01.29.2014 0

State of the Union

By Rick Manning

This morning the Washington, D.C. area will be shoveling another round of global warming with schools, local, state and federal government delays and closures.

Last night, in the State of the Union, the President did some heavy shoveling of his own.

In a vintage Obama campaign speech that was heavy on rhetoric and short on specifics, there is one thing he did right – recognizing the sacrifice and courage of U.S. Army Sgt First Class Cory Remsberg, who was grievously injured during his tenth tour of duty serving our nation.

It was sad that Obama did not choose to open his campaign-style speech featuring the heroism of Sgt. Remsberg as he and those he represents are truly the best and the brightest of their generation.

Of course the reason for closing with this American hero is that nothing that could be said afterward holds a candle to the ongoing efforts of our men and women in the military to keep us safe from Islamic terror emanating from the Middle East.

Every American owes our military more than a casual salute, but instead these heroes have earned a robust thank you and our government should devote the necessary resources to give them every chance at achieving a full, productive civilian life.

However, Obama’s speech wasn’t about supporting American heroes who have put everything on the line for the country they love.  Instead it can be encapsulated by his presumption that, “Most Americans want for Congress to focus on their lives.”

Nothing could be further from the truth, and it is this core misunderstanding of the American public that explains the chasm between Obama’s vision for our nation and that of those who love personal freedom without government interference.

In his speech, Obama pointed to a pizza owner who voluntarily raised the wages of his workers believing that he could still make a profit on his pies even with the higher labor costs. That is that employer’s personal choice to make and it might or might not prove to be a successful business risk.

What the President apparently does not understand is that it is a choice that many local employers cannot make as they struggle with increased costs due to Obamacare and other price increases that directly impact their bottom line.

Here is how a minimum wage increase really works.  The price of items that a shop produces or sells cannot be raised above what purchasers are willing to pay.  If an employer is forced by the government to increase the cost of labor, this forces either a price increase or cuts elsewhere in the company, including making up for the minimum wage increase through layoffs.

It may not be the lowest wage worker who gets the axe, but instead it might be an office manager, customer service representative or someone else who is on a salary career path as the employer decides that cutting one middle income worker from the payroll makes the most sense to offset the increased costs of the lower wage workers.  After all, the other salaried workers can just work a little longer and harder to pick up the slack.

Unfortunately, politicians like Obama live in the unreal world of government where you can always just spend other people’s money to achieve your ends.  In the private sector, you risk and invest your own money, and you have to make tough decisions that impact friends and co-workers lives to offset government imposed wage mandates.

Not shockingly, the President also had the audacity to claim responsibility for the dramatic increase in private sector natural gas and oil production.

The Institute for Energy Research puts this fairy tale to rest writing, “Though the president is right on the numbers, what he fails to acknowledge is that the domestic energy renaissance is happening despite the Obama administration’s policies, not because of them. Oil and natural gas production has indeed soared in recent years, but only on state and private lands, where the administration has little input. On federal lands controlled by the Obama administration’s Interior Department, fossil fuel production has fallen to a 10-year low.

America’s declining oil imports are a direct result of domestic production on state and private lands. In October 2013, crude oil production surpassed imports for the first time since 1995. This was driven almost exclusively by surging production on lands which the Obama administration has almost no control. Production on state and private lands increased 14 percent from 2010 to 2012. Over the same period, production on federal lands declined by 18 percent.”

In a nutshell, Obama and his cronies have actually harmed domestic energy production through their policies and to claim any credit for the results of the vision, sacrifice and economic courage of those who are driving our nation’s fossil fuel energy renaissance is nothing less than a cynical manipulation.

Never missing the chance for making a gender based appeal, Obama went to great lengths to call for equal pay for equal work for women.  It will be interesting to see if the main stream media points out that in Obama’s White House, women staffers are paid only 87 percent of what their male counterparts are.  Perhaps before this president lectures the rest of us, he should stop discriminating against women workers himself.

While there are ample other examples of political soundbites getting in the way of the truth, perhaps the most egregious goes back to our nation’s men and women who fought and in too many cases were injured or died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Obama drew great applause from the left side of the aisle when he reminded that American troops were no longer engaged in Iraq.

What he didn’t say is that since Obama withdrew from Iraq, Al Qaida has defeated Iraqi forces and the Al Qaida flag now flies over the town of Fallujah – the very site that cost so much of the most precious American treasure – the blood of our fighting men.

Sometimes what a politician fails to say is far more important than their boasts, and it is a shame that while Obama saluted a true American hero to end his annual performance, the war he fought is being lost through political bungling by the Commander in Chief.

That is the sad state of the union – 2014.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government

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