As we end the President’s first year in office, we still struggle with folks on the left complaining bitterly that those of us who share a conservative ilk are out to see Obama fail. Never mind the fact that all I seem to hear during a Republican administration is a cacophony of angry vitriol, outright lies and attempts by Congress to undermine the critical work of the President, and I’ll accept the fact that there are many on the right who see nothing but red when they discuss the current resident of the White House. But my goal is strictly to see America — Americans — be successful, and that means that I want to see the President be successful as well.
But the President’s speech  tonight leaves me wondering. There’s no doubt it brought a sense of euphoria to those in need, to those who continue to promote a liberal agenda. The beginning and end of the speech brought a broad stroke of hope and confidence in who we are as a nation, as any good presidential speech should.
He made some good proposals. Some of which will make Congress uncomfortable to consider. Some of which will be hard to execute. Earmark transparency. Budget freezes. Cutting programs.
He made some popular proposals. Jobs programs. Small Business Lending programs and tax credits. Tax credits on capital investments. Bank investment reforms. Additional taxation of large banks.
And he continued to press for Health Care Reform that Americans don’t want.
I will likely disagree with much of the spending being suggested by the President, but for the moment I am somewhat resigned that we will see some of it anyhow. I doubt we’ll see all of the jobs he is wanting to provide, but there’s no doubt that people are looking for the government to make it happen somehow.
So here’s what I’m wondering. Where will the jobs come from? Where will all the money come from?
Government cannot create jobs out of thin air without being the master of the jobs themselves. It’s great to say that we can find ways to stimulate business to create jobs, but to truly get people working in legitimate jobs we need to make the business climate conducive to success and growth, which is currently stagnated by onerous corporate taxation and various constraints on small business.
Tax credits are a nice idea, although eliminating the entire tax system, as it exists today, would be better. As the President talked about more jobs and more spending of money, my hopes grew (unrealistically) that he might recommend a wholesale scrapping of the income and corporate tax system and implement the Fair Tax . I’m convinced this is the best answer for cutting government waste (the IRS?), creating a reliable revenue stream for the government, and providing a non-regressive (yes, it is truly non-regressive), voluntary (you don’t have to buy things, and you’re only taxed on purchase of new items) and real transparency in the government’s financial system. And it will allow Americans to keep all of the money they’ve earned, and will create jobs because people have the economic fuel they need to create the demand for jobs.
But I digress.
It seems like President Obama can go on forever listing out ways to spend the People’s Money and then recommend a budget freeze. But this is like trying to get rich in one of those booths with dollar bills flying around. It’s very tough to catch any of them and you don’t end up with much. And the President admits that we won’t be able to start the freeze until 2011. Because that’s how budgeting works. Because we’re not talking about cutting anything except the increase. On part of the budget.
It’s a tough time to try and really balance the budget. I can see that it’s a long way off without resorting to something as radical as the Fair Tax . But we cannot continue to spend new money without a clear method of covering the costs that doesn’t impact taxpayers or consumers, and that’s what’s hard. We should be cutting programs right now. Money is flying out the door that shouldn’t be, but that may be one of the mysteries of Government that I will always have trouble comprehending.
So of all the things the President said tonight, the most important one to me is this: “We will continue to go through the budget line by line to eliminate programs that we can’t afford and don’t work.”
And here I am, wondering if we can really do it, really cut the programs we don’t need. The words “…it would take an act of Congress…” weigh heavily at times like this.
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