Cut, Invest, Grow, Rinse, Repeat

As I watched the State of the Union address that President Obama gave last night, I got the impression over and over that the President was trying to serve two masters.  He wanted to work with the new Republican majority in the House, and simultaneously gain a reputation as a centrist… the new Bill Clinton.  He also wanted the government, ahem, he wanted AMERICA to invest in things that would make us great in the world again.  He wanted to cut taxes—yes, let’s bring down our corporate tax rate that’s stifling American businesses.  But he also wanted to “invest” in infrastructure, education, small businesses.  “Let me be clear, people, we’re doing this for the children.  Let’s invest for the kids.” (Not an exact quote).

Here are some of the highlights of the President’s agenda for the next year:

  • Cut taxes for small businesses
  • Cut taxes for first-time homebuyers
  • Cut taxes for Americans paying for college
  • Cut taxes for Americans with children
  • A new small business tax credit
  • A new jobs bill
  • $30 billion from Wall Street banks transferred to small banks to loan to small businesses
  • Vetoing any bill with earmarks in it
  • Stop subsidies for oil companies, and start subsidies for new energy sources
  • Double our exports over the next 5 years – a National Export Initiative
  • Invest in the skills and education of our people
  • Reform the reform of our health care industry
  • Bring the national deficit and national debt down
  • Freeze government spending for three years

It’s disheartening to hear President Obama say that we can have it both ways: we can have a government that takes care of everything, and we can also have a government that lives within its means.  From the experience of the last 15 years, most can safely say that this is not the case.  Government should NOT be involved in everything, because when it is, it doesn’t do anything well.  This sentiment was echoed by Congressman Paul Ryan in the Republican response:

We don’t need more “investment.”  We need to cut government spending.  We need to reform our entitlement programs.  We need to make sure that we can pass on to our children an America that’s not in shambles.

What did you think of the President’s address last night?

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

    To start lets say I am shocked…shocked to hear that Republicans aren’t happy with President Obama’s SOTU speech. I’ll begin by addressing your post directly because I have know doubt the scope of the discussion will expand exponentially as the back and fourth rolls on.

    “President was trying to serve two masters”….

    I know this concept is outside the box but the President was AGAIN reaching out in an effort to be BIPARTISAN. In a desire to truly do what is best for the country, and rise above some of the political lines he was reaching out to republicans and showing a willingness to compromise and adopt more republican ideas; i.e. all the tax breaks, earmark ban (nod to McCain), changes to Obamacare, the freeze on government spending (I thought was for FIVE years but I’ll have to double check). There were many examples of the President looking to reach across the isle and find that middle ground where good work can be done and use the as a foundation to build a more effective governing body. Overall with such a large push to the middle which Obama seemed to have been looking for, I don’t see why Republicans would complain except to say he didn’t go far enough in their opinion…well guess what he isn’t a republican so he may never go “far enough” to the right on issues for their taste but if you want to be apart of the solution and not the problem, being in the center is where republicans will have to work from too.

    “It’s disheartening to hear President Obama say that we can have it both ways”…

    President Obama mentioned cutting programs and government spending many times however he seemed to be more measured in his approach then republicans would have liked. President Obama seems to want to cut using a scalpel rather than a machete, now that isn’t to say you cant cut as much fat using a scalpel and it may take a bit longer but in the end you will be left with a much more precise cut. Now in regards to spending, yes some spending will have to continue if we want to compete long term in the world economy. R&D into technology whether in medical fields, green energy, or information MUST continue and expanded when shown to have promise. Spending in fields like education and others can be debated because the question is can we get a better return on investment if we simply spend BETTER, bottom line is our education system needs fixing we are falling behind other nations on critical areas like math and science. I am open to any idea that will increase the effectiveness of schools and teachers but any proposal should be evaluated through the lens of “does this significantly increase or decrease educations effectiveness.”

    “We need to reform our entitlement programs.”

    I agree completely that entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare) must be reformed however lets not forget that these are all politicians and they aren’t going to be too eager to jump out on the ledge of cutting benefits alone. I believe a reform of these programs will come down the road but it will be very carefully debated and played more closely to the vest than other issues.

    Closing thought:

    I think the 2nd “Tea Party” response was unnecessary and really didn’t go over well compared to the other two speeches. While both Obama and Ryan looked to the future and presented a desire to solve America’s problems, the Bachman speech was looking backwards to the past and looking to solely assign blame to President Obama for the financial crisis which is ridiculous considering it started before he was even in office and directly contradicted Ryan’s statement that placed responsibility correctly with BOTH parties. I am not sure how other Republicans felt about the two responses, but from a registered Independent, outside point of view, I see it as division within the party. I do not know if this division is significant or will cause problems for the Republican agenda or if it will act a check to ensure they continue to hear the people of America. Either way the Republican and Tea Parties do not seem to be on the same page as far as message.

    • Bob

      There’s a difference between bipartisanship and what I’m talking about. I’m thrilled that the president is trying to reach across the aisle. What I’m disappointed in is this: you can’t say, “Let’s cut taxes” and “Let’s spend more money” in the same breath. President Bush tried to say that, and look what happened. President Obama is now trying to say that, and you think we’ll get a different result? You know what they say about the definition of insanity…

      Our deficit is HUGE. We need to be talking about how to cut massive amounts out of the federal budget, not how we need to be spending more money. THAT was my problem. It has nothing to do with being partisan or bipartisan.

      You may be right about the five-year freeze… I heard that same thing on the radio last night, but when I read the transcript on NYTimes.com, I read three years.

    • Bob

      BTW, I keep hearing this “scalpel vs. machete” analogy being used (oddly, mostly by Carol Mosely Braun in the Chicago mayor’s race), and I think it’s an improper and disingenuous analogy to use, for a couple of reasons:
      1. Imagery: It’s used to by Democrats because it makes it seem like the Democrats are the ones using the scalpel. The image of the scalpel is one of precision, which is used to make the Democrats look like they’re the ones that are precision instruments, while the Republicans are just massive blunt instruments.
      2. Scope: a scalpel is used to make small incisions, which is not what we need. We need large cuts, and in most cases probably painful cuts.
      3. Need: if you want to use the scalpel analogy, think of this: there’s a wound that’s crippling a person, but this wound is covered by 5 feet of blubber. You may need to use BOTH the machete (to cut away the blubber) and the scalpel (once you get close to the wound that’s causing the problem) to solve the problem. The analogy of the scalpel vs. machete doesn’t acknowledge that we might have to use BOTH instruments.

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

    “Let’s cut taxes” and “Let’s spend more money”…

    Yes I agree our deficit is HUGE and we do NEED to cut our budget, however as a government we can “walk and chew gum” we can cut spending and decrease the deficit and still spend in targeted specific ways. While lowering spending and the deficit could be our number 1 goal but it is not going to be our ONLY goal that is just realistic. Not saying I support this idea, but an example of this that Obama gave was in two years allowing the tax break for the top earners to expire saving $87 Billion and using a PART of the $87B saving to spend in Education. But overall I believe the Republican Party will be an outstanding check and balance system to limit the amount of spending that will be allowed.

    “Scalpel vs. machete”…

    I am in no way against using both tools as long as we “measure nine times and cut once”….lol

    What did you think of the “Tea Party/Bachman” response?

    • Bob

      I agree with you about targeting spending… but I would be of the mind that we’re already spending the money, we’re just not spending it in the wisest way. We can cut money from our education budget (GASP!), and yet probably still make gains in education. We can cut the amount that we’re spending on healthcare, and yet still have a healthy population. We can cut the amount that we’re spending on defense, and yet still vigourously defend our country. We can cut the amount that we’re spending in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and still take care of the elderly and poor.

      I actually didn’t watch the Tea Party response last night… I guess I should. I’m not sure what I think of Michelle Bachmann. She’s an energetic, charismatic person, and a wonderful fundraiser, but I really don’t know about her policies much. I’ll get back to you on that one.

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

    Well I can’t argue with your mindset on spending…but I can look at the results of what we are currently doing and I can conclude its not working. Now are there ways we can cut spending without losing effective teaching and learning I am sure that there are, I think race to the top is a good way to generate those types of innovations. Is it a perfect system of course not, but the foundational idea is a good one. Furthermore, if we do find great idea/programs/policy that truly does work I would fully support spending whatever funds necessary to implement that idea/program/policy to ensure our schools and students are out performing other nations and puts America back on top as the best educated in the world.

    Defense Technology is the weapon of now and future, if you have the best tech you can win the fight. So with that said INVESTING in R&D in future weapon systems may be a better way to spend money than another 100 tanks or 50 F-22’s.

    Here is a link to “Tea Party” response

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

    Pres. Obama used your favorite “scalpel analogy” I had a laugh and thought about how much you love it.

    “We’ve taken a scalpel to the discretionary budget, rather than a machete,” Obama said. He said his budget “puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade.”

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/02/15/obama-holds-press-conference-discuss-budget/#

    • Bob

      The “scalpel analogy” seems to be the one that Democrats have chosen to defend their way of thinking… it keeps going around.

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc

    “Puts us on a path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the decade.”

    LOL, more like puts on the path to pay for what we spend by the middle of the century…not a fan of Obama’s budget at all. It has no real cuts and doesn’t take any political risk, does not go after defense, social security, Medicaid or Medicare. I am hoping the Republicans counter with a very aggressive budget that will actually impact the deficit and force a REAL debate. Why even create a Dept Commission if both sides are going to ignore the very ideas it comes up with and WILL solve the debt crisis?