-By Warner Todd Huston
I had a few minutes to speak privately to Illinois Congressman Peter Roskam (R, 6th District) about the upcoming State of the Union speech that the President will give tonight and as far as Roskam is concerned the speech tonight will be nothing but a “highly charged and very, very political” speech that won’t contain many actual solutions.
Roskam, the Chief Deputy Whip of the House, said that he hopes that the President will offer ways to grow private sector jobs and a plan to “live within our means,” but he was not sanguine that he will.
“I think the President is going to lapse right into inauguration speech 2.0 and it’s all going to be highly political, and a lot of wedge issues that are not designed to try and get any kind of concessions or solutions on any of these things,” Roskam told me.
“The irony is, he’s got a real opportunity here if he wanted to lead and try and grow the economy but I think he’s just going to follow the old play book.”
Roskam also noted that the President’s Party is also not trying too hard to offer solutions.
“Over the weekend Nancy Pelosi said that the federal government doesn’t have a spending problem and you can’t get a straight answer out of other Democrats today about whether or not there’s a spending problem. It just becomes increasingly absurd and it’s disconnected from the real world,” the Congressman said ruefully.
I also asked about this sequestration business with the budget. The Democrats are trying to make it seem as if these automatic cuts that are scheduled to occur on March first is the Republican’s fault, but the fact is sequestration was created by the White House, not the GOP. Even Politifact affirms that sequestration was the President’s idea.
Roskam agreed saying,
This was an idea that was an initiative of the White House that was then advocated to Senator Reid who agreed to it so this is the Democrats’ remedy for the last year. Now that being said, it’s 1.2 trillion dollars in savings that’s real savings. And it’s going to happen on March first unless the President of the United States comes forward with an alternative that shows how can you save the same amount of money through cutting spending. The idea of going back to the tax payers for another tax hike is not going to happen, it’s a non-starter, it’s not serious and it is a complete waste of time. So, sequestration is going to happen and the President is going to get his wish on sequestration unless he comes forward and figures out a way to offer an alternative.
Roskam reminded me that the House has acted twice already on this, but the ball is in the President’s court. In fact, the Congressman was quite insistent that this is all on Obama. I asked if there was a fall back plan in the works and Roskam firmly noted that sequestration “is the fall back plan.” It will happen unless the President comes forward with a new solution. Period.
“In a nutshell, sequestration is going to happen unless there’s some activity on the part of the White House and I think they’re going to be highly charged and very, very political, so we’ll see where it goes from there,” Roskam said.
Sadly, it doesn’t seem that Obama will use this speech tonight to make any offers or concessions or try seriously to address the problems this nation faces. The Hill reports, for instance, that Obama will just use this speech to go for higher taxes. As Roskam said above, that is a “non-starter” with House Republicans.
Roskam was not expecting much better than what The Hill reported.
I think that we’re going to see a lot of politics and hyperbole coming out of the White House on this. It’ll be a very old playbook where it will blame the GOP for all kinds of mishaps and will create the impression that western civilization will be teetering on the brink unless Congress borrows more money and I think it’s going to be a political tool that the President will use and it’s very unfortunate thing toward that end.
Roskam also said he was looking forward to hearing what Senator Marco Rubio (R, FL) had to say in his response speech that will be given after the President’s address. Rubio’s reply will be the first bi-lingual response to a SOTU speech. It will be a “pretty compelling speech,” Roskam thought.
Meanwhile, Forbes Magazine notes that this economy has been the “worst five years since the Great Depression.” The President has not done anything.