I did not want to say it, but President Obama made me: I told you so!
Last week, I wrote that President Obama’s State of the Union would be “riddled with populism, government programs and rants.” While I did not anticipate the milk joke, I also suggested the insidious hidden message: “you, as an individual, are nothing without” government. Unfortunately, President Obama proved me right.
Buried toward the end of the speech, as he was trying to recast himself as a post-partisan politician, he proclaimed: “I'm a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.”
Amazingly, President Obama had the audacity to tout Obamacare as an example of his Lincoln-esque vision. Remember, the law mandates individuals to buy health insurance, sets minimum standards of what that insurance looks like and undermines the role of parents in their children’s upbringing.
This is not the vision of Lincoln.
And while Obamacare is the most glaring example of how President Obama has systematically undermined the individual liberty of Americans, it is not the only one. Does he actually believe it was better for Boeing to build its new plant outside of South Carolina? Does he actually believe Americans cannot decide how fuel-efficient their car should be without the EPA? Does he truly believe he can “invest” your money (think Solyndra) better than you?
On all of these and many more, the answer appears to be a resounding yes. The message from President Obama was indeed simple: the government can (and will) make these choices for you.
His rhetoric may have sounded like he believes in limited government, but as we’ve seen from his policies, he actually believes that the federal government can do nearly everything better than any individual. Indeed, he revealed his true intentions as he closed his speech: “No one built this country on their own.”
Obviously no single person built our great country, but it would be a mistake to attribute our nation’s success to central planning. Instead, an amazing and diverse collection of entrepreneurs, intellectuals and hard-working Americans took risks and succeeded in building America. And they did so not at the behest or command of government, but rather because they had the skills and motivation to carry out a vision of their own.
Instead of understanding and recognizing the benefits of individual successes, President Obama made an argument in favor of collectivism: “This Nation is great because we built it together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team.” This is a vision that marginalizes individuals and instead focuses on the role of the government in everything from spending and investing to planning and implementation.
On this, Lincoln would vehemently disagree. He wrote, “Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing.” America is a nation of innovation and entrepreneurship, not government intervention and central planning.
Look no further than America’s job-creating natural gas boom. Last week, President Obama said, “public research dollars, over the course of 30 years…helped develop the technologies” that led to the boom. It sounds nice, except it is wrong. CNN discovered “private industry pioneered the practice” in 1947 and in the intervening decades, the federal government spent more than a billion dollars in research. But it was not until the 1990’s, when “private industry began to step back into the business with new technologies that lower costs, leading to today's boom.”
President Obama is no historian, but he will spend the next 10 months talking about “defining issues”: inside Washington versus outside Washington; the 99% versus the 1%; compassionate capitalism versus vulture capitalism; etc. At its core, though, it will be about the proper role of government.
And President Obama’s record suggests there is almost nothing government cannot do better than you! To be fair, there is one thing that President Obama has done that could not have been accomplished by individuals: add more than $41,000 in debt for every single household in America.