In yesterday’s State of the Union speech, Barack Obama set himself on two contradictory courses. Obama knew he had to pay lip service to the anger among Americans over the profligate spending Congress conducted over the last four years, but then he also wanted to sell his grocery list of new initiatives at the same time. How did he do? According to the AP, Obama’s math needs remedial work in almost every area — including Obamacare:
The ledger did not appear to be adding up Tuesday night when President Barack Obama urged more spending on one hand and a spending freeze on the other.
Obama spoke ambitiously of putting money into roads, research, education, efficient cars, high-speed rail and other initiatives in hisState of the Union speech. He pointed to the transportation and construction projects of the last two years and proposed “we redouble these efforts.” He coupled this with a call to “freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years.”
But Obama offered far more examples of where he would spend than where he would cut, and some of the areas he identified for savings are not certain to yield much if anything.
Color the AP … unimpressed. Calvin Woodward notes that one proposal for an increase in tax receipts, a tax hike on oil companies, didn’t fly even when Democrats controlled Congress. But that’s hardly the extent of the problems in Obama’s math.
- Obama argued that his new health-care plan lowers the deficit, and that repealing it would add “a quarter of a trillion dollars” to it. Woodward points out that this argument depends on deep cuts to Medicare payments to doctors, which Obama and his fellow Democrats later reversed, at least for now. It’s also worth noting that the reason it works on paper is because it hikes taxes more than it cuts spending.
- The supposed stand on earmarks doesn’t pass the smell test, either. Obama has been vowing to stop earmark-laden bills from becoming law since he first started running for office in 2007, but Woodward recalls that Obama has not only signed every earmarked bill he’s received into law, he also praised earmarks in 2009: “Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that’s why I’ve opposed their outright elimination.”
- Obama offered to work on malpractice and tort reform, which Woodward referred to as a Lucy-with-the-football moment. Obama keeps endorsing the idea publicly in concept, but refusing to endorse any actual reform proposals. The CBO calculated that tort reform of the type imposed in California could save $110 billion over the next decade in the health care industry, with $54 billion in savings for the federal government.
There’s more, so be sure to read it all. Be sure to also read Kevin McCullough’s choices for the best, worst, most surprising, and most lame moments of the speech.