Echoes of the past could be heard in President Obama's Tuesday night State of the Union Speech. Unbowed by failure to alleviate the economic malaise during his first term, Mr. Obama vows to continue tax-and-spend liberal policies for another four years. Jimmy Carter is back.
Mr. Obama prefaced the laundry list of new federal programs he wants by saying, "Nothing I'm proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime. It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth."
Of course, he wants Uncle Sam to do a lot more, and he has no appetite for eliminating existing government undertakings. That means there's only one way his outsized bureaucracy can be sustained, and that's through tax hikes. Those hikes will be massive because everything the White House desires will cost taxpayers hundreds of billions -- possibly trillions -- in new outlays.
The president asked for more cash for "high-speed rail and Internet, high-tech schools, self-healing power grids" as well as mapping the human genome, scientific research and green energy programs. He would also repay his union allies for their campaign support by throwing money at preschools and transportation boondoggles.
Mr. Obama used the word "investment" five times, which is his way of avoiding getting caught saying "spending" aloud. He called for Congress to pay for this by "getting rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well-off and the well-connected."
Eliminating deductions is only a good idea in the context of tax reform that offers lower rates. Otherwise, forcing families to hand more of their hard-earned cash to the Internal Revenue Service isn't going to help the economy grow.
Republicans were clearly frustrated by Mr. Obama's inability to come up with smart and more moderate economic policies.
"Raising taxes won't create private-sector jobs, and there's no realistic tax increase that could lower our deficits by almost $4 trillion," said Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, in the official GOP response. "The idea that more taxes and more government spending is the best way to help hardworking middle-class taxpayers? That's an old idea that's failed every time it's been tried."
House Speaker John A. Boehner said Wednesday, "The president offered up more of the same: higher taxes and more stimulus spending."
As he walked out of the House chamber on Tuesday night, freshman Sen. Ted Cruz gave his initial impression of the address. "Unabashed liberalism," the Texas Republican told The Washington Times. "It's unfortunate the president chose to not use this opportunity to work toward bipartisan compromise or propose any sort of agenda that might actually improve economic growth, but instead to advocate continued spending, continued debt and continued government control over the economy."
The Tea Party favorite shook his head and said, "Tragically, this president only knows how to grow government, and he seems to have no idea how to grow jobs." Mr. Cruz has only been in Washington for six weeks now, but he has clearly already realized that the next four years will be an uphill battle against a president who is stuck in 1978.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.
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