Once a year the President is constitutionally mandated to get in front of the American people and a joint session of congress and provide a status update of how the country is doing. At least, that's what we're supposed to get. Instead, tonight we got a campaign speech that was a vain attempt to be all things to all people, while providing nothing of substance (which is really a good summary of the president's policies when you think about it).
To be sure, Obama tried to throw bones to a number of constituencies. He talked up his record as a tax cutter and even suggested getting rid of capital gains taxes for the people who invest in small business. He spoke about nuclear power, and drilling for oil offshore, both things that people not allied with the left are generally in favor of. He spoke of changing the tone of politics and of being open to suggestions from Republicans about how to achieve the goals of health care reform. And that's where I began to realize that this wasn't a state of the union address; this was a "Best Of the 2008 Campaign Speeches" montage. The reality is that Obama didn't back off of any of his big government ideas or the socialist plans he has for our economy. Let's go through some of the highlights:
"I'm eager to hear alternatives" on health care, said the President who has completely ignored the Republicans, held back-office meetings with strict admission standards (not a Democrat, health insurance company or union rep? Sorry, you must stay behind the velvet rope!) and authorized the outright bribery of many of the nation's leaders.
"We cannot wage a permanent campaign" said the president who just re-hired his campaign manager to help with his agenda in the wake of the Scott Brown victory in Massachusetts.
"Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false or how malicious is ok, but it's precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping our people" said the president who several times this evening blamed the previous administration for all of our problems and said the Republicans only say 'no.'
"I'm trying to change the tone of our politics" said the president who within 60 seconds of that statement took another shot at Republicans.
"I'm going to start meeting with the leaders of the Republican party" said the president who for a full year has shut them out of the health care debate and repeatedly insulted them.
"Tonight I'm calling on congress to publish all earmark requests on a single web site" said the president who has not delivered on his promise to have the budget online, broadcast the health care debate on CSPAN and on the web; nor has he gone through any bill 'with a scalpel' to remove earmarks as he famously said he would during the campaign. Instead he has simply signed everything that was put before him.
"Let's invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt" said the president who has overseen the largest expansion of the national deficit in the 228 years of this nation's history.
I could go on, but by now you get the point. It was all fluff, all smoke and mirrors designed to make you think that every statement he made didn't apply to him. He actually said the stimulus worked and pushed for another one, proposes giving $10,000 tax credits (not deductions) to families putting people through school, capping how much people will have to pay on their student loans in the same speech where he proposes a spending freeze. Remember this quote from the campaign? "The problem with a spending freeze is you're using a hatchet where you need a scalpel." Yeah, that was Obama mocking John McCain for proposing a spending freeze. Now, a year and a few months later, Obama has not only not gotten out his scalpel, but he's picking up the hatchet. Well, kind of...the freeze will not take effect until NEXT year (2011). The timing is significant because by this time next year the supermajorities in the Senate and the House will be gone and the spending binge will be OVER ANYWAY. He's giving us the sleeves out of his vest.
He is still pushing for the health care bill to move forward even though public sentiment is against it, it has cost his party 4 elections (including a seat in a state that last elected a Republican in 1972!) and it has not been even remotely bi-partisan. He maintains that this is too big to back away from, and for him it is. It's one of three legs of his complete federal takeover of the nation, and is probably the keystone to it all.
He perpetuated his tactic of class warfare by continuing to attack bankers and corporations for turning profits and avoiding the second highest corporate tax rate in the world. Rather than change the system to encourage the right behavior, he wants to impose regulation that force even more work off shore and further depress risk taking, innovation and ultimately will kill more of the jobs that do stay in America. This is the second leg of the federal takeover.
He talked about cap and trade and climate change as being vital to our economy, even saying "there are those who doubt the evidence [of climate change]." What evidence would that be, Mr. President? The evidence that was improperly gathered, purposely excluded or intentionally destroyed? He just plowed through a chorus of boos as though there was no Climategate scandal, because cap and trade gives control of utilities and manufacturing industry to the federal government. This is the third leg of the Democratic federal takeover.
He mentioned towards the start of the speech that "China is not waiting to revamp its economy…India is not waiting." Is it a co-incidence that representatives from those two nations walked out of the climate conference in Copenhagen? They aren't about to let the global climate cabal get in their way, and they realize that there's nothing in it for them, so they left. They're not about to artificially increase their cost of doing business to give corrupt politicians in other countries their hard earned cash. While India and China are busy out-competing us on price of production and freedom of industry, the United States had over 165 members of its delegation stay for the duration, some paying over $2000 per day for lodging and food!! The Democrats can't even manage their expenses individually, and yet they're surprised we don't trust them on health care, corporate regulations or cap and trade? They're surprised that we don't think they have our best interests at heart? Their ignorance is astounding!
I think the fundamental thing that Obama misses is that in all of his pledges to invest in our people the source of that investment IS THE PEOPLE. Maybe it would be more precise to say he misses that WE understand that the government cannot give ANYONE ANYTHING that it has not first TAKEN from someone else. In the end, Obama's policies amount to robbing from Peter to pay Paul. At least he can always count on the support of Paul.