The Right Opinion

A Real State of the Union

By John Stossel · Feb. 13, 2013

We've heard another State of the Union speech, and my president said grand things like:

“Think about … a future where we're in control of our own energy … I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China … I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury poisoning …”

Actually, he said that in 2012. I write before this year's speech, but he says basically the same thing every year: With more spending, government can fix everything.

But I have this dream – one where my president walks to the podium, and he instead says this:

I'm so happy I won again. Now that I don't have to suck up to my base, I will be the grown-up in the room.

Yes, I know John Boehner claims I said, “We don't have a spending problem.” Maybe I said that – I don't remember. But we do have a spending problem.

Now that I'm concerned about my legacy, I looked at the numbers, and they are scary. I made so many promises that there's no way we can pay for them.

Take climate change. I think it's real and that man contributes, but even if America spent trillions to try to lower our carbon output, that would only make a microscopic change in world temperatures. The earth wouldn't notice.

Some of my anti-poverty plans are worse. Now that I've been re-elected, it dawns on me that those programs I said need more investment – always more – well, they didn't work. They perpetuate poverty by making Americans dependent.

The key to helping the poor – and being rich enough to adjust to things like climate change – is growth.

America grew fastest when government was tiny. Government at all levels was only about 8 percent of gross domestic product in 1912. In the hundred years prior to that, we made the Louisiana Purchase and settled the West. Americans went from subsistence-level farms to the highest standard of living on the planet.

Spending shot up during the world wars, but in peacetime it grew very little. Even the big boom in domestic spending during the New Deal resulted in government spending per person that was only about half what it is today – half – even as government went on to build dams, the interstate highway system and spacecraft. Spending was still only about $3,000 per person in today's dollars.

Then came Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society. We would cure poverty! Government grew so much that now, at all levels, it spends $20,000 per person per year.

But we didn't cure poverty. Americans had been lifting themselves out of poverty – on their own – but when government stepped in, we stopped that progress. We encouraged people to be dependent. The poor stayed poor.

My friend Bill Clinton put us on a better track. He didn't want to end welfare as we know it – Republicans forced him to make good on his promise – but I now must admit that welfare reform was a good thing. And during the Clinton administration, the economy grew, and we actually balanced the budget.

But then President Bush happened. He added social programs, hired 90,000 new regulators, created a whole new Cabinet-level department (for homeland security), and bailed out banks and automakers. Whew! Then I got elected, and we spent even more.

But now I look at the numbers and get dizzy. We're eating our future!

So I then asked myself: What was so bad about spending in the Clinton years? He spent $2 trillion per year. That's a lot. Why do we need to spend more? America doesn't face greater challenges now than we did then. In many ways, we're richer now, and life is easier. A government that spends $2 trillion is plenty big. So I announce today my intention to cut the size of the federal government nearly in half – back to Bill Clinton levels. That's enough.

Oh, and about those drones? I just reread the Constitution, and it says I can't just kill whomever I want. I'm going to start following the Constitution. I was a law school professor …“

I can dream, can't I? Maybe President Obama will say that next year.

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9 Comments

Doktor Riktor Von Zhades in Western KY said:

"Government grew so much that now, at all levels, it spends $20,000 per person per year."

If this is so, I've never seen my cut.....

Sarcasm switch, now DIS-engaged....

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 7:54 AM

Rod in USA said:

And then you woke up and realized it was a fantasy not a dream. No president will ever say that, least of all this one. But the points you make are SPOT ON.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 9:35 AM

wjm in Colorado said:

If Obamao told the truth, he would say, "I am an Islam loving Marxist, and my goal is to destroy the Founders Vision of America and the Constitution by spending to the point the Dollar Collapses and the economy crashes. My intent is to rule as Dictator, to hold the populace as slaves to my will, and reward those failful to me and destroy all those who cherish freedom and the Old America. You must pay homage and tribute to the State, and in the New America, the State will control all means of Production and will supply all for the people. No person can own any type of firearm, the collection will begin soon. Seig Heil!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Orf in Pittsburgh replied:

Right on, wjm! The enemy within will not stop until he has all power in his evil hands. BTW, the Nazis shouted Sieg Heil! meaning Hail Victory! using the ancient Roman salute to the emperor. Obamao will demand that allegiance to himself one day, and the sheeple will willingly obey, just as the Germans did. No more oaths to uphold the Constitution, just to obey and worship Obamao. Can this catastrophe be stopped? Do we have to end like Nazi Germany, but without a superpower to rebuild us?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Jim in USA replied:

The only debate legitimate historians will have about Obama is whether he was motivated primarily by Communist or Islamist ideology. In either case he is a smiling sociopathic snake. In either case he is a man on a mission to weaken and ultimately destroy our country. The Republican enablers of this slow moving train wreck of a coup d'etat are as guilty, if not more so, than the traitors on the left. They at least should know better, but would rather sit pretty. Rather than sound the alarm to save the country they play patty-cakes with tyranny and subversion, for the self service of high position and graft. Read Glenn Beck's, "The Overton Window". Everything this Revolutionist does is to stretch the envelope of what we are willing to accept as a norm, and every step of that in the direction of a dictatorship.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 6:48 PM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

The private sector lost about 8 and a half million jobs, under the renegadus Manifestikus of O'Zilla-THE DESTROYER!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 4:24 PM

Steve in Macon, GA said:

Dream on, John. I suppose your dream is about as likely as taxing and spending our country into prosperity. It's as likely as another mega-trillion dollar stimulus creating any shovel-ready jobs, or helping anyone other than cronies and insiders. It's as likely as the Congress agreeing to cut spending back to 1992 levels.

Bankruptcy and anarchy are more likely in our future. When the government can't pay checks to the moochers and parasites, civil unrest will be inevitable. Riots will be inevitable. "WHERE is our bread and circus?" they'll scream. Will Obama or his successor use drones to surveil and attack the rioters? THAT is a likely scenario in our true future.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 5:54 PM

Leaping Spark in Valrico, FL said:

Lighten up sheople, Obama is a communist and believes he can tax you 100%. When he and the bigfoot he married have all your money, they will give you back the amount, they think you need to survive. While you are choking down your powdered milk and spoiled cheese, Obonzo and his bigfoot will be sipping $1,000.00 a bottle Champagne and eating $200.00 a pound steak, with lobster for desert while on another $500,000.00 vacation.

The Obama's are scumbags nothing more nothing less and they will continue to usurp the Constitution and pillage America until they are stopped by impeachment. Unfortunately, the Republicans are complicit in this whole scam and will do nothing to stop the illegal President Obama and the Morons who support him from the continued raping and pillaging of our pockets.

Welcome to the Socialist Soviet States of Barackistan, Comrades.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 6:29 PM

Craig in Toledo replied:

You are wrong Leaping Spark. They did not spend $500,000 on a vacation. The last one was closer to $100,000,000.00. But you are absolutely correct on the other stuff!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013 at 12:29 PM