A Few Thoughts on the State of the Union Speech
Before we get into the details of President Biden’s State of the Union Speech to the joint session of Congress, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court justices, and others, I have a few general observations.
Who Would be in Charge if … ?
Unrelated to the content of the Speech, I always marvel at how many of the top leaders of our entire Federal government are in one room. What if that room were successfully attacked by terrorists? Who would be in charge?
There is a long line of succession to the presidency, but usually one person in the line-up is kept far away from the State of the Union event – usually in a safe location. Not sure who that was this year.
From the looks of the room, whoever that person was – most likely a Cabinet member – I could see that at least the top seven folks on the list were in the room – Vice President, Speaker of the House, President pro tempore of the Senate, Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of Defense and Attorney General. After those, the next names on the list are in the shadows of obscurity.
Give Biden an A+ for style. He was forceful … a little humorous chiding … and no gaffes. He was not the old man the nation has seen on other occasions. That was good imagery for an 80-year-old man planning a second term.
Cost is No Object
In his State of the Union Speech, Biden proved that talk is cheap. He fell back on his campaign-style rhetoric – promising to solve every problem for everybody without any explanation of costs or from whence the money would come (although we taxpayers know the last part). In broaching every subject, he should have begun with “We need more money for (fill in the blank). It was everything from eliminating 50 percent of cancer deaths to outlawing bank fees.
Every promise he made would need an appropriation. If there was a money calculator on the screen registering the cost for Biden’s promises, we might have had to put trillions in the rearview mirror and think in terms of quadrillions of dollars. (Okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point).
Of course, he can make all those wild promises because he knows he will never have to deliver on the vast majority of them. Some are simply too outrageous to be seriously proposed. Some of his proposals may be unconstitutional. Some will never get passed the Republican House – and may not get the full support of the Democrat majority in the Senate. It is the kind of wish that would require an Aladdin’s Lantern.
Moving to the Middle
The agenda Biden laid out before Congress suggested a shift away from the Democrat’s left-wing extremists – in case they had not noticed. After spending more than two years totally ignoring the crisis on the border, Biden called on Congress to support his hard-to-find border plan. He begged for Congress to at least pass the part of his “plan” that he claims would harden the border with more personal, technology, and … barriers (a wall?)
After doing everything he could to shut down the fossil fuel industry, he admonished them to start investing and producing because we would need to be dependent on oil and gas for years to come. How does that comport with what Democrats – including Biden – have been saying for the past couple years?
Biden did not push hard on the left’s version of police reform. He gave it a mention late in the speech without a lot of detail. That pushed MSNBC’s resident radical Joy Reid and even more radical panelist Elie Mystal to express their disappointment. Mystal complained that Biden had put hotel room fees ahead of police reform.
Biden wants money for pre-K education and college tuition, suggesting that one cannot get the best jobs without a college degree. He then wants money to create more jobs for those without college degrees.
Biden Misstated, Misled and Even Fibbed
Deficit Reduction: Biden claimed to have reduced the deficit by $1.7 trillion. Experts say that his American Rescue Bill had a deficit reducing impact, but according to CNN’s fact-checker Daniel Dale, “… the deficit-reducing impact of that one bill is expected to be swamped by the deficit-increasing impact of various additional bills and policies Biden has approved.”
Cause of inflation: Biden again laid all the blame for inflation – and the related disruption of the supply line — on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Even Democrat economists say Biden’s big spending was a significant factor in inflation.
Prices coming down: Biden mentioned lowered gas prices. But they are only coming down slightly from the very high prices of the past – and they remain much higher than they were when Biden took office. He specifically mentions price reductions in food. That is not true if you look at the prices of typical food purchases. That is a fib that consumers can recognize with each trip to the grocery store.
Republicans want to cut Medicare and Social Security: That claim has been part of Biden’s and the Democrats’ basic narrative for months. It is not true now – and never was. Biden is clinging to a proposal by Florida Senator Rick Scott, which called for federal programs to sunset at some point and to be re-evaluated. It was rejected by Republican leadership – and never was part of the GOP cost-cutting plans. I put that in the fearmongering lie category because Biden knows there was no Republican plan to cut those programs.
Democracy is winning: Biden said that “In the past two years, democracies have become stronger, not weaker. Autocracies have grown weaker, not stronger.” In closing, Biden emphatically stated that “the Union is strong.” I agree on both counts. The fibs in this case, are all Biden’s claims in the past.
Those two statements are at odds with the Democrat’s political narrative for more than two years. If there has been any constancy in Democrat propaganda is that America has been – and still is on the precipice of collapse as a democratic Republic. According to Democrats and the legion of left-wing journalists, America is marching toward authoritarianism – and even leading a worldwide anti-democratic movement. Of course, that is nonsense – political pablum – but at least Biden got this one right.
As expected, Democrats and their media allies were in high praise of Biden’s Speech. My commentary could have been written before Biden took to the dais in the House chamber. The State of the Union Speech is nothing more than a marketing manager giving a pep talk to the sales personnel. It has become little more than a “good news” political gospel. That is why we see his team jumping up and down like teenagers at a rock concert.
So, there ‘tis.
FOOTNOTE: The State of the Union Speech no longer serves its original constitutional purpose. The format should be changed. I will offer my suggestion in an upcoming commentary.