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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The State Of Confusion Speech

“Utopianism has long promoted the idea of a paradisiacal existence and advanced concepts of pseudo “ideal” societies in which a heroic despot, a benevolent sovereign, or an enlightened oligarchy claims the ability and authority to provide or all the needs and fulfill all the wants of the individual – in exchange for his abject servitude” — Mark Levine, Ameritopia.

Last night the utopian-in-chief, Barack Obama gave his third state of the union address. Like the previous two SOTU address this 6,988 word campaign speech was filled with more government programs and intrusions in our lives that the menu in a Chinese restaurant. And like any utopian dictator it was loaded with the personal pronoun Obama loves the best –“I”.

John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

Barack Obama’s State of the Union is all about letting you know that government is going to do everything for you and when it can’t keep its promises, it will take from the successful and give to you.

1000 days without the Democrats passing a budget, the President never really even brought it up last night. Then there’s healthcare. The President spent two sentences – a mere 44 words – talking about his greatest legacy, now headed before the Supreme Court, 5 justices from which sat in front of him last night. The first reference didn’t come until 39 minutes into his speech. I thought he was proud of it.

The first half of his speech was about centralized power in Washington and the second half was about devolving power to the states and deregulation — trying to be all things to all people. But his actual proposals were one size fits all federal fiat with offerings to unionization and swing states. He must be really worried about North Carolina given how many shout outs that state got.

President Obama, in his State of the Union address, was light on the details of his laundry list, but at essence embraced the title of Food Stamp President that Newt Gingrich has given him. He wants a public and business community dependent on Washington. He wants a devalued high school diploma and an over-valued college degree priced out of reach of the average person except through government run programs and subsidies.

The happy class warrior is off to ensure fairness not at the starting line, but by punishing those who cross the finish line first or with more. But “teachers matter”, he got Osama Bin Laden, and kids won’t be able to drop out of school anymore — they’ll just clog the system.

Immediately after Obama’s speech the Associated Press published a Fact Check List:

President Obama's array of plans in his State of the Union speech was light on a key piece of context -- namely, that his hands are so tied until after the election that it is doubtful many if any of them can be done in the remainder of his term. There can be little more than wishful thinking behind his call to end oil industry subsidies -- something he could not get through a Democratic Congress, much less today's divided Congress, much less in this election year.

A look at Obama's rhetoric Tuesday night and how it fits with the facts and political realities of the day:

OBAMA: "We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That's long enough. It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that's rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that's never been more promising."

THE FACTS: This is at least Obama's third run at stripping subsidies from the oil industry. Back when fellow Democrats formed the House and Senate majorities, he sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request. He called again to end such tax breaks in last year's State of the Union speech. And he's now doing it again, despite facing a wall of opposition from Republicans who want to spur domestic oil and gas production and oppose tax increases generally.

OBAMA: "Our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program."

THE FACTS: That's only half true. About half of the more than 30 million uninsured Americans expected to gain coverage through the health care law will be enrolled in a government program. Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income people, will be expanded starting in 2014 to cover childless adults living near the poverty line.

The other half will be enrolled in private health plans through new state-based insurance markets. But many of them will be receiving federal subsidies to make their premiums more affordable. And that's a government program, too.

Starting in 2014 most Americans will be required to carry health coverage, either through an employer, by buying their own plan, or through a government program.

OBAMA: "Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that's built to last - an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values."

THE FACTS: Economists do see manufacturing growth as a necessary component of any U.S. recovery. U.S. manufacturing output climbed 0.9 percent in December, the biggest gain since December 2010. Yet Obama's apparent vision of a nation once again propelled by manufacturing -- a vision shared by many Republicans -- may already have slipped into the past.

Over generations, the economy has become ever more driven by services; not since 1975 has the U.S. had a surplus in merchandise trade, which covers trade in goods, including manufactured and farm goods. About 90 percent of American workers are employed in the service sector, a profound shift in the nature of the workforce over many decades.

The overall trade deficit through the first 11 months of 2011 ran at an annual rate of nearly $600 billion, up almost 12 percent from the year before.

OBAMA: "The Taliban's momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home."

THE FACTS: Obama is more sanguine about progress in Afghanistan than his own intelligence apparatus. The latest National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan warns that the Taliban will grow stronger, using fledgling talks with the U.S. to gain credibility and stall until U.S. troops leave, while continuing to fight for more territory. The classified assessment, described to The Associated Press by officials who have seen it, says the Afghan government hasn't been able to establish credibility with its people, and predicts the Taliban and warlords will largely control the countryside.

OBAMA: "On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world's number one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs."

THE FACTS: He left out some key details. The bailout of General Motors and Chrysler began under Republican President George W. Bush. Obama picked up the ball, earmarked more money, and finished the job. But Ford, which Obama mentions as well, never asked for a federal bailout and never got one. It's managed to get along on its own. Also, as part of its restructuring, Chrysler is not really a U.S. automaker anymore. Italian automaker Fiat now owns a 30 percent share, and it will eventually go to 51 percent under terms of the U.S. bailout and its bankruptcy restructuring.”

Don't worry, America. There's nothing that ails this country that can't be made right by a catalogue of piddling proposals that will be forgotten tomorrow--and oh yeah, more taxes on the rich. Such was the message of President Obama's State of the Union address.

It made Bill Clinton's notoriously endless lists of poll-tested banalities look like artistry by comparison. It was light and forgettable, so insubstantial it could have floated off the teleprompter. It was spend more here, create a new program there, carve out a new subsidy in the tax code over there--and repeat as necessary, for over an hour.

The president steered clear of some of the nation's gravest domestic questions. You would never know we are accumulating debt at a $1.3 trillion annual clip. You would never know that health care costs are soaring and a vast political and constitutional fight is ongoing over his health care law (mentioned once, only very briefly, in passing). You would never know that Medicare and Social Security will soon be groaning under the coming wave of baby boomer retirements. You would never know the tax code is a hideously complex, economically inefficient monstrosity.

He talked about our natural gas industry and how we had 100 years of the supply of natural gas and made no mention of the Keystone XL pipeline. Of course he forgot to mention the thousands of mile of pipelines that carry that natural gas across the country — pipelines that Obama and his environmental friends think are harmful to our environment.

All of that was left aside, so the president could strike an uplifting, inoffensive tone proposing a raft of superficially unobjectionable new government actions. It was one thing for Bill Clinton to take this tack in the late 90s when the economy was roaring. It was evasive and irresponsible for President Obama to do it now in our current straits.

Yet, it could have been worse. I was expecting an "Occupy" State of the Union, an address so dependent on the themes of the anti-Wall Street protests that you could almost hear the drums and smell the body odor. Yes, he invoked fairness and he devoted a passage to calling for more taxes on the rich, with the obligatory invocation of Warren Buffet's secretary, sitting beside Michelle Obama. But this didn't define the speech, which struck a more upbeat tone. The president rightly hailed the killing of Osama bin Laden, noted the signs of economic recovery and forcefully pushed back against the notion of American decline. It wouldn't strike most people as a particularly divisive or partisan speech.

It was cynical all the same. The president piled clichés ("teachers matter"), on top of nice-sounding new initiatives (a Trade Enforcement Unit, a Financial Crimes Unit), and insincere bows to the other side (like a call for regulatory restraint after signing the regulatory behemoths of ObamaCare and the Dodd-Frank financial bill). This was not the speech of a president interested in anything other than the politics of his re-election — yet another way in which it wasn't noteworthy.

As a liberal, President Obama is a firm believer in recycling, apparently in areas in which one doesn't normally expect to see recycling. Check below the break for a great video that shows just how often he uses the exact same themes and even phrases in his speeches.

At the very least, is it possible that some of the trillion dollars Obama's spent could go toward paying someone else to write at least one other speech? But, he did take credit for curtailing the import of Chinese tires, something we cannot manufacture in this country due to the EPA regulations.

According to Real Clear Politics Obama has a 2.3 point deficit in his approval ratings (46% approve, 48.3% disapprove) and 65.3% of the public believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. Obama may get a slight bump in the polls from his SOTU speech, but I believe will not last beyond the Super Bowl. No speech can disguise his miserable record of failed policies.

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