It is regrettable that we no longer have a true “State of the Union” (SOTU) speech. Rather than hearing a recapitulation of the condition of the nation and where it’s headed, we get what appears to be little more than another campaign speech replete with a veritable Christmas-list of populist proposals and recommendations. Predictably, there were errors, omissions, and outright prevarications, and very little mention of the problems that have been exacerbated over the past several years, in the president’s speech this week.
First, however, a confession of sorts is in order. I didn’t watch the speech. When I was in college, I loved being lectured to by my ISU professors who were knowledgeable, competent, and capable. After all, that’s what I paid them for. Likewise, we pay our governmental leaders to be knowledgeable, competent, and capable and to keep their oath of office, to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. When all they do proves their incompetence, and they obviously lied when they took the oath, I’m not going to subject myself to their self-aggrandizing propaganda. After all, I’m not a masochist, and I find it increasingly difficult to resist the impulse to throw things at my TV in response to superfluous rhetoric, grandstanding, self-congratulations, and mendacity. So I read his speeches, instead.
Much of Obama’s lecture Tuesday night was dedicated to his inexorable class warfare theme, pitting the middle class (who have been most adversely affected by the policies of the past six years) against the wealthy (who have done better than anyone during this administration). In advance of the delivery, he media had hyped this iteration of the SOTU as his “Robin Hood” speech. The metaphor hardly seems appropriate. Since Robin Hood stole from the Sheriff of Nottingham (not the rich from whom the sheriff had extorted the funds). As the head of the government, the President is essentially the Sheriff of Nottingham, who’s doing the extorting.
The President said, “Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999.” It would be wonderful for the nation if his policies had been conducive to our economic recovery and accelerated job growth. However, as we’ve documented before, these are occurring in spite of his policies, not because of them. It’s amazing what capitalistic economies can do when new obstacles are no longer being hurled in the way to thwart and stymy them!
“We are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years. … Today, America is number one in oil and gas. … And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save about $750 at the pump,” Obama declared. Again, this is with no help from his administration. The massive growth in domestic oil production has been primarily on state and private lands, while his administration has done everything possible to curtail it on federal ground and waterways. And it’s been primarily with technology opposed by his party and his administration. And there’s the power of capitalism again – simple supply and demand benefiting the consumer with increased competition.
Enigmatically, the President queried, “Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turned against one another? Or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward? … A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other.” It’s pretty difficult to take this counsel from one who has spent the past six years polarizing and dividing, based on income, party affiliation, ideology, and color.
“In two weeks, I will send this Congress a budget filled with ideas that are practical, not partisan,” he said. This is encouraging. If he comes through on the promise, it will be the first time he’s offered anything to congress in six years that isn’t partisan. We won’t hold our breath.
“In the past year alone about 10 million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.” This reminded me of an email I received from a friend last year that summarized the 2700 page ObamaCare legislation in four simple sentences. A. In order to insure the uninsured, we first have to un-insure the insured. B. Next, we require the newly un-insured to be re-insured. C. To re-insure the newly un-insured, they are required to pay extra charges to be re-insured. And D. The extra charges are required so that the original insured, who became un-insured and then became re-insured, can pay enough extra so that the original un-insured can be insured, free of charge to them. That explains a great deal of the President’s “10 million” figure.
“I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college — to zero.” I’m always amazed at the liberal mind that struggles with economic realities. The cost doesn’t go away, it’s just redistributed, or paid by someone else. And to the liberal politician, it’s always the taxpayer! Never mind that the cost is a scant $60 billion. What is that to a politician who can make a grandiose promise – and make someone else pay for it?
It really would have been nice to hear an actual analysis of the State of the Union. But alas, we just got another populist campaign speech. And even as such, it wasn’t much different than the hand-dryer in the lavatory that had a sticker attached which declared, “Press button for a speech from the president.”
Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].