A better State of the Union
By John Stossel
Published: Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
We've heard another State of the Union speech, and the president said grand things such as: “Think about ... a future where we're in control of our own energy ... I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China ... I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury poisoning ... .”
Actually, he said that in 2012. But Barack Obama says basically the same thing every year: With more spending, government can fix everything.
But I have this dream — one where my president walks to the podium, and he instead says this:
“I'm so happy I won again. Now that I don't have to suck up to my base, I will be the grown-up in the room.
“Yes, I know John Boehner claims I said, ‘We don't have a spending problem.' Maybe I said that — I don't remember. But we do have a spending problem.
“Now that I'm concerned about my legacy, I looked at the numbers, and they are scary. I made so many promises that there's no way we can pay for them.
“Take climate change. I think it's real and that man contributes, but even if America spent trillions to try to lower our carbon output, that would only make a microscopic change in world temperatures. The Earth wouldn't notice.
“Some of my anti-poverty plans are worse. Now that I've been re-elected, it dawns on me that those programs I said need more investment — always more — well, they didn't work. They perpetuate poverty by making Americans dependent.
“The key to helping the poor — and being rich enough to adjust to things like climate change — is growth.
“America grew fastest when government was tiny. Government at all levels was only about 8 percent of gross domestic product in 1912. In the hundred years prior to that, we made the Louisiana Purchase and settled the West. Americans went from subsistence-level farms to the highest standard of living on the planet.
“Then came Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society. We would cure poverty! Government grew so much that now, at all levels, it spends $20,000 per person per year.
“But we didn't cure poverty. Americans had been lifting themselves out of poverty — on their own — but when government stepped in, we stopped that progress. We encouraged people to be dependent. The poor stayed poor.
“My friend Bill Clinton put us on a better track. He didn't want to end welfare as we know it — Republicans forced him to make good on his promise — but I now must admit that welfare reform was a good thing. And during the Clinton administration, the economy grew, and we actually balanced the budget.
“But then President Bush happened. He added social programs, hired 90,000 new regulators, created a whole new Cabinet-level department (for homeland security) and bailed out banks and automakers. Then I got elected, and we spent even more.
“But now I look at the numbers and get dizzy.
“So I announce today my intention to cut the size of the federal government nearly in half — back to Bill Clinton levels. That's enough.
“Oh, and about those drones? I just re-read the Constitution, and it says I can't just kill whomever I want. I'm going to start following the Constitution. I was a law school professor ... .”
I can dream, can't I? Maybe President Obama will say that next year.
John Stossel is host of “Stossel” on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of “No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Malkin to miss 2nd straight game Saturday
- Preliminary hearing for accused Brashear High School shooter postponed to next month
- Dejan Kovacevic chat transcript Dec. 6, 2013
- Kovacevic: Keeping faith in Letang is simple
- Greensburg Diocese removes Bocan as superintendent of Catholic schools
- Gordon Gee approved as interim president at WVU
- Review: Broadway wins in live ‘Sound of Music’
- Temple to cut 7 sports, including baseball, rowing
- Cat emerges alive from rubble of burned shelter
- Steelers lineman Adams gets 2nd chance to start
- Dylan’s Newport guitar sells in NY for $965,000