K.S. Rajan (26 Jan 2012)

Joel C. Rosenberg
(Washington, D.C., January 25, 2012) -- Two words jumped out at me in listening to the President's State of the Union address, and the Republican response: "collapse" and "implode." Did they strike you, too?

"In 2008, the house of cards collapsed," President Obama told the nation. "We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn't afford or understand them. Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people's money. Regulators had looked the other way, or didn't have the authority to stop the bad behavior. It was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work, saddled us with more debt, and left innocent, hardworking Americans holding the bag." The President did not use the occassion to offer a plan to reform Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, or end deficits of $1 trillion or more, or deal with the $65 trillion of unfunded liabilities hurtling towards us. Yet he vigorously made the case that "the state of our Union is getting stronger."

Is the President right? Are things improving significantly enough to avoid another -- and possibly far worse -- collapse of the American economy? Not according to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. In his response to the President, Daniels argued that "the mortal enemies of Social Security and Medicare are those who, in contempt of the plain arithmetic, continue to mislead Americans that we should change nothing. Listening to them much longer will mean that these proud programs implode, and take the American economy with them. It will mean that coming generations are denied the jobs they need in their youth and the protection they deserve in their later years." He added: "On these evenings, Presidents naturally seek to find the sunny side of our national condition. But when President Obama claims that the state of our union is anything but grave, he must know in his heart that this is not true....In three short years, an unprecedented explosion of spending, with borrowed money, has added trillions to an already unaffordable national debt. And yet, the President has put us on a course to make it radically worse in the years ahead."