Speaking last night from the U.S. Capitol, President Barack Obama described the state of the Union as he sees it — strong and getting stronger, with future growth fueled by his pursuit of progressive policies and an expansion of government, all architected to bring about his brand of “fairness.” The President essentially redelivered his 2011 State of the Union address — complete with the same empty rhetoric, class warfare cloaked in “fairness,” and proposals for massive tax and spending increases.
The speech was notable for the items he did not mention, including many of the failed spending programs and policies he undertook over the past three years, the foreign policy and defense challenges he has exacerbated, and the economic actions he failed to take that would have created jobs and spurred economic growth.
Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN), who delivered the response to the State of the Union address, shined a light on those titanic omissions — the state of America’s economic and fiscal crises, the President’s promise to fix them, and his failure to do anything but make matters worse, all amid a trillion dollars in stimulus spending and a rapidly expanding bureaucracy:
The percentage of Americans with a job is at the lowest in decades. One in five men of prime working age, and nearly half of all persons under 30, did not go to work today.
In three short years, an unprecedented explosion of spending, with borrowed money, has added trillions to an already unaffordable national debt. And yet, the President has put us on a course to make it radically worse in the years ahead. The federal government now spends one of every four dollars in the entire economy; it borrows one of every three dollars it spends.
Apart from the truth about the depths of America’s unemployment crisis and the scope of government spending, the President barely mentioned his signature legislative item, Obamacare, which is facing a Supreme Court constitutional challenge; Social Security and the country’s entitlement crisis; his decision to say “no” to the Keystone XL pipeline and the jobs it would bring with it; the Solyndra scandal and the failures of his green energy initiatives; the illegality of his appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Board and the National Labor Relations Board; the Senate’s failure to pass a budget for 1,000 days under the leadership of his own party; the high costs that his additional regulations bring with them; his party’s opposition to free trade agreements; the fraudulent elections in Russia; the ongoing collapse of the Euro; warnings about his decision to slash defense spending; the remaining challenges in Afghanistan; and the violence that has erupted in Iraq after the departure of U.S. troops.
It’s not surprising, of course, that the President would want to hide from his failures, but it’s troubling to see that he plans to continue on the progressive course he has set for the country. In the President’s words, “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”
This “fairness” argument, which the President cloaked in the most moderate of terms, lays the foundation for a wholesale deconstruction of America as we know it. Instead of a country where individuals are free to rise and fall on their own merits, the President seeks a system where an all-powerful federal government guarantees equal outcomes, regardless of one’s merit. The Heritage Foundation’s Matthew Spalding explains:
In [Obama’s] view, “fairness” flows not from opportunity and freedom of the individual, but from more government power, federal education programs, economic regulations, and infrastructure spending. And, of course, raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for these “investments” would only be fair.
Such policy prescriptions lead to a governing class that insists on enforcing political and economic ‘fairness’ rather than letting us govern ourselves, choose our own vocations and earn our own success. The idea that the government can and should step in to guarantee economic fairness is contrary to the founding principles that make America so great-and that enable its citizens to achieve success. It is contrary to the very meaning of the American Dream.
The United States faces significant challenges: a $15 trillion debt, 13.1 million unemployed Americans, exploding entitlement and health care costs, a broken education system, a military in disrepair, the continued threat of terrorism, a nuclear Iran, and the ongoing war in Afghanistan, among others. There is hope, but it does not emanate from a bigger, more powerful federal government that squelches entrepreneurship, ignores our fiscal crisis, and disregards the need for a strong national defense. The President says the state of the Union is getting stronger, but he is doing very little to ensure that happens.
The Heritage Foundation’s analysts provided in-depth, issue-by-issue expert analysis of last night’s State of the Union address. You can find our 2012 Reaction Roundup on The Foundry blog.