On Tuesday night, President Obama gave what will go down as one of the most partisan State of the Union Addresses in American history. In consonance with his favorite tactic – citing widespread but nonexistent consensus in order to press for his radical left agenda – Obama led off by linking himself to John F. Kennedy:
Fifty-one years ago, John F. Kennedy declared to this Chamber that “the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress…It is my task,” he said, “to report the State of the Union – to improve it is the task of us all.”
Then he spelled out an agenda that has precisely zero chance of passing. Which, of course, is not his point – he merely wants to paint his opponents as obstructionists to progress, morally deficient and benighted Neanderthals who love the rich and hate the poor, love the white and hate minorities, and love religious bigots but hate gays and lesbians. And in pushing this narrative, Obama hopes to obfuscate the fact that his policies result in more human misery per capita than any president since FDR and Herbert Hoover, and that his deficit spending dwarfs any spending binge in human history to boot.
He started with an appeal to class warfare:
Our economy is adding jobs – but too many people still can’t find full-time employment. Corporate profits have rocketed to all-time highs – but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged. It is our generation’s task, then, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising, thriving middle class. It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country – the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love.
In other words, redistributionism. Because there is a reason that corporate profits remain decent, but reinvestment remains low: by pushing profits back into a tax-and-spend system, corporations know they will lose money. By socking it away or spending it overseas, they have a higher rate of return. But Obama’s answer is not to help those who hire and create. It’s to confiscate their wealth in the name of fairness, as he openly stated: “It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation.”
Throughout this sort of Marxist nonsense, Obama sprinkled that patina of faux consensus. The American people, Obama said, “expect us to put the nation’s interests before party” – a laughable contention from the most partisan president in American history. Americans want “us to forge reasonable compromise where we can” – an aspiration Obama has consistently crushed by avoiding compromise and characterizing his political opponents as nasty and unpleasant.
Obama ripped the sequester bill, a bill his own White House press secretary admitted today was designed by Obama. Obama’s solution to his original proposal of destroying American defense: raise taxes. Not cut the biggest drivers of national debt, Medicare and Social Security. Hit the rich. As always. And, as always, he blamed the American people for this economically illiterate notion:
We won’t grow the middle class simply by shifting the cost of health care or college onto families that are already struggling, or by forcing communities to lay off more teachers, cops, and firefighters. Most Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – understand that we can’t just cut our way to prosperity. They know that broad-based economic growth requires a balanced approach to deficit reduction, with spending cuts and revenue, and with everybody doing their fair share. And that’s the approach I offer tonight.
The dreaded word “fair” made its grand reappearance here: “After all, why would we choose to make deeper cuts to education and Medicare just to protect special interest tax breaks? How is that fair? How does that promote growth?”
To which, one wishes, someone had once answered President Obama that life is not fair, and that fairness of result automatically precludes fairness of opportunity. Most of us learn that in kindergarten. Now the most powerful man in the world uses his podium to preach precisely the opposite.
So, how will additional taxation create jobs? According to Obama, it gives him more money to spend, naturally:
A year and a half ago, I put forward an American Jobs Act that independent economists said would create more than one million new jobs. I thank the last Congress for passing some of that agenda, and I urge this Congress to pass the rest. Tonight, I’ll lay out additional proposals that are fully paid for and fully consistent with the budget framework both parties agreed to just 18 months ago. Let me repeat – nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.
How does this financial magic work? It’s solely contingent on the first portion of Obama’s program: raising taxes. If we raise taxes, we can spend a lot of money. Tax and spend. Tax and spend. After all, it’s worked so well for Greece, France, and Spain. Why not here?
And Obama laid out a plethora of spending programs, including but not limited to:
- Government funded “manufacturing hubs” – an experiment in pure corporatism;
- Investment in green energy, which worked so wonderfully for Solyndra;
- Regulations on carbon emissions, a guaranteed way to destroy manufacturing capacity in the country;
- Fixing roads and bridges (although Americans though we were supposed to do that with the $800 billion stimulus program in 2009);
- New mortgage regulations that will allow “families with solid credit” to buy homes – even though the last time we heard this rhetoric, it led to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac going bankrupt;
- More preschool programs, like failing Head Start;
- More spending on education, but no consequences for corrupt teachers unions;
- And much, much more!
But Obama’s speech wasn’t merely the big laundry list of spending programs. He waited until about halfway through for the meat of his approach: demonizing Republicans. On immigration, he explained:
Real reform means strong border security, and we can build on the progress my Administration has already made – putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history, and reducing illegal crossings to their lowest levels in 40 years. Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship – a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.
Notice the language here: we’ve already secured the border, so let’s just move right on to citizenship. Forget the Arizona citizens living in fear of their lives thanks to a porous border and a federal government determined not to enforce it. It’s time to incentivize millions more to cross that border – and if you don’t, you’re standing in the way of progress.
Obama rehashed the war on women:
We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace, and free from the fear of domestic violence. Today, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act that Joe Biden originally wrote almost 20 years ago. I urge the House to do the same. And I ask this Congress to declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts, and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.
Got it? You hate women unless you pass Obama’s legislation. And you hate the economy. Also, puppies. The facts belie Obama’s assertions here – women are now paid more than men if they have equal levels of education, work equal hours, and have equal experience. But no matter. It’s time to stand up for the ladies. Hear that, Todd Akin?
Obama quickly moved on to the poor:
We know our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day’s work with honest wages. But today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we’ve put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That’s wrong. That’s why, since the last time this Congress raised the minimum wage, nineteen states have chosen to bump theirs even higher. Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour.
Got it? You hate the poor unless you want to mandate that businesses lay off workers in order to pay their current low-level employees more. In fact, if you don’t want to pay a burger-flipper $9.00 an hour – a salary of nearly $19,000 – you’re “wrong.”
Then Obama moved onto his full-fledged government assistance program: government hiring. According to Obama, we need millions more government employees: “Let’s put people back to work rebuilding vacant homes in run-down neighborhoods. And this year, my Administration will begin to partner with 20 of the hardest-hit towns in America to get these communities back on their feet.” Detroit is a wasteland, not because of failure of government spending, but because of government tax-and-spend policies. Rebuilding empty houses won’t do the trick. But no matter. It feels so good.
Obama’s foreign policy agenda was the same as it has always been: weakness and indecision clothed as strength. He said that American involvement in Afghanistan would be over by next year. He did not say whether Afghanistan would be stable and anti-terrorist. He said that Al Qaeda is a “shadow of its former self.” He did not talk about the risks of the Arab Spring or the murder of our ambassador in Benghazi, Libya. He promised “transparency” on American national security – perhaps the only area in which he is somewhat transparent, but not transparent enough to fully explain how his drone policy works. He blustered about North Korea – “Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense, and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats” – even as he insisted that we slash defense rather than restructure Medicare or Social Security.
Most of all, he spelled out how he would deal with Iran: diplomacy. As usual. It constituted one sentence in his speech. That’s it. Surely the ayatollahs are popping the cork tonight. Obama spent more time on cyberattacks, including swiping corporate secrets, than the Iranian nuclear program.
Obama knew that he had to lay out a broad foreign policy vision, and so he did: a Marxist one. “We also know that progress in the most impoverished parts of our world enriches us all. In many places, people live on little more than a dollar a day. So the United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades,” Obama intoned. How? He didn’t say. But it will certainly look something his domestic tax-and-spend program, on a global scale. This is the imperialism of the redistributionists. As for freedom – well, that takes a back seat, even though Obama says “American must remain a beacon to all who seek freedom.” Tell that to the Coptic Christians in Egypt or the secularists in Tunisia or the women of Syria and Iran. Or the people of Israel – a country that was mentioned but a single time, and only with the broadest generalities we’ve come to expect from this anti-Israel, Hagel-nominating president.
Then it was back to foreign policy. He hit his marks – gay soldiers, voter ID (which, said Obama, is a violation of the right to vote), and finally, gun control.
Which is where we learned that unless you embrace his gun control agenda, you hate the children of Newtown:
Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. If you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun. One of those we lost was a young girl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was 15 years old. She loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends, they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house.
Hadiya’s parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence.
They deserve a vote.
Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.
The families of Newtown deserve a vote.
The families of Aurora deserve a vote.
The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote.
Chicago has gun control. But that doesn’t matter. Gabby Giffords was shot with a handgun. But that doesn’t matter. Newtown and Aurora were both crimes committed in gun free zones by madmen. But that doesn’t matter. All that matters is how much Obama cares – and how little his opponents supposedly do. Standing on the graves of the victims of violence, indeed.
Obama wrapped up this endless monstrosity of demagoguery with a tag about being an American citizen:
We may do different jobs, and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title:
We are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations; that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story.
Pretty words. And vicious ones: our rights do not require us to sacrifice those rights to a government devoted to equal outcome rather than equal opportunity. That is not citizenry. That is subjection. And that is what Obama’s state of the union address was all about.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).