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Obama State of the Union speech

Some thoughts on Barack Obama's State of the Union speech, which was more of a stump speech than anything else:

  • It is ironic that Obama is calling for a 90-day "simple up or down" vote on judicial nominees when he is the only sitting president in American history who has voted to filibuster a judicial nomination—and that was for someone well within the mainstream like Justice Alito.

  • We've previously commented on the faux populism of the "Buffett Rule" that Obama has made the centerpiece of his tax policy.
  • The fundamental economic unsoundness and ignorance of Obama is demonstrated by lines like "Over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires." How much poorer are Americans and how many Americans lost their jobs because Americans are now paying higher prices for tires? How much less competitive are American vehicle exports because Americans are paying higher prices for tires? How much displacement of private investment will occur because Obama wishes to incur more public debt by creating a new bureaucracy, a "Trade Enforcement Unit," to raise prices on Americans?
  • Obama "call[s] on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen." The public schools of the District of Columbia are already unable to teach their students because teachers have no power to discipline bad actors in the classroom. How much worse will that subpar education be when teenage thugs who don't want to be in school are instead disrupting classes? How much will schools have to water down their curriculum to "pass" that bottom decile who don't have the intellectual firepower to handle high school classes at the expense of the other 90% of students?
  • I'd be more impressed that Obama calls for "[tearing] down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow" if he weren't proposing and implementing so many new regulations that do just that. PPACA in particular is a job-killer.
  • The idea that we need a government program to help "manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings" strikes me as insane. If manufacturers can profitably cut energy waste and build in energy efficiency, they don't need a government incentive to do so; if the government incentive is for making unprofitable energy-saving decisions, then that's just burning taxpayer dollars. If you think that reducing energy consumption is a good thing, then have the guts to implement a Pigouvian tax on energy consumption (which will by itself incentivize spending on energy savings) instead of increasing taxes on earning income and investment.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.