Let’s imagine you were a Democratic president who just lost control of Congress to the Republicans, and you wanted to make it really, really clear that you are not serious about governing. What would you do? Simple: Use your State of the Union address to propose hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes that will never be enacted, in order to fund a slew of new government programs that have no chance of being approved.
Welcome to President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address.
On Tuesday night, Obama will ask the new Republican Congress to approve$320 billion in tax increases. To see how absurd this is, imagine for a moment what the reaction would have been if, after losing control of Congress to the Democrats in 2006, President George W. Bush had used his next State of the Union address to propose $320 billion in growth-oriented tax cuts. Would anyone have taken him seriously? The media would have dismissed Bush as delusional. Democrats would have laughed. Everyone would have asked: What’s wrong with him? Didn’t he get the message of the 2006 midterms? What planet is he on?
Obama is not delusional. He knows his plan has no chance of becoming law. White House officials, according to Politico, “aren’t holding their breath that Obama’s new proposals will pass Congress now that Republicans control both chambers.” (Which raises the question why, if Obama were serious, didn’t he propose them when Democrats controlled both chambers?) The goal is for “Obama to position himself as a defender of the middle class” and put Republicans in the “politically awkward” position of resisting tax increases on the rich to pay for programs that benefit the middle class.