President Barack Obama promised his final State of the Union address would be short. Dana Bash of CNN called it “low-energy.” One thing it was not was accurate–or honest. Here are Obama’s top ten lies, in chronological order.
1. “[W]e’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.” This is pure fiction. Obama has doubled the national debt, and it’s not because he cut the deficit. Rather, he spent staggering amounts of money in his first months in office–which he assigns, dishonestly, to the previous fiscal year, under George W. Bush. He “cut” (i.e. spent more gradually) from that spending, but only under protest, after Republicans took the House in 2010.
(Update: It is true that Obama’s 2015 budget deficit was about 25% of his 2010 deficit. But he referred to “deficits,” plural. Until last year, all of Obama’s deficits were worse than all of Bush’s deficits except for the last two.)
2. “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.” With that line, Obama took a shot at his would-be Democratic successors, as well as his Republican critics. But the truth is that despite the slow recovery–the slowest since World War II–labor force participation is the lowest it has been in decades. Wages are stagnant, household incomes still have not recovered from the recession, and young people see a bleak future.
3. “That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about. It’s about filling the gaps in employer-based care so that when we lose a job, or go back to school, or start that new business, we’ll still have coverage.”That is a cruel joke, given that Obamacare canceled insurance coverage for millions of Americans who did not change jobs. It also raised deductibles and premiums so high that many insurance companies are leaving the Obama exchanges totally.
4. “Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did.” Actually, food stamp recipients, metaphorically speaking, were indirectly responsible–as well as Wall Street sharks. Obama leaves out the government’s role, under the Community Reinvestment Act, in pushing mortgages on people who could not afford them, and in backing the derivatives based on those mortgages that ultimately burst the whole bubble.
5. “We’ve protected an open internet…”. Obama’s policy of Net Neutrality has turned Internet service providers into public utilities under an ancient regulatory regime. The result has been a sharp decline in broadband investment and a much less free and open system. In addition, the Obama administration is rushing to shift control of ICANN to the international community, which will ensure that the Internet is less free, and subject to overseas censorship.
6. “Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results.” It is laughable that Obama would claim his failed clean energy spending–think Solyndra–led to the fracking-fed energy boom we have enjoyed for the past several years, especially when the administration did all it could to stop oil and gas development. He also nixed the Keystone pipeline and started a plan to kill coal plants.
7. “No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin.” Of all the lies in Obama’s speech, this was undoubtedly the worst, coming hours after Iran seized two U.S. Navy boats and ten sailors. Obama did not even mention those Americans in captivity at any point in his speech, declining the chance to reassure the nation that they would come home safely. It is an omission that will define this address in history.
8. “As someone who begins every day with an intelligence briefing, I know this is a dangerous time.” Obama does not attend most of his daily intelligence briefings, preferring instead to read intelligence reports–so he claims–on his iPad, a stark contrast to the attentive approach of his predecessor. Late last year, even as Obama claimed that there was little risk from attack, radical Islamic terrorists carried out brutal attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino.
9. “We are training, arming, and supporting forces who are steadily reclaiming territory in Iraq and Syria [from Islamic State].” The Obama administration’s attempt to train and arm Syrian rebels has been a disaster. Belatedly, the administration has helped Kurdish peshmerga forces, and the Iraqi military has made gains lately, but Obama has not made a serious effort to defeat the Islamic State, and is even giving up on regime change in Syria.
10. “Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy, setting us back in Latin America.” And a year of appeasement has not promoted democracy, either. The Castros remain firmly in power, and we are not helping the opposition. Worse, the Cuban regime continues to arrest thousands of political dissidents, to cozy up to enemies like Iran and North Korea, and to carry out provocative acts–such as stealing a U.S. Hellfire missile.
Towards the end of his speech, Obama told one important truth: “There’s no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide…”.
An unusual, but overdue, admission of guilt.