The Editors February 13, 2013
NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE
The state of our union is this: Today there are more than 4 million fewer Americans working than there were when Barack Obama was first sworn in as president — not including those who have retired. The work-force-participation rate is at a historic low. Never before have so many Americans simply abandoned the hope of a job.
The state of our union is this: Economic growth is weaker than it has been during any recovery in recent memory; in fact, the economy shrank in the last quarter. Those figures may be revised, but in any case growth is so weak that the difference between what President Obama calls a recovery and what economists fear is the beginning of a new recession is within the margin of measurement error.
The state of our union is this: Incomes are lower today than they were when Barack Obama was first sworn in as president. True, he became president during a recession, and incomes dropped 2.6 percent during the recession. Since the end of the recession, they have dropped another 4.8 percent — which is to say, incomes have fallen almost twice as fast during President Obama’s so-called recovery than they fell during what he (inaccurately) called “the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”
How strange, then, that the president declared during his annual address: “A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs — that must be the North Star that guides our efforts. Every day, we should ask ourselves three questions as a nation: How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do those jobs? And how do we make sure that hard work leads to a decent living?” That is a remarkably brass-faced assertion for a president whose policies have neither achieved strong growth nor attracted more jobs to our shores nor improved the ability of workers to secure high-skilled jobs nor strengthened the relationship between hard work and a decent living. Barack Obama is incapable of grappling with his own record.
He further promised that his policies would not add “a single dime” to the national debt when he already has added some 60 trillion dimes to it, and while the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the president’s 2013 spending blueprint would add another 64 trillion dimes to the deficit in the coming years. That on top of the tax increases he already has demanded and secured.
But there is more to the state of our union than the feeble state of our economy. The president boasted that a decade of war is coming to an end. It is, and a new decade of war is beginning. He boasted that al-Qaeda is decimated, but that news has not reached Bengazi or most of North Africa. So the state of our union also is this: North Korea sets off nuclear weapons with impunity. Iran seeks them without fear. Islamists slaughter our diplomatic personnel while the president’s national-defense team keeps bankers’ hours. Our allies are unsure, our enemies are emboldened. Our troops may be coming home, but it is not clear that we have secured the objectives for which we dispatched them. It is even less clear that President Obama has any intention of doing so.
The president’s confrontational, hectoring, and highly ideological speech ought to be a wake-up call to the country. The Republican majority in the House is the only real check on his power. Supplementing that check with a Republican majority in the Senate is imperative. Even through all of President Obama’s obfuscations, that much is clear.