Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Responses To State of the Union

Many tuned in via radio, internet or television for Obama's State of the Union. Many who skipped the speech stayed up to get the various rebuttals and reactions to include the "official" Republican response or the more popular Tea Party response that Senator Mike Lee from Utah delivered.

Texas Governor Rick Perry delivered his own rebuttal and remarks on Obama's speech. He summarized them in this quote from his press release:

"We didn't hear much tonight from President Obama that we haven't before, other than his intention to expand his own powers by bypassing Congress altogether. The strength of our Union is in our states, not Washington, and Texas has shown that the way to economic prosperity and significant job growth is through individual freedoms and the free market. Tonight, we saw a president with the same old agenda and no real idea on how to govern. Americans expect and deserve more from a president than continually broken promises and unfunded platitudes."
That is a rather succinct and accurate summary.

However, some of us skipped all of the above. There were even small Facebook groups set-up for those who allegedly chose to ignore the speech.

I'm not much of a "joiner", preferring to make up my own mind and be more attuned to being a true minority, and individual. I skipped the speech. While my wife and daughter headed out for some mother-daughter time, I stayed home, folded laundry, and watched something on one of the streaming subscription sites. See, we refuse to pay for cable or satellite television. We don't see the value of it.

I was, however, sent embargoed talking points from the speech ahead of time. Days prior, I told some associates I was not going to waste my time watching the speech. When asked why, my reason was simple. I am pretty much tired of hearing the same rhetoric year after year. We have the same issues we did during Obama's first SOTUA. Nothing has really improved. Some things have gotten worse. Those things that have improved have done so despite his policies, not because of them.

Reading the outline and talking points, (H/T to Jamie Dupree for making them available online) I saw my prediction was fairly spot on. Some of the latest catch phrases changed, but the message was pretty much the same. The quoted numbers changed. But the same inaccurate and myopic picture was projected through an out-of-focus, rose-colored lens. Obama presented fallacious and misleading information. The things he did not misrepresent were facts taken out of context, failing to paint an accurate and honest picture. We did not get a "state of the union". We got another bad campaign speech filled with empty promises.

Again, Obama promised to "act on his own" where "congress fails to act". It seems to matter not that Articles 1 and 2 of the US Constitution prevent him from doing much without congress, thankfully.

Again he lobbied and campaigned for a "living wage". In 2013 he attempted to push for a $9 federal minimum wage. He wants people to buy into the falsehood that a fry-cook at a fast food restaurant is of equal value to a practicing MD or an MBA. It seems he doesn't even value his own JD. That would make sense, though, given he has barely used it in the private sector. Now he wants that minimum wage set to $10. Basically, he is pushing to increase inflation by about 35%.

Middle Class Security & Opportunity at Work

  • Raising the Minimum Wage through Executive Order to $10.10 for Federal Contract Workers. The President will also continue to urge Congress to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 across the nation because no one who works full-time should have to raise their family in poverty.
  • Creating “myRA” – A New Starter Savings Account to Help Millions Save for Retirement. The President will take executive action to create a simple, safe and affordable “starter” retirement savings account available through employers to help millions of Americans save for retirement. This savings account would be offered through a familiar Roth IRA account and, like savings bonds, would be backed by the U.S. government.
In regards to that second point, there already was a program of that nature. It is called "Social Security". the problem is that FDR sold it as just what Obama is trying to sell this myRA fraud. In reality, it was a tax tied to a handout. The tax later becomes part of the federal debt when those paying into it reach retirement age. Because of the way the people were duped into accepting the program, the federally mismanaged Ponzi scheme legally has to pay what is "owed", even if the beneficiary never paid into the program.

Now he suggests individual accounts to be managed by the federal government. We have already seen how that turns out. Remember Dodd-Frank and the real estate loan fiasco that took place a little over 5 years ago? How about the student loan problems in the US? Most professional, working citizens have a 401K or equivalent retirement account. Why do we need the government to get involved? The answer is simple. It's all about power and dependency. The federal government wants power over you and your choices. They want to force you to be dependent upon their nonexistent benevolence.

"Income inequality" was one of his biggest talking points. Another was labeled as "equal opportunity for all" in his talking points. However, his message was not one of equal opportunity, but equal outcome regardless of merit or effort. That is not equitable. It isn't even close.

Opportunity for All: Key Executive Actions the President Will Take in 2014

The President’s top priority remains ensuring middle class Americans feel secure in their jobs, homes and budgets. To build real, lasting economic security the President will work with Congress and act on his own to expand opportunity for all so that every American can get ahead and have a shot at creating a better life for their kids.
Then we have what Obama is trying to pass off as job-creating policies. He may want to scrap everything he presented and take a closer look at how Texas does things. Texas does employ some Keynesian economic programs. They may not be the most free-market and economy boosting ideas. However, they do seem to be working. Texas uses them to stimulate competition, capital, and opportunities for business growth and expansion. How? Lower taxes for both business owners and workers alike. Texas issues grants for businesses with reasonable and viable plans and models for growth and job creation through the Emerging Technologies Fund and the Texas Enterprise Fund.

However, the federal government needs to know its place. Their role is to set treaties and conditions for international trade. Their role is to enable interstate commerce that is equitable between states. They are to settle interstate contract disputes. They are to prosecute interstate fraud and unethical business practices. Their job is not to "partner" with "corporations" or "business leaders". They have no place in the market. To do so is to bias the scales of justice when contract law and interstate commerce need to be addressed. In short, it produces oligopolies and monopolies, picking favorites and cronies and lining politicians' pockets.

Jobs & Economic Opportunity

  •  Launching Four New Manufacturing Institutes in 2014. American manufacturers are adding jobs for the first time in over a decade. To build on this progress, the President will launch four new institutes through executive action this year. These institutes will build on the four the President has already announced.
  •  Partnering With Many of America’s Leading CEOs to Help the Long-Term Unemployed. Later this week, as part of an ongoing effort that the Administration began several months ago, the President will convene a group of CEOs and other leaders around supporting best practices for hiring the long-term unemployed.
  •  Expanding Apprenticeships by Mobilizing Business, Community Colleges and Labor. This year the President will mobilize business leaders, community colleges, Mayors and Governors, and labor leaders to increase the number of innovative apprenticeships in America.
  •  Increasing Fuel Efficiency for Trucks. The President will propose new incentives for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that run on alternative fuels like natural gas and the infrastructure needed to deploy them, and the Administration will set new fuel efficiency standards for heavy duty vehicles.
  •  Partnering with States, Cities and Tribes to Move to Energy Efficiency and Cleaner Power. The President has directed his Administration to work to cut carbon pollution through clean energy and energy efficiency.
Those last 2 points under his "jobs" subject are interesting violations of the 10th Amendment. It is not the federal government's authority to partner with cities. They may attempt to "partner" with states. But they violate states' sovereignty when they work directly with the cities. Sorry, Obama, but making deals with your komrade Julianne Castro is unconstitutional. As for working with tribes, have fun renegotiating those treaties and getting them ratified. That is not something he can do without support of 2/3 of the US Senate.

Still, what do those have to do with job creation? Very little. Increasing regulations will hinder job creation, not enhance it. Sure, more bureaucrats will be needed to play gestapo while enacting the policies and regulations. However, each government-employed tax burden will cost ten private sector jobs. In addition, these will cause increases in overhead as well as increased tax burdens on job creators. That will mean higher prices for consumers, Jill and Joe American. It will mean higher food prices to offset getting food to your local grocer. It will mean higher fuel prices, making it more expensive to commute to the job you are lucky to still have. It will mean higher costs for the USPS to deliver your mail. It will also mean that planned fuel projects that would generate a few thousand new jobs will be postponed or cancelled. 

Now let's back up to those 4 new manufacturing institutions. In 2013 he promised how many new manufacturing hubs? Was it 15? Was it 9? Was it 6? How many did we actually get? It was a much lower number, closer to 2 or 3. So he's starting at a deficit. he was unclear if those new hubs were part of last year's unfulfilled promise or if they are in addition to what Obama failed to deliver.

Of course none of this is his fault. He promised things that were not in his power. So, he couldn't deliver. In fact, I could produce ocean-front property in Arizona easier than he can make good on his exaggerated promises.

The main problem with the speech is that it didn't really give congress as situation update as the title of the speech mandates. Here is a better picture. People are quitting the workforce. Long-term unemployment handouts have given too many people an excuse to not try hard to seek employment. (Texas needs people in certain fields. All you need to do is send in your resume and prepare to move.) We have more people dependent upon food stamps than ever before in history. That is something to be ashamed of. It is inexcusable. Military personnel face a cut in the benefits they actually earned and retirees face a cut in their cost-of-living adjustments. Those are mandated responsibilities per the US Constitution, Food stamps and housing handouts are not.  And one final issue is education. The federal government violates the 10th Amendment getting involved with education. It is none of their business. Common Core is ruining education. Sure, it is making it more even state to state by making sure the kids in all states (except Texas where common core is illegal) don't learn and fail to have the opportunities to develop skills and talents they will need to be successful in life. The parents who pick up the slack and teach their kids will raise the leaders of tomorrow. Meanwhile, our tax dollars are being wasted. That means federal tax dollars are being wasted on programs that are unconstitutional.

With that, I'll leave you to enjoy former Congressman Allen West's remarks on the SOTUA.