SOTU: a prebuttalsponse
It’s common practice for political opponents of the President to write a “prebuttal” to the State of the Union speech, which long ago became a campaign event. There will be official Republican responses afterward, from both Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. I won’t try to steal their thunder, or sustain any pretense that President Obama would consider advancing most of the ideas that I would champion in his place. I would just like to clarify a few of the themes I know the President will hit tonight. I want to nail down a few of the more ephemeral talking points.
For starters, can the President please explain why America is supposed to be satisfied with years of double-digit real unemployment? Let’s dispense with the heavily massaged U-3 number and talk about the true rate, which includes the people who have left the workforce completely. That figure currently stands at roughly 11 percent. That’s really the best we can do? That’s good enough, after decades in which Barack Obama’s predecessors, particularly the Republicans, were excoriated for hitting 5 percent? How can anyone say, with a straight face, that we’re still “poised for growth” after holding this fetal position for four long years?
What, exactly, is holding us down to minimal growth and dismal employment, four years after the great financial crisis? If this is still supposed to be George Bush’s fault, could the President kindly outline exactly which Bush policies are still making themselves felt during the second term of his successor?
President Obama is expected to announce his 17th “pivot to job creation” tonight, declaring that once again, jobs have become his top priority. This is obviously not true, and it’s rather insulting to keep wasting America’s time by repeating a focus-grouped falsehood. Let’s have the president clearly rank his actual priorities, honestly informing Americans what ranks higher than job creation: ObamaCare, wealth redistribution, “climate change” theology, increasing the size of government, and so forth. Explain to the American people – who are, after all, supposed to be Obama’s “bosses” – exactly why each of these things must be considered more important than job creation. Explain why each of the policies that really would inspire job creation – repeal of ObamaCare, tax reduction, cutting back on the regulatory burden – is unthinkable.
The President is fond of saying that we can’t return to failed policies from the past, policies we know to be ineffective. Well, we know perfectly well what does work: the Reagan Revolution. The success of these policies is indisputable, as was the miserable failure of Reagan’s predecessor, Jimmy Carter. These are objectively verifiable facts of history. Please outline each of Mr. Reagan’s policies as you understand them, President Obama, and explain why each of them is inappropriate for the moribund American economy of 2013. Also, please review the policies of Jimmy Carter, and give us your understanding of why they didn’t work.
Fiscal policy is very much on America’s mind. We’ve had our tax hikes; now it is time for Obama to lay out the immense spending cuts that will be needed to bring the federal budget into balance. Why hasn’t the President begun preparing the government, and its dependents, for the effects of these cuts? The President speaks often of a “balanced approach” and “smart spending cuts.” It is long past time for him to specify precisely where these “smart cuts” will occur. The State of the Union speech would be a perfect opportunity to make the announcement.
Of course, we all know the answer: he’s going to demand more tax increases, while making some vague noise about those “smart cuts” that are never actually outlined, much less implemented. So let’s cut to the chase, Mr. President. Please tell us precisely whose taxes you intend to raise, in order to bring in another trillion dollars per year in revenue. At last – at long, long last – would our socialist President please specify exactly what tax rates would be “fair?” We hear constant demands for the rich to pay their fair share, but never in my life has a prominent socialist specified what a “fair share” is. Let’s nail that number down, let Obama call for increasing taxes to that rate immediately, and then design our government so that it doesn’t spend more than the income it collects by taxing everyone at this optimal “fair” rate.
Sometimes the President behaves as if the deficit is irrelevant, a meaningless paper artifact that should not make us hesitate to spend huge sums on programs he feels are important. At other times, he says the deficit is such an urgent problem that American job creators must pay extra taxes, even in a depressed high-unemployment economy. Can we have a definitive resolution of this paradox, please? Could the President tell us what he believes the maximum sustainable national debt for the United States would be? Because it would only take a few seconds to consult data from the Congressional Budget Office, and tell him what year we’ll hit that debt under the best-case scenario, if we don’t dramatically change the government’s spending habits.
Even though we had years of warning about each of the great fiscal “crisis” that have convulsed us over the past four years, President Obama always behaves as if they were stunning surprises, which could only be addressed by desperate last-minute measures. Let’s have no more of that, okay? Let’s use the State of the Union to pinpoint each upcoming crisis point. No more end-of-the-year lame-duck freak-outs, please.
The state of our Union is intimately tied to the state of our government… and it’s an absolute disaster. Staggering sums of money are wasted. Fraud and abuse are rampant. The State of the Union should include a rundown of the most egregious abuses, with exact numbers, followed by a plan for how these abuses will be controlled. Are the stewards of our public treasure not honorably obliged to get their houses in order before they ask us to surrender another dollar?
The President and his Party currently stand in violation of federal laws pertaining to the submission of a budget. Obama has flaunted the War Powers Act with impunity. Could the President please list, once and for all, the laws that do not actually apply to the federal government, and have them formally stricken from the books? There’s no reason to make our massive legal code more complex than it needs to be. Let’s cut out the meaningless spam, and hold Obama accountable for strict obedience to what remains.
Likewise, we are discovering that some long-standing legal protections for individuals are no longer operable. ObamaCare has over-ridden the First Amendment’s guarantees of religious freedom, while the president’s State of the Union agenda will include a strong push to further curtail the Second Amendment. Will the President support formally rewriting the Bill of Rights to reflect these new realities? I know he doesn’t want to launch a Constitutional convention to formally change the Constitution – he just wants to ignore the parts he doesn’t like. But could he please tell us exactly what he thinks the Bill of Rights should say? Give us a clear picture of what liberties remain to us, please.
This would include our immigration laws, which have become largely dead letters. Obama has explicitly directed parts of the government to ignore these laws, in favor of his own immigration preferences. Let’s talk about the true definition of American citizenship, and be sure the same system applies to everyone who seeks to come here, from any corner of the globe. Let’s have the President carefully and honestly review the state of immigration, and explain exactly how such a large population of illegal aliens accumulated within our borders. That would help us assess the probable effectiveness of proposed new reforms, wouldn’t it?
The State of the Union audience will be peppered with victims of gun violence, to support Obama’s gun control agenda. Why not people who have used guns to protect themselves and their families? If we’re going to use human props for these arguments, how about a fair and balanced rule requiring every victim of gun violence invited to a political event to be accompanied by a lawful gun owner who used his or her weapons to thwart a violent crime? Let the American people consider both emotionally-charged stories and decide.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have famously argued that it’s worth banning guns if it could “save just one life.” Please explain why that logic doesn’t apply to abortion.
What is the state of our intelligence and national-security apparatus? They’re either inept fools who never saw the Benghazi attack coming, even though it occurred in a terrorist hot spot on the anniversary of 9/11, or they’re infallible solons who can perfectly anticipate the nuclear maneuvers of Iran and North Korea. They cannot be both. Along those lines, would the president please list everyone in his Administration who has resigned, or suffered severe sanctions, after “taking responsibility” for a disaster? Could we get a “state of Fast and Furious” update – how many guns recovered this year, how many still unaccounted for?
Why doesn’t the President take this opportunity to be honest with the American people about what lies ahead with ObamaCare – 7 million losing their insurance, rising costs, continued downward pressure on employment? Then he could ask for a fair vote of confidence on whether or not America wants the program to continue. It could be repealed right now; it’s not a prize Obama “won” by getting re-elected. This is supposed to be about what’s good for America, not what’s good for him. ObamaCare is clearly not living up to its promises – it would be easy for Obama to pull his list of promises from 2009 and compare the current state of the program to its projections, point by point.
Don’t we deserve that sort of clear analysis, which we would certainly undertake with any product we purchased voluntarily from the private sector? And if ObamaCare clearly is not working, why not stop it now, and consider a more effective health care strategy? And there’s no reason to stop with ObamaCare, or even programs implemented during this President’s first term. Instead of serving as an infomercial for new spending, shouldn’t the State of the Union be a status report comparing all government programs to the promises made when they were passed, so we can make intelligent decisions about reforming or terminating them? We are supposed to be a free people, after all, and freedom depends upon information. A blindfolded nation does not “choose” its own course.
Perhaps the one thing President Obama will do in this address might be saying a few words to defuse the growing movement of support for mass murderer Chris Dorner. Let us not be coy: a lot of the Dorner fans think very highly of Barack Obama. A few words from him could defuse growing civil and racial tension. A true leader would not pass up such an opportunity.