What Obama Got Wrong in the State of the Union

The president's State of the Union showed we're in for a bumpy, nonsensical economic ride.

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Napoleon Bonaparte once said, "History is a set of lies agreed upon." Luckily, most reputable economists agree with very little in President Obama's State of the Union address.

First, the president said, "Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs." An entire article can, and likely will by others, be devoted to this one whopper of a lie.

[See a collection of political cartoons on healthcare.]

It is a fact that healthcare costs are increasing and increasing in large measure because of the Affordable Care Act. Sally Pipes, writing for Forbes, describes our collective premium pain:

In fact, it's more expensive. Premiums have increased by an average of $3,065. And they're about to go up even more, as Obamacare takes effect during the president's second term.

At the end of 2012, Mark Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna, the third-largest health insurer in the country, warned that many consumers would face "premium rate shock" with the advent of Obamacare's major insurance regulations in 2014. He predicted that unsubsidized premiums would rise 20 to 50 percent, on average.

For some people, premiums would double. "We're going to see some markets go up as much as 100 percent," Bertolini told Bloomberg News.

Second, the president is celebrating the creation of "over six million new jobs" and a deficit reduction of a little more than "$2.5 trillion."

[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

But, even according to generous Federal Reserve projections, America's unemployment rate is expected to decline to only a range of 6.8 to 7.3 percent in 2014. In 2015, projections have unemployment only at 6.0 to 6.6. Prior to the recession our unemployment rate was hovering at approximately 5 percent. 

For example, despite all the promises, speeches, and lest we forget, astronomical spending, it took the economy 42 months just to get back to its January of 2009 levels of employment. In January of 2009, 133,631,000 Americans were employed. In July of 2012, 133,762,000 were employed. We essentially ran in place for three and half years while our deficit and debt ballooned.       

Last month alone, only 157,000 jobs were added and our unemployment rose to 7.9 percent. In America today, there are still 23 million Americans unable to find full-time work. For most Americans, a true recovery is years and possibly decades away.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

In fact, back in August, Veronique de Rugy pointed out at National Review that data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics placed President Obama dead last among his presidential peers in jobs gained during a presidential tenure. Take a moment and let that sink in, it is important because things have not changed and in fact, revised Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers make it look worse. The hole was so deep back in August that "it would take Obama roughly 280,000 new jobs per month for every month from now until January 2013 to get him out of last place. [He would need 2.1 million new jobs per month for every month until January 2013 to catch up to Carter.]" It is already February of 2013 and we are not even close.     In the end, we are in the slowest economic recovery period in history and are in the slowest economic growth of any recovery. Do you still feel like clapping and celebrating?     

In addition, Stephanie Slade correctly notes that

the Congressional Budget Office projected that under current law, the national debt will increase, not decrease, to 77 percent of GDP within the next 10 years. This is assuming the sequester, which President Obama has called "draconian," "economically damaging," and "deep [and] indiscriminate," goes into effect March 1.

You read that right. CBO is predicting that even with $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts, debt held by the public will rise over time.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Does the United States Need a Balanced Budget Amendment?]

We are not even making a tiny dent in our debt and even with a rising real estate market our core fiscal problems will not go away. It is kicking an explosive can down the road once more.  

But, to be fair, the president wants to do more and "finish the job." How? Well, the president has called for comprehensive tax reform, which would be exciting if it did not likely mean a continuation of discredited tax policy where the onus is placed on America's innovators and job producers. It has not worked for states controlled by Democrats, it will not work for America. Already, our Western allies are winning the corporate tax rate war, luring American business overseas. I am sure raising their individual tax rates beyond the incredible tax rates they already pay will only encourage them to stay in America and expand (no, they will move).      

Also, the president intimated at a continuation in investment into green energy. The president's misplaced economic vision is perfectly encapsulated by his green energy boondoggles. American taxpayers were taken to the cleaners with green energy investments and it looks as if the president is doubling down on false market magic.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Should the Government Invest in Green Energy?]

Honestly, I have not even scratched the surface of the president's misplaced plans. We could spend hours talking about minimum wage fallacies and stimulus spending on America's infrastructure (by the way, I thought the original stimulus was supposed to be spent on fixing America's fledgling infrastructure?). I could go on and on about how America's problems will not be solved by legislation deceptively marketed at ending discrimination against women in the workplace (hint, it won't). We can spend days discussing how immigration reform will be meaningless if America is not attracting the world's best and brightest engineers, scientists, and professionals with a vibrant economy.

To put it simply, President Obama's reign of incompetence is like a bad horror movie. We learned one thing from President Obama's address: We are in for a bumpy nonsensical economic ride. Is it 2016 yet?

  • Read Robert Schlesinger: Obama Surprised Dems With Guns, Minimum Wage, Universal Preschool Calls
  • Read Susan Milligan: Ted Nugent Shouldn't Have Been Invited to the State of the Union
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