After repeating the generally accepted view of self-reliance, individuality, and rejection of central authority, the president made it clear he believes “times change,” and we must too. We must respond to new challenges through “collective action.”
In one fell swoop, President Obama moved from giving lip service to free-market ideology (thereby fooling people like Matthew Yglesias) to arguing against those supposed conservatives — strawmen, really — who supposedly want to do away with Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and who, the president claims, argue that they “sap our initiative” rather than, as he would have it, “strengthen us.”
In making the case in that manner, the president did not address the real central issue: whether our nation and economy can sustain an ever-enlarging entitlement state based on an ever-growing deficit that will pass the burden on to our children and grandchildren. Instead, he made it appear that those he opposes want to end any sustenance for the poor, while he and his base want what is best for the poor and for all Americans.
It is, as Ygelesias claims, an “attempt to offer a thorough response to the pseudo-Randian ideology currently ascendant on the right.”
To a liberal like Yglesias, Ayn Rand is a perfect bogeyman to bring out to clamp down on those who seek to bring up the issue of the necessity of fiscal responsibility so that a true and reasonable safety net is preserved, rather than an ever-growing monolith that will end in collapse. By never dealing with specifics — and leaving that to his party faithful and his new activist campaign organization now made permanent — the president managed the perfect parlor trick of seeming to be ecumenical and non-partisan while in fact laying out the gauntlet for a very partisan push in the days to come.
The president spoke of seeking to support a “rising middle-class,” but referred as well to the injustice of the “shrinking few [who] do very well.” He implied that the way to achieve such goals is to implement measures that affect the wealth of the famous “one percent,” obviously through higher taxes that inevitably will fall upon the very middle class he seeks to help raise. They will inevitably be taxed at much higher rates once it becomes clear that taxes on the very rich have not helped solve our economic problems.
Lip service in one line about reducing the cost of health care and the “size of our deficit”: these reductions are not what the president will be seeking in his second term in office. Rather, it will be programs along the lines of what he began during his first term: cementing Obamacare, raising taxes on the “wealthy,” taking administrative measures to implement unpopular gun-control programs, drastically cutting the defense budget, and withdrawing from theaters of war in a manner that will risk the rise of our very real enemies abroad.
The president implied with his comments about climate change and “sustainable energy” that he will continue down the path of subsidies for green energy companies which have already proved to be a folly.