While President Obama dedicated a significant portion of his State of the Union speech to deficit reduction is not totally unexpected, it is truly disappointing. Not only did Obama spend more time on the deficit than on any other issue, but he placed it at the begin of the speech and effectively labeled it the top priority.
I did not include the full section on deficit reduction because it goes on for 12 paragraphs, which is basically the problem. From the speech:
Our work must begin by making some basic decisions about our budget – decisions that will have a huge impact on the strength of our recovery.
Over the last few years, both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion – mostly through spending cuts, but also by raising tax rates on the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans. As a result, we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.
Now we need to finish the job. And the question is, how?
I realize that tax reform and entitlement reform won’t be easy. The politics will be hard for both sides. None of us will get 100 percent of what we want. But the alternative will cost us jobs, hurt our economy, and visit hardship on millions of hardworking Americans. So let’s set party interests aside, and work to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future. And let’s do it without the brinksmanship that stresses consumers and scares off investors. The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next. Let’s agree, right here, right now, to keep the people’s government open, pay our bills on time, and always uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America. The American people have worked too hard, for too long, rebuilding from one crisis to see their elected officials cause another.
Obama did talk about some liberal speeding priorities, like a jobs program, infrastructure spending, basic research and universal preschool; but he said every proposal will be “fully paid for.” This effectively means there will be no more real stimulus despite the weak econom,y dooming us to a long weak recovery.
In addition, by continuing to place such a high value on austerity Obama assured that those ideas are dead on arrival. Washington is still obsessed with cutting the deficit but simply can’t agree how, despite numerous attempts. Given how hard it is to find agreement on deficit cuts, it is simply impossible to think that there will be any political viable “pay fors” leftover to fund these other goals.
Instead of trying to tone down the deficit hysteria which has been choking our weak recovery, President Obama fed it. He still seems to believe he can finally solve the issue once and for all and pave the way for other things. This is the same failed logic that has lead to a string of manufactured crises that hurt the economy all the while sucking the oxygen out of Washington.
If Obama’s second inaugural address gave some hope we might see a new Obama freed by the constraints of election to be more liberal, this State of the Union should crush that. This is the same deficit-obsessed Obama, and every progressive goal is subservient to it.