The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

State of the Union Observations

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


On January 12, 2016, President Obama delivered his final State of the Union address.  During his address, President Obama cited some of his accomplishments while in office:  the millions of people with healthcare, the increase in jobs and decrease in unemployment, and the great investments in renewable energy across the country.  What President Obama did not acknowledge was the deep impact his healthcare law has had on the national debt, the cost and waste associated with the energy tax credits and their extension, and the sharp increase in federal regulations during his term. President Obama exclaimed that 18 million individuals now have health insurance.  Yet this claim must be taken with a grain of salt:  a large portion of these enrollees are a result of loosened Medicaid eligibility, not from co-ops, federal exchange, or state exchanges.  Worse, individuals who get insurance through their employer have increasing premiums as individuals or as families; from 2002 to 2015, premium costs rose 61 percent and the employee contribution rose 83 percent.  Those who receive their insurance through state exchanges are not secure either; many of these state exchanges, such as Oregon and Hawaii, have failed.  Taxpayers’ dollars will inevitably come to the rescue of this failing system. On December 1, 2015, CAGW released a report called “The Sun Should Set on Solar Socialism” that looked at the high cost and fraud within the solar energy tax credits.  A report by the Congressional Research Service showed there was no clear effect residential tax credits have on further energy investment (good or bad), and the Treasury Department’s Inspector General found that there were vast overpayments by the government from over-inflated costs, duplication, and double-dipping.  What the president considers a victory for the climate comes as yet another cost to the taxpayers. During Obama’s administration, there has been a sharp increase in federal regulations.  According to the Government Accountability Office’s Federal Rules Database, the federal government created 2,400 new rules in 2014 alone, with 77 of those considered “major” rules.  Between 2009 and 2014, the Obama Administration issued 184 major rules, while President Bush issued only 75 major rules during the same amount of time.  These rules deal with a variety of areas, but all have the following in common:  even more red tape for entrepreneurs to get tangled in while trying to start their own business or expand a current one. Much like the promise, “if you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it,” President Obama’s final State of the Union was meant to galvanize his supporters, with little to no substance for those watching from home.  Instead of relying on misleading rhetoric, President Obama could have at least acknowledged one inconvenient truth that should matter to everyone:  the $18 billion in national debt that has evolved during his administration, assuring an even greater burden for current and future taxpayers.

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