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SOTU & Executive Action

Tomorrow night Barack Obama will address the nation in his fifth State of the Union address. We've already gotten a bit of a preview of what we can expect, and it isn't likely to sit well with many Americans.

The speech comes on the heels of Obama's worst year as president. His agenda laid out in his State of the Union address last year was side-tracked by a plethora of scandals and the disastrous rollout of his signature legislative achievement, ObamaCare. As a result, his poll numbers have plummeted and Americans are unhappy with the direction of the nation.

According to new polling from the Washington Post/ABC News, “for the first time on the eve of a State of the Union address, more Americans rate his performance negatively than positively, with 50 percent disapproving.” Obama has lost the trust and confidence of the American people, which will likely result in a skeptical reception of his speech tomorrow night. According to the Washington Post, “Just 37 percent say they have either a good amount or a great deal of confidence in the president to make the right decisions for the country’s future, while 63 percent say they do not. Those numbers are the mirror image of what they were when he was sworn into office in 2009 and lower than at any other time the question was asked by The Washington Post and ABC News.”

When it comes to the issues, “He still receives low grades for his handling of the implementation of the health-care law — 37 percent approve and 59 percent disapprove — and his economic ratings, at 43 percent positive and 55 percent negative, are not much better than they were at the end of last year.” Polling of this pathetic nature is not just exclusive to the Washington Post/ABC News but a pervasive trend among polls throughout the nation.

But that hasn't stopped the White House spin machine. Obama senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer tried to convince Fox News viewers on Sunday that the economy is making progress, but Chris Wallace wasn't buying it. Wallce asks a very simple but powerful question: If the economy is so great, how come things are so lousy? After all, in Obama's “recovery,” median household income has dropped, poverty is up, food stamps are up, and participation in the labor force is at a 36-year record low. But the White House spin continues to be that Obama inherited the worst recession since the Great Depression and we still have a lot of progress to make.

What kind of progress? Well in his State of the Union address, we know that Obama will focus on progressive policies and income inequality. As The Hill says today, Obama will be banging the drum of his base. This will include calls to increase the minimum wage, extend unemployment benefits and other wealth transfer initiatives that do nothing to actually grow our economy and create jobs.

Though I wouldn't necessarily expect Obama to use the words “income inequality” as readily as he has been in recent weeks. After all, polling shows that “income inequality” doesn't even rank as an issue of importance to the American people. Breitbart points out the possible shift from “income inequality” to “ladders of opportunity.” Politicians love to change the language for their arguments, thinking that their greatest downfall is the sales pitch and not the policy itself. While the idea of opportunity sound promising, the way Obama wishes to provide or achieve these opportunities will likely be through big government initiatives. Question: If our federal government has spent trillions over the last few decades trying to end poverty, and it has failed to do so, why should we look to the government again to solve an issue like income inequality? How many trillions will we redistribute in the name of “wealth inequality” only to find that it doesn't solve the problem?

Anyway, the substance of Obama's speech will be predictably progressive. But the way that he is planning to achieve many of these initiatives is also raising some eyebrows. Throughout his presidency, Obama has become infamous for his unilateral, executive actions. For example, he decided to delay the employer mandate for ObamaCare, completely bypassing Congress or the process by which we change laws. We can expect more of that going forward.

Over the weekend the Washington Post reported on a White House memo, which tried to nail down what went wrong in 2013 and what they will do to change things in 2014. Here's a sentence I want to point out: “But for the first time, following what many allies view as a lost year, the White House is reorganizing itself to support a more executive-focused presidency and inviting the rest of the government to help.” In other words, Obama will not let Congressional action determine the success of his presidency, but will do everything he can to dictate change.

Here's more from the Washington Post, “The buzzwords this year are 'the pen and the phone' — the West Wing terms for executive action and presidential effort to promote ideas on the economy, education and social mobility at the state and local levels.” This lines up with the Wall Street Journal's report on Obama using the State of the Union address to “emphasize his intention to use unilateral presidential authority—bypassing Congress when necessary.”

This has rightly prompted criticism of Obama's “imperial presidency” and abuse of executive power. But expect the Obama-mania media to downplay any talk of Obama ignoring the Constitution, the separation of powers and abusing the role of the executive. Senator Ted Cruz went on Face the Nation and criticized Obama's abuse of power. Unfortunately those comments didn't make the final cut. You can see them here.

Ted Cruz, by the way, has an idea for what Obama should say in his State of the Union address: "If President Obama wants to give an honest, candid State of the Union address this week, he'll address the fact that his economic policies are not working and that they're exacerbating income inequality, they're hurting the people who are struggling the most.” He also says Obama should apologize to those to whom he lied to about losing their insurance because of ObamaCare. Obama should look in the camera and say, “I'm sorry, I told you if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it; I told you if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, and that wasn't true. I'm sorry.” I'm not holding my breath on that one.