Skip to comments.A State of Denial
Posted on 01/25/2012 3:39:12 AM PST by Servant of the Cross
Toward the end of his State of the Union address, President Obama delivered a paragraph that was so blatantly absurd and self contradictory as to actually become clarifyingso incoherent that it shed a bright light on his thinking and his grave dilemma. Its hard to believe he actually said this, but he did:
The examples he chose of course jump out as ludicrous: K-12 education in America is thoroughly dominated by the government, and the president has not proposed to make it less so. (And state governments, by the way, are also governments.) Getting rid of regulations that dont work is certainly an unusual way to describe the regulatory agenda of this administration, which has involved a series of unprecedented delegations of authority to regulators (especially in health care and financial regulation) and which continues every day to spew forth an interminable array of costly, complex, and highly assertive rules that will give the federal government (and the executive agencies in particular) previously unimagined discretion over vast swaths of our economy. And relies on a reformed private market, not a government program is surely the most unabashedly dishonest and Orwellian way yet devised to describe Obamacarea law that begins from the premise that the solution to our health care financing problems is to make the government an even greater provider and purchaser of health insurance, would spend well over a trillion dollars in the coming decade on yet another health care entitlement program and on the expansion of an unreformed Medicaid system, would micromanage the insurance industry in ways likely to make it even less efficient, would employ even heavier price controls in an otherwise unreformed Medicare system, and would raise half a trillion dollars in taxes on employment, investment, and medical research.
But even more galling than the examples was the very use of the Lincoln quote itself, which makes precisely the opposite point to the one made by the rest of the presidents speech. This speech offered a vision of a profoundly technocratic and activist government, with its hands in every nook and cranny of the nations economic lifea government guiding particular business decisions and nudging individual choices through just the right mix of incentives and rules to reach just the right balance between fairness and growth while designing the perfect website for job retraining programs and producing exactly the proper number of high-tech batteries. The president described the governments bailout of the Detroit automakers as a roaring success and then said Whats happening in Detroit can happen in other industries. It can happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh. If he thinks that all the tasks he laid out for government are things that people cannot do better by themselves then he must have a very high opinion of how well government can do things, or a very low opinion of how well people can do things by themselves, or (most plausibly) both.
The intensely activist tone of the speech also meant, of course, that no real attention could be paid to what was the dominant theme of our political debates over the past year: Our out-of-control deficits and debt. Indeed, this was probably the foremost purpose of the speech. As he prepares for his reelection campaign, the president is clearly trying to move voters away from a focus on our coming fiscal disaster and toward a renewed focus on public spending and public programsthe outlook that defined the beginning of his administration, before his specific public spending and public programs soured the public on such spending and programs and (having resulted in unprecedented deficits) alarmed the Tea Party movement into being and yielded the 2010 election. But of course, those deficits and debt have only gotten worse, not better. And if we do not bring them under controlabove all by reforming our health entitlement programswe face fiscal prospects that would make an utter joke of the kind of approach to public policy and government embodied by this speech, with its explosion of spending, its barriers to economic growth, and its laughably misguided little millionaires surtax. Those prospects, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would involve debilitating levels of debt unlike anything we have experienced in America. This is the future from which the president needs to distract us:
[Graph at link]
These projections, especially compared to our fiscal circumstances in past years, also make a mockery of the now familiar nostalgia with which the president opened his speechharkening back to the meteoric growth of the immediate postwar era in America. Even if his wistful reminiscences of that bright yesterday were better grounded in reality, the fact is that we simply cannot recreate the economic circumstances of those years, when Americas global competitors had just burned each others economies to the ground while ours stood ready gallop ahead. It is true that the unique explosive growth of those years also allowed for major expansions of government spending, and persisted despite fairly heavy tax and regulatory burdens. But that does not mean that it was caused by that spending or those burdens. It obviously wasnt. And under very different circumstances, in which we must effectively compete and innovate in order to grow, we cannot afford such spending or such burdens. We must find other paths to broadly shared prosperity.
But the president does not seem interested in finding those paths. Instead, he prefers to shadowbox the familiar bogeymen held up by progressives for a century and more. Indeed, his striking appeals to replace our raucous republican politics with the model of military discipline at the beginning and the end of the speech offered conspicuous echoes of the progressive longing to overcome politics.
It all adds up to an attempt to shift the political conversation away from reality, as Mitch Danielss response so ably showed. But I dont think it adds up to a very effective political strategy for the president. If tonights speech was indeed a preview of his election-year pitch, hes going to have some problems.
What a naive punk!
Great observation. I read another commentary about the SOTU that summarized it similarly ...
President Obama wants us to focus on his promises, not his results.
Hey 0bama. YES WE CAN (go back). Hopeychangey never again.
I so agree with your comment , what a PUNK.
The American people never realize that they are screwed since Fall 2008 when the financial bubble created by Wall Street bankers and federal gov imploded. We have nothing but paper IOU with very little means to pay it back. The deficit is just too large. Gov has three ways to deal with it. One raise taxes. Not popular and bad thing to do in a recession. Two cut gov spending. Not popular because the two largest entitlement are Soc Sec and Medicare/Medicaid. Third way is inflate your debts away. Least immediate pain for politicians because the voter will not realize what had happen till it is too late. Add to the complexity is our fractional banking system overextended as bankers over leveraged in their speculation and have no assets to cover the losses. Contraction or deflation will pile more losses on the already crippled US banks. Fed Reserve and US gov will print money whenever it is necessary if the present paper currency system threatens to deflate or a nation threatens to default on their bonds (ala Greece/EU). If a firm goes bankrupt, the rich will make sure their interests are protected while the customers accounts are last (ala MF Global - read Anne Barnhardt). If the gov can control the inflationary QE the middle class will die. If the gov lose control of the process and ignite bankruptcies/inflation, the rich will loot the system leaving the middle class with nothing. IMHO wealth preservation is the name of the game in this scenario. Protect against deflation and inflation. Personally I am 90 percent cash (so I can react to opportunities) and 10 percent precious metals (in case of high inflation). Right now experts do not know if we face deflation or inflation. Hang loose in cash and metals. Be prepare to shift quickly as the outcome unfolds.
Bottom line: He’s a liar.
In short, he’s a total liar. Nothing that comes out of his mouth means anything.
Obama saying that the American middle class is at risk is exactly like a rapist, poised over the victim, saying that the victim is at risk.
I listened to about 5 minutes before I couldn’t take anymore and switched the channel to “The Big Bang Theory” . I came to the conclusion that the only way to get through an entire 0bummer speech is to make a drinking game of it. Everytime he references “Fairness” or says “millionaires and billionaires aren’t paying their fair share” do a shot. In 5 minutes you’ll be comatose and you can get through the rest of the speech without throwing your shoe through the TV.
Newt is Sheldon to every other candidate’s Penny
Hey, Barry! We already have a blueprint. It’s called the United States Constitution. With that to guard our liberty, leaving us free to associate, invent, arrange, buy, sell, travel, plan, we built the most wealthy, most free, most upwardly mobile society for the largest number of people from the widest variety of national and racial backgrounds in the history of the world. Things were fine until the vampire called socialism started feeding on it. You and your moron socialists buddies are trying to retrofit our society for your idea of paradise. Well, piss off.
That was his stated goal, since his party lost their majority in the House and supermajority in the Senate - to govern through EO's and "signing statements".
Simplifying gov't regs sounds good until you realize that Obama's wonks are then able to interpret what's left - rules that are vague and non-specific.
Was it telling that he used Ford’s sales and prosperity as an example of how well the bail out of the auto manufactures went? Doesn’t he know that they did not receive any gubbment money?
Well he sure couldn’t point to the success of the Volt.
And they call him a smart guy.
I want to find that part in the United States Constitution. That document has been ignored by the pretender. I did not listen to one second of his reelection campaign, but have heard several sound clips this morning. It sounds like the reverberation is back in full reelect me mode.
This is going to be a great opportunity for Newt. We need to clearly articulate how Frank, Dodd and CRA led to the housing crisis. newt can destroy any myths, but has the fannie consulting money muddying the water.