From the President's SOTU:
So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.
The GOP House should use the Ike standard (Obama wants to be FDR's Ike, preserving his neo-New Deal) to eliminate all federal agencies since the Ike years that merely provide pass-through money to typically leftish groups (sorry, NEH). That would gut Labor, Education, and Transportation (among others), end HUD, and shrink the federal government.
Paul Ryan gave an effective response (though I am in principle opposed to partisan responses to what should be the President's non-partisan speech). For a brief statement he expressed the principles of constitutionalism well:
We believe, as our founders did, that "the pursuit of happiness" depends upon individual liberty; and individual liberty requires limited government.
Limited government also means effective government. When government takes on too many tasks, it usually doesn't do any of them very well. It's no coincidence that trust in government is at an all-time low now that the size of government is at an all-time high.
I wonder whether rule of law, constitutional government, or self-government aren't better terms than "limited government." His point after all is that big, bureaucratic government is ineffective and in fact weak in vital areas (e.g., national security). Big government violates the rule of law because it doesn't protect the individual rights that are the basis of any legitimacy it might have.
The models for effective speeches explaining crises are FDR's map speech and his fireside chats, especially his speech on banking. These go to the most elementary level. (I like the Map Speech, because it makes demands on his audience--"Look at your map," he orders.)
Ken Thomas notes the president's invocation of Eisenhower in last night's SOTU address. It's worth mentioning Ike's Farewell Address in this context as well. Last year I wrote a very short piece for the newslet... Read More