PETER ROFF: Joe Biden’s Small-Ball State Of The Union
Peter Roff on February 8, 2023
If Joe Biden proved one thing Tuesday night, the grandeur of a presidential event is directly related to the stature of the president.
Biden is a small man and his presidency, as reflected in his State of the Union message is, in the vision sense, largely small-ball. Rather than lay out an ambitious agenda as his most recent predecessors did, the 46th President confined his remarks mostly to topics, as they say on television, “ripped from today’s headlines.”
Give it a B for delivery and a C for content. There was nothing in the speech anyone could take away that should produce anything more than a “Well, that was interesting” comment in the tasting notes.
Early in his remarks, Biden appeared headed for trouble, as when he asserted “We are the only country that has emerged from every crisis stronger than when we entered it.” Students of history might argue otherwise.
No one believes, for example, that America “emerged” in its nearly decade-long military interventions in Southeast Asia better than she was beforehand. The same might be true of The Great Depression, which FDR failed to bring to an end and was followed immediately by World War II.
If that’s a quibble, his assert this administration has presided over the creation of “12 million new jobs, more jobs than created in two years than any president has ever created in four” is not.
Leaving aside the increasing number of otherwise able-bodied Americans who left the workforce, the Biden Administration has “created” relatively few jobs. The gain in the number of people employed has come from people going back to work after the pandemic-era state lockdowns came to an end. The president also failed to mention that for most of what he’d no doubt refer to as “the recovery,” the states that have led in the number of people working have been the red ones.
Biden also erred in his assertion that his economic program builds “from the bottom up and the middle out, not from the top down.” Much of the good that can be gleaned from even the latest economic data results from the firm foundation established by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law by his predecessor.
Those tax cuts, the data shows, ended up paying for themselves – meaning the Treasury saw an uptick in revenue greater than what was lost by lowering tax rates and broadening the base. Growth, it seems, really is the cure for the spending problem. The president didn’t mention that, probably because he’s too wrapped up in the politics of envy to give the idea the consideration it deserves.
This was abundantly clear in his discussion of inflation which, he bragged, “has fallen every month for the last six months.” That’s true, perhaps, but leaves out that it has surged at or above 5 percent since June of 2021. Additionally, real wages have fallen at the fastest pace in 40 years, real disposable income is lower now than it was when he took office, and 72 percent of Americans say they are falling behind because of inflation.
There’s more he left out of the picture of the economy he painted but, moving on, he also left a lot out of the praise he heaped on the results of the bipartisan infrastructure bill which, despite what he claimed in his remarks, just masks the push for a green energy power grid Congress has thus far refused to fund to the extent he wants.
Biden talked a lot about roads and bridges but there’s very little money in the bill for road expansion. That’s because the central planners who run transportation policy want everyone out of cars and onto buses and light rail. Again, that’s not something he mentioned.
Finally, and there’s a lot more in the speech that skirted the boundaries of an honest presentation of the State of the Union, was Biden’s assertions about corporate profits and the failure of some of America’s largest companies to pay any taxes.
True, to a point, but presented without context. Energy companies are making money precisely because the Biden Administration has limited their ability to produce, not because they failed to invest. Thanks to his policies, there’s little to nothing to invest in.
As for tax payments, the corporations that paid no taxes did so because they invested in expanding their operations, a deductible expense under U.S. tax law. In other years their payments are considerable, which raises the question: Just what investments in plants, equipment, research, and human capital would the president prefer not to be made so that companies, as he put it, can pay their fair share?
In sum, the people who voted for Biden were probably impressed by the speech, as visionary as it wasn’t. It didn’t move his opponents and it probably won’t make those who are still on the fence about whether he deserves a second term think he should get one. In a business where you have to be growing your vote at every turn, his 2023 State of the Union address was a missed opportunity.
Peter Roff is a Washington-based columnist and commentator. Contact him at RoffColumns AT gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter and TruthSocial @TheRoffDraft.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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