As President Barack Obama goes before Congress and the U.S. public on national television on Wednesday evening for the annual State of the Union address, he faces the challenges of double digit unemployment, a declining approval rating, and some intense criticism over his latest spending freeze proposal
Unemployment has been stuck at 10 percent since last October. Obama
squo;s approval rating declined to 47 percent today, according to Rasmussen Reports. Just last Thursday, it was 65 percent.
Lastly, there are fierce critiques about Obama’s most recent proposal today. His plans, announced today, include a three-year spending freeze on non-security programs and savings for the government that amounts to $250 billion over the next 10 years.
The Economist called it “utter foolishness.” The publication argued that “while the administration is busy not denting the long-run budget deficit, it's also not addressing short-term economic weakness.”
In order to trim the deficit, the US needs a strong economy, the publication notes. Any “contractionary” measure will hurt the recovery and put more pressure on the government to continue spending, it notes. The Economist sarcastically remarked that thankfully, the freeze is too small to have a meaningful impact.
The Washington Post, while less acerbic, is also critical of the plan. It cites economist Michael Katz who says that the spending freeze will not have any meaningful impact over the medium term. He argues that to effectively tackle the ballooning deficit, Obama must also cut spending and raise taxes.
Some Republicans are happy with this proposal. Congressman Tom Price of Georgia says it is a step in the right direction, but the magnitude is lacking. A spokesman for a Republican Congressman said the proposal was like “going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest.”
The Examiner points out that when government spending was curbed by Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression, the economy struggled with the lack of capital. It was massive government spending that eventually ended the Great Depression, the publication noted.
Rachel Maddow, a prominent liberal political commentator for MSNBC, called the proposal “completely, completely insane.” Maddow argues that the spending freeze would affect the government’s ability to create jobs.
Yesterday, Obama announced measures to help the struggling middle class. He proposed tax cuts in the form of various child care tax credits and spending initiatives directed toward care for the elderly.
Both President Obama and Vice President Biden have acknowledged the importance of increasing job opportunities for middle class families.
In the last two weeks, Obama was busy proposing various measures. Reacting to populist anger at Wall Street bonuses, he first proposed a “financial crisis responsibility fee” for banks. He then proposed a rule that will restrict banks from engaging in principal trading.
He also proposed a measure that would punish government contractors who owed taxes. Although the collective amount owed was only $5 billion, Obama said it was morally wrong for companies to receive government contracts while neglecting to pay taxes.