by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Editors at National Review Online pan the president’s State of the Union address.
President Biden brought his Walter Mitty fantasies to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. The State of the Union address was given by the same mythical hero who attended law school on a full academic scholarship and went to jail to protest apartheid. His fabled accomplishments this time included ending the Covid pandemic, reducing inflation and the deficit, and bringing the country together. He pledged heroically to block cuts to Medicare and Social Security and a national ban on abortion — none of which have a remote prospect of reaching his desk, as he tacitly conceded in the case of the entitlement programs.
Some of the posturing was, however, politically shrewd. He did a balancing act on the police, praising most of them while also calling for reform. The social causes the administration has spent much of its energy pursuing were relegated to a few sentences tucked more than an hour into the speech. Instead, he concentrated on a doubtless poll-tested economic agenda.
Price controls on medicine, airfare, and lodging are probably doomed thanks to the Republican House — and rightly so, given the baleful effects they would likely have on innovation and supplies. But price controls often sound appealing when those effects are ignored. Biden’s economic nationalism was also likely a vote-winner: Every president says he favors Buy American procurement policies, even though they mean less bang for taxpayers’ buck. Nobody wants to see seniors’ benefits slashed; never mind that politicians who stop the discussion there are guaranteeing a crisis nobody wants either.
In the real world, these programs need reform more than they need to be protected from cuts; gun control is not the answer to violent crime; and resort fees, however annoying, are not among the top challenges the U.S. government ought to be tackling.