The agenda President Obama outlined in his State of the Union address essentially promises more of the same: more spending, more burdens on American businesses, and more symbolic measures that do nothing to provide real solutions to the challenges we face.
I agree with the president that overcoming our problems requires a fresh approach and a spirit of cooperation. The American people have made it clear that they are tired of wasteful Washington spending and politics as usual. Unfortunately, President Obama and congressional Democrats appear committed to the same costly policies that have deepened the deficit and stifled economic growth for the past year.
Faced with an annual $1.4 trillion deficit, the president has proposed a freeze on non-defense discretionary spending that would trim just $15 billion in spending per year. Putting a freeze on spending after raising it to record levels is a case of too little, too late. This White House and Democrat Congress increased spending by 22 percent last year, and that doesn't even include the bloated stimulus bill. The spending freeze addresses just one-eighth of the massive federal budget and does nothing to scale back the entitlement spending that is the real threat to our economic security. Furthermore, the fact that the proposed freeze will not take effect until 2011 suggests that it is really nothing more than a rhetorical gimmick designed to pacify the electorate while congressional liberals continue to spend taxpayer dollars with abandon.
As a matter of fact, Democrats' other proposals will cost taxpayers more than enough to wipe out any savings achieved by the spending freeze. Despite growing voter outrage, the Obama administration remains determined to pass the health care legislation that has monopolized government attention for the past year. While the final bill remains uncertain, legislation passed by House Democrats would cost $1.3 trillion and add $729.5 billion in new taxes on small businesses and other employers. By contrast, the Republican plan for health care makes coverage more affordable and available without exploding the deficit. With measures that give consumers more affordable insurance choices, eliminate frivolous lawsuits, and make it easier for small businesses to provide coverage, the Republican initiative achieves the commonsense objectives that Americans want and deserve.
The president's plan for energy policy sounds a lot like his approach to health care: higher taxes and increased government spending. It's true that America needs to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. But Obama's plan once again imposes costs that would hurt American businesses and consumers, adding as much as $624 billion in taxes to manufacturers. These costs will surely be passed along to the American people in the form of increased energy costs and lost jobs. Republican policies would achieve energy independence while growing the economy by unleashing the potential of natural gas, wind energy and other untapped domestic energy resources.
Democrats' approach of more spending, higher taxes and bigger government is not what the times call for. Restoring fiscal sanity requires tough choices that the Obama administration and congressional Democrats seem unwilling to make. We need commonsense policies that control runaway government spending and allow American innovation to thrive. This is the key to job creation, long-term economic security, energy independence and affordable health care.
President Obama campaigned on a promise to usher in a new era of post-partisan cooperation and transparency. Unfortunately, the past year has demonstrated that the soaring rhetoric of his administration is hollow. Despite what he promised, President Obama continues to blame the past administration for all of America's problems, drive our nation further and further into debt, and look to big government programs to solve every challenge we face. That is not what made America great in the first place, and it is certainly not an approach to restore our greatness.