February 14, 2013
Heritage Foundation experts live-blogged President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday evening. Below are excerpts from their reactions.
A ‘Balanced’ Approach to Deficit Reduction
President Obama called for more “balance” in reducing the deficit, though according to Heritage expert Patrick Knudsen this actually means higher taxes:
With the government drowning in red ink, Obama offers a life preserver made of lead: more spending. He has already pocketed a $618 billion tax increase in the fiscal cliff deal (in addition to $1 trillion in new Obamacare taxes). He needs to accept that true “balance” has two sides—and start cutting spending.
Heritage’s Romina Boccia says that the President should get serious about cutting spending and reducing debt to prevent workers wages from being depressed in the future:
Rising government spending and huge deficits are threatening to ring in a period of depressed growth and fewer opportunities for Americans. Without sequester-level spending cuts, publicly held debt is projected to reach almost 90 percent of GDP in 10 years.
Blaming Conservatives for Sequestration
The automatic spending cuts under sequestration, including to the military, are becoming increasingly unpopular, so the President distanced himself from his own policy. Heritage expert Steve Bucci explains:
The kicker is that the President will get to “blame” conservatives for whatever happens. The sad truth is the ones who will “pay” for this are the young troops who get sent to the next conflict situation ill-prepared.
A New Call for Infrastructure Spending
Heritage’s Emily Goff questioned President Obama’s call for a “fix-it-first” infrastructure program:
The private sector will not join in backing financially unviable projects, a reality from which the government could take a cue. Amazingly, the President insists on revisiting this financing mechanism with his new “Partnership to Rebuild America” initiative.
New ‘Green’ Programs Justified by Climate Claims
President Obama continued to push for wasteful “green” energy policies to combat climate change. though as Heritage’s David Kreutzer points out:
The scientific basis for catastrophic climate change gets weaker and weaker. The economic argument for green subsidies has already collapsed. It is time for the administration to quit using both arguments to justify a regulatory and fiscal power grab.
Greater Federal Control of Education
President Obama celebrated the Federal government’s expensive overreach into the classroom. Heritage’s Rachel Sheffield says the President should allow more educational flexibility:
Instead of a federal takeover of curriculum, states need greater flexibility to implement the reforms they decide are best. Rather than serving the needs of Washington, schools should have the freedom to help children succeed.
‘Comprehensive Immigration Reform’
President Obama reiterated his call for “comprehensive” immigration reform. Heritage expert Matthew Spalding disagreed with this approach:
The better way to proceed is to go about solving problems, starting where there is broad agreement, and working toward a fundamental restructuring of our immigration system to emphasize work, opportunity, and assimilation under the rule of law.
President Obama said this nation “salutes those who defend it around the world.” Heritage expert Helle Dale said the President still needs to establish credibility on terrorism.
Until this White House is willing to account for its actions and false storylines peddled following the Benghazi attack, its credibility on the issue of terrorism will continue to be severely compromised. With a President who failed miserably to show responsibility for Americans under attack, this country will continue to face grave dangers ahead.
Withdrawal from Afghanistan
President Obama promised an end to the war in Afghanistan by the end of next year. Heritage expert Luke Coffey says that is a dangerously naive approach.
Any decisions taken to reduce troops numbers should be based on improved conditions on the ground and on military advice—not on a desire to end a war that, in some capacity, and regardless of what Obama thinks, will still have to be fought after 2015.
Inadequate Foreign Policy
Heritage expert Ted Bromund contended the President’s lacks any real foreign policy:
The overwhelming impression left by the address was of a foreign policy in recessional, and one that relies on rhetoric and the promise of future negotiations to create the impression of action and achievement.
New Restrictions on Gun Ownership
Heritage’s John Malcom explains that the President continued to argue for more restrictions on gun ownership and pushed for universal background checks.
As to the President’s emphasis on background checks: The only way to enforce universal background checks for private sales is if law enforcement authorities know what firearms are held by private citizens. And the only way to know what firearms are held by private citizens is through the creation of a national firearms registry. Federal law currently prohibits authorities from using data in the background check system to create a national firearms registry, although there are avid gun control proponents who would like to change that—a real threat to the Second Amendment rights of legitimate gun owners.
Repeating Myths About Voting Challenges
Heritage expert Hans von Spakovsky negated President Obama’s claims about long lines at the polls:
While there may have been some Americans who waited for long periods to vote in 2012, the vast majority did not. A recent study of the 2012 election reported that the average wait time nationally was only 14 minutes.
What did you think of President Obama’s speech?