Jim covered Congress and The White House during the George W. Bush administration for The Washington Times, and worked as a reporter, editorial writer and columnist for newspapers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California. He has appeared on the Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, and many local and national talk radio shows to talk politics and policy.
Latest posts by Jim Lakely (see all)
Jim Lakely: That’ll do it for our “live” coverage (read below for more, if you’re reading after the fact). I’m sure Heartlanders will be posting more thoughts tomorrow, but here are a few from me:
That was a very “flat” speech by Obama. Lots of applause lines were met with pretty tepid clapping, and for good reason. This year’s State of the Union Address, even more than most, was about the economy and the level of government spending and taxation. And Obama, because of what he and his (former) Congress did over the last two years, has zero credibility when it comes to fiscal responsibility, promoting economic growth, and “sensible” regulation.
We’ll see soon enough if his “play nice” words last longer than the car ride back to the White House.
Jim Lakely: One more great line from Ryan, right in the wheelhouse of what we advocate here at Heartland.
Limited government and free enterprise have helped make America the greatest nation on earth.
Jim Lakely: Correction! Lots of great and bracing lines from Ryan — from whom we expected sober analysis of the current fiscal situation:
[Europe’s] day of reckoning has arrived. Ours is around the corner. That is why we must act now.
Jim Lakely: Probably Ryan’s most sobering sentence, and I hope it catches in the minds of the American people:
Our nation is approaching a tipping point.
Steve Stanek: Government does way too much. Spending must come. Oh, Ryan just said that! Good.
Jim Lakely: Ryan makes the great point (non-partisan) that Congress itself has long contributed to our budget problems, but that at the worst possible time, the president has made it worse.
Steve Stanek: End employer health care. Make health insurance like auto insurance and homeowners insurance. This would mean our coverage is ours, not some employer’s. It would mean routine medical services are paid out of pocket, like fixing our cars or putting new shingles on our houses. Major unforeseen expenses would be paid for by health insurance. This would make people more conscious of health costs, and would drive down the costs of insurance coverage.
Jim Lakely: A “bingo!” moment from Ryan:
Unfortunately, instead of restoring the fundamentals of economic growth, he engaged in a stimulus spending spree that not only failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs, but also plunged us even deeper into debt.
The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25 percent for domestic government agencies — an 84 percent increase when you include the failed stimulus.
Steve Stanek: Government spending under George Bush grew twice as fast as it did under Bill Clinton. Now Obama is making Bush look like a penny-pincher. If more government spending boosted economies, we would have the strongest economy the world has ever seen.
Steve Stanek: Debt like this immoral, because it’s stealing from the future to pay for today’s spending.
Jim Lakely: Good point, well delivered, by Ryan:
A few years ago, reducing spending was important. Today, it’s imperative. Here’s why.
We face a crushing burden of debt. The debt will soon eclipse our entire economy, and grow to catastrophic levels in the years ahead.
People need to absorb that reality.
Jim Lakely: Don’t just read our stuff. Check out some of the excellent comments below … and here comes Ryan.
Jim Lakely: Now Rep. Paul Ryan, a friend of Heartland, is going to speak. Should be interesting. Less “soaring” rhetoric, more reality, is sure to be on tap.
Jim Lakely: Obama says: “I may have an idea for a new company …” But his administration says: “We will put so many barriers in front of you that we’ll crush your dreams.” And Obama doesn’t care.
Bruce Edward Walker: The drilling company is a triumph of capitalism, Mr. President.
John Nothdurft: I did like that “American Dream” comment about Biden, Boehner, and Obama. Go America!!!
Jim Lakely: If you admire that drilling technology so much, Mr. President, let it be used to drill for oil! We are so rich with oil, yet are the only country that prevents getting to it.
Bruce Edward Walker: Is Franken texting?
Jim Lakely: You bet, we argue, Mr. President. And we may have different opinions, but the Constitution says what it says it does … not what you say it says. That’s why Obamacare is going down — or should, if we respect that document as you said you do.
Jim Lakely: The people build this country, and have done so without government, for generations. Stop assuming everyone in America thinks like a leftist — that nothing in this country is built without government doing it. Very irritating to me.
Jim Lakely: Good news for drinkers. If you had “let us (me) be clear,” take a healthy swig.
Jim Lakely: Heartland doesn’t get into foreign policy … but just objectively, this is a pretty lame (and false) section of Obama’s speech.
Bruce Edward Walker: Sen. Levin looks downright sprightly! Let’s hope our chain’s not being pulled on this one.
Bruce Edward Walker: An example for the world. And yet, Gitmo is still open for biz. Hmmm.
John Nothdurft: Sen. McCain and Rep. Flake sure were happy to hear about Obama’s pledge to veto any bills with pet projects.
I didn’t know that John McCain could get up that fast!
John Nothdurft: Obama says: “time to simplify the tax code”
Replace with a Flat tax? a National Sales tax? Either is better than the 60K plus pages of tax code and hundreds of billions in costs that taxpayers have to shell out just to comply with the tax code.
Like I said before any tax reform must be revenue neutral or revenue cut.
Broaden and lower rates, simplify compliance, and eliminate exemptions.
Jim Lakely: The tepid applause for the “I’ll veto it” line about bills with earmarks is telling. No one in that room believes him. Zero credibility on that front. Pretty clumsy attempt to grab the opposition’s agenda.
Bruce Edward Walker: Obama knows one or two things about smoking!
Bruce Edward Walker: Wow! The arrogance is astounding! Those silly rich people with all that money! It’s downright immoral!
Jim Lakely: Yes. We need a more competent government. Haven’t you and the Democrats been in charge for the last two years? That’s quite the indictment.
Jim Lakely: Seems like that “take out the engine” line was supposed to elicit applause. It takes some doing to not get expected applause in a SOTU address.
Jim Lakely: So NOW Obama wants to freeze spending. A little late, after Obama jumped the “baseline” way above 2008 levels. Why not go back to that?
Jim Lakely: If people had personal ownership of their health care plans from their 20s, the “pre-existing condition problem” would be solved by attrition. Obama opposes that.
Jim Lakely: If Obama is really interested in free trade, it was cheap to mention Colombia. He’s held up that free trade agreement for years.
John Nothdurft: President Obama, “Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change.”
If he means across the board corporate tax rate cuts and eliminating carve outs that would be a step towards sound tax reform. Any tax reform must be revenue neutral or it is just another way for government to get more money out of the hands of taxpayers.
Jim Lakely: “Lower the corporate tax rate.” My word! He does talk sense sometimes. A “come to supply-side” moment for Obama.
Jim Lakely: If you put your hopes on the word “civility” to get blasted in your SOTU drinking game, you’re now the designated driver.
John Nothdurft: President Obama says, “Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.”
Heartland Fellow, Wendell Cox says “High-Speed Rail Is an Unprofitable Train”
Jim Lakely: Where are we going to find the money for all this “investment” when the country’s broke? $14 trillion debt now, thanks to the last two years. Also: More hooey about “shovel ready” projects. Just get out of the way, government!
Bruce Edward Walker: High-speed rail for the purpose of? And the expense paid by? To what ultimate benefit? The prez does know the U.S. covers a lot of ground, right? High-speed rail in Europe and Japan is convenient. In the U.S. … not so much.
Bruce Edward Walker: No railroad left behind.
Jim Lakely: Actually, the first step to winning the future is getting government out of the way of free enterprise. The private sector will “invest” in these things if you stop holding the axe over the neck of the economy.
John Nothdurft: All I keep hearing is more spending, more spending, and more spending being veiled as tax cuts. Subsidies are not tax cuts.
Bruce Edward Walker: Great. Teachers as another exalted class.
Jim Lakely: How about this: Let parents decide what’s best for their kids, instead of Washington. The definition of “not a top-down mandate” is the Parent Trigger.
John Nothdurft: First mention of “free enterprise” or “free market”
Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it’s not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout history our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That’s what planted the seeds for the Internet.
Actually the only way companies can innovate and remain profitable is to invest in research and development. We should however continue to encourage investment in research through sound tax policy.
Jim Lakely: HEY NOW! I’ll celebrate it when the Steelers win!
Bruce Edward Walker: The promise of renewable energy…yeah, right. I’m in Michigan. Solar panels, wind turbines make no sense here.
John Nothdurft: “Take responsibility for deficit” I fear he means raise taxes
Jim Lakely: No … let’s invest in current energy, too. We’re leaving a lot of economic growth in the ground for a faddish fraud.
Bruce Edward Walker: Ditto to Jim’s comment: Here we go … the Internet is an engine of growth and profitability. And innovation. So, put a bridle on a bronco, stick it in the stable, and stifle it like a veal calf.
Steve Stanek: The biggest obstacles to improving education in the US is the teachers unions.
Bruce Edward Walker: Did Springsteen write this speech?
John Nothdurft: Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change.
Jim Lakely: So now … NOW … Obama wants to cooperate with those who disagree with him. Nice to hear it.
Steve Stanek: Back in Uniter mode …
Jim Lakely: Repeating the themes of the Tucson speech is an expected touch. But what separates us is not patriotism and dedication, but policy.
Steve Stanek: Ready to roll.
John Nothdurft: Lets get ready to rumble!!!
Jim Lakely: Welcome to The Heartland Institute’s live blog of the 2011 State of the Union Address. This is where Heartland staffers will be offering live commentary on the speech.
Visitors are encouraged to leave comments in the comments section. (NOTE: Our “live blog” function is balky at the moment. I’ll be posting things here from our staffers in reverse order so we won’t miss a thing! When the live blog starts working again, we’ll switch over.)