The speech was titled the State of the Union. But the proposals offered suggest a lot more about the state of mind of those in charge at the White House than what is really happening. Let’s take a look at a few out takes.
Too many people still can’t find employment. The fastest growing employer in America is surely the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program SNAP. Now some 47 million near permanently entitled individuals are on this program. Does anyone think any of them plan to leave the program? Right behind SNAP is the growth in Social Security disability insurance. The number of new enrollees there is twice the job growth figure over the last four years. This no doubt swells the underground economy as many take cash jobs to keep their government benefits.
The Affordable Health Care Act is helping slow the growth of health care costs. This is hardly the case as small business looks to keep its employment under the 50 person requirement. Insurance premiums are rising not falling.
Tax loopholes for the well off and well protected — why make deep cuts to education? The tax code would be more accurately titled the “Ability to Dispense Favors for our Re-Election Code.” While the president decries the complexity of the tax code, all he has done is raise taxes since taking office. We spend non-value added billions preparing tax forms at all levels. Tom Sowell’s solution would tie Federal spending to 10 percent of GDP; that would solve the deficit problem. Ah, education, what a siren song! We need more car mechanics and fewer political science majors with $100K in tuition debt.
Reducing the Deficit — The speech is littered with spending proposals but no cuts in anything. China is no longer expanding its purchase of Treasury Debt. Our own Fed is now the biggest purchaser. Even a return to five percent interest rates would cause debt service to soar in the budget. There will be no job growth with government taking 23-24 percent of the GDP for entitlement programs.
Attracting Jobs — The biggest economic stimulus would be a one-time tax holiday allowing corporations to bring profits home from overseas. This would allow one hundred percent of those billions to potentially create jobs. But that suggestion was not in the speech.
We produce more natural gas than ever but we must battle climate change — The earth’s climate moves in cycles like anything else. The President makes it clear that if Congress does not enact whatever draconian ideas he harbors on energy, he will simply do it by Executive Order. There was no mention of the Keystone Pipeline. We wait for the EPA to deliver new rules of hydraulic fracturing. And so the rig count is down and the energy service business is nervous. There is no way the administration could ever prove it harnessed climate change but it certainly could virtually rule entire industries with new regulations.
Solar energy gets cheaper — Solar and wind would not exist without government subsidies. A porch that shades a window is a better more affordable idea than a solar cell on Earth. Solar and wind subsidies allow the administration to reward their political backers, period. Making tax credits available to convert diesel trucks to natural gas would be far more effective than more Solyndra bankruptcies.
There were also suggestions that the government needs to further meddle in the housing business. One need only look to a collapsed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make a judgment on that idea. The housing industry has recovered on its own; leave it that way.
Pre-school for four year olds — Like climate change, it is near impossible to show any results from such programs. This does however swell membership in teacher unions, and indoctrinate children and citizens to the idea that government is their savior. How about less federal spending which would lower taxes allowing Mom to stay home and raise her own children rather than work to pay taxes to send them to the government.
Expand Minimum Wage to $9 — Somehow Washington knows that a 24 percent increase from $7.25 would lift those out of (note the rhetoric here) poverty? How is it that the bicycle delivery man in NYC should make the same wage as a pizza delivery man in Abilene, Tex.?
And that reflects the true state of mind in Washington, D.C.
Dennis Elam is an assistant professor at Texas A&M San Antonio and a 1966 graduate of Andrews High School and blogs at www.the