Tax hikes! Free* community college! A seven percent increase in discretionary spending! More tax hikes! Tax reductions for the middle class! Offset by even more tax hikes!
President Obama's State of the Union address tonight is like a movie that leaked online two weeks before it hit theaters: It's been widely spoiled, mostly by President Obama and his staff, who've been giving away the details since the beginning of the year.
At this point, then, we know most all of the basic plot elements, most all the big themes. In his annual speech to the joint Congress, Obama will call for a slew of populist measures paid for by tax increases on the wealthy (and perhaps some tax increases on the not-so-wealthy too).
Obama's speech comes as the White House is riding high on somewhat improved poll numbers; after a year in which the president clocked his lowest overall approval ratings yet, he's clearly looking forward to his own recovery summer.
The lead up to tonight's speech suggests that Obama hopes to bank his recovery on the theme of income inequality. Obama will "advocate using the nation's healthier finances to tackle long-deferred issues like education and income inequality" says The New York Times. Tonight's speech will focus centrally on "inequality and social mobility," reports The Guardian.
That ought to sound more than a little familiar to frequent SOTU watchers: It was a major theme of last year's State of the Union address too (the Gallup approval numbers suggest well that worked out).
And while there are those who favor reducing income inequality as a political goal, it hasn't quite caught on with a majority of the public. Just 47 percent say it should be an "absolute priority for this year," according to a recent Wall Street Journal survey, an improvement of just 2 percent from last year. Progress? Well…
Anyway, when it comes to federal revenues, the wealthiest are already kicking in quite a bit. The top one percent of earners already pay more in federal income taxes than the bottom 90 percent of earners. But as long as we're putting together a wish list of what we'd like from the 1 percent, how about a drink or two to get through tonight's speech?
You've got about as much chance of getting that through a Republican controlled Congress as the rest of Obama's SOTU laundry list, but for those whose bars are already stocked on their own tabs, here's Reason's annual guide to when to imbibe while watching tonight's presidential address.
Take a drink if Obama….
- Says, "The state of the union is _____"
- Proposes closing a tax "loophole" as a way of proposing a tax hike.
- References loopholes that are only available to the ultra wealthy and big business.
- Insists he only wants to raise the capital gains tax back to a level endorsed by President Ronald Reagan.
- Really, take a drink any time Obama mentions Ronald Reagan for any reason.
- Describes his community college plan as offering community college for "free"
- Talks up Obamacare's exchanges without noting the potential legal risk to federal exchange enrollees' subsidies.
- Attempts to justify federally subsidized broadband as a "necessity."
- Fails to mention pot legalization.
- Talks about the need to rebuild trust in the government.
- Quotes a previous State of the Union speech. Double shot if he's quoting himself.
- Complains about federal spending caps.
- Mentions SOTU's shrinking ratings.
- Says "let me be clear."
Remember: If you get tired of the official speech, you can always remix and redo it with Reason's customized Cards Against Humanity State of the Union game.
Drink responsibly! You want to be sober enough to count all the proposed tax hikes.