Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

State Of The Union 

If you didn’t stay up for the State of the Union last night, I don’t blame you. It offered little in the way of innovative policy proposals or bipartisan aisle-crossing and instead focused on a recitation of Obama’s first term “accomplishments” and an unapologetic defense of Big Government. Only many of Obama’s claims were dubious at best. It would take twenty pages to examine all of Obama’s claims, so I’ll focus below on just a few. 

Economic Growth: Obama’s statements about the economy were full of distortions. Obama claimed that under his stewardship the economy has added “over six million new jobs.” Well, if you start counting from February 2010, more than a year after Obama took office, then, yes, six millions jobs have been added. But since the beginning of Obama’s first term, only about 1.2 million jobs have been created, and that doesn’t include the millions of Americans who have dropped out of the labor force alltogether. Obama suggested he was responsible for the fact that the United States imports less oil than we used to. “We buy…less foreign oil than we have for 20” years, he said. That’s true but Obama had little to do with it, unless you consider that Obama’s poor economy has pushed down oil consumption. But the main reason the U.S. is producing more oil is because of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, aka “fracking,” innovations that Obama has often worked against. 

The Sequester: Obama made it clear he’s against “the sequester,” the D.C. name for automatic spending cuts scheduled to take place on March 1st. Obama said the cuts were a really bad idea, but he failed to mention that the idea came from him, not Congress. Obama signed the idea into law last summer, and, in the months that followed, regularly threatened to veto any GOP effort to repeal the sequester. Fred Barnes at The Weekly Standard points out that even now Obama has proposed no alternatives to the cuts, other than wanting more tax increases. “Never mind,” says Obama. It’s the GOP’s fault, and the media reports Obama’s attack without mentioning the history of how we got to this point. 

Dubious Science:Putting his Scientist-in-Chief hat on, Obama suggested that Superstorm Sandy was caused by global warming. But it turns out that the super storm surge was weaker than the surge a storm produced in 1821, long before automobiles and power plants were adding carbon to the atmosphere. But the facts don’t matter. Obama identifies the problem with dubious science and then proposes a solution: bigger government, higher taxes, more regulation and billions more of your money “invested” in “clean energy” failures like Solyndra. 

But the worst part of Obama’s speech was his consistent hinting that if Congress doesn’t roll over and do what he wants to do, he will do it by fiat—through executive orders, onerous regulation and other dubious means. This is an increasing hallmark of the Obama presidency. He’s overreached numerous times and has been struck down by the Supreme Court, eventually. Conservatives sometimes blame the House GOP for not doing more to prevent Obama’s overreach. But there is little legally that Republicans can do except support the court’s challenges. It’s going to be a long four years. 

Rubio’s Makes Our Case

If you didn’t catch Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s State of the Union response, please watch it here. Rubio did an outstanding job, showing again why he is a rising star. He talked about his own humble beginnings and the fact that even today he lives in a working class neighborhood. 

On Medicare, Rubio talked about how, despite what Obama and the Left say, Republicans don’t want to end the program. Rubio mentioned that Medicare enabled his father to receive medical treatment near the end of his life and to die with dignity. And he talked about how his mother relies on the program today. We want to save Medicare, Rubio said about Republicans, before reminding viewers that it is the Democrats whose policies would kill it. This is the type of personal argument Mitt Romney simply couldn’t make to voters. Rubio spoke in words and with a story that everyday Americans could relate with. 

If you didn’t watch Rubio’s response, perhaps the only thing you’ve heard about it was that in the middle of his remarks Rubio took a moment to take a sip of water. As someone who regularly speaks before audiences, I know how easy it can be to get “dry mouth,” which is probably what happened to Rubio after many minutes of talking. 

Predictably, Rubio’s “water-gate” is all the Left can talk about. It’s using the age-old tactic of mocking and humiliating an opponent in an attempt to damage his reputation. I predict that the incident will be mocked on all the late night comedy shows, and that a Saturday Night Live skit is already being written. But it’s always a good sign when your opponents’ criticisms focus on something trivial. It means they have no way of responding to your public policy arguments. 

Hagel Nomination Stalled 

Congratulations to Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and the Emergency Committee for Israel! Largely because of their efforts, the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense has run into a ditch. Senators, led by Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, are filing the necessary motions to effectively require that Hagel obtain 60 votes instead of 51 to be confirmed as Secretary of Defense. There are 55 Democrats in the Senate, so the White House would have to peel-off 5 of the 45 Republicans to get Hagel through. (We will supply you with the names and contact number of the wavering Republicans later this week.) 

Of course, this shouldn’t even be a close battle. Many of the 55 Democrat senators campaign as being pro-Israel, and Hagel’s anti-Israel hostility is clear to everyone. Most Senators say that they are for a strong national defense but Hagel wants to take a buzz saw to the Pentagon budget. Add that to his weakness on Iran and it is amazing to consider that he has not withdrawn his name from consideration. The battle will continue but the odds are improving for our side. 

The Left’s Call To Violence

One of the least-reported but most important political developments over the last couple years has been the left’s increasing willingness to marginalize conservatives by portraying their views as so far outside the mainstream that they can only be informed by hatred and bigotry. But, as I argue in my Human Events column this week, the left’s nasty divisiveness increases the prospects that unstable people will act out violently against those it tries to marginalize. You can read my piece here.