If you’re looking for real specifics at tonight’s State of the Union, don’t hold your breath. The White House is billing the president’s annual January appearance in front of Congress much like something you’d hear at an “inauguration,” more atypical than most speeches that turn into political laundry lists.
If Obama’s inaugural address was any indication, expect a lofty oration that’s thin on details and heavy on the soaring rhetoric that helped propel the president into office. But don’t believe the spin that he’s moved to the middle. To win re-election, President Obama will, in true chameleon-like fashion, return to the man we met on the 2008 campaign trail, but only on the outside.
We’ll hear him talk about the deficit and how we need to be more responsible with our spending. But listen closely, as he’s expected to discuss more spending disguised as education and infrastructure investment.
First, the trillion dollar stimulus was intended to improve our infrastructure. That is, until the president admitted there is no such thing a "shovel ready" project. When it comes to education, bringing the cost of tuition down would be a more seductive theme, but in true liberal fashion, more spending is at the core of the president’s mission.
Obama will lecture us about jobs and how he is focused on creating employment opportunities, but this is the same promise he made in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Still our unemployment rate hovers above nine percent after two years of focusing on a largely unpopular health care push.
When Obama talks about jobs, he will do it while picking winners and losers. He’s in favor of green jobs, but won’t reduce the burden on business small or large. If he really were moving to the middle he’d endorse cutting corporate taxes instead of simply saying he'd look at it, and repeal the crushing taxes in the health care bill.
From his recent hiring of William Daley as his new White House chief of staff to his push last week against onerous regulation, to his new call for civility, all of these items are small ball moves or mere words, and words don’t equal specifics or an intention to act.
Obama can, on one hand, begin campaigning and extend a hand to Republicans through rhetoric. He can campaign and stay above the fray, as he is tired of sinking poll numbers due to partisan infighting and a lack of economic progress.
With the other hand he can wave on the czars and cabinet secretaries to lurch leftward and take care of his liberal friends. Just this week, three SEIU locals -- including the Chicago chapter of the union were waived from ObamaCare requirements by HHS. More and more, he will circumvent Congress and use the czars and the power of executive fiat to advance his liberal leanings.
That is why Republicans must make sure to give the country a glimpse of reality during their rebuttal. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is set to deliver the GOP response and it’s critical that he present a clear plan that contrasts the President’s lack of detail, and a roadmap for growth. This could result in political blowback, but there is plenty to cut and the GOP needs a backbone.
Despite the sunny tone, wages are still stagnant, jobs are still few and far between. We’re fighting two expensive wars with no end in sight. the housing market is a mess, foreclosures are at a record high and the debt is at $14 trillion. This is the true state of our union.
Tonight, America needs to see beyond the smokescreen. Don’t be fooled by a narrative that paints the picture of anything else. And don’t be fooled by the myth of an Obama in the middle.
Andrea Tantaros is a conservative commentator and Fox News contributor. Follow her on Twitter @andreatantaros.