1.26.2011

The single worst line in the State of the Union

"And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply can’t afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.  (Applause.)   Before we take money away from our schools or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break."

When I first heard it last night there was something that struck me as wrong about it. Not because of the class warfare, socialist quality of it, but something else. It sounded, at least to my ears, that the first draft of this passage probably read: "Before we take money away from our schools or scholarships away from our students, we should take more money away from the wealthy." There is something fundamentally wrong with this attitude.

As I have said time and time again, governing is about priorities. The President said last night that government needs wholesale reform. There are massive amounts of waste that can be cut, but statements like this one hint that the President's priority is punishing those who have succeeded to pay for the massive spending he wants.

The best line of the President's speech was: "We do big things." Yes, we do. We are a nation of inventors and innovators who have helped to shape and inspire the modern world. The problem with these to statements is that quite often, if we punish the evil rich we end up stifling the very innovation and leadership that has come to define our nation.

The vast majority of the speech was focused on government creating and innovating through generous spending. Think about it. When talking about Race to the Top, the President said: “If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we’ll show you the money.” This is attitude is government centered and focused on the federal government picking the winners and losers.

Quite a bit different than what the focus should be: removing barriers and getting government out of the way so that the free market can flourish. The President tried very hard to sound centrist and moderate, but in a few sentences continued to reveal that he favors government and bureaucracy over the private sector.