Thank you to the Cato Institute for providing me with some issues to consider when reflecting on the State of the Union Address. In full disclosure, the Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank, whose mission it is "to originate, disseminate, and increase understanding of public policies based on the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace."
I didn't really want to comment on the President's State of the Union address Tuesday night, but if I just ignore it, then does that somehow give more credence to the distorted discussion of our national condition?
In fact, if I wanted to dissect the SOTU address, I am sad to say it would provide little inspiration or pride in the state of my country. For instance, we were told that America's graduation rate among students was the highest it had been in three decades. But actual achievement among our students has remained stagnant, in spite of massive increases in the Education budget. Plus, the implementation of this Administration's Common Core Standards will only continue to decimate the academic performance of American students. After all, Head Start gave us so much success, didn't it?
We were told that our deficits have been cut in half. Yes, they have declined, but due to policies like "The Sequester", which the President opposed. So, while this contentious policy has met with some success at lowering our deficit, it is only temporary. By 2016, the numbers will rise again and by 2023, it is estimated that the deficit will be $1 trillion. And how convenient that the $17 trillion debt wasn't even mentioned. What they don't tell us, won't hurt us, right?
What we really want is a smaller government that will stay out of our lives, our hopes and our aspirations. What we want is growth in our economy... real growth ... and we don't want our entrepreneurs, investors, and small business owners penalized. And we certainly don't want Washington to promote class warfare or redistribution of wealth.
I was a little unnerved by the statement that POTUS would get the job done for the American people, "with or without Congress." We want the separation of powers that the Constitution instituted, not a policy of issuing Executive Orders without the consideration of Congress. Exactly how does that translate to government of the people; let alone by us or for us?
You can talk about Trade Agreements that will benefit American businesses, but we'd like a little more information, please, about how they will impact us. And until those treaties are signed ... well, talk is cheap. Then there was the suggestion that Congress (which means the government) could help the economy by building more fueling stations centered around natural gas. That's already being done by the big transportation companies who are building their own natural gas fueling plants --- the market created that demand; not the government! And the market does a much better job at creating success!
One seemingly bright spot in the speech was the fact that the U.S. has reduced its carbon emission rate more than any other nation in the world. True, we have reduced our pollution, but before we hold this up as a praise-worthy achievement, maybe we should take a look at the reasons why: 1) the economic slowdown that began in 2008, (and is still impacting us), and 2) fracking (that hated word) that has created tremendous amounts of clean energy in natural gas. The power pundits in D.C. won't admit to Reason #1, and the EPA nuts abhor Reason #2.
Then we knew we were going to hear it ... the supposed success of the Affordable Care Act, and the laudable numbers of signees. And the number sounded great --- 9 million. But only 3 million of those were able to sign up for private insurance; and two-thirds of them were dropped from insurance plans they were happy with, only to be forced into the exchanges where oftentimes they are getting an inferior product, but paying more. The other 6 million have been shoved into Medicaid. And guess who ultimately pays for that? It's not hard to see the cracks in that logic.
Then there was the inevitable topic of gun violence and how Americans were standing up each day to stop it. Yes, we are ... with guns! Our Second Amendment right has given us the means to provide a defense against violence. Why not concentrate on stopping the violence instead of the means of defense? A good place to start would be the drug wars south of our border.
And we can't have a SOTU address without commenting on the wars in which our troops are engaged. Wait a minute, I heard Afghanistan mentioned, but not Iraq. Could it be that our policy there is coming unraveled and the enemy is once again on the offensive? And if you are going to end the war in Afghanistan, why not bring all the troops home? What does leaving 10,000 soldiers there accomplish, other than put every one of their lives in danger?
That brings us to the topic of drones and surveillance, both held forth as important tactics in our war strategy. But why do they both now seem limitless on the domestic front? It leaves me wondering where is that 2007 Presidential candidate who promised "no more secret meetings", and "more openness" from government? In fact, where is the promised "transparency"? Certainly not in the plans for his Office of Management and Budget to gut legislation that would provide transparency so that the American people can oversee the spending of the government.
So while the President fulfilled his Constitutional duty, as specified in Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, it was interesting to note that he used the word "We" over 120 times in his speech. One has to question who he means by the use of that word.... "We" the American people, or "We" the government? That, in itself, would go a long way in my determination of whether the speech was a success or not.
Psalm 146:3 "Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation."