– May 1, 2008

Research Reports – 1996, Issue: 03

Wishful Thinking on the Budget

The State of the Union – 1996

In most prior years, we have deemed it worthwhile to comment at some length on the President’s State of the Union address. This year we depart from custom, mainly because Mr. Clinton — apparently in an effort to direct his political fortunes through grand appeals to broadly bipartisan concerns — offered no specific proposals that warrant our analysis.

Rather, we note only the fundamental contradiction inherent in his two principal themes. That is, his remarkable assertion that “the era of big government is over” (if you believe this you will believe anything) simply cannot be reconciled with his view that America must not be permitted return to the time when people “had to fend for themselves.”

In our view, a more coherent phrasing would suggest that the era of big government will be over only when people are permitted to fend for themselves — i.e., to pursue their own interests unfettered by a government intent on “making a difference in people’s lives.” The underlying issue is the preservation of individual sovereignty, also termed human freedom. Ironically, it is perhaps the only issue on which this talkative President has remained completely silent.