February 2, 2011
Now that the mainstream media is hopefully done swooning over President Obama’s State of the Union Speech, some of us are more concerned about the real State of the Union, by the numbers. It’s not what he said or did not say, nor is it how he said it. It should be about our national security and our national economic health.
The day after the president’s State of the Union speech, an appliance installation and repair man was installing some new appliances in our home. Unsolicited, he said he had a hard time sleeping last night after hearing the president’s speech. When I asked why, he said he did not hear anything in the speech that made him feel that America is safer as a nation, nor did he hear anything that would really help grow the economy.
I told him I agreed with him, and that he expressed the feelings of probably most of us who are not intoxicated by the president’s words and his delivery. Many people are, but most of us are not.
Maybe there are some provisions in the START Treaty that regular folk like the repair man and I don’t know about. But it appears as if the Russians got a better deal by limiting our ability to deploy missile defense systems in other parts of the world, where a lot of our enemies are located. For example, cancellation of the missile defense system being built in Turkey does not seem like a good idea. The world is not safer! And we have reduced our ability to help keep it safe.
Many of the most compelling facts about the real state of our economy were missing from the president’s speech.
Gross Domestic Product did grow year over year in 2010 by 2.6 percent. But China’s economy grew by around 10 percent, which means, at those comparable rates, China’s economy will surpass us 15 to 20 years from now. Since China holds the largest percentage of our foreign-held debt, I consider that a national security threat as well as a threat to our financial stability.
In fact, the total amount of U.S. Treasury Securities held by foreign countries increased 18.5 percent in 2010 (Treasury.gov). That’s not a comforting sign.
Total bankruptcy filings were nearly 14 percent higher in 2010, on top of the 1.4 million fillings in 2009. It should be no surprise that the unemployment rate remained between 9.4 and 9.8 percent throughout 2010, and that the weekly new jobless claims were around 400,000 per week nearly every week. The small number of “new” private sector jobs has simply not been enough to offset that pace of joblessness.
A year ago, in the president’s State of the Union speech, he said that creating jobs would be a top priority. In early 2009, he said that the nearly $1 trillion in stimulus spending would keep unemployment under 8 percent and grow the economy.
The unemployment rate has not been below 9 percent since the stimulus bill was passed, and I guess it depends on his definition of “grow”. I call a 2.6 percent increase in GDP anemic, especially when most of it was generated by a productivity blitz by U.S. businesses and not by economic policies.
A year ago, Congress raised the statutory debt ceiling, and now they are talking about the need to raise it again. The current national debt, which amounts to $45,000 for every man woman and child in national debt ($14 trillion total) is not enough for this administration. If it is left unchecked, there appears to be no end in sight. And we are supposed to feel good about the state of the union.
Like the appliance repair man, we will continue to have some restless nights because of broken promises and failed policies by the administration. The House is starting to see the light, but this president isn’t even aware of the heat.
Maybe he will become aware in 2012 when he joins the ranks of the unemployed.