TPA Responds to the 2014 State of the Union Address

David Williams

January 29, 2014

In his fifth State of the Union address, President Obama reiterated familiar themes that have resulted in a slow economic recovery over the past 5 years.  In a new and reckless move, President Obama promised to use his Executive power to enact initiatives that Congress wouldn’t pass such as a move to increase the minimum wage for federal contractors. This establishes a bad precedent that circumvents the system of checks and balances.

The biggest missed opportunity was that there was no mention of how to rein in government spending.  In fact, the President seemed to suggest more spending on projects that could be classified as corporate welfare when noted that, “Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones.  That’s why Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery – whether it’s vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria, or paper-thin material that’s stronger than steel.“

One of the most bizarre parts of the President’s speech was his attack on last year’s sequestration (automatic spending cuts).  The President signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 which created sequestration.  If the President didn’t like sequestration, he shouldn’t have signed it into law.  Now, he has been left with no real plan to cut spending.

President Obama mentioned Obamacare and the millions that have enrolled since the launch.  Obama did not mention the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on a broken website or the millions of Americans that lost their healthcare insurance due to Obamacare.  Millions of Americans found out the hard way last year that President Obama’s promise that “if you like your healthcare coverage, you can keep it,” was just a good talking point and not the truth.

Not all the news was bad.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) was pleased to hear talk of comprehensive tax reform, but that mention was fleeting with no specific details even though in 2012, President Obama asked Congress to lower the corporate tax rate.   TPA was also pleased to hear the President’s support of patent reform when he mentioned, “And let’s pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation.”

Energy was featured in the speech and there was a mixed bag.  President Obama endorsed the expanded use of natural gas and cutting bureaucracy when he stated that, “America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades.  One of the reasons why is natural gas – if extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.  Businesses plan to invest almost $100 billion in new factories that use natural gas.  I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built…”  He took a major step backward when he talked about more investment (taxpayer dollars) for development of solar cells, a proven failed source of energy or wise investments by the taxpayer as evidenced by the Solyndra loan debacle.

Even though the State of the Union is more ceremonial than substance driven, President Obama missed an opportunity to lay out a plan to get the country’s finances back in order.  Until President Obama, and Washington as a whole, stop making deals that waste tax dollars and continue the constant cycle of an inefficient bureaucracy that only gets bigger as each “compromise” is reached, it is going to be a long and hard fight to protect taxpayers from elected officials looking to spend more of their money.