Obama’s State of the Union Proposes New Spending

WhiteHouse State of the Union

(Official White House Photo – Chuck Kennedy)

On February 12, 2013, President Barack Obama addressed the nation in the annual State of the Union address.

At the beginning of the speech, the President warned against the dangers of a rising deficit. He lauded alleged efforts at reduction and called for a bipartisan approach to continue to reduce spending. He claimed, “both parties have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion – mostly through spending cuts,” ignoring the fact that the “fiscal cliff” deal contained $41 in tax increases for every $1 in spending cuts.

While we applaud the President’s words, on paper, to reduce the deficit and prevent our children from bearing the burden of our debt, we are skeptical that the President will accomplish any deficit reduction when we consider his past spending habits. The President cited, in support of a strong economy, that “we produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years.” The President left out that this increased production was despite his obstructionism, not a result of his impetus.

Furthermore, as the President’s speech continued, he continued to introduce one new spending program after another.

He proposed a network of fifteen “manufacturing hubs” across the country, sponsored by the Departments of Defense and Energy. He argued that today is the day to “reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race.” The President also argued for increased investments in public safety, housing, and education. According to the President, we must also “do more to combat climate change.”

He proposed a “Fix-It First” program and a “Partnership to Rebuild America.” Somehow, these spending programs, rather than lower corporate tax rates, are the most effective way to prove there is “no better place to do business than the United States of America.” If he truly wants to convince businesses to “create jobs at home,” why would the President suggest raising the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour, reducing their ability to add additional workers?

In the realm of education, the President proposed making “high-quality preschool available to every child in America.” He advocated changing the Higher Education Act so that the government could determine which colleges received federal aid based on subjective assessments of “value.”

Though his numerous spending programs are full of good intentions, President Obama ignored the consequences of government intrusion. For two sentences of the speech, the President correctly summarized our argument against such policies:

“The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem… Indeed, no laws, no initiatives, no administrative acts will perfectly solve all the challenges I’ve outlined tonight.”

If our goal is truly to promote prosperity, help the middle class, and grow the economy, we must rely on a free enterprise system – not a redistribution model that hinders the economic growth, business expansion, and job creation the President claimed to support.

This article was originally released as the Baylor College Republicans’ official response and hosted online on Washington Times Communities.

[1] All quotes are taken from the State of the Union Transcript, accessed on Politico.com.

19 responses to “Obama’s State of the Union Proposes New Spending

  1. Is redistribution inherently bad? Please explain the difference between redistribution and any tax or any purchase for that matter. Please clarify what aspects or types of redistribution are objectionable. It feels to me that, for the right, ‘redistribution’ brings forth the same type of emotion as ‘socialism.’ ‘Redistribution’ has positive connotations for me, so I need help in understanding why it possibly shouldn’t. Perhaps my ignorance in economics is evident here. ‘Redistribution’ has a nice social justice ring to it for me.

    • “Redistribution” in my article refers to the forced transferring of wealth from some to others based on the decisions of a sinful human being. Most argue that wealth is never “distributed” by an economic “planner” – it is only earned through mutual exchange of goods and services. The only one who really “distributes” our wealth in the first place is God, and he obviously has no perverse incentives.

      Taxes are important to solve sources of market failure such as public goods, but I don’t believe “social justice” is taking from the rich to give to the poor. I don’t consider Robin Hood a hero. I don’t believe that taking forcefully to give to others is a positive outcome, regardless of the cause. I think giving to others is positive, and I think the Bible says so as well. But I do not trust in a sinful human being’s ability to determine who “deserves” to make what amount.

      • “‘Redistribution’ in my article refers to the forced transferring of wealth from some to others based on the decisions of a sinful human being.” Wow. I guess my suspicions were correct about negative connotations.
        I’m still confused on this redistribution thing:
        Was this an abstract definition or a reference to Obama (since this is a response to his SOTU speech)?
        What you say about God’s role raises some interesting theodicy questions. God’s role/human role are not either or kinds of things.
        I suspect this does not mean you are opposed to all forms of Medicaid or welfare.
        I respect charity, but I also respect a community’s responsibility toward the poor. Permit me to say I’m a little discouraged with your choice of words: “forced transferring of wealth,” ‘taking forcefully to give to others,’ ‘Robin Hood.’ These words hint at emotions that are foreign to my experience of the way ‘we the people’ through our elected representatives decide how to handle those with greater obstacles toward economic flourishing than others. Pell Grants, Head Start, certain kinds of aid to dependent children are our community’s way of giving a hand up. If this is done through progressive taxation passed by the majority in our Congress, I don’t experience this as ‘forced upon me,’ but as the will of ‘we the people.’
        Yes, we are sinful. Yes, there are many reasons for distrust. But I sense I have more trust than you in our communal exercise of reason in deciding how best to handle a mix of charity, responsibility, and justice. Talking about who deserves what and who deserves grace are precisely the kinds of difficult things we must be discussing, especially in those instances where sinful human beings distort what a market could do well.

        • I do trust in our communal exercise of reason and responsibility, to a point. Depends how you define “communal.” The difference is that, let’s say in a church, no one requires tithing. Of course it is strongly encouraged, but people will not be kicked out if they don’t pay. There is also accountability on the financial decisions. If the pastor makes bad decisions or gives money to friends instead of worthwhile causes, people will not give money anymore. Regardless of how much he tries to frame his decisions as “compassion.”

          I don’t think that politicians can make the best community decisions for how to give a “hand up.” They can start flashy programs, but they know that the money will come no matter what. I use words like “forceful” because there is no love, no sense of “social justice” in paying taxes like there is in charitable donations. Instead of trusting people to verify the organizations they donate their money to, tax money goes to government programs and routinely gets funneled to things like empty buildings, prostitutes, and faulty programs. That’s what worries me.

          Even politicians with the best intentions are not in a place to truly meet or understand the problems they are facing on as deep a level as those living next door. I think it’s incredibly arrogant to “re-assign” money according to our quick judgments of who “needs” it, without meeting the people and ministering to them through everyday life.

          • Wow again. I simply don’t share the same negative feelings about government. I think politicians can make excellent judgements and are in a great position to do so. They combine being in touch with locally significant needs to more broadly national needs. Besides we’ve both seen enough fraud and immorality in churches and charities to know government officials have no monopoly on such things. I remain discouraged that a bright young shining star such as you has so little faith in our ability to work together to do great things for the less advantaged through our elected representatives.

            • I haven’t “given up” on government (though, it should be noted, 90% of the country doesn’t think Congress is doing a good job) – I mean, I hope to work in DC! Some of the politicians I have met already are amazing people. However, I don’t think “social justice” is any sort of justification for the class warfare.

              Is there a role for government to play? Absolutely. Do I think they’ve vastly overstepped that role and overestimated the power of their actions compared to local organizations? Again, yes. I’m sorry, but all I witness with the charitable organizations and poor people in my neighborhood vastly contradicts their experience with government agencies.

              My bottom line is not that I hate government, even if it came across that way. I am very grateful for our political system. That being said, I still think it’s dangerous for us assume the power to decide what anyone else “deserves” to get from someone else’s money (redistribution). That’s not our place. Yes, there is a place for a social safety net. But there is also a chance to go way too far. I could just as easily turn on any of my friends – “How could you own a nice car, a house, when there are people living on 1$ a day?” We can all try to guilt each other and blame someone else for being “too rich” and “not caring enough”, but I ultimately believe it’s my responsibility to use my money to legitimately help others. God will be my judge of my heart, not someone else. The idea that one party is more “compassionate” because they want to raise taxes makes no sense to me. They are more “compassionate” to the ones receiving the money (if you assume these programs don’t create dependency), less to those who must pay the taxes.

              • “I still think it’s dangerous for us assume the power to decide what anyone else “deserves” to get from someone else’s money (redistribution). That’s not our place.” That may be the heart of our disagreement. I believe such power is at the heart of of our government’s responsibility. Sure it’s dangerous, but it is a danger we must not avoid at our own peril. I believe that is at the heart of many, if not all, spending bills, from highway bills, to foreign aid, to welfare, to tax breaks for business investment.

                Much of your response feels like it’s to statements you’ve heard from others. Does it sound to you like I’m supporting class warfare? I hope not. I do believe wealth carries with it great responsibility. (sounding a little like spiderman’s step dad.) I also believe government has a great responsibility to do its part to help the disadvantaged with the unique power it has, assuming that is a crucial aspect of ‘providing for the common welfare’ as the preamble to the constitution states.

          • We’re running out of room here. But I don’t disagree that government has a unique role. However, you’re right in that I am much more hesitant to trust their motives (or successes). I sense that I am not alone, in that I’ve never heard of anyone paying more taxes than they are required – yet, I routinely hear of people voluntarily donating more than they have to.

            I don’t think you engage in “class warfare”, but I think the “redistribution” and “fair share” language become that very quickly when we start acting as though we are entitled to demand more of others’ money. (us vs. them)

            • This is beginning to sound like a typical ‘estate tax vs death tax’ conversation. What one considers as tweaking taxation to more adequately promote the general welfare, another considers as “acting as though we are entitled to demand more of others’ money. (us vs. them)” We’re looking at the same actions through quite different tinted glasses, a condition that I suspect will persist. I must say, though, that my tinted glasses see your last sentence as a significant mischaracterization of the fair share advocates. Keep up your encouragements to consider again through your columns.

              • Ironic how those that consider it a “tweak” are the ones that don’t have to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars figuring out how to prevent their income from being taxed…a second time. In the end, they usually succeed too. But what a waste of time that could have been used for more productive things.

                • “ones that don’t have to spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars figuring out how to prevent their income from being taxed…a second time.” I’m sorry, I have no idea about whom you are speaking. Please enlighten me.

  2. Spot-on. Every word.

    It is sad to see a man who is so unpolished a public speaker that he cannot even speak for a single hour without becoming inextricably entangled in the web of his own contradictory statements . . .

    . . . Sadder still to think that there are those who do not have sufficient memory to retain the entire speech and realize the inconsistencies . . .

    . . . Saddest of all to realize that there are thousands more who do not care to examine his words for lapses of logic.

    How far our nation has fallen!

    There is much to consider here…and consider again.

    Thanks for an informative and well-written post on this topic, ConsiderAgain! 🙂

    • Thanks man! Appreciate your comments. 🙂 Go on Google and type “State of the Union spending” – I’m in the Washington Times now! (I’ve been on top of Google all evening!)

    • To examine words for lapses of logic would require the masses to know logic and desire to think and act logically. When I was going through school there was not a single logic class offered (that I remember). I don’t remember encountering one in college, either.

      People aren’t going to use sound logic because they aren’t being taught to use sound logic.

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