Update: Post-speech analyisis here. In short, the tests showed U.S. fourth-graders performing poorly, middle school students worse. and high school students are unable to compete [internationally]. There is an answer to this. Step one through one hundred is for Obama to call for an end to teachers' unions. No single entity has proven more destructive to quality education in America than teachers' unions. They are far more concerned with teachers salaries - and thus their union dues - than they are with improving the quality of education. But there is as much of a chance of Obama announcing that step in his SOTU as there is of Michael Moore passing up a cheeseburger. A reader emails: “If I were more conspiratorial and Islamaphobic, the ‘five pillars’ mention with regards to the SOTU speech would send me on a You Tube bender. But I’m well adjusted, so I just going to get back to work.” Well, good.
Tuesday night, Obama will give his State of the Union (SOTU) speech. So what can we expect? According to the NYT, Obama will present as a newly minted centrist, focusing on "five pillars for ensuring America’s competitiveness and economic growth: innovation, education, infrastructure, deficit reduction and reforming government."
So let's predict what he means by all of that.
"Innovation." When Obama talks about "innovation," he invariably does so in the context of pushing his radical "green agenda." He is systematically disassembling our energy infrastructure, both coal and oil, while pushing "alternative energy." Yet alternative energy, even heavily subsidized, provides just a few percent of our energy needs. Unable to get Congress to pass a "cap and trade" bill to put his destructive policies on hyperspeed, he now has the EPA doing it unilaterally. When Obama mentions "innovation" in the SOTU, what he really means is that he has no intention of backing off of his destruction of our energy infrastructure, and that he intends to ask for even more money to toss down the black hole of subsidized green jobs and alternative energy.
"Education." Obama will wax eloquently about the need to increase spending for education, but what he really means is pushing more money to the teacher's unions that provide perhaps the major foundation of the Democratic Party power structure. States and their public union employees were the primary recipients of the $787 billion Stimulus, but that money started to dry up in 2010. Yet many teachers' unions refused to negotiate lower salaries or benefits, banking on Obama to come through for them. And he did. Recall the passage of the $26 billion XXXX Act of XXXX that Obama stumped for on the grounds of "education." It was "designed to keep teachers unions flush with taxpayer cash . . . [and] to insure that states don't negotiate down teacher salaries in the coming year." Now he wants to do it again.
Yet little is more clear than the fact that tossing more money into the black hole of public education has done nothing to improve the quality of education. Education spending, adjusted for inflation, is now more than twice what it was four decades ago. During those four decades, we have seen a massive expansion in the numbers of teachers - thus expanding union dues and unions corresponding spending in support of Democrats. Yet test results are showing zero student improvement in reading over that timeframe - and we are actually regressing in math and science to critical levels:
"Infrastructure." Now two years removed from the stimulus, we can say with virtual certainty that John Maynard Keynes has lost the argument on how to "stimulate" an economy. Obama just refuses to admit it and now wants to double down on more "stimulus spending." Obama earmarked hundreds of billions of dollars for infrastructure projects in the Stimulus with nothing to show for it. So why does Obama want to repeat the process, now under another name? It is because Obama, like all left-wingers, refuses to admit that their policies have failed. Even when faced with reality, they think that any lack of success is only because of some unforseen pitfall that can be fixed with just a bit more money and/or a few more regulations. To the committed leftie, the problem is never the fatal internal contradictions of the statist policies they embrace. (See also this post on the topic from Gay Patriot)
Deficit Reduction - Obama is to deficit reduction what Tiger Woods is to monogamy. Recall Obama's idea of proving he was a deficit hawk was to have the government cut $17 billion on the heels of the $787 billion stimulus. I expect Obama to make a defense of current spending levels, to justify his new planned spending in "innovation, education and infrastructure," and then to wax eloquently on how Obamacare will reduce the deficit in ten years based on the fairy-tale CBO numbers. He may also throw in a paean to that most cynical piece of legislation, Pay-Go, just to add insult to injury. In any case, don't expect this deeply disingenuous man to say word one about reforming the entitlements that are a mortal threat to our economy.
"Reforming Government." This is another laugher. He is going to talk about his utterly meaningless Executive Order to have regulatory agencies review their regulations, yet he will not mention the tsunami of regulations yet to be written as a result of Obamacare and Frank-Dodd. Nor will he mention that there are now over 100 federal agencies each issuing reams of new regulation annually (See CRS: Federal Regulatory Reform). Nor will he show the slightest concern about of the vast overreach of the EPA in unilaterally deciding to regulate carbon dioxide or the FCC in assuming the authority to regulate the internet. Reform of government, to Obama, is Orwellian code for the vast expansion of government in every aspect of our economy and our lives.
Obama just spent two years ignoring our severe economic distress while he tried with much success to turn us into a socialist country in the European model. As a consequence thereof, we stand today in deep economic trouble. As I outlined in The State Of The Economy: oil, gas and food prices are going through the roof thanks to Obama policies; jobs are increasingly rare; small businesses, the engine of the economy, are not expanding as everyone waits to see how bad they are going to be hit with the tsunami of new regulations; jobs are increasingly outsourced overseas as Obama taxes investment income and keeps our corporate taxes near the highest in the developed world; and, Obama's profligate spending coupled with massive entitlements has us on a quick trajectory to a sovereign debt crisis - i.e., bankruptcy. As to the entitlements - medicare, social security, and now, Obamacare - Obama's deficit commission, which issued its report in December, highlighted the need to take quick and decisive action. Unfortunately, expect Obama not to address the substance of any of that. Obama is not, and never will be, a centrist, no matter what disguise he puts on for the SOTU.
Update: Some additional posts on the SOTU and its various aspects:
Hot Air - Obama to propose an earmark ban, budget freeze tonight
Hot Air - Video: Inhofe frames SOTU on regulatory adventurism
In short, the tests showed U.S. fourth-graders performing poorly, middle school students worse. and high school students are unable to compete [internationally].
There is an answer to this. Step one through one hundred is for Obama to call for an end to teachers' unions. No single entity has proven more destructive to quality education in America than teachers' unions. They are far more concerned with teachers salaries - and thus their union dues - than they are with improving the quality of education. But there is as much of a chance of Obama announcing that step in his SOTU as there is of Michael Moore passing up a cheeseburger.
A reader emails: “If I were more conspiratorial and Islamaphobic, the ‘five pillars’ mention with regards to the SOTU speech would send me on a You Tube bender. But I’m well adjusted, so I just going to get back to work.” Well, good.