Matt Taibbi looks at Obama's new plan to reduce tuition costs by creating a government rating system that would tie student aid to performance. He concludes:
Barack Obama is so frustrating. He can give quite a speech. He says just enough of the right things to give pause, and sometimes genuinely seems to be in touch with the pain of the vanishing middle class. He has the appearance, on occasion, of the politician of your dreams – intelligent, forward-thinking, even-keeled, just. You want to believe in him, you really do.
But just taking this week for instance, there's just no way around the math. This new education plan may or may not turn into something five years from now. But right now, it's all words.
Taibbi has a point. While Obama's proposals look interesting, as Time Magazine notes:
The ratings will be released by 2015. Obama will also ask Congress to tie those ratings to federal student aid by 2018.
2018? I mean, it's better than 2036, but it's 5 years away and a lot can happen in that time (a Republican President for one). In reality, this looks like pure politics. As Taibbi notes:
This is how you do politics in this country. You're taking water over some monstrous screw-up (and my God, what have they been thinking with this Greenwald/Miranda/NSA business?), so you work fast to 1) change the subject, and 2) make sure the other party is tossed on the wrong side of whatever new set of goalposts you've just put up.
Sadly, I think the reality has now sunk in that Obama won't actually be able to get anything passed Congress in the coming years and is resigned to sit out the rest of his term as a lame duck President. There's always hope that he'll use his bully pulpit to get people behind sensible legislation, but so far we haven't see anywhere near enough of it. Interesting proposals that go into effect in half a decade won't cut it. He needs to do a lot better than that.