Obama’s SOTU, Yet Another Disappointment for Taxpayers | Citizens Against Government Waste

Obama’s SOTU, Yet Another Disappointment for Taxpayers

The WasteWatcher

During a time of record annual budget deficits and public debt, the country, more than ever, needs solutions to its fiscal problems. Most taxpayers were expecting the President’s State of the Union speech to signal a major policy shift, away from rampant government spending and toward private sector solutions to the nation’s fiscal woes. Instead they heard the President pay lip service to a few spending issues and introduce more programs for which taxpayers will be responsible. In short, it was a major disappointment.

The President fell woefully short on assuring taxpayers that his policies will cut the record $1.5 trillion budget deficit and $14 trillion national debt. In the first 35 minutes of the speech he discussed programs he wants to create, when he should have talked about which should be cut. President Obama proposed spending money on biomedical research, information technology, clean energy technology, high-speed rail, and broadband, programs best left to state government and the private sector. All of these came as preamble to his commitment to cutting wasteful spending, rendering it an afterthought by comparison.

On a high note, it was encouraging to hear the President’s commitment to veto bills containing earmarks (an issue CAGW has worked on for 22 years), but regrettably, a White House factsheet limited this veto threat to “special interest” earmarks. This leaves the potential for the President to determine what constitutes a “special” or “national interest” earmark. Taxpayers can only hope that President Obama treats all earmarks as equally wasteful. Should President Obama allow earmarks in the fiscal year 2011 budget, taxpayers would be on the hook for at least $8.6 billion in pork.

Disappointingly, President Obama said he will cap, rather than cut, non-defense discretionary spending for five years. Such spending has increased by 23 percent since 2008, and the national debt has increased by $3 trillion over the last two years. The status quo is insufficient; pledging to cap spending at current inflated levels gives false hope for smaller government. President Obama missed yet another opportunity to pivot back toward a more rational federal spending policy and eliminate approaches that damage the economy and make the nation less competitive.

-- MacMillin Slobodien

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