Martin P. Schweitzer
Retired Brigadier General, United States Army
State of the Union

State of the Union

State of the Union

I love the State of the Union Speeches; it provides insights to what the current Administration in office is thinking and where they want to go in the next few years.  However, the last speech any President gives while in office normally is a review of their Administration’s accomplishments.

When this speech was completed, I was left with some intellectual dissonance as it related to security and the economy.   If anybody wants to correct or educate me on my observations below, please do so.

First reference Security — we were told last night that we are more capable today than ever before, that we are more respected today than 8 years ago, and that we are leading a Coalition in Syria of 60 Nations to fix that problem set.  From my view I am not seeing any of these effects that were referenced.  Training Readiness of the military, according to the last set of Congressional Briefings by our Service Chiefs, appear to be more challenging than 8 years ago, Libya was a failure, Ukraine is a failure, Syria is a failure, the rapid departure from Iraq was a failure, the only one “leading” in Syria are the Russians – and needless to say their efforts are not consistent with most of the world.  The only reason why the Russians are leading in Syria is because we refused to take charge; we did not implement our “red line”, and subsequently have abdicated our role to the Russians.  Our standing in the world today can best be characterized by the Israelis, Saudis, Egyptians and others, as reported in the press, working with Russia to resolve the problems in the Middle East and not the United States.  How is this “better”.

Reference the economy – we were told last night that the economy was stronger than ever, our deficit has been reduced by 1/3 or 2/3, gas is down, Stock Market is up, etc.   I am really confused.  Does the reduction of the deficit mean we reduced the rate of spending but we are continuing to spend at rates above what our Gov’t receives?  How can the deficit be reduced if we are still at 20 Trillion and growing?  Gas prices reducing.  The implication is that our government had something to do with the prices going from $110 a barrel to $30.  In fact, the Middle East is causing the prices to go down by over producing – they are doing this not to “help” the US – but to break our ability to resources energy production by making it cost prohibitive to source in the US.  In other words …make the labor so cheap to compete with the Middle East that we won’t be able to find workers who will accept the wages being offered.  This is not the result of policy or an energy program; it is the result of a competitor taking aggressive action aimed at the US.  It looks like a good thing when you see gas prices under 2.00 a gallon …but the effect is catastrophic to our energy producers.  We were told that 18 Million Americans have health care who didn’t have it before – but the impact to small business and the average person has been significant in a negative way.  Small business are having to reduce the # of personnel they are hiring to meet the demands of the Affordable Health Care Act and families are paying higher premiums (by as much as 40% more).  We were told that the economy is strong and growing, but why are the available dollars less to the average family?  Why is the actual mean salary less today than 8 years ago?  I do agree that the Stock Mark is 10K points higher than 8 years ago …clearly the rich are getting richer but I am not sure that is the platform that this administration has pursued.

I don’t fault the President – I fault the entire administration and Congress (all parties equally) – they are not working together to resolve our Nation’s challenges – not even close.  Whoever wins this next election better be able to bridge the gaps, create an environment of collaboration, and solve problems.

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