Political Rhetoric: What to Watch for in the State of the Union

February 12, 2013

In case logic gets a little lost during tonight’s speeches (both the State of the Union and the Republican response), it might be useful to once again provide another little primer for those less familiar with political rhetoric. This may help sort through the nonsense.

First, if a politician says they favor “investing” in this or that government program, they really mean they want to spend more money (money the government really doesn’t have these days). When they do not favor the program, they’ll actually call it spending – but maybe add the adjective “wasteful” in front of it for the effect.

obama_rubio_1Second, notice the use of the word “access.” It’s one of the most used political catchphrases these days. When Party 2 says that Party 1 wants to deny Person X “access” to B, what that means in actuality is that Party 1 has no problem with Person X buying their own B, but it does not want to make a law forcing Persons Y and Z to pay for Person X’s  B.

Third, watch out when Party 2 says all of our problems are the results of Party 1’s policies, or vice-versa. That is seldom ever really the case. There is plenty of blame to go around to indict both parties.

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‘Invest’ or ‘Spend’?

January 25, 2011

A key word to look for in not only tonight’s State of the Union address but virtually every other political speech is the word ‘invest.’ Invest is a commonly used euphemism used by politicians to describe what programs they want to spend taxpayer money on. The key is that no matter how they use it, it always really means “spend.”

If they the support the program, they want to ‘invest’ government resources in it. If they oppose it, they call it “spending.”

Nothing really changes in the words (read: euphemisms) used in these speeches, just the mouths speaking them.

For more on government ‘investing’ in dubious programs it can’t afford to fund, click here.

State of the Contradictions

February 5, 2010

A video from Reason.tv contrasting Obama’s statements in the State of the Union speech:

Obama’s State of the Union and Student Loans

January 29, 2010

President Obama’s first State of the Union Address is a gift that keeps on giving. Take for example this gem from the speech on government-funded student loans:

And let’s tell another 1 million students that, when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years ….

He’s proposing that taxpayers pay tuition for college students even if they don’t pay the money back. Worst off, he claims this would actually save money:

… will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans.

The government will take over student loan programs and, over time, forgive students’ debts. What incentive would individuals have to pay off their debt? How this saves money is seemingly left to the imagination.

And then comes the real kicker:

… all of their debt will be … forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.

So, we now have the government using taxpayer money to not only subsidize college tuition for individuals but also nudge them into “public service” (read: government employment). This would only further the notion in students’ minds that they are entitled to subsidized post-secondary education from taxpayers. And if students really want a good subsidy, they can just work for the government and live off of taxpayers for the rest of their lives.

I guess this is one of Obama’s ways of creating jobs?

Obama’s ‘Jobs Bill’: Government Redirecting the Economy

January 28, 2010

President Obama put forth certain steps to include in a “jobs bill” (read: another stimulus bill) last night in his first State of the Union Address. These steps included the following:

  • $30 billion to community banks to loan to small businesses
  • tax credit to small businesses “who hire new workers or raise wages”
  • tax incentives for businesses to ‘invest in new plants and equipment”
  • additional infrastructure spending (e.g.; high-speed rail in places like Florida)
  • tax rebates to “Americans who make their homes more energy efficient, which supports clean-energy jobs”
  • tax breaks to companies that create jobs in the U.S.

At first glance, to many these steps may seem laudable. Lost, however, is the realization that all of these steps involve government direction of the economy. Money to community banks and infrastructure takes money away from individuals (either through taxes, borrowing or inflationary money printing) and redirects it to what government deems worthy, and tax credits and incentives subsidize those activities government prefers.

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State of the Union

January 27, 2010

PolitiFact has already fact-checked President Obama’s State of the Union Address, as has the Associated Press. It’s a mixed bag. Also, the Heritage Foundation has quickly opined on the topics covered in the speech. Here is a transcript of the address from CNN.

One noteworthy part of the speech was when Obama singled out the Supreme Court — present and non-responsive — for criticism. He lamented their recent decision on corporate free speech in Citizens United v. FEC and asserted the following:

I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.

The obvious problem with passing such a bill is a little piece of paper called the Constitution and a pesky little right called free speech. I posted in more detail on this case last week.