In his State of the Union address, President Obama seemed to have two goals: the first was to sound centrist; the second was to try to convince everyone to accept the radical leftward policy lurch of the last two years and simply move on from there. As the tension between these two goals suggests, the speech was replete with examples of the fundamental disconnect between words and actions that have become a hallmark of this presidency. Two passages of this sort particularly deserve a response.
First, he said, "We need to take responsibility for our deficit." Yet has anyone ever heard President Obama take such responsibility?
Look at this chart depicting inflation-adjusted deficit spending over the past 30 years, starting with the year that President Reagan took office. What years strike you as the most obviously outside of the normal trends? Yet President Obama's message was that "we" need to take responsibility: "That's how our people will prosper." It doesn't quite have the same ring as, "The buck stops here."
Second, speaking of the need for a government that's leaner and better organized, President Obama noted, seemingly in amazement, "There are twelve different agencies that deal with exports. There are at least five different entities that deal with housing policy. Then there’s my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they’re in saltwater."
That's an interesting choice. Here's my favorite example:
This chart shows how efficiently and commonsensibly the government's lean and unobtrusive regulatory apparatus would be organized under Obamacare.