The Romans' Janus faced two directions, surveying the past and the future together; our updated god presents two faces in recognition of what he says versus what he does.
We know the real state of the union: government spends too much, borrows too much, and prints too much money. Too many are out of work and too many recent grads aren't finding it. Government has promised but can't pay for health care, retirement, and its hundred-plus-countries military adventures. As our Janus said in his State of the Union speech, that calls for freezing domestic spending for the next five years while redoubling the recent transportation and construction projects of the last two. Redoubling spending while freezing it might challenge mortals, but for a god, it's just a day at the office.
Our Janus sees employers who can't compete and so can't hire. He proposes to lower the corporation tax rate to help...and then says he would also close loopholes and kill tax breaks so that no revenue would be lost. He proposed for the second time to save billions in taxpayer dollars that are currently given to oil companies (Janus-speak for raising their taxes) at a time when oil prices are already galloping upward.
The reference to his health care blessing, ObamaCare, repeated earlier pronouncements that it will reduce the deficit in addition to providing care for twenty or thirty-odd millions of new beneficiaries. His previous statement that none would lose by its passage wasn't repeated this time. The Congressional Budget Office folks verified that ObamaCare might reduce the deficit...if all the new taxes are collected and seniors' care is reduced as planned. Medicare's Chief Actuary said he doesn't expect it to work out that way, and, referring to another promise, he said not everyone will be able to keep his or her existing insurance.
Another bidirectional biggie comes with Obama's concern with our competitiveness in business; he made that a point in his speech, but his boys and girls in the back rooms of the Departments of Energy, Labor, Agriculture, Transportation, and Environmental Protection are busily piling new costs and restrictions onto businesses and citizens alike, reducing competitiveness and the U.S. living standard together. The U.S. city on a hill is now Detroit, fallen from the 4th to 11th American city and well-represented by Government Motors, which now makes and sells more cars in China than in the U.S.
It takes a Janus, too, to speak of freezing spending for five years at deficit-producing levels as gaining control of spending; that's like the submarine skipper setting a number of open hatches for when the boat dives. As some have said, that's freezing deficits, not spending.
The State of the Union message was remarkable for more than its doublespeak; it carried a Sherlockian message, too. Holmes found significance in the conduct of the dog that did nothing in the nighttime, and there is much significance in things our Janus didn't say.
He presented no plan for dealing with sovereign debt, inflation, or the economic distortions like current stock prices that reflect artificially zero interest rates and Fed money printing more than value. These didn't receive even lip service. Apparently, we are to join the Chinese villagers in hoping that if we ignore the advancing dragon, maybe it will go away.
Our president presides over our country and its economy in godly serenity, isolated from our crude daily concerns. He says things he believes we will like to hear, syrup poured over things he is doing that he believes should be imposed on us whether or not we like them. He is an updated Roman god when our need is for an honest leader.
Presidents like Kennedy and Reagan were leaders. This president has drawn a short straw; he was elected in a hundred-year financial crisis that is testing his presidency and his personal courage. Standing before us spouting doubletalk and prescribing aspirin fails the test. It sculpts an image of a politician more concerned for his second term than for his country.
It is bad enough when a politician tries to hide reality in order to hide from it. That can be ignorance, or it can be cowardice, human qualities we can understand if not approve of. When a president promises economic recovery and growth while acting widely to de-industrialize the economy and devalue the currency, he is depriving the people of their wealth by deception; he is a swindler recalling the Biblical advice: Put not your faith in princes.