Examiner Editorial: Obama speech contained nothing for everybody 

That was some performance Wednesday night by President Barack Obama, delivering one of the longest-ever State of the Union addresses but offering no evidence whatsoever of a willingness to listen to the swelling nationwide chorus of voices of discontent with his policies.

For example, rather than acknowledging that clear majorities of Americans have decisively rejected his signature health care reform plan and suggesting a different approach, Obama doubled down on his insistence that Congress approve his proposal to put federal bureaucrats between patients and their doctors. Thus, Obama’s congressional supporters get nothing on which to try to build a credible health care compromise, and his congressional critics come away with nothing beyond vague rhetoric about working together.

For those worried about the 17 percent real unemployment rate (10 percent officially unemployed, plus 7 percent who have given up looking for work), Obama put forward lots of reassuring words about jobs and small business, but only warmed-over ideas from the past as concrete proposals.

His tax credit for new hires, for example, was found wanting in the 1970s because it mostly benefitted big corporations for filling positions they were planning to fill anyway. And, as The Heritage Foundation’s Conn Carroll pointed out, companies now have an incentive to delay new hires to wait and see if Congress actually passes the Obama jobs tax credit.

Similarly, why should anybody think the “new jobs bill” Obama asked Congress to put on his desk promptly will work any better than last year’s $787 billion economic stimulus program that he said would keep unemployment at or below 8 percent? As for Obama’s proposal to eliminate capital gains taxes on small business investment, that’s a positive step, but why not go the rest of the way and do away with all capital gains taxes?

In short, people who need jobs now come away with almost nothing but the same old government jobs programs that already failed.

Then, there’s the Obama freeze on federal spending, which has been praised in this space as a needed first step. The problem, however, is that it’s all but invisible, saving a mere $250 billion or so when Washington, D.C., will spend $4 trillion or more every year. Worse, the freeze does nothing to restrain entitlement spending, the chief factor in the government’s swelling annual deficits.

Obama also offered big talk about encouraging new nuclear power plants, offshore oil and gas, and renewable energy sources. But he’s done nothing to remove the regulatory obstacles that prevent new plants, and his Interior secretary has all but snuffed out new leases for oil and gas exploration on federal lands on- and offshore.

In short, lots of nothing. But at least everybody gets some of it.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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