President Obama's approach to so-called climate change appears to include the recycling of old ideas.
In his State of the Union address, the president recycled the idea of spending more on education, though prior increases have not changed the unsatisfactory results -- a fact he inadvertently acknowledged by saying we're not keeping up with other countries in science and math. He maintained there are tens of thousands of jobs available but companies can't fill them because public schools aren't teaching students what they need to know. We spend huge sums on education already, so money and achievement must not be related.
Infrastructure? We've heard that before, too. Why is nothing ever fixed with all the money that's been spent during the last four years? Because it's about maintaining union jobs, not creating new jobs that produce products and services and grow small businesses.
The president mentioned the coming sequester, but Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office, told the Senate's Budget Committee that he can't score the proposal to replace the sequester because he hasn't yet seen "a specific proposal." The sequester was the president's idea, though he now suggests it came from Congress. The House has proposed targeted spending cuts that protect defense. Those proposals have gone nowhere in the Senate.
The president spoke of "the basic bargain that built this country -- the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead." Yes, and if you do, you will be taxed at ever-increasing rates, labeled rich and powerful and accused of not doing your fair share.
What would be fair is for government to stop spending more than it takes in.
The president claimed his national health insurance reform is driving down medical costs. It's actually the reverse. ABC News reported on the conclusion of the nonpartisan Health Care Cost Institute: "Spending on health care rose 4.6 percent in 2011 -- up $4,500 per person, on average." The network also noted a Kaiser Family Foundation report that said, "Health insurance premiums for individuals and families also climbed year-over-year, up 3 percent ($186) on average for an individual and 4 percent ($672) on average for a family."
The Washington Times reported, "President Obama's health care law will push 7 million people out of their job-based insurance coverage -- nearly twice the previous estimate, according to the latest estimates from the Congressional Budget Office."
The president spoke of reducing America's nuclear arsenal at a time when Iran and North Korea are building theirs and threatening nuclear attack. This is part of the failed ideology he has applied to the Middle East, which says that if we will just be nice to our enemies, they will be nice to us.
The president promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. Instead, he has deepened our deficit and national debt. Jobs? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, since Barack Obama took office in 2009, 8.5 million Americans have given up looking for work. Those lucky enough to find work often receive very low pay. The president's proposed increase in the minimum wage won't help create new jobs. If it passes, it will more than likely eliminate new hires.
There are so many more recycled ideas but not enough space here to list them all.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., gave one of the better and more substantive responses to a State of the Union address. Rubio sought to identify with the common man, noting his Florida home is among middle-class people. He retold his story as the son of immigrant parents and made the case for smaller government, rewarding initiative entrepreneurship and improving education through school choice.
The State of the Union would be much better if government were smaller and if people were allowed to keep and spend more of their hard-earned money. President Obama takes the liberal view; Marco Rubio, the conservative view. The debate in the next two elections will be between the party that wants to empower government and the party of individual empowerment, between recycling old and failed ideas and trying new ones.
Examiner Columnist Cal Thomas is nationally syndicated by Tribune Media.