A rehash of failed progressive policies will not return the United States to greatness.
Last week, President Barack Obama gave a major address on economic policy before a friendly audience in Osawatomie, Kansas. In the course of his speech, he did not make a single reference to the failed launch of his healthcare legislation except to praise Kathleen Sebelius for her “outstanding job” as the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Instead, the President talked with dizzying rapidity about the lost greatness of America’s past, and his plans to restore that greatness in the future.
As is common in speeches that romanticize history to advocate change, Obama’s address contained an unforgivable level of jingoistic nationalism: He claimed, “It was here in America that the most productive workers, the most innovative companies turned out the best products on Earth…. Today, we’re still home to the world’s most productive workers. We’re still home to the world’s most innovative companies.”
No one, not even the United States, can be that good. In fact, our present national status will only become worse if we do not understand that the American position has eroded from its glory days, in part because of the very policies that the President champions as the solution to our issues. But where to begin? The President manages to pack so many economic and historical falsehoods into his speech that it is nearly impossible to take them all on at the same time.
In one of his illustrative sentences, he says: “The truth is we’ll never be able to compete with other countries when it comes to who’s best at letting their businesses pay the lowest wages, who’s best at busting unions, who’s best at letting companies pollute as much as they want.” For the President, each of these goals represents the ugly end of an economic “race to the bottom” that the U.S. should do its best to avoid. Unfortunately, his statement is wrong on every point.