[Posted by Karl]
As Brendan Nyhan put it last year: “It’s the most overcovered event in politics relative to the amount of the news that’s made.” It will have no lasting effect on the Obama presidency. However, as it’s an election year, Obama will use this State of the Union address to preview his election themes:
Building off of the themes of the Kansas speech, the State of the Union will lay out a “Blueprint for an America built to last.” The Blueprint will be supported by four pillars: 1) American Manufacturing; 2) American Energy; 3) Skills for American Workers and 4) American Values.
As you may recall, the Kansas speech was about the joys of crony capitalism and regulatory capture.
So what about American Manufacturing?
It is certainly true that employment in manufacturing has fallen in recent decades. The council’s report observes that in 1980, manufacturing accounted for about 20 percent of American jobs, whereas the comparable figure today is about 9 percent. At the same time, manufacturing’s share of total production has remained roughly stable and, in fact, the United States and China are the only countries to have gained significant world share in manufacturing in recent years. The line that connects and explains these two dots of strong manufacturing and manufacturing job loss is the rapid increase in labor productivity, the result of innovation, and global competitive pressures.
Heritage’s J.D. Foster seemed to be at a loss to explain the administration’s emphasis here, but this will be Obama’s pander to Big Labor and swing states in the Rust Belt.
As for American Energy, Obama will (again) propose “an economy fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources that will be designed and produced by American workers.” Of course, it must be “homegrown” and “alternative” lest someone point out the jobs Obama is killing in the energy sector. Instead, we should continue to pour tax money down the rathole of renewable energy in an orgy of crony capitalism, to prevent people from noticing the Luddites backing the Democrats. If the American Manufacturing plank is meant to placate Big Labor and the Rust Belt, the American Energy plank is intended to placate Greens, upper tier New Class crony capitalists and mushy upscale voters in the Mountain West. Give Obama this much: It takes cojones to pull this after praising scandal-ridden Solydra during the 2010 SOTU.
When it comes to Skills for American Workers, the White House promises “new ideas for how we’ll make sure our students and workers get the education and training they need so that we have a workforce ready to take on the jobs of today and tomorrow.” Anyone believe that? The Occupy movement is largely a function of the fact that jobs are drying up for the social workers, virtuecrats, and the regulatory class. The higher education bubble is the product of decades of progressive education policy. If anyone out there thinks a president beholden to teachers’ unions and tenured leftists is going to propose a radical overhaul of our dysfunctional education system, Obama may have some infrastructure to sell you. Among the president’s living props tonight will be Sara Ferguson, who teaches in the Chester Upland School District — which stands accused by the Pennsylvania Department of Education of financial mismanagement.
If you had any doubt that Obama’s rhetoric on American Values will be a heaping helping of class warfare, fear not: the First Lady has invited Warren Buffett’s secretary to serve as another human prop. BTW, I see Twitter chatter asking why it’s okay to call her a “secretary,” when the obvious answer is bacause it’s a liberal doing it. Expect a lot of gab about “shared responsibility,” when Obama is not blaming others for the failures of Big Government.
Also among the presidential guests tonight: Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs. Maybe Obama will recall the time that the Apple co-founder complained to him about over-regulation driving factories overseas and teachers’ unions crippling our schools. The story would tie in to at least two of Obama’s themes tonight.