I really wish I could’ve live-blogged Obama’s un-State of the Union, but gainful employment can be restrictive sometimes. But don’t get me wrong–in this economic climate, I welcome such restrictions! Chain me up, The Man!
Listening to Obama’s last weekly address, I was struck by how non-partisan, or two-partisan he sounded. Take this statement on the impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, for example:
Because of what we did, 95 percent of all working families will get a tax cut — in keeping with a promise I made on the campaign. And I’m pleased to announce that this morning, the Treasury Department began directing employers to reduce the amount of taxes withheld from paychecks — meaning that by April 1st, a typical family will begin taking home at least $65 more every month. Never before in our history has a tax cut taken effect faster or gone to so many hardworking Americans.
This sounds positively Republican! Right? This is probably one of the biggest marketing successes of the GOP since Carter: “Tax cuts = Republican. Big government = Democrat.” Here’s another one, this time from his address to Congress:
Yesterday, I held a fiscal summit where I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office. My administration has also begun to go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs.
When I hear this, I immediately think of Bill Clinton and Al Gore’s “Reinventing Government.” Reagan ran record deficits, only to be topped by Bush Senior, who was in turn blown away by W/Cheney’s deficits. Clinton’s peak surplus, on the other hand, was larger in magnitude than Reagan’s peak deficit. (I’m curious to see how this all compares with FDR’s spending during the Great Depression, if anyone can find a chart).
I’m not denying that Obama’s not going to set some spending records himself (though to be fair, he has already set a record for the biggest tax cut in US history, something Jindal failed to acknowledge). What I am saying is that the Republican’s reputation for being the small government party is undeserved–worse, it’s a snow job. To me, the primary difference between the parties is who reaps the benefits of government spending and tax cuts. Democrats still channel some dinero towards big business (maybe Obama will create a Green-Health-Industrial complex to replace the killing one that Eisenhower warned us about), but it seems to me their distribution of government resources to the public is much less top heavy.