A bunch of Libertarians (along with Democrats and Republicans) were invited by John Stossel’s show on FoxBusiness , to watch the State of the Union Message, and give reactions last night. It was a nice way to make it fun to endure the torture of listening for 75 minutes or so to a President who seems to be living in some alternate reality.
There were some things in the speech that MIGHT actually be improvements such as something about ending capital gains tax for certain types of business investment. But the overwhelming majority of the speech was shifting blame and failing to recognise that his administration is far off course. Many commentators expected him to admit his mistakes but what we got instead was misdirection.
Here are some corrections to a few of his misdirections:
Misdirection 1: He blamed Wall Street and “The Banks” for the economic crisis and claimed he inherited it.
Reality: The government including Obama created the Great Recession. There is no question “The Banks” extravagant credit expansion was at the root of the crises. But the President never once mentioned the Federal Reserve’s extravagant money printing that caused the banks’ credit expansion and he never once mentioned Congress’s demands on the banks to make more junk loans for housing and tuition and on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy up all the junk assets Wall Street could create. The government clearly created the economic crisis and Obama was in the Senate while it happened. He wasn’t the President, but he’s closely tied to all the root causes.
Misdirection 2: He’s already cut taxes
Reality: It’s quite true that the Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 included significant tax cuts. And let me be clear – I’ve never seen a tax cut I didn’t like. But I like some a lot better than others. Of course I like the ones I GET the best. But running a close second is those that actually help the economy the most. Here is a Tax Foundation analysis of Obama’s cuts. I was struck by the significance of the savings for married couples with a few kids particularly if you bought a car or a house. Of course I fit none of those categories – so much for criteria number one – but plenty of my friends and family do. I guess the lesson is that I need to live my life exactly the way the government thinks I should and then they will give me advantages over those nasty people who don’t live their lives exactly the way the government thinks they should. Ok what about criteria number 2 – economic value? Let’s see some people might think reinflating the housing bubble and rewarding failure in Detroit is good for the economy. I don’t. I think large permanent across the board cuts in tax rates, like those used with enormous success by John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan are the ones that allow business and consumers to plan intelligently and invest for the future. Obama used tax cuts to reward his political constituency not to grow the economy.
Misdirection 3: Partisan bickering over health care is preventing him from doing his good work for the people
Reality: The people DON”T WANT THIS HEALTH CARE BILL. Only Congress and the special interests that buy them off do.
Misdirection 4: He will listen to all good ideas on how to improve the health care bill.
Reality: There is a vast amount of alternative thinking available for anyone who wants to hear it. Three quick example s include John Mackey’s Whole Foods approach of high deductibles matched with health savings accounts, The NFIB’s proposal to improve competition by reducing interstate barriers and the Republicans proposals for tort reform. None of these are new or secretly hidden. But they are free market and that’s not allowed on planet Obama.
Misdirection 5: All sane economists agree the stimulus bill saved the planet from an even worse crisis.
Reality: Well – all Keynesians do. Apparently the President didn’t hear from any free market economists such as those at the Mises Institute or the Independent Institute or Cato. But as I said the President is willing to listen to all good ideas, as long as they increase the role of the state and don’t propose any that silly free market stuff.
The President may not be an outright bold faced liar. But he’s awfully good at selective versions of the truth. So far he’s has brought us one of the worst years in a lifetime. One down three to go.