The president’s State of the Union address was predictable on a number of levels. He called on Congress to pass “balanced” deficit reduction by taxing the rich — and never mentioned that he just raised taxes by $600 billion over the coming decade and that he raised taxes by $1 trillion in the health-care law. He said we can never pull back on promises made in the form of entitlement commitments — without ever mentioning that those promises have never been fully funded and will lead, at some point, to a fiscal and economic crisis. There’s nothing more fiscally irresponsible than to suggest that entitlement commitments can never be revised — but that’s essentially what the president said in his speech tonight.
He said he was willing to restrain Medicare spending, but only with more government-driven price cuts instead of real reforms that will improve the productivity of the health system.
He then went on to recite a good portion of the laundry list of new spending and regulatory ideas that liberal politicians have been pushing for years: universal pre-school, global-warming legislation, job training and infrastructure spending, a “paycheck fairness” act, and even a hike in the minimum wage. The added federal spending for all of this would be financed, presumably, with an ever more “balanced” approach to fiscal policy — meaning, of course, even higher taxes on job creators and entrepreneurs.
As usual for a State of the Union address, this speech was such a disconnected assortment of ideas that nothing in it really stood out. So the good news is that what the president proposed — a tired and unoriginal call for even more liberal governance — will be long forgotten in a few short weeks. And that’s certainly good news for the State of the Union.