It takes a lot of chutzpah for Obama to recycle a watered-down version of a 2008 campaign commitment and present it as his brightest, shiniest promise in the State of the Union address laying out his second term priorities. The Vichy Left was predictably over the moon at Obama’s pledge to raise the Federal minimum wage in increments to $9.00 by 2015.
When Obama ran for president in 2008, the minimum wage was $6.55 and set to rise to $7.25 in 2009 as a result of Bush Administration increases approved in 2007. Obama had vowed to increase it to $9.50 by 2011:
A minimum wage of $9.50 by 2011 would have represented a 14.5% compound annual increase over the 2009 level. By contrast, $9.00 by 2015 is a 3.7% compound annual rise.
And who was the “person who hasn’t realized he is being used and about to be thrown under the bus,” symbolized by having a special project highlighted in the SOTU and being rewarded by being seated in Michelle Obama’s box? Last year, it was Eric Schneiderman, who sabotaged the efforts of a growing number of state attorneys general to come up with meaningful mortgage settlement to become one of a clutch of co-chairman on a Federal mortgage task force (the now-infamous Lanny Breuer was a Department of Justice co-chairman). The Administration proceeded to humiliate Schneiderman by undercutting him, misleading him on the amount of resources he’s get and then correcting what he’d said about staffing in public, and dragging their feet even about getting phones. Ryan Grim and Sam Stein described in the Huffington Post how the mortgage fraud task force is such an obvious failure that rather than trying to tout thin accomplishments or promise that something big is coming soon, the Administration is trying now to claim that the media got its messaging wrong, that this was never supposed to a “prosecutorial” effort, just another part of a bigger task force…which as we pointed out earlier, had done all of nothing.
So who is the likely poster victim of 2013? Mary Duenwald of Bloomberg ferreted it out:
In the briefest of terms, in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama promised to save as much money on Medicare in the next decade as was proposed by the Bowles-Simpson commission. That would include, he said, lowering tax subsidies for drug companies and asking more affluent beneficiaries to pay more.
And he said it would also include making a fundamental change in the way the government pays for care — by basing bills not on fee-for-service but on “the quality of care our seniors receive.” This explains why John Kitzhaber, the governor of Oregon, was watching the State of the Union address from first lady Michelle Obama’s box. Kitzhaber has made his state’s Medicaid program a laboratory that will test a promising model for making that change…
Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, has promised/gambled that the Oregon Health Plan will reduce the growth of Medicaid costs in his state by 2 percent within two years. To pay for this effort, the federal government is to kick in about $1.9 billion over five years, but only if the state can keep its 2 percent promise.
The governor’s strategy is a variation on the “accountable care organizations” that the 2010 Affordable Care Act is promoting nationally. These are collaborations among doctors and hospitals to take responsibility for the quality and cost of care of a defined population of patients….
If Oregon is successful, it will share in the savings it creates. If not, the state will lose its extra funding, and the medical world in general will worry in earnest about whether the ACA can succeed at its most important job — to improve the quality and slow the growing cost of care.
So Kitzhaber has, like Schneiderman, has taken on what may be a policy Mission Impossible, although Kitzhaber is at least (presumably) not saddled with having to work with and through Obama Administration officials who are dedicated to preserving rather than changing the status quo. Stay tuned.
OBAMA: “I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
THE FACTS: Obama failed to get a global warming bill through Congress when both Houses were controlled by Democrats in 2010. With Republicans in control of the House, the chances of a bill to limit the gases blamed for global warming and to create a market for businesses to trade pollution credits are close to zero. The Obama administration has already acted to control greenhouse gases through existing law. It has boosted fuel-efficiency standards and proposed rules to control heat-trapping emissions from new power plants. And while there are still other ways to address climate change without Congress, it’s questionable regulation alone can achieve the reductions needed to start curbing global warming.
We’ll continue with some other notable snippets from the speech. The New York Times has chosen to hoist this statement above its large picture of Obama speaking:
The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next.
The “greatest nation” sounds an awful lot like “empire running on brand fumes” to me. America is not longer the wealthiest country per capita and is way down in the rankings among industrialized nations on pretty much every social wellbeing measure. And the US is turning back the calendar at an astonishingly fast pace as far as civil liberties and the rule of law is concerned. Oh, and our infrastructure sucks too. Yes, we are the pre-eminent military power. But we are increasingly heavy-handed and visibly aggressive about it.
But the creepy part is the juxtaposition of jingoism with bad MBA-speak. “Conducting its business” suggests that the aspirations of the US should be strictly commercial. It’s not clear how you “drift” into a crisis. And if the crisis is manufactured (an amazing bit of truth popping out, that the deficit scaremongering is a big fat hype), the plight isn’t the supposed lack of national direction but the fake crises. So why aren’t you addressing the real problem, Mr. President?
A Lambert pick:
They know that broad-based economic growth requires a balanced approach to deficit reduction, with spending cuts and revenue, and with everybody doing their fair share.
Millions ALREADY gave their fair share: Their jobs, their houses, and their health.
Yves again. More on the “business of America is business” subtext:
Tonight, I propose a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. And to make sure taxpayers don’t shoulder the whole burden, I’m also proposing a Partnership to Rebuild America that attracts private capital to upgrade what our businesses need most: modern ports to move our goods; modern pipelines to withstand a storm; modern schools worthy of our children. Let’s prove that there is no better place to do business than the United States of America. And let’s start right away.
So Obama wants private capital to fund infrastructure. Let me tell you how well that work. The investment bank that built that model, Australia’s Macquarie Bank, has made an art form out of “sweating the asset” which is code for jacking up fees anywhere and everywhere. The airports with the highest landing fees in the world, Syndey and Budapest, are both Macquarie deals. And contrary to the PR, don’t expect them to do more than what is minimally necessary. I’ve been in the Budapest airport, and it’s one of the least modernized ones in Europe. “Public-private partnership” means “pork for private equity, pennies for the public.” And you noticed “modern pipelines”? Despite the climate change talk, Obama remains fully committed to Keystone XL.
And what about this:
And this year, my Administration will begin to partner with 20 of the hardest-hit towns in America to get these communities back on their feet.
20?!?!? This is a Clinton school uniform level of triviality…
That’s why, earlier today, I signed a new executive order that will strengthen our cyber defenses by increasing information sharing, and developing standards to protect our national security, our jobs, and our privacy. Now, Congress must act as well, by passing legislation to give our government a greater capacity to secure our networks and deter attacks.
What, killing Aaron Swartz wasn’t enough of a deterrent?
Frankly, the only reason to pay attention to an Obama State of the Union address is to see how much it misrepresents what he does later. As frequent NC commentor Hugh said at Corrente:
The easiest way to analyze a speech of Obama is to assume that everything he says is a lie. Comparing the lie to the known policy helps suss out what propaganda lines he will be using in the coming months and where the shiv is likely to go in.
So watch your back.