On Feb. 12, President Barack Obama proposed to stimulate the U.S. economy, raise the minimum wage, and reduce unemployment in his annual State of the Union address to the U.S. Congress, according to a transcript of the speech on the Washington Post website.
President Barack Obama struck a notably divisive tone in the rhetoric of his address, alternately blaming the nation’s woes on the Republican Party while dodging his own responsibility for the moribund economy and persistently high unemployment that continues as he begins the fifth year of his presidency.
As the most powerful man in the U.S. federal government, President Obama expressed a tone of defensiveness and agitation in his State of the Union speech that gave the impression he believes he has all the correct answers, if only he had more unilateral authority to fully enact his ideas without the consent of the U.S. Congress.
At one point, President Obama even threatened to act unilaterally on his climate change proposals when he said:
“But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
Although he signaled a willingness to exercise executive authority over greenhouse gas emissions, in President Obama’s view of federal governance it is the U.S. Congress that has the ultimate power over the nation’s economy, as the president desperately seeks to deflect blame for the impending mandatory budget cuts and his abysmal record on unemployment when he said:
“In 2011, Congress passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach our deficit goal, about a trillion dollars’ worth of budget cuts would automatically go into effect this year. These sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness. They’d devastate priorities like education, energy, and medical research. They would certainly slow our recovery, and cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs. That’s why Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and economists have already said that these cuts, known here in Washington as ‘the sequester,’ are a really bad idea.”
President Obama’s account of the distribution of blame between the Democrats and Republicans for the sequestration of federal spending and the predicted detrimental effects it would have on the U.S. economy leaves out several important and politically inconvenient facts.
In particular, he leaves out the fact that he was the one who suggested the sequester of $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts and then gave that proposal to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as part of the 2011 debt ceiling legislation, according to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post.
The clear fact is that the bill was signed by President Obama and the only reason it became law is because he put his signature on it instead of vetoing it.
The House was controlled for four years by the Democratic Party, from 2007 until 2011, during which time the economy went from its peak to essentially the same slow growth and high unemployment state it has been in since 2008.
In late May 2007, the Democratic controlled congress passed an increase in the minimum wage and just over six months later the economy began shedding jobs on a monthly basis.
The timing of the surge in monthly job losses actually predated the 2008 Financial Crisis by nine months, meaning the Wall Street collapse only exacerbated the trend in unemployment that was already in place.
During the period from 2009 to 2011, President Obama and the Democratic Party enjoyed complete power over the entire legislative and executive branches of the federal government, including a filibuster-proof 60 vote majority in the U.S. Senate.
The president and congressional Democrats passed the $787 billion stimulus bill, the well-publicized “Cash for Clunkers” program, several unsuccessful attempts at federal homeowner mortgage relief, and $90 billion in the stimulus bill for so-called “green jobs.”
American voters have heard President Obama describe green jobs as the key to the nation’s economic fortunes since he began running for president in 2008. President Obama’s campaign literature from 2008 described green jobs as insulated from the effects of outsourcing and the way to grow the economy by proclaiming:
“Green jobs are the jobs of the future – not just because they pay well and can’t be outsourced. And not just because they’ll help strengthen our economy and lift up our middle class. But because they’ll help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and save this planet for our children.”
The results President Obama has produced prove his green jobs initiatives are a dismal failure. Democrats and Republicans both agree that the policies have been attempted and failed to substantively reduce unemployment or stimulate the economy.
President Obama claimed he would create 5 million green jobs in America, as a report in Bloomberg Businessweek describes:
“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 set aside $90 billion in renewable energy grants and loans for a grab bag of thousands of projects—wind farms, solar installations, natural gas fueling stations, biofuel research, and a $5 billion weatherization project for low-income homes. Digging into the public records of the $21 billion spent so far through 19 U.S. Department of Energy programs reveals 3,960 projects that employ 28,854 people. That’s not 5 million.”
After four years of President Barack Obama’s economic policies, the Census Bureau reports 49.7 million people are living in poverty with another 30 million Americans living only one paycheck away from the poverty line.
In total, nearly 80 million people are enduring lifestyles of painful austerity and hunger in a difficult struggle to survive in America during the Obama era.
Green jobs, along with the stimulus bill, minimum wage increase of 2007, and cash for clunkers, have created more poverty since President Obama and his fellow Democrats enacted them into law without the votes of congressional Republicans.
President Obama and his party own the results of these policies and the effects they are inflicting on the U.S. economy.
On February 12, President Obama used his State of the Union address to pressure the American people to allow him to attempt the same failed policies once again.