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President Obama gave his State Of The Union speech last night. In this speech, we met a new Obama, a more centrist sounding Obama. I found myself agreeing with most of what he said, with a few glaring exceptions. I also was thinking about what a different tone this new Obama has taken when compared to the 2008 candidate Obama. I was wondering, has he grown into the job he was so clearly unqualified for two years ago ? After all, nothing beats experience, and this new Obama has been President for two years now. Perhaps Obama has learned on the job. He's a smart guy. Or perhaps Obama is just another politician, who is adjusting to political reality and trying to position himself to be re-elected in 2012. Decades of listening to politicians change like the wind leads me to believe that might be it. Maybe it's a combination of these things. Only time will tell.
Because I assume you all listened to Obama's speech last night, I'm going to highlight the other State Of The Union speech given by Republican Paul Ryan. First, Ryan describes our problems:
A few years ago, reducing spending was important. Today, it’s imperative. Here’s why. We face a crushing burden of debt. The debt will soon eclipse our entire economy, and grow to catastrophic levels in the years ahead. On this current path, when my three children – who are now 6, 7, and 8 years old – are raising their own children, the Federal government will double in size, and so will the taxes they pay. No economy can sustain such high levels of debt and taxation. The next generation will inherit a stagnant economy and a diminished country.
Next, Ryan describe how Obama has made things worse:
Our debt is the product of acts by many presidents and many Congresses over many years. No one person or party is responsible for it.
There is no doubt the President came into office facing a severe fiscal and economic situation. Unfortunately, instead of restoring the fundamentals of economic growth, he engaged in a stimulus spending spree that not only failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs, but also plunged us even deeper into debt. The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25% for domestic government agencies – an 84% increase when you include the failed stimulus. All of this new government spending was sold as “investment.” Yet after two years, the unemployment rate remains above 9% and government has added over $3 trillion to our debt.
Then the President and his party made matters even worse, by creating a new open-ended health care entitlement. What we already know about the President’s health care law is this: Costs are going up, premiums are rising, and millions of people will lose the coverage they currently have. Job creation is being stifled by all of its taxes, penalties, mandates and fees.
Businesses and unions from around the country are asking the Obama Administration for waivers from the mandates. Washington should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. The President mentioned the need for regulatory reform to ease the burden on American businesses. We agree – and we think his health care law would be a great place to start.
Last week, House Republicans voted for a full repeal of this law, as we pledged to do, and we will work to replace it with fiscally responsible, patient-centered reforms that actually reduce costs and expand coverage.
Health care spending is driving the explosive growth of our debt. And the President’s law is accelerating our country toward bankruptcy.
So far, I'm in complete agreement with Rep. Ryan...but this is where his speech fell apart. I realize his time was limited, but he didn't put forth even one concrete proposal to eliminate the debt and reduce spending. Instead, he listed off Republican principles - individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise, national security, etc. That's nice, but I already know what the Republican principles are. What we need are concrete plans, and I didn't hear any. Obama did list off some ideas to reduce the debt and reduce spending, though all of his ideas taken together probably wouldn't really reduce spending, and they wouldn't come near to balancing the budget. But at least he had some ideas. I know Rep. Ryan has lots of ideas too, more than most politicians. It would have been nice to hear some of them last night. Opportunity lost.
Rep. Michelle Bachmann also gave a rebuttal speech to President Obama's State Of The Union message. Bachmann was representing the Tea Party movement. Bachmann hit many of the same notes that Rep. Ryan hit about the Obama administration's faults (too much spending, too much debt, failed stimulus, ObamaCare, overregulation, rising future taxation), but I'm looking for answers, and Bachmann didn't provide any either in her short speech. Thanks for nothing, GOPers. What a big help you weren't.
Because I didn't hear anything from the GOP last night, I'll provide a link to some real spending cuts. These come from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who wants to cut $500 billion in federal spending in ONE YEAR. Paul's cuts are very detailed, and would make a big difference. I wonder if America is ready to handle it. Some of it will sound radical, but we need something radical to happen or we're in big trouble. I urge everyone to at least read Sen. Paul's bill overview.