Here is a secret that isn’t much of a secret. I have made it clear, both in my posts and in comments at other blogs, that I did not watch President Obama’s second inaugural address. My reason is simple. I can not stand listening to someone whom I know is lying to me and the rest of America. I can easily glean what I need to know from reading the text of the speech and no, I haven’t even been tempted to watch short clips of the speech on YouTube.
From reading the speech and other commentaries, one thing is abundantly clear. President Obama does have an agenda for his second term and he highlighted it perfectly in his speech. We already know he believes he shouldn’t have to compromise with Republicans. After all, he has won two – count them, one, two – elections. He has his own set of priorities and he laid them out in his speech last Monday. He wants to fight climate change. He wants stricter gun control. Oh, and he wants to prevent Republicans from making changes to entitlement programs. One thing was sadly lacking in the list of priorities, namely fiscal reforms.
(The Weekly Standard) President Barack Obama used his second inaugural address Monday to offer an aggressive, unapologetic defense of activist government and to call for a new spirit of unity even as he seeks to move the country even further left.
But in celebrating the power of the government to lead the nation forward, Obama breezed past the costs of an ever-growing public sector and made only passing mention of the country’s most urgent problem as he took the oath to lead it: debt.
The United States is now $16.4 trillion in debt. We’ve accumulated more than a third of that total since Obama’s first inaugural four years ago, an additional $20,000-plus per citizen during the Obama presidency. Even using White House projections, we’ll have more than $21 trillion by the time his second term ends.
Obama doesn’t care.
“Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time,” he said, “but it does require us to act in our time.” And yet the president spoke as if those debates had been settled – and settled in favor of those who believe that progress requires “collective action” over individual initiative and those who believe in a substantially greater role for the state over those who believe in limited government.
Our debt is not such an abstraction. And “progress,” particularly the way this president defines it, is costly.
The last sentence in the quote may be the understatement of the year. We have serious fiscal problems in America, but President Obama has other priorities. He made it plain to John Boehner that he did not believe we have a spending problem in America. If there is one thing I know, it is this simple truth. One can not fix a problem unless one acknowledges the problem exists. Clearly, Obama does not acknowledge that out-of-control government spending is the cause of our fiscal problems. He also refuses to acknowledge that those fiscal problems should be at the top of the list of anyone’s priorities. The Weekly Standard continues.
The lack of attention to the debt from Obama was not an oversight. It’s simply not a priority. Obama promised to cut the deficit in half during his first term. He hasn’t even pretended to do so. When the commission he appointed to look at debt and deficits reported its findings, he ignored them. And when the president’s top adviser, David Axelrod, was asked last summer about Obama’s second term priorities, he listed six separate issues – the economy, education, investment in research/manufacturing, trade, energy, and immigration. He did not mention debt or deficits.
For Obama, five of those six priorities will mean more spending, bigger government. How will we pay for them? We’re left to wonder.
Many of Obama’s supporters say he will lay out more specific policy proposals in the State of the Union address on February 12. Count me in the number of people who are wondering with great anticipation. I will probably watch the speech to see what he has to say, but I would wager this one thing. If he outlines policy proposals to address the costs our country is facing, it will probably be heavily biased in favor of finding ways to tax the rich even more than they already are, with scant attention given to the real cause of our fiscal problems. Spending is the issue, but President Obama is either unwilling or unable to reach that conclusion. His priorities are not fiscal and his first four years has shown no promise of that changing. I see no reason to believe his second four years will be anything but worse than the first.