Obama speaks

President Barack Obama offered some common sense in his State of the Union address Wednesday night.

For instance, he appeared to call for an end to capitals gains taxes “for small businesses.” That’s great, though why not go further and end capital gains taxes on everything for everyone? “Capital gains” are taxes on income earned by investing after-tax income, after all.

The president vowed it was time for the federal government to “tighten its belt” and insisted he’d “freeze government spending for three years.” Yes, the “freeze” has so many loopholes that it would actually cut spending by only about 0.5 percent — after a year during which the administration “grew” federal spending by 25 percent — but, hey, it’s a start.

And Mr. Obama vowed to “use the veto” to block any spending measure that violates this three-year budget freeze. We can’t wait.

Yet he spent much of the rest of his speech outlining a vast new array of spending initiatives, from a new “jobs” bill that could cost another $80 billion to $115 billion, to re-financing mortgages for those who bought houses they couldn’t afford, to as much as $4 billion in additional federal aid to local schools, “expanding these reforms to all 50 states.”

Mr. Obama will even seek federal subsidies for “four years of college education,” with loans to be forgiven after 20 years — “10 years if they choose a career in public service,” which to most Democrats means “going to work for the government” instead of providing a “public service” by creating dozens of private-sector jobs.

In fact, the main thrust of the president’s speech was not any Clinton-esque “move to the center” — as some had expected after the dramatic recent losses of Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat and two Democratic governorships — but rather a willful insistence on positioning himself as the virtual “anti-Ronald Reagan,” chiding Republicans and condemning any fall-back from the premise that government can solve all our problems, the very doctrine that brought Eastern Europe to its knees after 70 years of starvation and mass murder.

Most notably, the president vowed to re-double his efforts to create socialized medicine. The president did ask if anyone had a better idea on health care. Yet the White House and congressional Democrats have stood deaf to calls for tort reform, de-regulating medicine and lowering insurance rates by eliminating all government “coverage” mandates.

The speech was also packed full of defensive, blame-Bush rationalizations, including impossible-to-prove hypotheticals. “If we had allowed the economy to melt down, unemployment might be twice what it is,” the president said. Yes, and if the White Star Line had sent another liner sailing right in the wake of the Titanic, they might have lost twice as many passengers that night.

Finally, on foreign policy, the president — who has already set dates for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq — nonetheless vowed to “protect” the Afghan and Iraqi people.

Here’s hoping they’re not naive enough to believe him.

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