Pres. Obama “Recycler-in-Chief” (part 2)

We begin the second part of our response to President Obama’s State of the Union address by taking a quick step back to a part of his speech not mentioned Wednesday. This is a line that needs to be exposed:

“It’s not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they’re heavily subsidized.”

How is it not fair that heavily subsidized foreign manufacturers have a leg up but it is totally fair – in the President’s mind – for industries right here to get a leg up on others because of their subsidies? Two subsidies don’t make a right. This is why removing all loopholes, deductions and subsidies needs to be a part of any comprehensive tax reform.

Continuing on from yesterday:

“Right now — right now — American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years.  That’s right — eight years.  Not only that — last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years.”

The Heritage Foundation’s Lachlan Markay debunks this statement by relaying the fact that the vast majority of this production is occurring on private lands. Unfortunately, oil and gas production is down 40% on federal lands thanks to the policies of President Obama. He can’t claim credit for higher production since his administration has actively tried to shut down this industry.

We are relying on foreign oil less than in the past 16 years, and the President can take credit for this. See, Americans are actually gassing up less, and that’s because of the poor economy and lack of jobs to actually drive to.

“But with only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, oil isn’t enough.  This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.”

Maybe the President doesn’t know what “all-of-the-above” means. All-of-the-above includes oil, like, say, the Keystone pipeline which the President shut down. Moreover, the President is wrong when he says we only have 2% of the world’s oil, as Lachlan points out:

“According to recent study by the Institute for Energy Research, the United States has more than 1.4 trillion barrels of recoverable oil, more than the rest of the world (excluding North America) combined. That’s enough to fuel every passenger car in the country for 430 years. As IER explains, in what could be a direct response to the president’s claim, ‘It is merely semantics—not a scientific assessment of what America has the capacity to produce—that allows critics to claim repeatedly that America is running out of energy.’”

It does our country no good for the President and his party to continue ignoring the facts and pushing these dubious statistics. We need an honest government that will tell us the reality of our situation, regardless of how that sounds.

“And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of 30 years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock –- reminding us that government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground.”

This is just false. Private investment began in 1947. The government began investing in gas extraction research during the oil crisis in the 1970’s, and they lowered the funding as gas prices went down. In the 1990’s, private companies began to reinvest heavily and that is what has led to the new technologies.

The President’s plea for more clean energy funding flies in the face of all the companies that the have gone under (Solyndra, Beacon, Evergreen Solar, etc.) or are about to go under after receiving government funding. Private companies put their own money into companies they believe will be successful. The government hands out other people’s money and therefore the merits of the company are just not as important. We have to stop the government from pretending to be a venture capitalist while doling out tax dollars to campaign contributors.

“We’ve subsidized oil companies for a century.  That’s long enough.  It’s time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising.  Pass clean energy tax credits.”

His whole platform stems from punishing some while subsidizing others. He wants to remove subsidies, deductions and credits for oil companies that other manufacturing companies receive, just because he doesn’t like oil. Again, he wants to further muddy the tax code with more complexities.

“But there’s no reason why Congress shouldn’t at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation.”

The President’s clean energy standard, just like his gas mileage standard, will hurt the middle class. It will raise energy prices at a time when the middle-class can afford it the lease, as Heritage’s Romina Boccia explains:

“The issue is that a clean energy standard would throttle economic growth, and that is why Congress has rightly not put one in place. One way of converting existing shares of ‘dirty energy’ into clean energy is by cutting energy from conventional sources. Environmental Protection Agency regulations are already well on their way to cut existing coal capacity by forcing the premature shutdown of older plants with burdensome compliance rules.  No matter how many times the President lauds the supposed benefits of clean energy investments and green jobs, the truth remains that government-forced cuts in conventional energy use throttle economic growth and green jobs are a fallacy.”

The truth of the matter is that this administration has actually hurt clean energy.  By driving up the costs of conventional energy and wasting taxpayer dollars on clean energy companies, the public is left with a sour impression.

“I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects.”

This comes about three years too late for the stimulus projects. One major roadblock to new construction projects is the EPA. Will the President really sign an executive order diminishing their power?

“And that’s why I’m sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low rates.”

Let’s be honest, this is a bailout…or at the very least, a handout.

“No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts.”

What? I guess he means no more bailouts. It will be interesting to see if he now supports bailing out the Postal Service. We’ll hold him to that. As far as handouts, that’s his whole platform! He wants to take from one group and hand it out to another group. He doesn’t believe in hand ups, he only believes in handouts.

“In fact, I’ve approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his.”

While he may have approved fewer regulations, the amount of costly regulations that President Obama approved was much higher than President Bush, as Heritage’s James Gattuso explains:

“When you look at major rules – those with $100 million or more in economic impact, a very different picture emerges.  Some 189 of these costly rules have been adopted in the past three years, compared to 153 during George Bush’s first three years.  That’s a 23 percent increase in red tape.  So much for regulatory restraint.”

President Obama has incurred far more in regulatory costs in his first three years than Bush did. It’s absurd for him to try and claim otherwise.

“We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill — because milk was somehow classified as an oil.  With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk.”

The President’s joke fell flat. On the White House’s official transcript, they write “(laughter and applause)” after the joke. But anyone who watched the speech knows that there was no laughter, just silence.

“I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury poisoning, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean.”

Mercury, like in those curly CFL light bulbs?

No one is against necessary regulations. But the milk spill regulation is not the only absurd regulation on the book. Dodd-Frank and Obamacare will spawn thousands of regulations!

“I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny your coverage, or charge women differently than men.”

Does the President know that health care costs vary by gender and age? Does he understand that our healthcare needs are different? He wants us all to pay the same, but our  insurance price should reflect your individual coverage needs and you should not have to subsidize someone else’s insurance needs.

“So if you are a big bank or financial institution, you’re no longer allowed to make risky bets with your customers’ deposits.”

As we wrote Wednesday, the rules passed in Dodd-Frank clearly did not stop MF Global and Jon Corzine from doing this exact thing.

“Right now, we’re poised to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was supposed to be a temporary tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.”

Let’s be clear.  President Obama is advocating a tax increase on job creators, family farmers and small business owners. Incidentally, this is a policy position that could not even get 50-votes in the United States Senate.

“Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households.”

The average effective federal tax rate for Americans is 11%, while the average tax rate for those making more than $1 million is 25%. If you are so concerned Mr. President, perhaps we should discuss a flat tax, which would put everyone on the same level.

“Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.”

Where to begin? Mr. Buffet pays capital gains taxes, which are first taxed at the corporate rate of 35%, and then taxed after being passed to Mr. Buffet at the 15% tax rate. ABC News had Mr. Buffet and his “secretary” on to discuss this tax issue, and the claim was made that his “secretary” pays a tax rate of 35.8%.

Let’s untangle some spin. To hit a tax rate of 35%, your income must be upwards of $388,000 a year. Good for her, but it is disingenuous to characterize her as your average secretary.  In fact, according to CNN, it would make her part of the 1%.  Mr. Buffet and President Obama need to stop trotting her out as decoration and pretending that she’s a middle-income American.

“Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans?  Or do we want to keep our investments in everything else –- like education and medical research; a strong military and care for our veterans?  Because if we’re serious about paying down our debt, we can’t do both.  “

According to President Obama, we can afford everything we need if we just tax people more. We can afford the best education in the world, medical research (for every disease?), the best military in the world and entitlements for veterans? Not even remotely possible. How much money does he think the top 1% in this country has? Because it’s not enough.

“When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich.  It’s because they understand that when I get a tax break I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference — like a senior on a fixed income, or a student trying to get through school, or a family trying to make ends meet.”

In all of his speeches, he has to remind the people that he’s wealthier than them. If he wants to pay more in taxes, he can do so on his tax returns. He can donate to the Treasury’s website, or hey, he can give more than just 1% of his income to charity (Romney donated 15% of his income to charity, for comparison.)

Because this isn’t about more revenue, this is about “fairness.” The Wall Street Journal reminds us that in 2008, when told that tax revenues went up when the capital gains tax was lowered, then-Senator Obama said “I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.”

He doesn’t care whether the federal government actually gets more tax revenues, he just wants middle-income Americans to think he’s on their side and fixing income “inequality.” He wants it to appear as though he’s being more fair, when in fact middle-class Americans will be hurt the most by such tax hikes because there will be less investment, which leads to fewer jobs, and fewer people paying taxes.

And speaking of paying more in taxes, how about the President make his administration pay their taxes? Thirty-six of his aides owe the government over $833,000 in back taxes. Remember how Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner had to pay over $40,000 in back taxes in order to get his job? Speaking of paying a “fair share” how about he make his employees simply pay their current share.

“But no matter what party they belong to, I bet most Americans are thinking the same thing right about now:  Nothing will get done in Washington this year, or next year, or maybe even the year after that, because Washington is broken.”

The President is asking Americans to re-elect him, and saying that nothing will get done for three years? So he needs another 4 years, but only 2 of those 4 years will be productive? Re-elect me, and in three years we’ll deal with our problems. Does that sound like a winning strategy to you? Do you want to wait another three years for something productive in our country to get done?

“I ask the Senate to pass a simple rule that all judicial and public service nominations receive a simple up or down vote within 90 days.”

Why bother? If the Senate doesn’t approve of the President’s nominees, he’ll appoint them anyway (see: Richard Cordray).

“I’m a Democrat.  But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed:  That government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.”

Does he really? Because according to his policies, President Obama doesn’t think Americans can do anything for themselves that the government can’t do better.

“That’s why my education reform offers more competition, and more control for schools and states.  That’s why we’re getting rid of regulations that don’t work.  That’s why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program.”

What education plan? More government spending? He didn’t once talk about school choice, which is actually what would create competition. How does more government involvement create competition?

He may have gotten rid of a couple regulations, but his administration is passing hundreds each month! And as far as Obamacare (which he never mentioned except for two passing statements like this one), it is a government program, as Heritage’s Kate Nix points out:

“Obamacare dumps millions of Americans into Medicaid, a poorly performing government health program, and creates a new federal entitlement to purchase coverage in federally-created exchanges. Its rules and regulations on insurance reduce choice, hinder competition, and will result in higher premiums for families and individuals. The law’s expansion of bureaucracy and government price controls in Medicare will limit seniors’ access to providers and reduce physician autonomy. And new penalties and taxes burden business and the growth of the economy by making it harder to grow and create new jobs.”

How does the President explain this away?

“Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

The yearly Index of Economic Freedom rates America as the 10th most free nation in the world, down from 9th last year. It’s based on facts and figures from nonpartisan global institutions, so is the President saying these facts are wrong and these institutions don’t know what they’re talking about?

“That’s why, working with our military leaders, I’ve proposed a new defense strategy that ensures we maintain the finest military in the world, while saving nearly half a trillion dollars in our budget.”

Half a trillion in defense cuts over 10 years is not how we maintain the finest military; it’s how we cripple it.

This speech was exactly like his previous State of the Union addresses, it was a campaign speech, and it reiterated the ideas in his Jobs Act, which he spent a couple months fighting for, and then virtually forgot.

There was nothing new, nothing bold and nothing that could even be argued to have a great impact on improving our economy. This is exactly why conservatives need to stand up and be the party of bold ideas that will get our economy moving. Just because this is an election year doesn’t mean we should shy away from strong legislation in favor of small bipartisan victories.

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