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These are my initial reactions to the President’s SOTU address.I may cover parts of the speech more extensively in the coming days as things sink in a bit more.

For a man who built a reputation as being a great communicator, President Obama gave a very bland State of the Union Speech. His words were the “same old, same old” and his presentation was, well, off.

Perhaps this speech reflected a president torn between trying to tack to the middle for political purposes while trying to please his left wing progressive base. Sadly for the country we ended up with an empty pile of nothing.

There was absolutely nothing new in the speech. It was not the speech of a leader, it was the speech of a politician who is out of touch with the people.

Every recent poll of voter priorities by every pollster reports that deficit reduction is the number one issue in America.  If my word software is correct the president spoke 1,262 words or 20% of his speech,  before he even mentioned the America’s number one priority.

To his union buddies the President said that he wanted to increase infrastructure spending and expand educational opportunities, advance clean energy by cutting off tax breaks for oil companies and securing Social Security and he will miraculously do it in a way where no one faces cuts in benefits.

Obama urged the country to think big, but based on his speech, it seemed as if he was urging people to think big…government. 

“This is our generation’s Sputnik moment,We are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea – the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny.”

Yet despite those pretty words, he urged programs that will allow government, as opposed to each of us, to shape our destiny.

And as if all that movement toward making nice to big business was forgotten the President attacked some of the usual targets for progressives. Like Oil Companies. He asked for the removal of subsidies just as he did last year.

“We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s,” Obama said.

And of course his usual appeal for redistribution of income:

And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.

Still showing that he doesn’t understand the difference between a tax increase, which is what he his proposing and a tax break.

The president gave all the ‘usual’s’ tonight calls for entitlement reform, medicare reform, social security reform, education reform, reform reform…all absent of details and quite frankly any real passion in his speech.

He also seemed to indicate that wireless coverage and college were both responsibilities of the government.

Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn’t just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.

America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us  as citizens, and as parents are willing to do what’s necessary to give every child a chance to succeed. 

That the president went through a litany of goals and government projects each one would add to our deficit, 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015, expanding high speed rail and high speed internet etc. Not one of the projects are the responsibility of government–but of private enterprise.

The president also called for a five year spending freeze, last year he called for a three year freeze and just like last year’s freeze, this one is empty. Obama did not seem to have the courage to make the tough decisions necessary to cut the budget, instead content on calling for the usual “closing loopholes and preventing waste and excessive spending”

“The bipartisan Fiscal Commission I created last year made this crystal clear. I don’t agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress. And their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it — in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.”

But that’s not what the deficit commission recommended. The commission recommended a Draconian mix of spending cuts and tax increases to make serious inroads into cutting the nation’s overwhelming budget shortfall. While I don’t necessarily agree with all of the commission’s recommendations, they are correct in saying that major steps need to be taken, way above and beyond the usual “closing  loopholes, etc.”

In the end the president tried to persuade the American people that government should be the mechanism for job creation and that economic recovery is dependent on more government spending which we do not have.  Evidently the president still believes in magic, that you can maintain record-high spending levels and pay down the debt at the same time. 

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