Although President Obama tried his darndest to leave us with the overall impression that the federal government is somehow responsible for our country’s prosperity (apparently, the government more or less invented the Internet – who knew?), last night's SOTU speech was more than a little lacking in specifics on reducing the national deficit. We certainly heard about the many ways in which President Obama hopes to expand the government’s reach ever further – green energy and job initiatives, college educations accessible for all, high speed railways – all ways for the government to get more hands-on and to completely ignore the hands-off approach for which America has been resolutely calling.
Obama did concede that “we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable.” He offered up a plan to “freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years” which would “reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.” Despite the (irrelevant, pandering Everybody-Likes-Ike) historical statistic, $400 billion over a decade is hardly much of a dent, and Obama failed to adequately address how we will reform the other 80% of our budget. While he acknowledged that we need to cut some serious spending from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, he only mentioned all the ways in which we couldn’t and shouldn’t do so, vaguely referring to some “bipartisan solution” sometime in the future. (Oh, wait, I’m forgetting – medical malpractice reform!)
Contrarily, the GOP response placed paramount importance upon straight-up deficit-reduction and limited government, with Rep. Paul Ryan insisting that “spending cuts have to come first.” That’s certainly not how President Obama tells it.