President Obama faced a tough task when he delivered his final State of the Union this week.
As a lame duck president, he wanted to spend the evening touting his administration’s record and setting his place in history. But the president also knew that, in living rooms across the country, his starry-eyed message would fall on deaf ears.
The simple reality is that, despite recent job growth, wages for most Americans remain flat, the labor participation rate is near record lows, and the unemployment rate for those without a college degree is twice as high as it is for those with a degree. So it should come as no surprise that the vast majority of Americans do not like the direction the country is headed. Look at any recent poll and you’ll see that between two-thirds and three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the way things are going.
President Obama reads these polls too. He knows the American people are unhappy, or, as he put it on Tuesday, “a lot of Americans feel anxious.”
He tried to assuage these fears by blaming technology and trade for a changing economy where “more and more wealth is concentrated at the very top.”
And it is true. Much of the wealth created in the Obama era has gone to an elite few. And far too many Americans have not shared in our growing economy.
President Obama’s answers to these problems is to double down on the most harmful, aspects of his economic agenda that helped produce this skewed recovery.
He wants more government control of the energy, education, and technology sectors. He wants a federal government that dictates what Americans are paid and when they can take time off. He wants higher taxes on businesses that operate overseas.
We’ve seen this movie before – in fact, we’re living through it right now – and we know it doesn’t end well.
But there is a better way. Instead of concentrating power in the hands of Washington elites, we can return it to the American people.
"But there is a better way. Instead of concentrating power in the hands of Washington elites, we can return it to the American people."
Let’s end the existing higher education oligopoly by allowing states to accredit their own institutions of higher learning.
Let’s give parents, not Washington bureaucrats, the power to choose where their federal education dollars are spent and where to send their kids to school.
Let’s free states from the federal labor and environmental red tape that drive up the cost of infrastructure projects, so they can build the transportation systems their communities need at the right price.
Let’s give employees and employers greater freedom to determine how long and when they work.
Let’s allow judges to roll back excessive mandatory minimum sentences that take far too many fathers away from at-risk communities.
And let’s empower families by letting them keep more of their hard-earned paychecks.
Republicans have been blessed with a strong field of presidential candidates, many of whom support these reforms. The American people will be much better off if the next State of the Union comes from one of them.