Obama did do some good things in his speech, rhetorically and programmatically. He claimed he was laying out “a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last, an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers and renewal of American values.”
He wants to spend money on things the country needs — infrastructure, education and research. And he favors immigration reform that expands the talent pool instead of trying, as Romney says, to “self-deport” it.
Obama has finally come around to seeing the virtue of a “do-it-all” energy policy, but “all” self-destructively excludes the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas.
But there’s no greater example of Obama’s fixation on government than his idea of “tax reform.” Instead of lowering rates and eliminating loopholes to make the tax code market-efficient, he’d enormously complicate it to benefit favored constituencies and punish unfavored ones.
Daniels, unlike the GOP candidates, believes the economy needs sacrifice from the highest-earners, “but there are smart ways and dumb ways to do this.
“The dumb way is to raise rates in a broken, grossly complex tax system, choking off growth without bringing in the revenues we need to meet our debts.
“The better course is to stop sending the wealthy benefits they do not need, stop providing them so many tax preferences that distort our economy and do little to foster growth.”
You can understand why someone sane, such as Daniels, would not want to put himself and his family into the ugly cauldron that presidential politics has become.
On the other hand, I have this fantasy that Romney, Gingrich and the others will mutually destroy each other all the way to the GOP convention, which will turn — in hope and disgust — to one of the A-team. If not Daniels, then former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
It’s only a fantasy. But last week’s events — the South Carolina primary, more debates and the competing addresses on State of the Union night — show we could do a lot better than the choices we have.