending. They almost always act only to increase their power.

Yet they pretend they make bold choices — even when refusing to make choices. Obama said, “We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the elderly and investing in the next generation.”

That's Washington-speak for, “We will spend government money on young and old alike and refuse to think about when this will bankrupt America.”

But it sounds exciting when he says it. He's not just a king — he's Santa Claus, too. Except that Santa spends his own money. The president spends yours.

John Stossel is host of “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of “No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed.”

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