State of Exclusion

Tony Perkins | January 29, 2014

When President Obama mapped out his agenda last night, there was one thing missing: Congress. “I’m eager to work with all of you,” he told a full chamber, only to spend the next hour explaining how he planned to avoid them. “America does not stand still — and neither will I,” the President vowed. “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.” Even to this, some of the same leaders the President had just declared irrelevant stood and cheered.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wasn’t one of them. Before the speech kicked off, Boehner warned the White House would hit a “brick wall” if he insisted on sidestepping the legislature. “This idea that he’s just going to go it alone — [we’re] going to have to remind him we do have a Constitution and the Congress writes the laws.” Even Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a member of the President’s own party, expressed “concern” with the White House’s à la carte approach to the nation’s laws.

“When a President can pick and choose which laws to follow and which to ignore, he is no longer a President,” wrote Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Unfortunately, the President’s philosophy on governing is much like last night’s event: he talks to leaders, not with them. The speech itself, all 6,778 words, didn’t contain any real surprises. As usual, the President managed to wrap his extreme liberalism in a cloak of platitudes and moderate language.

So moderate, in fact, that the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), complained that the man who’s done more to impose their agenda than the last 43 presidents combined, didn’t go far enough. While President Obama has used the word “gay” 272 times in five years (which is 270 times more than President Bush), HRC was miffed the White House didn’t boost that total with last night’s speech, complaining, “Unfortunately, President Obama missed a real opportunity to use the State of the Union to improve the lives of LGBT people…” Well, he may not have said enough — but he’s certainly done enough over the course of his two terms with federal benefits, same-sex “marriage,” “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” State Department policy, personnel hires, education projects, legal strategy, judicial nominees, and military “pride.” Even that doesn’t satisfy his insatiable base, which, after a half-decade of the President’s pandering, should be the happiest voters in all of America.

It wasn’t easy, as I sat in the House chamber, but I did manage not to laugh out loud when the President declared “climate change a fact” (days after the Weather Channel announced the coldest temperatures in a century). Of course, no one felt like smiling when the President stuck his nose into employers’ business and demanded that executives “Give America a raise!” The charge came after the White House’s own executive order, raising the federal minimum wage for employees on federal contracts. But unlike the government, businessmen don’t have an unlimited supply of money (even less so after the regulations and taxes foisted on them by this administration).

Like so many of the President’s proposals, raising the minimum wage sounds like a good idea until you actually consider the practical effects. In this case, it’s basic economics. The people who are most dependent on minimum wage are the ones most hurt by raising it. To afford higher wages, businesses will have to raise prices — which at the very least negates the pay raise, and in some instances, may cost families more. And some companies have to cut jobs. It also fuels the demand for more undocumented workers, who are willing to take the same jobs for less. Most businesses would love to invest in growing their employees, but their hands are tied under this administration’s high taxes, regulation, and ObamaCare. Asking companies to do that now, as they try to survive under the government’s other demands, is like asking them to make bricks without straw. As Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) put it, the President “doesn’t recognize that he is actually part of the problem in terms of incredibly slow economic growth.”

As usual, the President continued to misdiagnose America’s problems on poverty and unemployment, claiming one of the best “investments we can make in a child’s life is a high-quality education” — while completely ignoring the very best investment in a child’s life: a married mom and dad. An intact family is better off financially than one that is broken. Its children do better in school and graduate college in greater numbers than those from non-intact homes. But instead of acknowledging the family’s role, his administration punishes it. Just yesterday, NPR explained how divorce helps boost your health insurance subsidy under the President’s system. If, after five years of waiting, we want real hope and change, we need to enact policies that build stronger families and a stronger economy. And we can’t do that without focusing on the state of our unions.