Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SOTU: A Welcome Focus On The Economy... But It Would Have Been More Welcome Two Years Ago (UPDATED x2)

I was more interested than usual this year in the State of the Union Address, principally because I wanted to see how Obama was going to try to promote the economy and pledge to pare down the debt, but also increase government spending. The speech, in my opinion, was short in the way of economic specifics, although Obama called for a freeze on spending and certain targeted budget cuts, like defense, and ending earmarks, closing tax loopholes and subsidies to everyone's favorite demon, the big oil companies. '

I liked many of the things Obama said about increasing our international competitiveness, increasing focus on education and job creation, and especially innovation. But I sure wish this was the agenda that Obama came into office with, and had spent the last two years working towards, instead of doinking around with healthcare takeovers, global warming treaties, Asian carp czars, and tyring to be president of the world instead of the U.S. Let's not forget that for all his platitudes tonight, in my opinion Obama has spent the better part of the last two years tending to deny American exceptionalism, and killing programs that are exactly what he's now touting, like NASA's plan to return men to the moon. (h/t Drudge Report) So much for the "Sputnik moment" he mentioned. In the end, his track record is, shall we say, lacking at best.

Congressman Paul Ryan gave the Republican response, and I have to say I was a bit underwhelmed, at least on his delivery. He focused heavily on deficit reduction and reminded the nation that the huge deficits that we now face are in part due to the enormous spending increases under the Obama administration:

Our debt is the product of acts by many presidents and many Congresses over many years. No one person or party is responsible for it.

There is no doubt the president came into office facing a severe fiscal and economic situation.

Unfortunately, instead of restoring the fundamentals of economic growth, he engaged in a stimulus spending spree that not only failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs but also plunged us even deeper into debt.

The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25 percent for domestic government agencies — an 84 percent increase when you include the failed stimulus.

All of this new government spending was sold as "investment." Yet after two years, the unemployment rate remains above 9 percent and government has added over $3 trillion to our debt.

Then the president and his party made matters even worse, by creating a new open-ended health care entitlement.

Ryan continued from there, very calmly, matter-of-factly. Not a lot of fire and brimstone. But maybe given that Obama seemed to be lacking his usual spark as well, maybe it was just an overall understated evening, in part due to the recent tragic shooting in Tucson, which was mentioned by both Obama and Ryan, and an ever-present shadow over the speeches cast by an empty chair left in the congressional seating area (for Congresswoman Giffords who is still recovering) and many lapel pins honoring her present in the crowd.

I should also mention that Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann also gave a response to the SOTU on behalf of the Tea Party, but I just finished watching an interview with her on NBC, in which she complimented Paul Ryan's GOP response, and denied that her speech was in any way meant to be in 'competition' with the official Republican response.

Your reactions?

UPDATED 1/26/11 6:4 am: Fox News does the math and Obama's spending ambitions aren't balanced by the opportunities to cut that he identified in his SOTU speech. Big shocker. We could pretty much tell that just by listening to it and doing the calculations in your head.

UPDATED x2 12:15 pm: I found this a most thoughtful recap and analysis of the SOTU.


Anonymous said...

TA - you failed to mention how nice it was to watch the President without having to look at Nancy Pelosi over his left shoulder.

When it comes to the financial problems, let us not overlook the fact that the 111th congress created more debt than the first 100 congresses combined!

Trebor of Libertyville

Team America said...

Trebor, I'd love it if I could believe that Obama is no longer apologist-in-chief for the US, but I will have to wait and see.

Anonymous said...

We cannot compete internationally when other countries cheat and break patents, reverse engineer, etc -- not to mention pollute without consequence -- while we are regulated and micromanaged to death. These tyrant kings who tell us how to live: what to feed our kids, how to get to work, how to do our jobs, are an insult especially since they have no real accomplishments to speak of other than getting lucky in an election. When tyrants can't make an argument or case for their position, they just call the rest of us names or continually put blame elsewhere. They must go -- at every level of government. Lastly, no one ever mentions the Federal Reserve. They have a lot of power and are accountable to no one. They do, however, really impact our lives with how they tweak the interest rates, tweak the currency and make deals with foreign governments/central banks. They are not audited and don't respond to FOI requests. Yet we just accept what they do....
Fed up of Libertyville.

Rob_N said...

Trebor of Libertyville...

Perhaps you ought to be saying "Let us not overlook the fact that the 111th Republican Caucus spouted more lies than the first 100 Republican Caucuses combined!"

Politifact has given your fib about debt from the 111th a big red FALSE every time a conservative has mentioned it whether it be Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy or, sadly, you.




I'd love it if you and Trebor could be bother to tell the truth.

To wit, PolitiFact also gives your lie about "apologist-in-chief" another big red FALSE.



Anonymous said...

Rob N -
I suggest you go back and carefully read the politifact article thoroughly. The 111th congress did indeed create more debt than the first 100 congresses combined. Just look at the $ without worrying about inflation etc. The statement is NOT false. (See also www.treasurydirect.gov for more raw data.
On the other hand your dripping sarcasm about the 111th Republican Caucus shows your true colors.

Trebor of Libertyville

Rob_N said...

Everyone already knows my colors - I believe in speaking the truth. :)

If we could all just ignore inflation we'd be living in the same fantasy world conservative partisans seem to be "residing" in of late. (I say "partisans" because most of the rational conservatives I know see through the right-wing punditry's hot air.)

Unfortunately, ignoring realities like inflation simply doesn't work in the real world. That's why PolitiFact ranked the fib you repeated as FALSE.

In other words, we can certainly have discussions about the necessity and value of running deficits and debts but you and your conservative comrades ought not to be trying to trick your fellow Americans about the history of government debt (and deficits) in this country.

That said, if you think my posts are "dripping with sarcasm" perhaps that's because you're prone to disagree with the facts I point out.

As it is, I guess I'd rather be dripping with sarcasm in my attempts to discuss the facts with my fellow Americans than boiling over with fallacies as noted by PolitiFact's investigation into the right-wing talking point you repeated.

Anonymous said...

Rob N -

From the Politifact link you used comes the following:

"Meanwhile, CNSNews tracked down a document showing that the gross federal debt reached $3.22 trillion in September 1990, a date that came during the 101st Congress. Thus the focus on the first 100 Congresses.

The bottom line: If McCarthy had referred to debt rather than spending, he would have been correct..."

My statement was that the 111th Congress created more DEBT than the first 100 Congresses combined - which Politifact confirms is TRUE.

Better luck next time with your unfounded criticisms...

Trebor of Libertyville