Thursday, January 28, 2010


I didn't watch President Obama's State of the Union speech but I did read the transcript . On the whole it seemed competent enough but I doubt it will change many minds. Some random comments on excerpts follow.

To recover the rest, I've proposed a fee on the biggest banks. (Applause.) Now, I know Wall Street isn't keen on this idea. But if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need. (Applause.)

This sounds reasonable but as I understand it Obama also wants the banks to pay for the bailout of GM and Chrysler which seems less so.

Tomorrow, I'll visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act. ...

I don't understand the liberal fascination with high speed rail which is expensive and pointless. As I understand it this is a multibillion dollar project to build a high speed rail line between Orlando and Tampa. It seems like it would a lot cheaper and more flexible to buy a few buses.

... where prosperity was built on a housing bubble ...

Here Obama acknowledges there was a destructive housing bubble but elsewhere in the speech appears to think it would a good thing if housing prices returned to bubble levels.

... And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country ...

Nice to see some good words for nuclear power.

... That's why we're working to lift the value of a family's single largest investment –- their home. The steps we took last year to shore up the housing market have allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans and save an average of $1,500 on mortgage payments.

Why try to preserve bubble prices? It is expensive and likely futile in the long run.

This year, we will step up refinancing so that homeowners can move into more affordable mortgages. ...

Again this is a subsidy for housing by keeping mortgage rates artificially low. This is the thinking that got us into trouble.

... And it is precisely to relieve the burden on middle-class families that we still need health insurance reform.

This is disingenuous. The current reform proposals are largely a massive new welfare program which will primarily benefit the poor. It is hard to see how this will relieve the burden on the middle-class.

... And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system -– to secure our borders and enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.

This sounds good.

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