The President's Contradiction Soup

From Obama's prepared remarks last night:

As the leader of the free world, America will do more than just defeat on the battlefield those who offer hatred and destruction–we will also lead among those who are willing to work together to expand freedom and opportunity for all people.

That effort must begin within our own borders. Throughout our history, America has been willing to bear the burden of promoting liberty and human dignity overseas, understanding its link to our own liberty and security. But we have also understood that our nation's strength and influence abroad must be firmly anchored in our prosperity at home. And the bedrock of that prosperity must be a growing middle class.

Unfortunately, over the last decade, we have not done what is necessary to shore up the foundation of our own prosperity. We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation's long-term competitiveness is put at risk.

1) You can complain about "record deficits," you can complain about "borrowing from overseas," but in the same breath as lamenting how we've "short-changed investments in our people"? Even letting that whole spending="investments" trope pass, the last two years have illustrated poignantly that goosing domestic spending without significantly drawing down our international military commitments will put the "record" in "record deficits," and potentially the "over" in "overseas."

2) What are these "tough decisions" about "our manufacturing base," why should the federal government be making them, and how exactly did the Iraq War in particular kick them down the road? Usually, when political people (especially on the left side of the aisle) talk about "manufacturing base," it's in the context of supporting stuff like "anti-dumping" rules on poorer countries who are trying to get rich, as the administration did to China just last week. How exactly does that constitute "lead[ing] among those who are willing to work together to expand freedom and opportunity for all people"? I'll answer: it doesn't.

3) In a similar vein, how can Obama argue that the war "put off" a big re-do on energy policy when his own political party (the one that swept into power on much anti-Iraq War and Nu-Energy-Policy sentiment) has yet to pass through its own big energy policy re-do? Could it be maybe that energy policy is just hard, particularly when you've tethered it to the absolute fantasy of creating 5 million "green jobs"?

4) The phrase "short-changed investments in our own people," has been, as Nick Gillespie demonstrated yesterday, knocking the stuffing out of the phrase "education reform" for decades now. When your idea of education reform is spending record amounts on the status quo while tossing a few crumbs in the vague direction of teacher accountability, the result is not investing "in our own people," unless by "own people" you mean "the (overwhelmingly Democratic Party-supporting) education establishment." Fooling David Brooks and getting a better bang out of our education buck are two separate things.

5) On a related note, having two-thirds of your stimulus-related jobs going toward making sure education bureaucrats don't get fired is a leading indicator that the current efforts toward growing the middle class are instead making sure the government class stays the same size while the non-government class shrinks.

6) Finally, if your goal is "long-term competitiveness," then maybe you should get around to letting individuals and businesses compete, instead of attempting to cushion everybody's fall and punishing the people they're competing against. Also, we are competing and losing at producing a K-12 educated workforce, in large part because there's very little competition in the provision of that particular good.

The president wants to lead the world in expanding opportunity by decreasing the opportunities for the world to sell us stuff. He wants to increase our competitiveness by protecting us from failure. He wants to reduce our deficits by investing in our people, and get the economy rolling again by redistributing taxpayer money to teachers. What could possibly go wrong?

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  • Abdul||

    Shorter Obama: "Republicans are so dumb, they spent $1trillion on overseas wars. Foreigners can't even vote! We'll be spreading the cash around to domestic constituents. Education lobby--help yourselves to half a billion from the Treasury right now."

  • ||

    Maybe Obama was just lying about all that stuff, and thus unconcerned about the contradictions.

    It's a terrible possibility, but one I think we have to at least consider.

  • Bill||

    Just because people contradict themselves doesn't mean they are wrong!!


    does it????

  • ||

    What are these "tough decisions" about "our manufacturing base,"

    What's this "our" manufacturing base. As far as I know, the only manufacturing the President owns is GM and Chrysler. The rest of it isn't "ours"; it belongs to its actual, you know, owners.

    Of course, in Obama's mind, and the mind of his supporters, what they own is theirs, and what everybody else owns is theirs, too.

  • ||

    Collectivism is the language of Democrats. Republicans too. It's just a matter of degree and commitment.

  • MWG||

    +1

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    You didn't point out the most obvious contradiction in that excerpt.

    "As the leader of the free world, America will do more than just defeat on the battlefield those who offer hatred and destruction"
    "Unfortunately, over the last decade, we have not done what is necessary to shore up the foundation of our own prosperity. We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits."

    So, war is good, except when a Republican starts it it costs money.

  • Joe M||

    Good thing Obama never thinks about the noises coming out of his mouth.

  • ||

    I listened to a translation of the speech in spanish. The guy who was reading it had a mellifluous tone which almost made listening to the speech tolerable. It was all bullshit.

  • Kant feel Pietzsche||

    That's exactly how I felt about the English version...

  • Warty||

    For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base

    That's a pretty large unexamined assumption right there.

  • Jordan||

    "Our manufacturing base"

    Oh how I long for the day when people stop bemoaning our "lost" manufacturing jobs, as if turning a wrench or operating a machine is somehow more noble than serving food or answering a phone.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    It's not a matter of being noble; it's a matter of not having to be held hostage by or rely on other countries to make our stuff for us - stuff that is the backbone of our economy and military. Like all kinds of equipment, hardware, tools, machinery, etc.

    I can't see how we would survive as a nation of hairdressers, meal servers and receptionists. We do need some old-fashioned manufacturing facilities that actually make stuff.

  • Jordan||

    No we don't. Other countries like selling us things.

  • Zeb||

    Well, we do. But it is not all going to go away. There is still plenty of manufacturing in the US. In addition to lots of other stuff, nearly all the "foreign" cars sold here are made here. We don't need to manufacture TVs, cheap toys,etc. in this country.

  • ||

    At least no one will die of an infection spread by telephone.

  • ||

    +1

  • ||

    But 'manufacturing jobs' doesn't necessarily equate 'manufacturing production'. I beleive we still make lots of stuff, just with fewer people and more automation.

  • Ranconteur||

    "I beleive we still make lots of stuff"

    Yes, we do. In fact, inflation adjusted output is up 67% since 1986 and up over 351% since the 1955. Output peaked in 2008 and has dropped since then due to the recession. These numbers come courtesy of the government.

    Manufacturing index 1986 to present
    http://www.federalreserve.gov/...../ip_sa.txt

    Manufacturing index 1919 to 1985
    http://www.federalreserve.gov/.....ist_sa.txt

    So, please cut the, "We don't make anything in this country" bullshit. We make more stuff then ever before. We have fewer manufacturing jobs because workers are more productive. A lot of the productivity gains come from information technology. IT is also another area where we make LOTS of stuff. But IT typically doesn't employ union workers, so I guess their production doesn't count.

    (HT: Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek)

  • ||

    THOSE MACHINES TOOK UR JERBS!!!

  • Zeb||

    You forgot telephone sanitizers.

  • Know Homo||

    I workeds in a factory when I was young. It sucked and everybody hated being there.

  • MNG||

    Well, I'm guessing it has less to do with how noble it was and more to do with the comparative renumeration.

  • ||

    comparative renumeration

    I like my numbers just the way they are, commie.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I think you mean 'remuneration'. Unless we're going back to Latin numerals.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Or what Tulpa said.

  • Zeb||

    You are right. But it is important not to overlook the fact that higher costs of production hurt consumers.

  • The Other Kevin||

    It's not only relying on other countries to make stuff for us... if all we do is provide services to ourselves, and buy goods from other countries, we are exporting wealth. In order to import wealth, we have to provide something of value to people OUTSIDE our country.

    This would not have been true 100 or 200 years ago, before we had a global economy.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    mp3 players are manufactured in China or India or whatever. They were not invented there.

  • ||

    Who gets paid more: The engineers who design it or the grunts who build it?

  • Ranconteur||

    Better question: Who creates more value: The engineer or the grunt on the assembly line?

  • ||

    You said it better than I did.

    Not to mention the fact that, as robotics progresses, the grunt on the assembly line may soon not be competitive at any price.

    [Although, if the Singularity happens, that is true for everybody.]

  • Know Homo||

    You sell a few F-22s to the Saudis and whomever and it starts to add up pretty quickly.

  • Peanut Gallery||

    Why's everyone always got to be hating on comparative advantages...

  • Virginia||

    I didn't read the full speech. Anything in there about getting the fucking bureaucrats out of the way, cutting taxes on businesses, cutting regulations, or anything else that would actually help?

  • Pip||

    No, but he did wonder aloud whether Joel Pile fucks sheep. That really caught me off guard.

  • Virginia||

    Obama is priming us for a Global War on Automation because manufacturing is for man, not machine.

  • ||

    What a gurgling cauldron of valid codswallop.

  • ||

    valid

    vapid

    good gravy

  • ||

    You know that Obama supports vapid transit.

  • Pip||

    You know who else supported vapid transit?

  • ||

    The president wants to lead the world in expanding opportunity by decreasing the opportunities for the world to sell us stuff.

    It's all the fault of them dadgummed currency-manipulatin' Chinamen, and everybody knows it.

  • Jeffersonian||

    I like John Galt's industrial policy a lot more than Barack Obama's.

  • Alice Bowie||

    You know, if anything put a nail-in-the-coffin on libertarianism and "FREE MARKET with NO GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION" is the Enron Scandal.

    I heard out of Ken Lay's and Jeff Skilling's Mouth the same rhetoric I hear around hear:

    - The free market will fix everything ( we saw that after California deregulated Energy and Eron Robbed them blind )

    - The regulations is what's causing the problem. (Very difficult to rob people blind with regulations around).

  • ||

    Its Recipe Time!

  • neil||

    How is that hope and change wroking out for you? Need a coat? Thelulz!

  • ♥♥♥||

    When has any article on Reason said, "the free market will fix everything?"

  • ||

    Hush, you'll ruin his gibberish narrative.

  • Virginia||

    Because when you control for government price fixing, then California's electricity crisis can be blamed entirely on Enron.

  • Jordan||

    The regulations is what's causing the problem. (Very difficult to rob people blind with regulations around).

    Er, it was California's regulatory system that allowed Enron to perpetrate what they did.

  • Zeb||

    De-regulated is not an accurate word for what CA did. They differently-regulated. Electricity markets are not a good place to find examples of problems with the free market, since electricity markets have never (or at least not for a very long time) been anything close to free.

  • cynical||

    I heard a bunch of shit about transparency, accountability, and civil liberties coming out of Obama's mouth during his campaign. I hear a bunch of shit about Jesus coming of out politicians' mouths every campaign.

    Some people say whatever they think will help them get their way.

    Anyhow, it's hard to say that California deregulated energy considering how hard their NIMBY asses make it to produce energy there or even to build additional transmission to import it. They half-assed it, and it blew up on them.

  • Pip||

    "You know, if anything put a nail-in-the-coffin on libertarianism and "FREE MARKET with NO GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION" is the Enron Scandal."

    So how'd that all work out for Skilling and Lay?

  • Jason||

    The free market will fix everything ( we saw that after California deregulated Energy and Eron Robbed them blind )

    Interesting definition of deregulation you go there... ObamaCare would count as deregulation.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    And when they blame the free market for ObamaCare's failure (which they will), they will say it's because Team Red hijacked the process and wouldn't allow the democratic majority congress and president do what it really needed to do.

  • neil||

    The world must work exactly like we said it did in our college bull sessions, it must! We can fix it cos we get it. Lol!

  • ||

    Hmmm...there's no question that President Obama's speech is contradictory and his economics pathetic at best. However, routing our tax dollars to create wealth overseas via a war + rebuilding (instead of say, routing them back to domestic taxpayers, either unfairly through subsidies to specific individuals or fairly through across-the-board tax cuts) is likely a net reduction of GDP.

  • neil||

    9 out of 10mullahs agree with you, don't worry, if we follow they're advice, they will find a way to drag us back in at bargainbin prices.

  • Virginia||

    GDP = private consumption + gross investment + government spending + (exports − imports)

  • prolefeed||

    production (you know, the D in GDP) =/= consumption

    spending is consumption

    your equation is economically ignorant

  • ||

    With a reduced money supply from tax dollars sent overseas without an expected trade return, there is a reduction in the ability to either consume or produce (either privately or governmentally) domestically - compared to giving that money back to us. This seems like a fairly straightforward fact.

    Were Iraq a trade investment that will return net wealth to the US for the amount of tax money we the taxpayers have forced to give them to pay for the destruction caused by our leaders, his point would be fairly easy to discount. But war is rarely if ever a constructive use of money, especially compared to trade.

  • neil||

    best to keep ignoring them shooting at you while you are organizing the workers to join the afL-CIO at that plant in Baghdad, right?

  • ||

    He's really working on edging out Carter as worst president in the modern era. And I wouldn't be surprised if he catches up to Nixon in most power-abusing.

  • ||

    I think LBJ was worse than Carter. By a wide margin.

  • ||

    It's hard to call--different challenges. But LBJ sucked a lot, too.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    How many Americans and Vietnamese died when LBJ was president?

  • ||

    Certainly, LBJ did give us our bestest war ever.

    Obama's not done yet. Give him a chance!

  • Ragin Cajun||

    True, I forgot about the Iranian threat. How long before some poor frigate in the Persian Gulf is fired upon?

  • ||

    Oh, any day now. Certainly prior to November.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Obama: "I'm not going to let American boys go do a job that Central Asian boys ought to be doin'"

  • flye||

    I think it is unfair to judge Lebron James so early in his career.

  • Jason||

    Carter legalized homebrewing...

    He can't be all bad.

  • neil||

    Carter make you laugh, Obama make you cry. Big difference. Not the same at all!

  • Tman||

    AP fact checked Obama's speech, and the one whopper that essentially destroys the thesis for the speech is his lie about the deficit and the costs of the war.

    OBAMA:”Unfortunately, over the last decade, we have not done what is necessary to shore up the foundation of our own prosperity. We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has shortchanged investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits.”
    THE FACTS: This is partly true. For sure, the costly Iraq and Afghanistan wars have contributed to the nation’s budget deficit — but not by as much as Obama suggests. The current annual deficit is now an estimated $1.5 trillion. But as recently as 2007, the budget deficit was just $161.5 billion. And that was years after war expenses were in place for both the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.
    Most of the current deficit is due to the longest recession since the 1930s. It has seriously depressed tax revenues while increasing costs to the government — including social safety-net programs such as unemployment insurance and spending by both the outgoing Bush and incoming Obama administrations on stimulus programs and on bailouts of banks and automakers.

    And if you really want to get technical, AP doesn't even properly attribute the reason for the rise of our deficit, mainly the unprecedented increase in Federal spending. Sure the revenues were down because of the recession, but we wouldn't be in anywhere near as bad as a shape as we are now without the increase in spending.

  • Joe M||

    But we HAD to spend all that extra BECAUSE of the recession!

  • ||

    ""This is partly true. For sure, the costly Iraq and Afghanistan wars have contributed to the nation’s budget deficit — but not by as much as Obama suggests. ""

    ''This is partly true. For sure, the costly Iraq and Afghanistan wars have contributed to the nation’s budget deficit — but not by as much as Obama suggests. ""

    So the fact checker agrees with Obama when he said, "and contributed to record deficits.”

    But in that post, I don't see Obama suggesting by how much.

  • Tman||

    Well, you can do the math. In 2007, the deficit was $161.5 billion. The current annual deficit is now an estimated $1.5 trillion, and this is YEARS after Congress had already put the funding for the wars in place.

    What does that tell you?

  • ||

    Your post wasn't about me doing the math, it was about what Obama said. I'm only noting the fact checker used a red herring by focusing on a specific(quanity) which, at least in your post, Obama didn't say.

  • Tman||

    Obama said that "We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has short-changed investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits."

    I don't know what you take from that, but to me it says that our record deficits are caused (partly) by this war. But this is absolutely wrong by any reading of the facts. The spending for the war was in place and being paid for well before we reached "records deficits.

  • ||

    "THE FACTS: This is partly true. For sure, the costly Iraq and Afghanistan wars have contributed to the nation’s budget deficit — but not by as much as Obama suggests.""

    So you are saying your fact checker is wrong.

  • Tman||

    No, both the AP and I are saying that the president is being disingenuous by saying that the wars are the reason for our record deficits. You could say that anything in the budget -from a technical standpoint- contributes to our record deficits, but to use this point during a speech about the war is disingenuous at best and ignores the more specific reasons for our current record deficits, which is the increase in domestic federal spending.

  • ||

    ""No, both the AP and I are saying that the president is being disingenuous by saying that the wars are the reason for our record deficits""

    Obama said "and contributed to record deficits.”"

    Contributed means it wasn't the only reason, but only one of more than one reason.

    Show me where he said it was the reason for our deficit and I'll concede.

  • Tman||

    Contributed means it wasn't the only reason, but only one of more than one reason.

    I agree. But the fact is that Obama didn't quantify how much the war contributed, and if one looks to see just how much it actually did contribute to the deficit it pales in comparison to the increase in federal spending. And again, the war funding was in place when a "record deficit" meant a couple hundred billion, not several trillion.

    I think we all would agree that we would be much better off from a deficit standpoint if record deficits meant what it was before TARP and the bailouts.

  • ||

    If you agree that Obama didn't quantify the amount, then you would agree that the fact checker was wrong claiming Obama suggested such. That's all I'm talking about. It was a lousy fact check.

    ""I think we all would agree that we would be much better off from a deficit standpoint if record deficits meant what it was before TARP and the bailouts.""

    TARP was a loan program (haha) and a Bush program. I have a hard time saying it's ok for Bush to run a record deficit for his reasons, but not Obama.

    Yes, I agree that we would be better of if our deficit was at 2008 levels. And Yes, the stimulus program was a stupid idea that is responsible for a large part of our current deficit.

  • neil||

    What you expect from a weasal? 'We just put that in there to emphasize it over everything else and nobody will call us on it since we were not specific. If they do, our buddy Tricky will call them liars.'

    Works for me!

  • ||

    "" but we wouldn't be in anywhere near as bad as a shape as we are now without the increase in spending.""

    That includes doubling defense spending since 2000.

  • Tman||

    Again, even with the doubling in defense spending our deficit was manageable. You can argue we should spend less on defense, and I might agree, but it isn't even close to the amount of spending increases the democratic congress approved through the bailouts and TARP programs. This is what is causing our record deficits. Not defense.

  • neil||

    Onama says 'we can't afford to defend ourselves. That is where all the money went! Hey Goldman! hey ACORn! Need a wheelbarrel for all that loot?'

  • ||

    ""This is what is causing our record deficits. Not defense.""

    We had a record deficit prior to Obama entering office. Obama didn't create the concept, he just beat the last guy.

  • ||

    The word "beat" is an understatement.

  • ||

    Has the State Department renamed the Baghdad Embassy compound "Fort Apache" yet?

  • ||

    No, but the new embassy does have a nice helicopter landing pad on the roof.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    OK, that gets my first ever +1.

  • neil||

    can you say excape hatch? Why bother? The democrats are experts at negotiation.

  • ||

    Aresen,

    That's funny, because I was thinking the same thing: "Is the embassy built for easy and rapid evacuation?"

  • ||

    Traditions must be observed.

  • ||

    Indeed. We'll need stairs on the outside to the roof, and a special rapid flag-folding machine to get the colors out in good order.

    Journalists! If you have a favorite native reporter's aide, please be sure to fake his passport well in advance!

  • Woodrow||

    It wasn't that long ago that every utterance of Obama's was accomplanied by an orgasmic praise chorus from the Left. I can taste their sadness now.

  • neil||

    But he looks so smart saying it he doesnt emberass us when he orders a glass of Penut nuwah at the French resturant.

    So long as there are no French Legionaire corpse men around!

  • Anonymous||

    "Corpse men"

    Zombies?

  • neil||

    Read the New York Times? No wonder you didn't get the context!

    Thelulz!

  • ||

    Of course, all government action is theft.

    If there isn't a market for it, it's because saner heads have prevailed. Rightly, they see that a waste of resources would arise. Resources would not get put to their highest and best use.

    Some might want to perform sex change ops on their pets, but no market exists for this because most deem this to be an insane misuse of resources.

    Yet, when politicians parrot what some egg head calls "market failure" and "public good", this rhetoric justifies government force in the minds of many.

    Behind the scenes, usually, are those who want to compete through political means and thus become the supplier of these "public goods", a thoroughly fake concept.

  • ||

    ""Yet, when politicians parrot what some egg head calls "market failure" "'

    You can't present a solution if you don't have a failure.

    That's one of the biggest things I dislike about Obama, he seems to think that America is nothing but failure and is in need of his solutions. Can't wait to see him go.

  • Fido the FTM Canine Tranny||

    God I hate you fucking heteronormative speciesist bastards!!!

  • phryxian houndmaster||

    All your manufacturing base are belong to us

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