- - Thursday, January 22, 2015

Let’s be honest, no one was surprised by what President Obama said in his latest State of the Union address. He had been trying to sell his ill-conceived ideas for weeks leading up to Tuesday night’s speech. What would be surprising is if any of his announcements ended up affecting public policy in our country.

With just under two years left in his final term, the president can take one of two approaches. He can work with congressional Republicans and pass real reforms to move America forward, or he can continue down the path of using his pen to take America backward.

Based on what he said in his sixth State of the Union, my guess is he wants to take our country not only backward, but as far to the left as he can. To be fair, he did try to mask his progressive ideals with the cloak of bipartisanship – albeit not very well.

Mr. Obama came off as very congenial to the Republican Party by offering to work with Congress, right up until he said he would veto anything he disagrees with. The president essentially promised to veto any bill that reformed immigration, made changes to Obamacare or approved the Keystone pipeline.

So instead of reducing the burden placed on countless businesses by changing the definition of full-time work in the Affordable Care Act to 40 hours a week or approving a pipeline that could create thousands of jobs, the president offered plans to give away all kinds of “free stuff.”



The president’s first plan, which received quite a bit of criticism before his speech, would offer two years of free community college to almost anyone who wanted it.

“We still live in a country where too many bright, striving Americans are priced out of the education they need. It’s not fair to them, and it’s not smart for our future,” Mr. Obama said on Tuesday. “That’s why I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college - to zero.”

The only problem – well not the only problem – is that his plan does not reduce the cost of community college to zero. His plan would likely increase the cost of higher education. It would just change who is paying for it.

Taxpayers would be on the hook for an additional $60 billion over the next 10  years – which I think is a very low estimate. And how exactly would the president pay for his multibillion dollar plan? In part, he would tax hard-working middle class families that are trying to save for college.

Remember, this is the same president who said in 2008, “no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.” I guess Mr. Obama no longer has to keep his promises since he isn’t running for re-election.

The president didn’t stop there with the “free stuff.” He also called for a federal mandate that would require businesses to offer paid sick leave for all employees. This would be yet another regulation that would strangle small and medium-sized companies that are already struggling in the Obama economy.

Offering more government programs and more “free stuff” may make for nice liberal talking points, but the taxpayers are the ones left with the bill. All in, the president’s State of the Union proposals would increase taxes by $320 billion.

That is the exact opposite direction political leaders should be taking this country. Wages are stagnant and more than 90 million people have simply given up looking for work – artificially lowering the unemployment rate.

This is a time when we need true reforms to government to help people keep more money in their pockets. If Mr. Obama wants his legacy to be more than the broken system that is the Affordable Care Act, he needs to work with Congress to pass policies that get our country going again.

Collaborating with Republicans and Democrats on free trade is a good start. Then he needs approve the Keystone pipeline – not veto it. Additionally, he should actually listen to ideas from folks like Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Mr. Ryan has offered budgets the past few years that would put America on track to finally balance the budget. The president should also listen to Mr. Ryan’s ideas on federal tax reform.

If Mr. Obama has any intention of helping to move our country forward over the next two years, he needs to reach across the aisle. Otherwise, we will just waste time and taxpayers’ money moving America backward.

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