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Post on the State of the Union address

January 31, 2014

President Obama made one thing clear in his State of the Union Address: This White House has run out of big ideas.


That may be a good thing for a man who heralded his win in the 2008 Democratic primary as the moment “the rise of oceans began to slow.” Once in the Oval Office, he used his lopsided majorities in Congress to ram through big initiatives, from the $787 billion stimulus that didn’t stimulate to the ObamaCare law built on a foundation of false promises.


Today the taste for the big is gone. For example, of all the big priorities he laid out in last year’s address (gun control, immigration reform, a new jobs program) not one made it through Congress.


Tuesday’s State of the Union speech was basically an admission of this failure. It was a litany of the small and the stale: universal pre-K, a minimum-wage hike, longer unemployment benefits and so on. While the tone may have changed — the president now speaks of “opportunity” as “the defining project of our generation” — the tune remains Big Government.


That’s a pity, because the GOP has used its years in the wilderness to come up with creative ideas to help those suffering most from our lackluster economy. In short, there are plenty of areas where the president could work with conservatives to fix programs so that they work better for both recipients and taxpayers.


One good example is Sen. Marco Rubio’s proposal to tweak the Earned Income Tax Credit to subsidize wages of low-paid workers, including single men. The advantage over the minimum wage is threefold: It encourages work, it doesn’t make workers more expensive to hire and it might even help make some men marriageable.


Other GOP reforms range from Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s pitch for child tax credits to help low-and-middle-income families to Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s bid to replace programs where the government trains people for jobs that don’t exist with ones where businesses train people for the real jobs employers are offering.


All these are things a president might embrace if he were truly interested in reaching across party lines (not to mention restoring science to its proper place). Of course, if all he’s really interested in is painting his opponents as uncaring .?


The Watertown Daily Times on federal regulations regarding wildlife and wind power developers.


— The New York Post