Forcing the Future

The good news is that President Obama used his State of the Union speech to declare his commitment to control government spending.  The bad news is that none of the things he wants to blow our money on count as “spending.”  Those things are all “investments,” which are totally different.  He’s got billions in new investments to make.

There will be “investments” in research and development, including “clean energy” that doesn’t work, instead of the oil and gas America desperately needs.  In fact, Obama wants to cut oil and gas tax subsidies to help pay for the green boondoggles.  This will inevitably make energy more expensive, when we’re already heading for five-dollar gas.  The return on investment for “clean energy” is far less than it is for fossil fuels.  Government does not become smaller by shifting subsidies to less efficient, but politically favored, industries.

He spoke of more reliance on biofuels, which are already producing a global food shortage, and more subsidies to clog dealership parking lots with “one million electric cars” nobody wants to drive.  In the future, your subsidized electric car will last just long enough to get you to the train station, where you can use the fabulously expensive high-speed rail system Obama wants to build.

The President wants to make lavish new “investments” in education, adding 100,000 new teachers by the end of the decade, and extending tax credits to help pay for overpriced college educations.  That should make the Democrats’ patrons in the teachers unions happy.  Instead of allowing competition and accountability to increase the quality of our educational product and reduce cost, the President wants more subsidies at the production and consumption ends. 

The President segued from education into another push for illegal alien amnesty:  “Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens.  Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents.  They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation.  Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities.  But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us.  It makes no sense.”

I guess it makes more sense to give illegal students, and their parents, easy citizenship – plus in-state tuition rates unavailable to legal Americans – so they can stay, and compete against citizens for jobs here.  We’ve had nine to ten percent unemployment for twenty straight months.  Our problem is not a shortage of “talented, responsible young people.”

There was some empty rhetoric about “reducing barriers to growth and investment” through regulatory reform.  There is simply no reason to take anything Obama says on this topic seriously while he stubbornly defends the worst job-killing regulatory act in modern history, his health-care plan.  He reiterated his intention to do just that, prattling on about the horrors of allowing insurance companies to “deny someone coverage because of pre-existing conditions.”  If you force an “insurance” company to cover a pre-existing condition, you are compelling them to provide welfare, not sell insurance.

Obama did make a commendable call for reducing our corporate tax rates, and simplifying the corporate tax system.  Why isn’t that a good idea for the rest of us, too?  By the end of the speech, he was back to whining about tax cuts for the Evil Rich, and suggesting we could help to balance our budget by soaking them some more.

The much ballyhooed big announcement of the night was a federal spending freeze.  “I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years.  This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.”  Of course, that “freeze” doesn’t include all the billions of wise “investments” Obama wants to make, and it doesn’t reduce the national debt by a nickel. 

Obama made the same rhetorical flourish about “strengthening Social Security” that every president has made for decades.  He wants to do it “without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.”  He’s talking about an utterly bankrupt system stuffed with IOUs from socialists who have already raided it.  There is no way to “strengthen” a broken Ponzi scheme.  This kind of absurd pretense is leading America over a cliff into utter insolvency.

There was a lot of wispy talk about “rebuilding people’s faith in the institution of government.”  The President who can’t account for billions of his massive stimulus program, much of which vanished into zip codes that don’t exist, promised to eliminate government waste.  The President who thinks $14.3 trillion isn’t enough national debt spoke of a government that would “live within it means.”  The President who came into office promising to reverse his predecessor’s policies in the War on Terror now congratulates himself for changing his mind.  The President whose party gave Charlie Rangel a standing ovation, after a slap on the wrist for outrageous corruption, spoke of “a government that is open and competent.” 

The President wanted his State of the Union speech to evoke the spirit of John F. Kennedy and the New Frontier, even going so far as to mention Sputnik.  The problem is that our space race happened before the government drowned in socialist debt, and blew its bankroll on buying the votes of favored constituencies.  We don’t have the gigantic amount of money Obama wants to plow into his “investments.”  We don’t want to do the things he would force us to do, by re-distributing our wealth.  He spoke tonight of using government power more cleverly, not reducing the amount of force our government deploys against us. 

“We do big things,” said one of the President’s applause lines.  We, the people, most certainly do.  The government’s days of doing big things are over.  We need it to fulfill its Constitutional duties, and obey its restraints, so we can get to work creating a future beyond the limited imagination of central planners.  Our generation’s “Sputnik” moment will be defeating the mountain of debt Barack Obama dropped on us.