President Obama gave his 2012 State of the Union speech
Tuesday night, and it was a lackluster performance, to say the least. Reports leading up to the speech said it would be more of a campaign speech than a true State of the Union, the the reports were true. Now, the only question is, can I bill the Obama campaign for wasting an hour of my life watching this travesty?
The president continued his trend of complaining about Congress ' and yes, Congress is divided. But it is not the division in Congress that our president doesn't like. Congress acts as a check on his power, and that
is what President Obama has a problem with. Things were so much easier for him when his party controlled both houses of Congress and rubber-stamped his agenda, but now that he has some pushback from the American public, who spoke with their votes in 2010, suddenly he is the victim of political divisiveness. May I remind the president that he isn't facing anything that any other president has who has had to deal with a divided Congress? If they brought back canings on the floor of the Senate
, then he might have a point, but let's face it: what President Obama is dealing with today is a consequence of the system of checks and balances put into place by our Founders.
It's rather hypocritical for a president who, as a US Senator, participated in blocking President Bush's judicial nominees, to now complain that Republicans are now using the same tactic against him...though to justify himself, he did include a pithy graphic showing how many more days his nominees had been blocked than had President Bush's ' because third-grade one-upmanship is an important quality in the President of the United States.
And that wasn't the only time President Obama pointed fingers at the Bush administration: he also decided to play on-upmanship games on the issue of illegal immigration, claiming that he had "put more boots on the border than ever before," with yet another pithy slide showing the number of bordre patrol agents under President Bush vs. the number of border patrol agents during his presidency. He left out, of course, that the increase in border agents began during the Bush administration,
and only came to fruition during his term...just like the auto bailout the president was all too happy to take credit for.
And on the subject of the GM bailout, not only was President Obama willing to take credit for it, but he left out a few key points...like how he used the bailout to give kickbacks to his allies in the Auto Worker's Union, or the fact that just a few weeks ago, it came out that Chevy was moving production of the Volt to Shanghai. The Volt, if you remember, was held up by the Administration as a shining example of the success of the bail-out. It's just a shame that Chevrolet can't seem to sell any of them here in America ' no one wants them. It was also a bit odd of the President to invoke Ford as he was praising the bail-out, as Ford didn't take any bail-out money. Add to that the President's statement later on in the speech: "It's time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody." It makes one wonder whether anyone actually read the speech before throwing it up on the president's teleprompter ' kind of like when the president referenced college dropout Steve Jobs
Perhaps the worst part of President Obama's speech came when he spoke about his ideas for the nation's energy policy
. It's rather hypocritical for the president who just nixed the Keystone LX pipeline to drone on about what he has done to expand our energy infrastructure and create jobs in the energy sector. That project alone would have created thousands of jobs and been a huge help in making America less dependent on the Middle East or South America for our oil needs.
And on energy, it went even further than Keystone. President Obama talked at length about how his administration has expanded oil exploration. The problem is, the permitting process has become so entangled in bureaucracy, it just isn't worth it to oil companies to explore in America. From Big Government: "Permitting activity in the Gulf of Mexico is down over 60 percent from the historic average for deep water and shallow water wells." Gas prices continue to be over $3 per gallon across much of America, putting a crunch on average people's finances, and if Iran were to attempt to block the Strait of Hormuz, as they have been threatening lately, those prices would only increase.
President Obama also tried to present himself as a deficit hawk, throwing out several ideas to reduce our debt ' which was interesting, considering how just a month ago he tried to slip a debt ceiling increase through while Congress was in recess. His biggest idea for debt reduction: now that he has ended the Iraq War and is drawing down troop levels in Afghanistan, we can use half of the savings to pay down the debt, and the other half for another stimulus! What an idea!
There's only one problem: bringing the troops home won't mean that the federal government will suddenly have a bunch of cash on hand, it just means that we'll be borrowing less.
I'm not sure the speechwriter was even awake at this point. Personally, I don't think borrowing money to pay down our debt is a very good idea.
But the president's speech truly became a campaign speech when he brought up the ever-present payroll tax cut. In President Obama's own words:
Right now, our most immediate priority is stopping a tax hike on 160 million working Americans while the recovery is still fragile. People cannot afford losing $40 out of each paycheck this year. There are plenty of ways to get this done. So let's agree right here, right now: No side issues. No drama. Pass the payroll tax cut without delay.
But if passing the payroll tax cut is so important, shouldn't they have passed the full-year extention back in December? After all, it's only an issue today because Congressional Democrats and President Obama planted their feet on the issue and refused to budge when Republicans pushed for the much more sensible full-year extention that the president had originally called for. At the time,
I said that the two-month extention was little more than an election year ploy so President Obama could use the debate to continue his demonization of Congressional Republicans. When President Obama flashed the #40dollars tag in his slide show, he proved me right. The only question now is, if the GOP gets on board with his current calls for the extention, how will the Democrats twist the situation to their political advantage this time around? If they really want to save Americans money, they should push an energy policy that will actually lower gas prices ' besides saving people money when they fill up their cars, that strategy will have far-reaching positive effects throughout our economy.
Let's face it: we have a president who is all about campaigning. He has no concept of how to lead our nation into a brighter future. Each and every one of the GOP presidential candidates may have some ups and some downs, but any of them would be a better president than the one we have now. Through his entire term in office, a budget has yet to be passed. President Obama is quick to call on Congress to "pass this bill" when he has some spending program he wants to implement, but you won't hear him mention the federal budget, because it is his party that refuses to take action. Perhaps the greatest indictment of his administration is his continued insistence, even now, in the last year of his first (and hopefully last) term, to still blame President Bush!
It's almost as if he is admitting that he has been an ineffective leader.
When it comes to his plans for the economy, all he has are the same old, tired ideas that have been rejected by both parties. He called for spending to fix "crumbling roads and bridges," but we already spent billions of dollars for that same goal. If that $800 billion didn't get the job done, then the president not only needs to account for the money that he already spent, but he needs to lay out a specific agenda for how he plans to spend more money to get it right this time, and then show results. The fact that President Obama keeps calling for the same initiatives even after he got funding for them the first time just shows that we can't trust him with our money.
The same goes for his call to expand access to broadband Internet access in rural areas. His original attempt at this during the first stimulus was a massive boondoggle.
Not only did an analysis of programs in Montana, Kansas, and Minnesota show that the average cost to bring broadband to those areas came out to just over $349,000 per home
, but the program in Montana was bringing broadband to homes that already had access to broadband services,
putting the average cost to bring broadband to the seven homes that actually didn't have it at around $7 million per home.
The column I wrote about last year's State of the Union was titled "The State of the Campaign." Frankly, I could have saved myself some time and submitted the same column this year, because the president's tactics haven't changed a bit - he is still denying his failures and lying to create successes that just don't exist. He continues to use the same tired arguments to push the same failed policies that he has repeated over and over throughout his presidency.
It's time to try something new - like a president who will actually make a difference, instead of taking every opportunity available to play more partisan political games.