President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address resembled a man speaking to himself more than anyone else in the room, a desperate effort to convince himself of his own relevance at a time when his approval ratings are in the toilet. 51% disapprove of the job Obama is doing as president while 43% approve. 63% of Americans have some/no confidence in Obama to make the right decisions for the country’s future and 49% say Obama is not honest or trustworthy. Despite President Obama’s soaring rhetoric, this is his fifth State of the Union Address; Americans have heard these promises before. It is time for the President to take ownership of his record and be held accountable for the results.
The President had the audacity to speak of the hope that Obamacare is bringing to millions, conveniently ignoring the story of women like Emilie. Emilie voted for Barack Obama, and believed that ObamaCare would make things better. Sadly, Emilie’s insurance plan was cancelled because of ObamaCare. Emilie had pre-existing conditions and still lost her coverage. [Watch her story here] The simple fact is that despite the promises Obamacare is delivering higher costs, fewer choices, cancelled plans and mass confusion on the part of patients, insurers, hospitals and the administration. According to McKinsey & Company, only 11% of consumers who bought new coverage under the law were uninsured to begin with.
Obama told Americans they should be good neighbors and good citizens and help their fellow Americans get signed up for insurance by the deadline. Truth is, he is staring down a numbers crisis where he needs you to believe it’s your patriotic duty to buy insurance on the exchange. The only way those with pre-existing conditions will be able to afford Obamacare is if millions of young, healthy individuals sign-up to offset the cost. So far, only 24% of those who have signed up are in the 18- to 34-year-old age group – well below what is necessary to control costs. Experts say they need at least 40% enrollment in this age category in order to make the numbers add up.
Minimum Wage Bravado
The President said he is leading by example on raising the minimum wage for all future federal contractors through executive privilege and called on private sector businesses to do the same. This ignores the reality that businesses forced to artificially raise the minimum wage must factor in the rising business costs and often must lay off low level workers, the very workers that would benefit from the living wage increase, in theory. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, less than 5 Percent Of U.S. Workers earn at or below the minimum wage. It’s not an epidemic as Obama would have you believe and, as common-sense and date clearly show, minimum wage is not a static situation. People transition out of minimum wage pay. What Obama calls minimum wage is more clearly understood as a starting wage.
The President spoke of putting people back to work. No one disagrees with the goal, just his failed plan to get us there. The best way to improve the lives of all Americans – especially those making the minimum wage – is to help create new jobs and opportunities by relieving the burdensome regulations on small businesses, not adding more. The labor participation rate is at 62.8%, the lowest it’s been since 1978.
Debt and Deficits
Adjusted for inflation, current deficits are the highest since the World War II Era and the rate they are shrinking by only looks good in comparison to President Obama’s own record spending from his first term. President Obama has added $6.6 trillion to the national debt in failed attempts to jump start the economy with more spending. Debt held by the public reached 73 percent of GDP in 2013, far higher than the 39 percent average seen over the past four decades.
Green Energy Jobs
President Obama has already spent billions of dollars propping up companies like Solyndra in the name of creating “green jobs.” Where has it gotten us? Pouring more money down the drain in hopes of great technological breakthrough isn’t an energy plan – it’s wishful thinking. We all want a cleaner environment, but after five years, President Obama should know that this isn’t the way to get there. The best way to promote the next technological breakthrough in energy is to reignite the economy and encourage the private sector to take risks and innovate.
Executive Action – Going It Alone
The President defiantly declared, “America does not stand still — and neither will I” warning Congress that “wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.” In reality, unilateral action on items where you can’t win public support constitutes a failure of leadership. President Obama himself even spoke out against unilateral action citing the importance of the Constitution and the separation of powers, saying “there’s no shortcut to democracy.”
The best way to close the income gap, grow the middle class and jumpstart the economy is by providing everyone with equal opportunities to succeed. Americans are yearning for a jobs plan that works, not more short-term political band-aids and more government spending that the bureaucrats and elected leaders in Washington are binge drinking on. It’s time for the President to stop dividing Americans with politics and instead work with members of both parties to get people back to work.