Top 10 SOTU lowlights
President Obama’s State of the Union address gave us another chance to look at the antics of Joe Biden, who—seen over the president’s shoulder, wearing a purple tie—squirmed, squinted, took notes, wiped his brow, scratched his neck, stood to lead applause, laughed, nodded, clapped and rubbed his eyes, all while John Boehner sat stoically on the other side. At least Joe was entertaining, the president was not. In fact, here are the lowlights of his speech.
1. Call for more taxes
Obama called for a “balanced approach” to reduce the deficit, which is his way of pushing for higher taxes on the American people. After getting Republicans to cave on tax rates for upper-income workers in the fiscal cliff deal, the president now wants to turn the GOP’s idea of a loophole-closing, revenue-neutral tax reform into a new stream of funding for more government spending.
2. Call for more spending
While insisting that “nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime,” Obama went on to call for increased spending on education, energy and infrastructure repairs. Not content with leveling the playing field in America with his ideals of social justice, the president also called for the United States to make efforts to “eradicate extreme poverty” across the globe.
3. Gun control plea
Obama played to the emotions of gun violence as he acknowledged families of gunshot victims seated in the audience at the end of his speech, as part of his call for more gun- control regulations. His plan, which includes getting “weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets,” was couched as coming together “to protect our most precious resource—our children.”
4. Minimum wage hike
Obama says he is all about creating jobs, yet his proposal to increase the federal minimum wage would be a job killer. Not only does he want to see a 20 percent increase in the minimum wage this year, he wants to tie it to the cost of living, so that it rises annually. Just like his Obamacare measure, which will cost jobs among low-income workers, this plan will hurt many of those he seeks to help.
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5. New military
Even as he is presiding over the gutting of the Pentagon budget, Obama said he would ensure “we will maintain the best military in the world.” He did not explain the contradiction.
6. Climate change threat
Obama should have looked at the recent admissions by the U.N.’s International Panel on Climate Change that its models have been woefully inaccurate in predicting future weather patterns before touting “the overwhelming judgment of science” regarding global warming. Yet he threatened to circumvent Congress “for the sake of our children” by using executive action “to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
7. Inadequate entitlement reform
Obama’s only attempt to deal with entitlement reform was his call to enact the Simpson-Bowles commission’s recommendations on Medicare cuts, which were also the only spending cuts offered by the president in the address. Even then he sought to use the savings to leverage more tax increases on the rich, falling back on his class warfare rhetoric. And once again, the president offered no plan to shore up the Social Security system.
8. Education expenses
Obama proposed a stunning new entitlement for small children with his plan for universal pre-school programs starting at age four. He also proposed funneling more money to help expand technical high schools in communities across the country. How he was going to pay for these programs was left unsaid.
9. War on Terror boast
Obama made a bold declaration when he said “we can say with confidence that America will complete its mission in Afghanistan and achieve our objective of defeating the core of al Qaeda,” even while announcing the troops were coming home from the Middle East war zone. Coming so soon after four Americans were murdered by al-Qaeda linked terrorists, the words ring hollow.
10. Misstated the State of the Union
Obama opened his speech with the declaration that “the state of our union is stronger,” while listing positive indicators in areas like job creation and housing and praising government action that cause “stronger protections” for “consumers, patients and homeowners.” Such a rosy outlook is at odds with the record number of Americans not participating in the workforce and an economy that contracted in fourth quarter 2012.