Each time there is a state of the union address, it’s fun to listen to all the obfuscations and exaggerations.
Several statements during the speech gave me pause. I thought to myself, self, that just doesn’t seem to match the reality of the particular issue.
One of the statements during the speech was:
“We are more than half way toward the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.”
See, that's a stretch. The key there is the phrase “stabilize our finances.” That doesn’t mean that Obama is  reducing the debt.
Quite the contrary, the  debt is growing. But certainly Obama’s statement would lead listeners to believe otherwise.
Basically, Obama is saying that he's not making the debt picture any worse relative to the economy. I would say even that is a questionable assertion.
The “deficit reduction” he's referring to has absolutely nothing to do with the year-over-year trillion-dollar-plus deficits we’re wracking up in the federal budget.
Right now the debt is about 75 percent of the size of the U.S. economy.
President Obama, apparently, is comfortable bragging that he has been able to stabilize the debt at that rate, which, remember, is a questionable assertion.
But lots of economists would argue that even stable debt at that level is way too high.
Beyond that his $4 trillion deficit reduction ignores the money the government needs going forward to deal with the looming insolvency of entitlements like Medicare and Social Security.
Nice line in a speech, though.
Obama said:
“Tonight I'll lay out additional proposals that are fully paid for and fully consistent with the budget framework both parties agreed to 18 months ago. Let me repeat. Nothing I'm proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.”
That sounds great. But the president surely didn't provide a framework for how he was going to avoid adding to the deficit while laying out a plethora of new spending proposals. He’s proposing 15 new manufacturing innovation hubs around the country and high-quality preschool for every kid in America, for example – all very costly.
Now, maybe he’s planning on making like-valued cuts in spending elsewhere to make up for all his new spending and he just didn’t say so.
But I think we all can agree that’s not going to happen.
So when he says that these programs aren’t going to increase the deficit, it’s one of those “trust me” moments.
I don’t trust him.
Then there was this:
“Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs.”
Most experts agree that health care costs are slowing. But those same experts also agree that most of the reductions are coming because of the slow economy.
Also, the way health care is delivered is changing. It’s becoming more efficient and more outcome based. To be fair, certainly the health care law may be the catalyst for some of that change, but it's not accurate for the President to assert that his health care law is slowing cost increases in health care.
Truth is, there is very little evidence to support that. Besides, most provisions in the law aren't even in effect yet, so it's simply too early to make that claim in the first place.
On energy, he said this:
“In fact, much of our newfound energy is drawn from lands and water that we, the public own together.”
That’s just malarkey.
Drilling was up in the U.S. from 2011 to 2012 by almost 25 percent, to be sure. But virtually none of that happened on federal land as Obama suggested.
Drilling on federal land and over federal waters was virtually stagnant during that time period.
Almost all of the “newfound energy” Obama was talking about came from  land owned by the private sector.
Obama also made claims about foreign policy and immigration that were a bit shady as well, but hey, that’s politics.
All presidents do it.
And that’s the part in all this that’s most troubling to me. Our leaders – leaders – just say a bunch of stuff that sounds good and mollifies their supporters. Whether it’s grounded in reality is of no apparent consequence.
And in the hyperpartisan atmosphere of today’s politics, one side or the other rushes to defend and support while the other side rushes to vilify and oppose.
The issue or policy is irrelevant. It’s all about the party.
The hypocrisy is so blatant it’s jarring – and tragic.
There is no better example than the recent memo about the use of drones to kill American citizens without due process.
Ah, I long for the good old days when all we did was torture people and tap their phones without warrants.
The very same people who today are defending Obama are the ones who were skewering George W. Bush.
And, of course, many people who cheered Bush’s warrantless wiretapping and enhanced interrogation are now aghast at Obama’s drones.
Can’t these people see that all of this stuff is wrong? Can’t we all get on the same page with regard to some of these issues? Any issue? Even one lousy issue like killing people without due process?
Apparently not.
I just think that’s a sad commentary on politics and American governance. And I see no end in sight.