It has been a week since Mr. Obama delivered his Inauguration address. I did not see it but I read it. The event was, of course, scripted to the lowest common denominator of his supporters and honed to a particular audience. It was unfortunately partisan, narrowly focused and mean spirited. Not an inclusive performance.
He announced in no uncertain terms he was an ultra-liberal (like that was any surprise) intends to confront those who do not share his views and push his programs onto the country one way or another by or executive order. He ignored the three most pressing issues facing the country. Massive and growing federal debt, the overall economy and unemployment. Things he does not seem to care much about after re-election, I guess.
Mr. Obama will start to think as all Presidents do about his legacy. His legacy if things do not change will be a country in a financial precipice, saddled by debt and programs that are unsustainable. He will have left the country in a sense in worse shape than when he took office. He will have left the country will decisions that will have to be made and eventually will do more damage than if they are addressed now. His only goal seems to be the feckless continuation of government growth. I wish I was wrong but I do not see evidence to the contrary.
His one big personal achievement will have been to move the country towards total dependence on government health care. But I get ahead of myself. Let’s look at what he deems important in the speech.
1. Same Sex marriage- This is for the most part a state issue and many states are addressing it, as their citizens want. It is extremely unlikely Congress will overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, although the courts may decide for us all. Not sure this issue is high on the list of priorities for most Americans.
2. Gun legislation- There is not a person in the country who is not horrified by random gun violence. Restrictions on assault weapons (whatever the are) will not make a lick of difference I am afraid. The plain old standard rifle can do the same damage and most crimes and shootings are done with handguns not assault rifles. This has become a pure political issue and one many politicians do not want to confront, particularly Senators from Mr. Obama’s own party. It is a great issue to stage, demagogue but mere gun control by limiting assault rifles is not a serious attempt to try to address many of these senseless shooting. Maybe there will be some minor changes in this area.
3. Climate Change- The President spoke considerably about climate change. I am not sure exactly what he means as it is a more complexed problem than just putting the domestic fossil fuel companies out of business. (Not sure what we would use for electricity, heat and transportation fuel instead) The international aspects magnify the issue with China and India, in particular, as huge emitters. Without an enforceable agreement, any unilateral steps here just ships more jobs overseas, one of the reasons cap and trade failed.
Environmentalist are pleased by all the attention. There will be lots of hearings, talk, proposals in the U.S. Senate but a nonstarter in the House and I mean a nonstarter. Nada, nothing legislatively will happen. Nibble around the edges on things like federal building efficiency does not amount to much and should be done anyway. Instead, the EPA will promulgate regulatory action of continue its quest to put coal out of business by setting green house gas emissions standards on existing facilities. This will be furiously challenged in Congress and in the Courts. The mess cries out for revisions to the outdated Clean Air Act.
4. Exotic energy- Mr. Obama believes green energy is the destiny of this country and will drive the economy. This is in spite of billions of dollars already squandered and a very small number of jobs created. So far, the results of the green energy revolution have been dismal, maybe even a failure. Congress has had it fill of Solyndras and all the subsidies cost enormous amount in an era of tight money.
5. Immigration-This is an area that begs for adult attention. There are who knows how many illegal aliens in the country, some say 11 to 12 million. Sometimes it seems more like 80 million, if you listen to the Washington DC metro system announcements in Spanish or try call your bank without pressing numero dos.
In any event, there is some room to improve the situation, but there is certainly a difference of opinion on how far to go. Border security is an issue as is the so-called “path to citizenship” which seems to me to very bad idea. The Republicans are scared of not doing anything so look for some agreement unless Mr. Obama overplays his hand.
6. Entitlement, Deficit reduction and spending reform- It’s a joke, right?
Republicans are in a good and bad spot. They cannot make or change policy controlling just the House of Representatives. The Administration treats them with disdain. The Senate does almost nothing to consider House passed measures. Republicans tried to go it alone last year and other than the debt limit deal in 2011, pretty much failed to move the needle. In order to force the liberals to act, Republicans have to go to the mat, circle the wagons, do whatever it takes even if the consequences are adverse. They have not been willing to do that.
On the other hand, Republicans are in a position to prevent many things, which they deem contrary to the public interest. Tax increases, for example, climate change is another as well as mandated nonconventional energy. There are many more but I suspect they will chose their battles carefully from now on with the rest of the Obama dogma being treated with benign neglect. The President will find he will need these Republicans if he is to get anything done. Republicans will conclude they do not need Mr. Obama because he will do nothing they want to do.