Failed Policies and Empty Promises: The State of Our Union under Obama
by Blake Farenthold on February 4, 2014 at 5:32 PM
I went into the House Chamber Tuesday night hopeful that the President would put forth real solutions to move our country forward. Instead, I heard more of the same rhetoric and policies that got us here in the first place - and no specifics on how to change it.
Now Ill give credit where its due. The President is a great speaker. If his job was to give inspirational speeches, hed be good at his job. Time after time, he speaks of hope and change and achieving the American dream - things we all want for our country. And Tuesday night proved no different when he gave his State of the Union Address. But the Presidents ability to lead isnt built on his ability to deliver a speech. Words are just words - we need specific, concrete solutions to improve the state of our union.
Like his past State of the Union addresses, the Presidents speech Tuesday night focused on broad generalities that most people can agree on. But, like his past State of the Union addresses, once you start listening in more detail to his solutions for getting it done, it becomes clear that hes just doubling down on the same failed policies of the past five years. He talks about increasing oil and gas production in one breath (something the majority of Americans support) ... but in the next breath, he says he’s going to shut federal lands down to oil and gas exploration.
Unlike his past State of the Union addresses, President Obama did actually propose a form of action to carry out his agenda: Executive action. During Tuesdays address, the President said that he "would not wait for Congress" to get what he wants - reaffirming that his plan for bettering our country is using a pen and a phone to go around Congress. He made it very clear Tuesday night that he has no intent of working with us or following the separation of powers prescribed by the Constitution. More disturbingly, he made it abundantly clear that in 2014 hell continue to use executive orders to circumvent the legislative process - and continue to disregard Congress Constitutional duty to enact laws.
Take away the fluffy rhetoric, lack of concrete solutions and push for executive orders - and the Presidents speech focused on something else: cherry picking the facts. His address Tuesday night was chock-full of false claims and untruths. Here are some of the most blatant examples:
THE PRESIDENTS CLAIM: Due to actions by this Administration, we are now the largest oil and gas producing nation in the world and on track to reach energy independence.
THE FACTS: America’s energy boom is occurring in spite of the President’s policies - not because of them. Our nations energy abundance is a result of private sector innovations and breakthrough technologies, not government mandates and stringent regulations. According to a report issued last year by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, all of the increases in domestic oil production since 2007 have taken place on non-federal lands, where the federal government plays little to no role. The same report also reveals natural gas production fell by 33 percent on federal lands while production on state and private lands increased by 40 percent. The Obama Administration has actually driven DOWN energy production on federal lands to a ten-year low.
THE PRESIDENTS CLAIM: Because of this (health care) law, no American can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a preexisting condition like asthma, back pain or cancer. And we did all this while adding years to Medicares finances, keeping Medicare premiums flat, and lowering prescription costs for millions of seniors.
THE FACTS: Because of Obamacare, Medicare premiums have gone UP - not stayed flat. Moreover, Medicare Advantage patients are losing access to their doctors.
Not only did the President gloss over these facts in his address, but he also failed to mention the three main promises he touted in past speeches about Obamacare:
1. "If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan." (BROKEN PROMISE: More Americans who have signed up for Obamacare lost coverage because of it than those who were previously uninsured.)
2. "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor." (BROKEN PROMISE: On the contrary, Obamacare is causing patients to lose access to their trusted doctors. Millions already received notices that their current health plans have been cancelled, and that number is expected to exponentially grow. Americans across the country, including millions with employer-sponsored insurance, will continue to receive cancellation notices throughout the year.)
3. "Families will now save an average of $2,500 per year on their health care premiums." (BROKEN PROMISE: Rather than facing savings, American families are just now beginning to face the real cost increases associated with the law: skyrocketing premiums.)
During his speech of more than an hour, not once did the President address the three promises he made - and subsequently broke - to the American people.
Jobs and the Economy
THE PRESIDENTS CLAIM: I want a flatter, fairer tax code that promotes economic growth and jobs.
THE FACTS: The Presidents proposal to achieve this? More tax hikes that support more spending and more bigger government. The Obama Administrations policies have piled $6.5 trillion to the national debt. Under the current Administration, unemployment has doubled (5.3%). Right now, we have the lowest labor force participation rate since the Carter Administration, with more people leaving the job market than entering.
Where We Go from Here
So weve heard the Presidents priorities when it comes to improving the current state of our country - what about yours? I conducted a survey on social media leading up to Tuesdays State of the Union to hear what YOU think are the most important issues facing our nation. Out of all the answers submitted, the most popular issues indicated were: our exploding national debt, the stagnant economy, and a general mistrust in government.
I agree. These are the issues we MUST focus on if were serious about making things better for the American people. Half of Americans believe the current Administration is “incompetent” when it comes to running to the country, and the publics level of distrust of the federal government has never been higher. Is President Obama hearing this? Its obvious he stopped paying attention to the publics views on how things are going. Thats the only explanation I can come up with for why he promoted MORE government Tuesday night as a solution to alleviating the American peoples dissatisfaction with...our government. The path to changing the status quo lies with our Commander in Chief. To move forward, the President needs to work to restore Americans trust in the federal government.
To reiterate what my friend and colleague Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) laid out in the Republican Address to the Nation, we need to focus on empowering people - not government - to better the state of our economy and Americans way of life. The solution is NOT forcing an agenda on the American people with a pen and a phone and executive orders. The real solution is for the President to work with us on the things that we can achieve together to create jobs and promote greater opportunity (to name a few: expanded markets for American exports, better skills and education programs, patent reform, fixing our tax code, or any of the dozens of other jobs bills stuck on Harry Reids desk.)
Now that the State of the Union is behind us, Im looking towards the Future of Our Union and achieving real solutions to move our country forward. We can start by focusing on areas of common ground between both parties and going from there. If the President shifts his focus to joining us - rather than dividing us - Im confident we can take meaningful steps towards ensuring a prosperous nation for generations to come, in an America where hardworking taxpayers can live the American dream.
P.S. Some of my House colleagues and I appeared on Hannitys special post-SOTU show last week to discuss our reactions to the Presidents address and where we go from here. In case you missed Wednesdays Hannity, you can catch the video of our focus group-style discussion from his post-SOTU show here.