Outrage Erupts After American College Student Slain by Illegal Immigrant
Trump Thrashes Nikki Haley in South Carolina
Why This Death of a Nonbinary Teen in Oklahoma Got the Liberal Media...
Some News Outlets Are Leaving Out a Key Detail in the UGA Student...
LIVE RESULTS: South Carolina GOP Primary
After Two Centuries, Remington Will Soon Be Out of New York
Newsom Says California Is a 'Model' for a 'Safe and Humane Border'
AOC Heckled By Furious Town Hall Attendees: ‘All You Care About Is Illegal...
Here's How One California Politician Responded to the Border Crisis
CISA Knew About Mail-in Voting Risks in 2020, But Continued to Censor Criticism...
GOP: Alabama Ruling Is a Way for Democrats to 'Manipulate the Abortion Issue...
Republicans Demand Biden to Close the Border After Illegal Migrant Kills Innocent 22...
Suspect Charged With Killing Georgia Student Is An Illegal Migrant From Venezuela
'Grid Down, Power Up:' Dennis Quaid Warns About What the U.S. Is Not...
Biden Associate James Galanis: Hunter's Value 'Was His Family Name and His Access...
OPINION

What Second Term Agenda?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
The lesson from the State of the Union address is this: Barack Obama has no second term agenda. Oh, sure, he campaigned furiously for the job, starting in about January of 2011. But his campaign almost never outlined his plans for a second term, focusing instead on interest group payoffs and demonization of his rival. Late in October of 2012, as if recognizing that they'd forgotten to attend to it, the Obama campaign released a 20-page glossy handout called a "blueprint for America's future." It featured splashy photos of the president on nearly every page, along with generic promises like "improve education for middle-class jobs."
Advertisement

The president is like the dog that chased a car and caught it. What does he do now? Faced with the necessity of presenting a program in the State of the Union, Obama couldn't rely on his "blueprint," because it was essentially cotton candy. So it appears that he rummaged around in the closet where they keep hoary liberal wish lists. He dusted a few off, renamed them things like "Fix It First," "Smarter Government," "Manufacturing Hubs" and so forth and rolled them out like parade floats.

The president gave only the most glancing lip service to the greatest threat facing America -- the crushing weight of entitlement spending and debt, and he repeated the preposterous claim that his new spending will be free (or "won't increase deficits by one dime"). For this, he guarantees that he will be remembered as an irresponsible failure.

There were too many bad ideas to rebut in one column, but let's consider two: Minimum wage and solar power.

"A full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year," the president said. "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. 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."

Has Obama not read any economics since his undergraduate days (if then)? As a poverty fighting measure, you could hardly do worse than to raise the minimum wage. According to 2011 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only .66 percent all of full-time workers in the U.S. earn the minimum wage. The suggestion that many workers are toiling full-time at minimum wage jobs is flat wrong. Among those being paid an hourly wage, just 5.2 percent earned minimum wage or less. Half of those earning minimum wage are under the age of 25. Even among teenagers who work, 77.2 percent earn more than minimum wage. And among those getting minimum wage, 40 percent come from families with incomes over $61,000.

Advertisement

Still, minimum wage jobs provide a step onto the first rung of the economic ladder. Workers get experience, references and cash. Most get raises within the first year. When the minimum wage is increased, some of those jobs are eliminated. Economist Russ Roberts summarizes the literature: "The standard finding is that a 10% increase in the minimum wage reduces employment among low-skilled workers from 1% to 3%." So for the sake of the less than 1 percent of full-time workers who earn minimum wage, Mr. Obama would eliminate the jobs of roughly 240,000 people.

The president also returned to one of his favorite hobbyhorses: subsidizing solar energy. In his 2012 address, he demanded more "clean" energy, declaring "I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China." This year, he insisted that, "as long as countries like China keep going all-in on clean energy, so must we."

Must we? The Chinese government, like Obama, confident that it can pick winners, poured stimulus money into the solar industry. The result was huge overcapacity (part of the reason for Solyndra's demise). According to a European competitor, "Massive subsidies and state intervention have stimulated overcapacity more than 20 times total Chinese consumption and close to double total global demand." In the last two years, shares of Chinese solar companies have fallen by half. Dozens of Chinese solar companies are now on the verge of bankruptcy.

Advertisement

Much of the same can be said of Obama's clean energy white elephant and his entire makeshift second term agenda.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Recommended

Trending on Townhall Videos