It was disappointing that after such a great speech in Tucson, President Obama's State of the Union address was flat and uninspired. I suspect that is because his heart really wasn't in it. This is not a president who has any real desire to cut spending. Even facing the reality of the November elections (even the most hardened liberal recognizes that public demand for reduced government spending drove the results), Mr. Obama was unable to restrain himself and called for more spending on education, highways and more.
His call for a "freeze" in discretionary spending made his pretense at addressing the national debt ludicrous. His estimate that it would "save" $400 billion over a decade sounds good until simple math tells us that $40 billion a year is chicken feed when we are faced with a $14 trillion debt that requires interest payments equal to, or more than, the $400 billion. No amount of spin can camouflage this as a cut! You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig! This was a proposal to continue the massive spending of borrowed money that he began in January of 2009.
Instead of having the political courage to speak plainly to the American people about entitlements and defense spending - the only areas where real progress is achievable in reducing the debt - and demanding, in front of the voters, that both parties begin a process of reform with honesty and transparency that would bring us back to solvency, the president chose to pursue his agenda of bigger government. He proclaimed another "Sputnik moment," trying to induce into the public a fear that the United States is failing and falling behind the rest of the world in order to justify more domestic spending.
Post-speech results are coming in. Americans are not buying it. This is not 2008 and this is real life, not campaign rhetoric. Our national debt has been described by experts as a national security crisis. We are still at the bottom of the economic recession and need jobs. But that is a short term problem that is being hindered by government interference.
Mr. Obama's call to reduce corporate taxes was his most promising suggestion. That could release the $2 trillion dollars investors are holding out of the economy and start a real recovery. The national debt, however, is long term, dangerous and likely to bring political and economic turmoil that would reduce us to a second class economy and lifestyle.
If President Obama wants a legacy that will be remembered as a game changer, leading the way back from the abyss of fiscal disaster, this is the path into the history books.