Click here to listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM 600, Friday, January 26, 2012.
A little over three years ago, Peggy Joseph of Florida pulled her kids out of school to attend an Obama campaign rally. Speaking to a reporter afterward, overflowing with emotion she said,
“I never thought this day would ever happen. I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car. I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage. You know, if I help him, he’s gonna help me.”
Some 39 car and mortgage payments later, one can imagine that Peggy Joseph is a bit disillusioned. The hope and change that was swept into office on the magic carpet of Obama’s soaring rhetoric has slammed into the wall of reality.
I remembered Peggy Joseph as I listened to the State of the Union address Tuesday and wondered if she was watching and, if so, what she might be thinking.
If you were a true Obama believer during the 2008 campaign, the address Tuesday had to have a hollow ring when listened to against the backdrop of three years of actual experience under an Obama administration.
Peggy Joseph’s life isn’t any better. Not only is she still having to make her own car and mortgage payments, it’s likely that she’s having a harder time doing so now than she was on that day three years ago.
The $787 billion stimulus didn’t stimulate. There weren’t any shovel-ready jobs. Obamacare, unpopular on the day it was enacted, is even more unpopular today. Rather than thousands of new “green energy” jobs as promised in previous State of the Union addresses, in 2011 we got instead a half billion dollars worth of Solyndra going down the drain. Instead of topping out at eight percent as promised by Obama, unemployment went considerably above that ceiling where it stubbornly remains. And as if these disappointments are themselves not bad enough, they are made worse for having played out against an unprecedented and truly frightening explosion in the national debt. (Editors note: In the original version of this post, the second sentence of the paragraph above beginning with the word, “Rather,” referred to a half trillion dollars worth of Solyndra going down the drain. It now stands corrected.)
But despite these failures, all of which the president must surely in his heart acknowledge, in his State of the Union address he acted as if he had noting to do with any of them. He put forth ideas going forward as if none of the similar ideas of the recent past have proved to be abject failures.
The speech featured the usual laundry list of big-government bromides – punitive taxes on companies that operate overseas, job training programs, “investments” (read: even more spending) for education, “clean energy” tax credits, amorphous infrastructure projects, even more banking and financial regulation, even more corporate regulation, mortgage intervention, consumer “protections”, and, of course, the perennial favorite, increased taxes on the rich.
All of these things may have sounded good to some in the last months of the Bush administration while in the midst of the housing meltdown. But today, the entire list sounds tired and shopworn.
State of the Union addresses in election years for incumbent presidents tend to be campaign kickoff events. That being so, for those hoping that Tuesday marked Obama’s last State of the Union address, there is reason for optimism. Because the speech showed in stark relief that he has nothing to run on. If you doubt that ask yourself this: How much of Peggy Joseph’s excitement of three years ago do you think she still had if she even bothered to watch on Tuesday night?