In for a penny, in for a trillion bucks

Previews of tomorrow night's State of the Union speech have included the notion that the president will pretty much ignore the deficit and push a "growth" agenda.

The only thing that will be growing will be federal spending and the deficit.


President Barack Obama will describe his plan for spurring the economy in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, offering proposals for investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, clean energy and education, a senior administration official said on Saturday.

In the annual presidential address to Congress, Obama plans to show he has not lost sight of the economic woes of middle-class Americans - issues that dominated the 2012 election campaign but have been overshadowed recently by efforts to cut the deficit, overhaul immigration laws and curb gun violence.

"The potential success of his second term is hugely dependent on the rate at which the economy grows," said Ruy Teixeira, a political scientist with the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress.

"There's no problem the Democrats have that can't be solved with faster growth. Conversely, there's not much they'll be able to do if growth stays slow."

Obama previewed his economic growth plan in a speech to House of Representatives Democrats this week, telling them he would stress the importance of education, development of clean energy, and infrastructure.

There were no details on the new initiatives for infrastructure, manufacturing, clean energy and education, elements first reported by the New York Times.

But any new spending will face tough opposition from Republicans in Congress who are focused on cutting spending and reducing the deficit.

Obama has urged Congress to take steps to postpone harsh government spending cuts slated to take effect on March 1, and the White House took pains on Friday to describe how the cuts would affect ordinary Americans' lives.

Obama has said he is willing to cut a "big deal" with Republicans to trim spending on the Medicare and Social Security programs for the elderly, but has insisted in ending long-standing tax breaks for oil companies, private equity firms and corporate jet owners to create more revenue for government.

I am unfamiliar with this train of logic: cut entitlements and other spending while, at exactly the same time, ordering hundreds of billions in new spending. Doesn't increasing federal spending sort of - I don't know - kind of make cutting the budget seem rather silly?

But then, I don't think like a liberal Democrat so maybe there's a reasonable explanation for such counterintuitiveness.

Note that the president is advancing the same tired, worn out ideas for spending; teachers, road building, and green energy boondoggles. It would be one thing if he called for spending on a gigantic block party, or a series of gladitorial contests in major cities. At least we'd get spectacle with our debt.

He is going to get up before Congress, before the American people, and say with a straight face he wants to bring down the deficit while proposing new spending that will add to it.

We are living in a nightmare world with no chance of waking up.

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