State of the Union – My Thoughts

The following are my personal thoughts on President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night. The bulleted lines are from his speech, everything in italics or [brackets] or bolded is mine.

The speech was long, so the post is long.

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  • One in ten Americans still cannot find work…

In previous posts I argued that the real number for unemployment is much higher, closer to 17% or more.  However I recently came across an article by the Cato Institute that explains why that number is misleading.

  • For those who had already known poverty, life has become that much harder.

When I think of poverty, I think of those commercials of belly bloated children in Africa with flies landing on their eyes. In all my trips around the country, I have never seen this. I am not really sure where the “poverty” lives and assuming it is somewhere, I do not think it makes up a significant percentage of the population. I have read that many below the “poverty line” have VCR’s, DVD players, color TV’s, computers, etc… At some point I will do a post on how the government calculates poverty, how many of them there really are, how many people are impoverished due to their own poor decisions, and what role welfare has on encouraging the poor to stay poor.

  • The toughest to read are those written by children – asking why they have to move from their home, or when their mom or dad will be able to go back to work.

I always have a problem with any politician making anything, “about the children.”  Every time a politician, local, state or federal…has his hand out for money, it’s “for the children.”

  • We face a deficit of trust -– deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue — to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; to give our people the government they deserve. (Applause.)
  • So I supported the last administration’s efforts to create the financial rescue program. And when we took the program over, we made it more transparent and accountable.

What was transparent? He promised to televise the healthcare reform debate on CSPAN so there would be no closed-door deal making and he never did it.  As a result, many closed-door backroom deals were made.  What about the FED?  Whenever we ask them for the list of banks that received our tax money and how much they got, Ben Bernanke simply says, “No.” The GAO is not permitted to review any of those financial transactions….so, exactly what is transparent and open?

  • To recover the rest, I have proposed a fee on the biggest banks. I know Wall Street isn’t keen on this idea, but if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.

As I stated in a prior post, this is just another tax on banks to drum up badly needed funding (at the time) for the proposed healthcare bill hidden under the guise of how much we hate banks so let’s whack them for some more money.  But then, later in his speech, Obama contradicts himself…

  • Look, I am not interested in punishing banks. I’m interested in protecting our economy.

So…he admits to whacking banks with a fee in the billions of dollars because they “can afford to hand out bonuses” but then says, “I am not interested in punishing banks.” Sounds like punishment for giving out bonuses to me.

  • Now, let me repeat: We cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families. (Applause.) We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college. (Applause.)

Democrats have redefined what a “tax cut” means.  To all of us, it simply means you get to keep more of your money by not having to pay it to the IRS. That’s not what it means when Obama says it.  The new Democrat definition of a tax cut according to an article in the WSJ is…”in their lexicon, a tax cut includes tens of billions of dollars in government handouts that are disguised by the phrase ‘tax credit.'” In other words, Americans that don’t pay any taxes at all would get checks from the government for these credits. The money for these checks is simply taken from other Americans who do pay taxes and can’t get the credits..which makes his “tax cut” just one huge wealth transfer from taxpaying Americans to non-taxpaying Americans. According to The Tax Foundation, about 44% of Americans will not pay taxes…but they would be elegible to receive these checks…checks that the other 66% of Americans will have to pay for.  That’s not a  tax cut. Not..a…tax…cut.

  • Because of the steps we took [the economic stimulus plan], there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed.

Big deal.  They spent $787 billion dollars to save 2 million jobs.  Two million jobs is less than half of one percent of the employed…so the unemployment rate would be 10.5% instead of 10%.  And for that half-point we (I mean the next two generations) get to go into $780 billion in debt? We should have just given 2 million unemployed people $390,000 each.

  • Two hundred thousand work in construction and clean energy; 300,000 are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, first responders. (Applause.) And we’re on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year.

So the majority of those that got to keep their jobs are government workers.  Oh, I get it.  Cops, firefighters, correctional officers and first responders.  That’s great. So the same people who make more than the private sector, can retire at 55 with 90% of their highest income and complete medical benefits for life got to keep their jobs. How does a government worker (Obama) telling me he saved millions of other government worker’s jobs make me feel any better?

  • Talk to the window manufacturer in Philadelphia who said he used to be skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he had to add two more work shifts just because of the business it created.

Could it be the same window manufacturer that has a management executive that happens to be married to Cathy Zoi, the Assistant Secretary of Energy who gets to decide which companies receive the Recovery Act funds that we tax payers are providing? Hmmm… Or the fact that she and her husband own 120,000 shares of this company, Serious Materials. Nobody finds it strange that an Obama official gave her own husbands company, that she also owns shares in, a nice slice of the Recovery Act pie?  Read all about it here

  • Regarding the “lost decade”…where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs; where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation.

Simply put, education costs would not be so high if the government stopped subsidizing it. If I am selling apples for $1 and  you are buying them for $1, we are in a free market.  If the government wants to encourage apple sales, it will offer you $1 in funding for every $1 in apples you buy.  Knowing this, I will raise the price of my apples to $2. I’d be stupid not to.  The price of an education began climbing quickly the moment government began subsidizing it.

Medical costs…oh, so many posts about this.  You can not control costs, you can only control prices. If it costs you $1 in flour, eggs, apples and milk to make a pie…then it costs $1.  If you want to make a pie for less than that, then you have to leave out one of the ingredients which would then not be enough to make a pie. Cost is cost is cost. 

What you SELL the pie for can change.  The government is only proposing to force you to sell your pie for LESS.  Which means LESS profit. Which means you have less money to expand, hire more pie-makers, work on new pies, improve your pies, use better ingredients in your pies, etc… So pie eaters will suffer in the end because you can not improve your pies as quickly because you have less money to do so.

  • But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. (Applause.) It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. (Applause.) It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies.

This…I actually like.  I’m not big in using tax payer money to fund green technologies but I do agree we need more nuclear power plants and cleaner coal burning technologies.

  • I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.

I don’t like non-scientists making claims to know for certain a fact what is wholly unknowable.  Just because the head politician says so doesn’t work for me. We have less than 200 years of climate data for a planet that has been around for billions of years.  If we just go back to the dinosaurs 64 million years ago, we only have climate data for 0.0003% of earth’s history. The gall of anyone to think that we even know for sure what is happening.  Some say we are in a global cooling cycle, others in a warming cycle…either way, with only 0.0003% of the data I’m not impressed with anyone’s strenuous guess, which is all it really is. Should we be responsible humans and try to be green? Yes. Should we force taxpayers to pay for it, or hinder an economy with thousands of taxes, regulations and fees? No.

  • Now, this year, we’ve broken through the stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools. And the idea here is simple: Instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success.

Why can’t we just use merit pay at public schools and get rid of tenure? Or how about providing tax credits for families who choose to home school or send their kids to charter schools?  Those are simple ideas that immediately reward success.  Why doesn’t he just do that? Because the unions would never let it happen, and the politicians know it.

  • And let’s tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years –- and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service…

I give Obama credit for mentioning that public workers would have their student loan debt forgiven after 10 years while us lowly unworthy private sector shlubs only get it after 20 years.  He conveniently left out though, that the government workers also would not have to pay taxes on the forgiven amount, while us shlubs would.

I didn’t choose to tackle this issue [healthcare] to get some legislative victory under my belt.

Yes you did.

  • And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn’t take on health care because it was good politics.I took on health care because of the stories I’ve heard from Americans…

Please, no more letters from children. Why are children always registered Democrats?

  • On healthcare reform…Still, this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, the process left most Americans wondering, “What’s in it for me?”

Americans KNOW what’s in it for them…more taxes and a lower quality of healthcare.  That’s why Massachusetts routed Coakley for Brown, to put the brakes on this nonsense.

All the “lobbying and horse-trading?” You mean the lobbying and horse-trading that you promised us wouldn’t happen because you were going to televise all the negotiations on CSPAN..which you never did? THAT is why there was so much lobbying and horse-trading…that’s what happens when you hide the process from the public…backroom deals and secret handshakes rule the process.

I can’t help but hear some elitism in his statement “that he takes his share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people.” Like we are stupid? It’s like he’s saying he used too many big words so we lost him and as a result, simply voted healthcare down because we got confused and started running with scissors in frustration.

  • Now, even as health care reform would reduce our deficit…

Only for the next four years when all the big tax increases go into effect, but none of the healthcare benefits  do.  It’s easy to reduce a debt when you increase taxes to pay for the costs of a service, but withhold providing the service.

  • Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. Now, I know that some in my own party will argue that we can’t address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting. And I agree — which is why this freeze won’t take effect until next year — (laughter) — when the economy is stronger. That’s how budgeting works. (Laughter and applause.)

In the bolded section above…I did not hear laughter on the TV last night.  I heard boos.  Why? Because he talks the big game (well, now he does since he doesn’t have a supermajority anymore) about freezing spending…but he won’t implement it until NEXT year. Why? Why not do it now? And it’s really not next year, it’s “when the economy is stronger” so if he needs to keep spending next year he can just push the freeze into 2012 and beyond stating the economy isn’t “stronger” yet.  And who knows who gets to interpret what “stronger” really means. And why did the article put (laughter) when it should have been (boos)?

Also…80% of the budget is exempt from the freeze and there is some concern on the definition of “freeze” on the remaining 20%.  Depending on how the White House does it, it could mean next to nothing. We’ll see.

  • That’s what I came to Washington to do. That’s why -– for the first time in history –- my administration posts on our White House visitors online. That’s why we’ve excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs, or seats on federal boards and commissions. (nothing here)

Inside those brackets, it should have said, (boos). Why? Because that is what I heard on the TV last night.  There are many that know that lobbyists are not excluded from policy making and that he has many former lobbyists in his administration, even though he said during his campaign he would not do that. The White House even had to admit that certain people were “excluded” from the lobbyist ban in his administration just so he could hire them.

  • We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions.

No, YOUR ambition. If you were here to serve your citizens you would have listened to the months of angry citizens in the polls, on TV, at townhall meetings, on the Radio, on blogs, at tea parties…all over the country. The citizens were all but showing up on the White House grounds with pitchforks.  It took Massachusetts for you to listen, and only because you have no choice now, otherwise, you would still be following your ambition, not your citizens.

  • But each time a CEO rewards himself for failure, or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfish gain, people’s doubts grow. Each time lobbyists game the system or politicians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, we lose faith.

I find it humorous that according to Obama, CEO’s and banks and lobbyists do very evil things like have selfish gain, reward themselves, game the system…but the worst thing a politician does seems to be tearing other politicians down. So, does that mean that politicians don’t do things for selfish gain, to reward themselves or to game the system? I think they do all those things…funny how he made politicians sound like angels, but everyone else is evil incarnate.



Categories: Government Failures

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