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SOTU Reflections

By Kevin Brett

Here are 5 pieces worth considering in the wake of President Obama’s SOTU address:

1. If We Win the Future, Who Loses? – Art Carden,

First, while a group of White House speechwriters apparently thought that “win the future” would have the same rhetorical resonance as “yes we can,” the Address conveyed an incorrect zero-sum worldview in which what others gain comes at our expense.  As economics has shown over and over and over and over again, trade creates wealth.  Voluntary exchange is a positive-sum game.  If China gets richer, it doesn’t imperil our ability to get richer, too.

2. We Can’t Win the Future by Repeating the Past – Veronique de Rugy & Nick Gillespie,

Rebranding unrestrained spending as investment may be smart politics, but the effect on the nation’s balance sheet is unmistakable. Using 2010 numbers, the government is at or near post-World War II highs in terms of spending (about 25 percent of GDP) and debt (over 64 percent). What started under Bush has been put on a fast track to fiscal oblivion by Obama. While the president’s acknowledgement of the need for “reducing the deficit” and call to freeze “annual domestic spending for the next five years” are welcome, his rhetoric and action since taking office make it clear that he is uninterested in running a “government that lives within its means” and promoting an “economy that’s driven by new skills and ideas.”

3. State of the Union’s Energy History – Institute for Energy Research (Video)

For years our Presidents have called for energy independence during their State of the Union Addresses. Yet our political leaders have been working hard to slow energy production here at home: locking up federal lands for energy development, increasing regulations, proposing renewable energy mandates, and promoting cap-and-trade schemes. 

Ironically, all of these public policy adventures have increased our dependence on foreign oil and increased the cost of energy. 

Let’s try something new, Mr. President — let’s get the government out of the energy industry.



4. State of the Union: Instant Reactions – Various Contributors, The American Conservative

Above all, Obama reminded me of just how clueless Washington is about what is happening in this country.  The past five years have gutted the lower middle class with people unemployed or working at low wage jobs without benefits.  The good jobs are not coming back even if some guy in Ohio is building solar energy panels.  “Become a teacher” says Barack.  My daughter did that and has been working as a receptionist for the past two years because America’s school districts are broke and are not hiring.

5. State of the Union 2011 – Cato Institute (Video)

Cato Institute scholars Gene Healy, Michael F, Cannon, Benjamin Friedman, Jagadeesh Gokhale, Neal McCluskey, Sallie James, John Samples, Justin Logan, Daniel J. Mitchell and David Rittgers analyze the 2011 State of the Union Address.

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