Obama’s 2nd Inaugural Address, Translated

January 23, 2013 07:14

His rhetoric on the issues only thinly disguised his true meaning. Let’s translate some of his key points.


By Amy Payne at Heritage Foundation


Members of Congress—who are about to debate raising the debt ceiling tomorrow—should have paid attention yesterday. The President was very clear that he sees no urgency about reducing the debt and cutting the deficit. In fact, in his second inaugural address, President Barack Obama was honest about his intentions to grow government in order to remake our country along his progressive vision.

To sell his agenda, the President borrowed imagery and terminology from America’s first principles. But he twisted the American founding idea of “We the people” into the liberal “It takes a village.”

His rhetoric on the issues only thinly disguised his true meaning. Let’s translate some of his key points.

Obama on “we the people”: “For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias. No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future. Or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.”

Translation: In case you didn’t hear me the first time, you didn’t build that.

He may have surrounded these words with lip service to the Constitution and America’s promise of freedom, but the President revisited his core message here: It takes a taxpayer-subsidized village to build things. According to his philosophy, entrepreneurs don’t create jobs—the government does.

Obama on the fiscal crisis: “We, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it….We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”

Translation: I will continue to push for more tax increases instead of reforming Medicare and Social Security.

On this point, the President followed up his promise that he will not negotiate on the debt ceiling by digging in his heels on taxes and entitlement programs. The “hard choices” he refers to on health care and the deficit are more tax increases—because he “reject[s] the belief” that entitlements must be reformed if they are going to stay around for the next generation.

The debt limit showdown continues this week: The House will vote tomorrow on a plan that would extend the debt ceiling for three months while forcing Congress—specifically, the Senate—to pass a budget. If they do not pass a budget by April 15 under this plan, Members of Congress would stop getting paid. If House Republicans so much as blink, the President and his allies will steamroll them.

Obama on green energy: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But American cannot resist this transition.”

Translation: I will continue to increase regulations on the energy sources we use and throw taxpayer money into “green” energy companies.

Despite the ever-growing Green Graveyard of companies like Solyndra that took taxpayer money only to go bankrupt, the President clings to this unworkable and expensive policy. And his linking of climate change to “more powerful storms” points to a renewed push for policies like a carbon tax to punish people for using energy—a policy that would harm the economy and produce no tangible environmental benefits.

Obama on foreign policy: “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war….We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully. Not because we are naive about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.”

Translation: The terrorists are on the run, and I still think we can negotiate with nuclear bullies like Iran.

Even as Obama pulls troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the hostage crisis in Algeria shows that al-Qaeda is alive and well. Though Iran continues to rebuff international inspectors and basically do whatever it wants, Obama seems perpetually optimistic that more talks with this hostile regime—and others like it—could make them change their behavior.

The President said yesterday that “fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges.” Though the plans he laid out are not new, they definitely require a response if we are to preserve the founding principles we cherish, including our individual right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Congress has been warned, and by the President no less, that he is in no mood to compromise. If they give in, a liberal agenda like we’ve never known before will be implemented, while needed reforms to our entitlement programs will not take place. Holding the line is more important now than ever.


Amy Payne is Assistant Director of Strategic Communications at The Heritage Foundation. In that capacity, Amy serves as Managing Editor of The Foundry, Heritage’s public policy news blog, as well as the “Morning Bell,” one of Washington’s most widely read and influential e-newsletters.


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