Once again President Obama’s style was polished; yet his substance was tarnished.
In what felt like a rerun of last year’s SOTU, in which the president portrayed himself as a free marketer while championing more top-down, big-government spending projects, the president again spoke out of both sides of his mouth.
As in the past, Obama talked about the value of the individual over the government. In fact, he went so far as to quote Abraham Lincoln: “That government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.” To demonstrate his point, he insisted on the need to streamline the bureaucratic state, which he acknowledged is “inefficient, outdated and remote.” He spoke of “clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects” and “getting rid of regulations that don’t work.”
Still, at the same time he advanced an agenda of more big government. Last year there was more of an emphasis on “investments” — in infrastructure, transportation and education — this year the focus was on leveling the playing field. And to do that the president introduced new, duplicative government programs and departments like a Financial Crimes Unit and a Veterans Job Corps that would further bloat the very bureaucratic state he talked about shrinking.
Obama may have tried to give a little bit of everything to everybody last night; but in the end, he simply offered the country more of the same.