Right Turn Signals – State of the Union Address
With the President’s State of the Union address earlier this week, he put on his right turn signal, but is he turning? The President loves to use these automotive analogies (Republicans can’t drive, put the car in D, Republicans have to sit in the back, all very cute), so being a car guy myself, I decided to make one of my own. With the “shlacking” in November, there has been much talk and even some movement of President Obama to the right on the ideological scale. It is clear to me after hearing the State of the Union, that President Obama has turned on his right turn signal, but he’s not making a right turn.
President Obama spoke of our need to reign in spending, which is good. But what did he actually say? He said he would push for a spending freeze. Sure a spending freeze would help, but that’s not cutting spending. That’s keeping it where it is. No effect on the deficit. In fact, Obama spent a good part of his speech talking about “investing” in energy, science, electric cars, high-speed rail, infrastructure, etc. Sounds a lot like spending, and spending a lot. President Obama spoke about the economy and our struggle in international competition and our continued recovery from recession, but he listed these new investments as the way out. Certainly these are important things, but these things are not going to have an immediate effect as we try to recover from recession. People want to know what were going to do now! After all, I think President Obama has lost some credibility on the spending issue after spending so much on stimulus packages in his first two years. With turn signal on, Obama wants to appeal to the vast majority of people who want our fiscal house in order, but listen closely and I don’t think we should expect spending cuts from the President anytime soon.
To be fair, Obama did have some examples of spending cuts, and said he was ready to work with Republicans on further spending cuts. However, he immediately went back to defending his “investments”. So are we freezing spending, or cutting spending, or (what will probably happen) cut spending in some areas and “invest” with spending in others? These examples seemed like an after thought to his spending freeze idea. Not a main policy for the future. Another fake to the right? Maybe.
Along with spending, is the issue of the new Health Care Reform package, repealed by the House, but unlikely to be picked up for a vote in the Senate. Again, Obama tried to sound fiscally responsible by citing the CBO report that we will be saving a few hundred billion dollars by keeping the reform. If you read my last post, you know that his numbers come from the CBO reporting that over the next ten years the government will collect $770B in new taxes, while spending $540B on the new healthcare entitlement. Everyone knows that’s not saving money, that’s increasing spending and increasing taxes more.
He also spoke about his regulation review to help business. However, he failed to mention all the exceptions to that (healthcare reform and financial reform). Again, a policy that sounds right of center, sounds common sense, and is appealing to the vast majority of the American people. But with these major exceptions, can you really say he’s moving to the right and is pursuing these policies whole-heartedly?
As President Obama listed these spending/economic policies and praised last year’s tax cuts, it was clear he was trying to strike a different cord with the American people and appearing more as a centrist. He also spoke many times about the need for bipartisan cooperation. But has he ever really cooperated with Republicans? Again, it sounds good, but doesn’t have the track record to back it up.
Obama did lay out plans for things that I would applaud. Tax policy simplification, continued efforts in the War on Terror, and the ending of the 1099 small business bookkeeping regulation are all things I think everyone can be behind. But let’s not be fooled into thinking Obama is moving to the right. He may have his right turn signal on, but I don’t think he’s going to be making right turns anytime soon.