By Reince Priebus
Wishful thinking won’t solve America’s problems. Empty promises will not restore our economy. President Obama’s State of the Union address, however, was filled with both and remarkably devoid of a workable plan to put Americans back to work.
The president spoke of a “blueprint for an economy built to last.” In context, that’s an odd phrase, and warrants two questions. First, why is the president — at the beginning of his fourth year in office — only now offering a “blueprint” for economic recovery? The most pressing issue of his entire presidency has been the economy; this is not a new concern. Second, how does a laundry list of repeated, broken promises constitute a blueprint for recovery? It’s a blueprint for re-election, perhaps, but not for the economy.
We start with the first question. Obama based his candidacy on his ability to restore the economy. Voters elected him because he promised jobs and prosperity. He was so confident in his abilities that he promised in early 2009 that if he didn’t have the economy fixed “in three years” then his presidency was “going to be a one-term proposition.”
It’s been three years. Unemployment is unacceptably high. Thirteen million Americans are out of a job. Millions more cannot find enough work. Our economy is stagnant and stalled. And yet President Obama merely offers “a blueprint.”
The Obama administration has defined itself by its chronic inability to turn around the economy. They passed their massive $825 billion stimulus in 2009 and then turned their attention to the pursuit of various liberal pipedreams — Obamacare, cap-and-trade, regulatory schemes, and higher taxes. The president took his eye off the economy, and we’re still paying the price. His policies, instead of improving the economy, made it worse.
The president said it would be different. He promised the stimulus would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent. It shot past that threshold and has not been back since. On Tuesday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted unemployment will average 8.9 percent in 2012. If that prediction holds, more Americans will be out of work at the end of Obama’s term than at the beginning.
Now the second point: We’ve heard it all before. The State of the Union was made from recycled material, meant to boost the president’s re-election prospects. ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper called it “very political,” while NBC’s David Gregory said it was a “pitch for re-election.”
In his address, the president promised to pursue energy independence. Just as in 2008, he proclaimed that now was the time to end our dependence on foreign oil. For four years, he’s been repeating the same promise, with no intention of keeping it. Just last month, the president blocked the Keystone energy pipeline, which would have brought safe, affordable energy — and 20,000 jobs — to America.
Obama called on universities to lower costs, just as in 2010 when he said “it’s time” for them to “get serious about cutting their own costs.” He’s campaigning on college campuses touting his plan to make student loans more affordable, but his plan would only save students less than $10 a month.
The president also promised to help small businesses — a promise he’s made before but never kept. In fact, with regulations, mandates and threats of higher taxes, he’s spent the last three years making life harder for small business owners.
That is, of course, just a sampling. The president managed to cram many more old promises into his 45-minute speech. Since then, he’s been touring the country repeating them over and over. But America doesn’t need promises or slogans; we need policies and solutions.
It’s time for a new direction. In Washington state, voters have a chance to make that possible this year. They can elect Rob McKenna governor and get the state back on track to fiscal responsibility and economic opportunity.
After three years, President Obama has failed — and by his own standard. In November, Americans can hold him accountable to his promise of a “one-term proposition” and we can send a Republican to the White House. Our country needs a president who has a plan and a purpose — not one who offers only a blueprint of broken promises.
Reince Priebus is chairman of the Republican National Committee. This commentary is in response to one by President Obama.