I’m not going to do a point-by-point deconstruction of Obama’s State of the Union Address…that would take me a whole week to draft. I will, however, do two things. I will point out how the speech contradicts itself and how it contradicts Obama’s actions while in office. And of course…I will also refer you to Mitch Daniels’ Republican response (here). You can also find the full text of the speech (here) so we all know what was actually said. I’d hate to be accused of misleading the readers of this blog.
Let me give you the executive summary of what was in Obama’s speech so you can skip the endless applause and self-aggrandizing.
POINT 1) I killed Bin Laden. The military personnel did a good job under tough circumstances and are coming home from Afghanistan and Iraq. Al Qaeda is largely defeated thanks to years of sacrifice and struggle by our proud military. HOO-RAH!
Informed Response: Obama attempted to take credit for both winning a war that he claimed could not be won AND killing the entire Al Qaeda leadership singlehandedly. You can’t start your presidency claiming the war is a bad thing…follow your predecessor’s exact playbook for ending it…and then take credit for all of the positives from it despite the fact that you ran on a platform claiming there WERE no positives. Bush started the war on Al Qaeda. Bush’s strategy killed 100,000 jihadis and led, ultimately, to the neutering of OBL, whether or not you were the one who gave the final order to terminate him.
POINT 2) I have spent the second half of my presidency doing battle with an intransigent, uncooperative GOP-controlled House of Representatives who don’t want to be team players – they could learn something from our men in uniform about setting aside their differences to work for the greater good.
Informed Response: Who was it, again, who refused to pass budgets, blocked constructive GOP proposals for controlling government spending and reducing the debt while protecting the safety net, and refused to meet with leaders of his political opposition? Oh yeah…that was YOU!
POINT 3) I believe America can be rebuilt with a government-directed strong focus on the green-energy economy and in general on energy independence.
Informed Response: Let’s see…you vetoed the Keystone Pipeline, vetoed offshore drilling, vetoed proposals to expand clean coal energy, spent millions upon millions on green energy technologies that had no chance of being market-viable and said – through your Energy Secretary – that your goal was to make energy prices skyrocket to force people to get away from oil. See…to a Republican, energy independence means using all of the means we have for producing home-grown energy. To you, it means ONLY renewable energies…and you continue to believe you can force us to buy into technologies that normal people simply cannot afford and do not want. How’d that work for us the last three years?
POINT 4) In order to get back to the strength of our economy from the 50s, we need to continue in the direction I’ve laid out for us…we’ve gained jobs for 22 straight months (at an anemic pace, but still!). I’ll need the help of entrepeneurs everywhere in America – you have to bring your jobs back to America or else you’re an evil outsourcing bastard.
Informed Response: You know…there’s a reason companies started outsourcing to China. It might…JUST MIGHT…have something to do with bloated corporate taxes…rates set by DEMOCRATS. Corporations have a responsibility to make money for their investors and live in a global community, not an isolated United Socialist States, Barack. If it’s cheaper to do business abroad…they’ll do business abroad.
POINT 5) I inherited this bad economy from an unregulated Bush administration and we passed tough regulations to protect people from bad mortgage lending.
Informed Response: There is ZERO evidence that the deregulation of credit agencies (allowing them to enter the realm of personal finance and things like mortgage lending) had anything to do with the home mortgage bubble. In fact, that bubble began during the CLINTON administration, when he ordered the state-controlled “big six” lenders to give sub-prime mortgages because he felt he could force the market to provide less fortunate Americans with homes. The businesses that declared bankruptcy were, for all intents and purposes entirely those related to big government mortgage intervention, NOT creditors like Bank of America who benefited from deregulation. But setting aside that point, there’s also ZERO evidence that the folks responsible for our mortgage crisis and the subsequent economic collapse have been punished. The big six were expressly exempt from Dodd-Frank regulations and then handed a big wad of money in the stimulus.
POINT 6) Our tax code rewards businesses that ship employment overseas (because we have a huge corporate tax and payroll tax for the employees that makes us uncompetitive, so it’s better to do business abroad)…my plan is to add a tax to multinational companies for every overseas job and use that money to pay for some increased subsidies for companies who bring in jobs – expecially high-tech jobs.
Informed response: You say that our tax code is too complicated and makes no sense several times in your speech, yet your solution to outsourcing troubles is to add a new type of tax to punish multinational corporations for following common sense business practices and then to add more loopholes for corporations that behave the way you want them to. Sounds like more of the same to me.
POINT 7) China isn’t playing by the rules – so I’m creating yet another unelected (appointed) olegarchy to look into how to stop unfair trade practices by China.
Informed Response: Or…you could lead by placing tariffs on Chinese products and crippling their economic influence elsewhere through diplomatic channels. But…naaaaah. We’ll just “solve” this problem by throwing another blue-ribbon panel at it.
POINT 8) Our education system needs a lot of work, but I want to be clear that the problem is not the teachers unions. They pay for my re-election, so it’s not their fault we’re myred in stagnation. No no…it’s No Child Left Behind making teachers teach to a test…it’s evil GOPers cutting budgets and laying off good teachers, and it’s a lack of support from the states to commit to improving standards. My solution involves the creation of (a) a centralized big government job-training website to simplify the process of hooking up with a job when getting unemployment benefits (b) pouring more money into the teachers’ unions (c) repealing no child left behind (d) doing…some kind of deal…not real clear on how this will work exactly, but it involves agreeing that bad teachers should get fired and those funds should be used to get good teachers and…um…paying for better equipment…or something? Maybe I’ll convince the teachers unions to fire a few bad apples that we identify…somehow…though we’ll have no way of doing that identifying without any tests…in exchange for a ton of extra money. Yeah…that’s it.
Informed Response: Unions are your most powerful lobbyists come election time. Your job is to promise them lots of money and power and hand-wave their actual responsibilities. Daniels was too nice to you…he gave you credit for tackling our education crisis…you have a couple of decent ideas, but your basic agenda remains the same. Blame everyone but the ones doing the teaching. It can’t be their fault one iota.
POINT 9) I’ll make it illegal to drop out of high school for any reason and push for laws requiring every student to take the SATs and apply to college.
Informed Response: Next, he’ll be clamoring to make it illegal not to go to college…and then it’ll be illegal not to work…and then (you get the picture). There are legitimate reasons not to finish high school. I get that it’s usually better for most kids to get their diploma, but we don’t need laws to force the issue…we need practical solutions targeted at the source of those drop-outs.
POINT 10) I know there’s a huge higher education bubble – my solution is…to get states to pay for it more somehow…with magic money?…and hope that colleges find ways to reduce cost. Though I have no idea how that will happen.
Informed Response: It’s nice to see Obama admit that we can’t just keep throwing money at tuition – he admits we’ll go bankrupt trying to keep up with the inflating cost of college…but he doesn’t see that the source of the runaway inflation is the very federal spending spree he mentions in this admission and he doesn’t get that a big part of the cost is regulations that require colleges to have a host of services they never needed prior to 1960. Administrative costs eat up 52% of the total operating cost of colleges now…more than the cost of hiring professors. That ratio has been skyrocketing since the advent of FAFSA and the conversion of colleges from places of higher learning to daycare centers.
POINT 11) We need immigration reform centered on a combination of attracting skilled workers and border enforcement…and a bit of amnesty for those who are already here.
Informed Response: Yes, Barack…I agree with pretty much all of this. Except that your own Justice Department is suing states that try to defend their own borders while you refuse to provide them the resources they need from a Federal level. The drop in illegal border crossings is not caused by better border enforcement…Arizona isn’t mad as hell about nothing, sir. The drop is caused by a combination of our weakening economy and the shear danger in crossing the border while drug-runners shoot at each other with guns provided to them by your Justice Department. Sorry…I don’t see any evidence that you have any intention of doing something rational about illegal immigration.
POINT 12) This must be quoted to be believed:
You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country. That means women should earn equal pay for equal work. It means we should support everyone who’s willing to work; and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.
Informed Response: I don’t think even the hardest-line Republicans disagree with your comment regarding women – the thing is…pay is typical uneven because women don’t do precisely equal work. They take time away from the company to have children and they tend to retire slightly earlier than men. But that’s just a side-point…he through that line in to keep the liberal women’s vote strong, but the bulk of his point is that the GOP has been right all along – that regulation that favors larger corporations in the name of safety and financial oversight (written into law by Democrat controlled Congresses for years) is killing innovation. He admits that most of our new jobs come from start-ups, small to medium-sized businesses and personal innovation. The GOP has been saying this for decades. Though, of course, he claims both parties now miraculously agree. I’ll believe it when I see it. Deregulation powers economies. Period. It must be done carefully and hopefully while avoiding collateral damage, but it’s nice to Barack getting on board. If he really means what he says.
POINT 13) Keep high levels of funding for Federal scientific research – that is what got us the internet, the microchip, and the atom bomb.
Informed Response: And it’s also what allowed scientists to proliferate – what made innovation and academia reachable for more Americans. He’ll get no argument from me. I just don’t want to see that Federal money squandered chasing politically-motivated causes like AGW. I also think that Federal research dollars should be spent on preliminary and testing-phase research…not on product development. He invested in Solyndra and it bombed…why? Because the testing stuff was already done and had proven to be financially untenable…he was investing in a product…not a scientific idea.
POINT 14) Research has given us good, environmentally friendly ways of extracting natural gas from shale sands. This Federally funded research will make possible the development of 600,000 new jobs and lower energy costs fro all of us.
Informed Response: Extracting natural gas from shale was doable a decade ago. We could have avoided this recession entirely if the EPA got the hell out of the way and allowed us to start digging during the Bush administration.
POINT 15) Shale was a public partnership for research and development – the same success we’re about to have with that will eventually come from research in alternative energies!
Informed Response: So…if you’d left Shale in the hands of the private sector, we’d have been drilling in half the time and for less taxpayer cost…and you’re calling this a good thing? I guess we can expect the alternative energy market to improve in about 2045 then…awesome.
POINT 16) The way to spur growth in these industries is to make even more tax loopholes for alternative energy investments.
Informed Response: *sigh* That’s working REALLY well…
POINT 17) The Congress doesn’t like my ideas regarding clean energy and global climate change…so I’m doing it by fiat. The DoD will now start wasting massive amounts of money to develop clean energy instead of building ships and tanks and bombs.
Informed Response: Take it subspike77!! (seriously…he would know more about this than I would…but I’m guessing this will seriously compromise the Navy’s ability to do work on things related to its mandate…like…um…blowing up bad guys)
POINT 18) More tax write-offs for clean energy and efficiency products for businesses! I’ll invent a number out of my ass (100 billion in savings!!) and write that into the budget to erase that national debt I refuse to mention in this speech.
Informed Response: Is the only thing a lefty knows how to do handing out money? Seriously…WTF??
POINT 19) More goodies for unions!!! Infrastructure rebuilding just for the hell of it, baby!!
Informed Response: The new deal did not stop the depression…WWII did. Not that there weren’t benefits to the new deal. At the time, we actually had a significant market demand for massive infrastructure projects. The TVA (bringing power to middle America), the Interstate Highway system and all of those dams and bridges (bringing freedom of movement to all of America)…those are things that have paid for themselves long term. But…what Obama is now proposing is the revitalization of infrastructure that is still getting the job done. There is no gain in economic health unless what the government is doing will actually stimulate new private sector activity. They built roads and it forged an automotive GIANT. They got power to the remotest of places and it modernized the workforce and created demand for electric appliances galore. The built bridges and tunnels and all manner of rail and runway and it allowed cities to grow. What are any of Obama’s infrastructure projects going to do to replicate this success? Show me that America has a market demand for something and I’ll get behind building it.
POINT 20) Let’s charge the banks a fee to give millions of Americans a chance to refinance their mortgages at low interest rates through the Federal Government directly.
Informed Response: We will now put the government directly in control of mortgage lending practices? Am I the only one who finds this terrifying?!?!
POINT 21) I agree that some regulations are outdated and we have ordered the regulators to stop enforcing some of them. In fact in my first three years i office, I’ve added fewer regulations than my predecessor did in his first three years.
Informed Response: But you signed into law hundreds of new bits of regulation specifically targeted to penalize the economic sector…Bush was passing regulatory reform to allow the government to do better surveillance and getting its agencies to work together more efficiently (in theory). His regulatory agenda was far from perfect, but yours is an assault on freedom.
POINT 22) I’m establishing another bureaucrat panel to deal with the bastards who wrecked the home market (lenders…not Clinton…he was a God).
Informed Response: I’ll believe this will have any positive effect when I see it.
POINT 23) I’m also creating a new financial crimes unit in my Justice Department who will look into cases of financial fraud.
Informed Response: While the rest of my Justice Department is engaged in encouraging voter fraud and gun trafficking.
POINT 24) I’ve approved 2 trillion dollars of new spending cuts.
Informed Response: Where the hell did you get THAT number? Seriously…please show me what spending CUTS you’ve actually approved.
POINT 25) I want to repeal the Bush tax cuts because they allowed Warren Buffet to pay less in taxes than his secretary.
Informed Response: You lying sack of dog shit! (sorry folks…but this lie that he keeps telling really REALLY pisses me ofrf) First…the Bush tax cuts were aimed primarily at the MIDDLE class…those making between 40 and 250 thousand dollars. Second…your proposed tax structure was aimed primarily at hurting the wealthy (which you have self-identified as 250 grand and up). Third…Warren Buffet paid less in INCOME TAX than his secretary…but Warren Buffet didn’t have INCOME. He has capital gains. And he paid a buttload in Capital Gains taxes. He also paid taxes to keep his businesses running and was taxed on good and services he exchanged. That’s how it works. This Buffet vs. his secretary bullshit has GOT to STOP. Stop LYING to America, Obama…if you have to tell baldfaced lies to make your agenda make sense…your agenda doesn’t make sense. And you KNOW that.
POINT 26) Millionaires shouldn’t get government benefits.
Informed Response: Strongly agreed on this one. The GOP does too.
POINT 27) Republicans tried to force the government to shut down to make me look bad.
Informed Response: We’re in full fledged liar mode now, aren’t we! Republicans don’t want to add to the massive debt! That debate was an attempt you to confront entitlement spending, sir. You completely failed to lead on the issue and nothing got done. Nice work.
POINT 28) Money + Politics = Corruption. My plan for fixing this is to ban insider trading in Congress, and pass rules preventing anyone who gathers money for elections from lobbying Congress.
Informed Response: Yes…money + politics = corruption. That’s a time-honored formula. Insider trading is not the source of that corruption, though I see no reason to opposed rules preventing it. Lobbyists and PACs are the source of that corruption. One of the issues that has come up in the GOP primary this year has been campaign finance. McCain/Feingold was an attempt to stop advertising wars funded by the war chests of the candidates themselves (an attempt to stop personal wealth from being a major deciding factor in elections)…but what that did is put the power of the vote in the hands of superPACs who get all of those campaign contributions that would have gone to the candidates themselves and then make up crap however they like to influence the election. Regulations that attempt to force public servants to play fair and take money out of politics invariably lead to even more corruption than before. So it will be here…if you ban PACs from lobbying Congress, they will simply lobby the American people directly with massive TV ad campaigns and propaganda wars. Rather than banning PACs from lobbying Congress, we might consider…um…banning PACs. Just a thought.
POINT 29) Arab Spring uprisings show that my strategy is working abroad.
Informed Response: Not if you don’t take a leadership role in those uprisings. Instead, we’ll get a new Islamic Caliphate run by extremists because those are the ones helping the people on the street to overthrow their dictators.
There is more I could say…but it sounds like the same old Obama to me. He’s in campaign mode and this was a stump speech (maybe even a better one than his Greek Cathedral speech in Denver in 2008. Great speech…but the President says one thing and does another…his administration is just now getting to proposing a gazillion new things he’s finding time to mention tonight? I think not. I think he is calling a mulligan on his first term and trying to prove he has the wherewithal to lead while he campaigns against a weak GOP field. The politics of envy and blame continue. And the two-faced obfuscations and double-talk of the Obama administration show no signs of coalescing around a single true platform.
Obama is nothing if not shrewd, BTW – he reads the same polling data that you and I do…he knows what Americans are worried about…you can see that he tended to give much more focused addresses that Bush did in the beginning of this decade (see this scary ass chart of the year, to steal from the repertoire of Stephen Green (a.k.a. VodkaPundit)) He has an almost obsessive need to say the word jobs as ofted as possible.