President Barack Obama, on Tuesday night, gave his first presidential
address before Congress. He looked good, sounded great, and delivered
his address with poise and confidence. He entered the Capitol and made
his way through the applauding throng like a modern-day Moses slowly
parting the Red Sea.
The moment was certainly historic, and all Americans or at least
nearly all Americans took pride in living in a country that went from
a Constitution that defined a black as three-fifths of a person to one
where a black person could be elected President of the United States.
But when the applause died down, the President took out a scattergun and
attempted to hit everything in sight. He confidently asserted his and
our intention to overcome the current economic downturn and march toward
an even brighter future.
How? Government/taxpayers will spend our way to the summit.
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He/Congress/we will "invest" in health care and education; "save or
create" 3.5 million jobs; "cure cancer within our lifetime"; provide
assistance to the states; "save our planet from the ravages of climate
change"; save banks and other financial institutions while holding
"accountable those responsible" for their problems; increase the size of
the military; end torture (presumably he meant of our enemies); and cut
the size of the deficit.
What?! Nothing about crafting a college football playoff?
After the President's speech, the political commentators fell over
themselves in complimenting the President. Many said things like "he
aimed high," "he set out an ambitious agenda," and "he outlined a
vigorous list of expected accomplishments."
Economist Thomas Sowell uses a three-pronged test to examine
government's "new ideas." 1) How much will it cost? 2) Who pays? 3) Will
it work? Few of the post-speech analysts seemed to care.
One waited in vain for the political experts to point out that the
President's spending spree must come from somewhere taxes or
borrowing or printing.
And, as an aside, how would the press have reacted had former President
George W. Bush claimed as did Obama that America "invented the
Suppose Bush steered a shopping cart down the aisle, packed it with
everything in sight that he could grab, pushed it to the cashier, and
then said, "You mean I gotta pay?"
The President, on Tuesday night, promised to both lower taxes and raise
taxes. He promised to both reduce spending and increase it. He promised
to expand education while simultaneously claiming that education begins
in the home. He promised to bail out homeowners "responsible" ones
while insisting that Americans take responsibility for living beyond our
means and making bad choices.
He promised to provide financial assistance to states while never
mentioning the states' fiscal irresponsibility. He said, "There are 57
police officers who are still on the streets of Minneapolis tonight
because this plan prevented the layoffs their department was about to
make," yet said nothing about whether that state budgeted or spent
He unilaterally abolished the notion that "there ain't no such thing as
a free lunch." Under his administration, the free lunch not only exists,
but government bureaucrats provide takeout or delivery.
The President, last night, mentioned no total price tag for all this
largesse. He did say, however, that he intends to raise taxes on the 2
percent of Americans making more than $250,000. Somehow he expects to
burden "the rich" still more and not affect their behavior. Already, the
top 1 percent pays nearly 40 percent of all federal income taxes.
The President, as he said during the campaign, promised to lower taxes
on 95 percent of Americans. Of course, nearly 30 percent of working
Americans pay zero in federal income taxes. But they, too, will get
checks. And, Obama said to applause, the "checks are on the way."
The President sketched out a federal government grab larger than any in
the history of our nation. His administration intends to bail out and
oversee everything from banks to car manufacturers to lemonade stands.
Be not afraid about waste, mismanagement or politically directed
spending. To ensure that our money is spent properly, the Obama
administration intends to post the allocations on the Internet, ensuring
wise and appropriate fund distribution.
Do those who voted against the President "want him to fail"? No, those
who opposed the President want America to succeed.
The formula for that success has a long and impressive track record:
lower taxes, rein in government spending, and promote free trade. Let's
put it another way: Remove government's boot from the neck of the
American worker, businessperson and entrepreneur.
Set them free. Watch what happens.