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The Rhetorically Disingenuous Executive

by George Landrith

President Obama used the word “invest” or “investment” at least thirteen times in the State of the Union address. But what he actually meant was “spend.” If he honestly believes the federal government needs to spend more money, why not just say so candidly and honestly? Why try to camouflage the truth? Doesn’t that mean even he understands that his goals and objectives are not honestly defensible? 

If my college-aged son asked for my advice on whether he should “invest” in a big screen TV for his dorm room, I would counsel against it. Calling it an “investment” would not change the fact that it is spending he cannot afford and spending that will not ultimately resolve his challenges or help him achieve his long term goals. Likewise, President Obama’s attempt to label as “investment” his long wish list for more government spending doesn’t change the fact that he simply recited a tired list of government programs that he argues will cure all our ills. He still doesn’t get the message of the November election.

He announced his plan for solving the budget crisis — a five year spending freeze. He acted as if we should be impressed and yet, the proposal was laughably absurd. Again, let’s go back to my college-aged son and assume that at the start of his freshman year he had enough money to pay tuition, buy books, pay for room and board and have some extra money for a little fun. Let’s also assume that half way through the school year, he has spent all the money and is flat broke. So he calls me on the phone to get my advice on how to finish the school year and hopes I’ll provide some financial help. When I ask what his plan is, he tells me that he is going all out to solve the problem and proposes that he will freeze his spending in future semesters at the level of the last budget busting semester. Would anyone fault me if I declined to send cash for such a spending freeze?

Over the last two years, Obama has exploded the federal budget and the national debt. No president has ever mushroomed the budget or the debt at the pace Obama has. Now after two years of budget busting spending, Obama promises to hold the line at current budget busting levels and he expects us to laud him for his fiscal responsibility and restraint? Seriously? There’s a part of me that is still waiting for him to say, “No, I was just kidding.”

This past November and December, for the third year in a row, Obama promised us multiple times that he would begin focusing like a laser beam on job creation. The State of the Union speech makes it clear that next November he will again be promising us to focus on job creation because his speech gives no confidence he has any idea how to create a job. And the truth is he probably doesn’t. There is nothing in his background or on his resume that would suggest he has the faintest idea how jobs are created or what makes the economy go. How many years have we been told “green” jobs is the wave of future? Let’s be honest. If green jobs were real jobs, they would be created now and without government action. That it takes government money to create green jobs, proves they are not real or sustainable. Likewise, is high speed rail really what we need to lower unemployment rates? Why does he recite this tired list of pork as the solution?

To Obama, the economy goes because the government makes it go. That was clear from his plans to “invest” and his talk of “innovation” driven by government. The reality is that government is not an innovator and it is not a job creator.  But in Obama’s imaginary world, if government spends more and tells America how and where to innovate, jobs will magically appear and progress will mystically be made.

President Obama can tell us that he wants to “invest,” freeze spending, promote innovation, and create jobs for the next two years. But as long as he either tortures the words to mean what he wants them to mean or simply doesn’t have any idea what he is talking about, it is just talk. After two years in office, it is becoming increasingly clear that his sole expertise is talking. Sadly, we need an honest leader who has some real world knowledge. Obama has proven time and again that he is not that man.

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George Landrith is the president of Frontiers of Freedom, a public policy think tank devoted to promoting a strong national defense, free markets, individual liberty, and constitutionally limited government. Mr. Landrith is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was Business Editor of the Virginia Journal of Law and Politics. In 1994 and 1996, Mr. Landrith was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia’s Fifth Congressional District. You can follow George on Twitter @GLandrith.