The President’s State of the Union Address
January 27, 2021
14. Our Economy of the Future
I have spoken about economics far more than is customary in this annual assessment of the state of our union. That’s because your president is responsible to keep you informed not only on the concerns of this moment, or this year—but of our collective future as well. Have you noticed?—our Constitution tells us to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves…and our posterity.
Just three little words, but they are important beyond measure.
The meaning of “and our posterity” is exquisitely clear. It means have consideration for the future, do what’s right for our children’s future, not just ourselves. While we’re doing whatever we must to promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves, today, we must take care to secure those same blessings for our children tomorrow—and a generation hence. This means don’t pass down a can of worms.
My fellow Americans, I want to speak about the growing problem we’ve been handing down to our next generations for three-quarters of a century now. I will describe the problem, why we’ve got to stop it, and how we may do so.
We’ve been living with an insidious triad of assumptions. First: We assume that we can enact a deficit federal budget every year, and keep on forever spending more than the income we take in from taxes. As long as our economy keeps growing, we say, deficit spending doesn’t matter because a growing economy means growing taxes that will always keep us ahead of the deficit. We’ve been saying it for seventy-five years, so it seems like it might be right—right?
Second: We assume that we can just keep on accumulating ever bigger and bigger national debt. The USA is big and rich—right? Even though our deficits keep mounting up year after year, increasing the size of our national debt year after year, it won’t matter in the long run, we say—we’ll pay it off some day. This too has been said for seventy-five years. But think about that. In our individual households, we certainly cannot accumulate ever bigger debt for a lifetime—we either pay it down or we go bankrupt. Why do we think our nation’s debts are any different?
Well, that’s the third assumption: We assume that deficit budgets and growing national debt won’t matter in the long run, because—for most of a century now—we’ve lived by the economic ideas of the great economist John Maynard Keynes. Let me be the first to say, Keynes was quite right at the time he formulated his ideas. Just as burning coal and smoking tobacco seemed okay in that innocent long ago time, before we learned better.
John Maynard Keynes has greatly influenced our modern American economy. He assured us that the United States economy will keep on growing every year, because our population will keep on growing, and that will keep our demand for products and services going up, and that demand will keep our productivity going up so supply meets demand.
Keynes said there will be more workers making more products every year, and more people needing to buy those products every year. And so our economic wealth will always keep on growing too. And ever more people will be paying ever more taxes to make the payments on that national debt we keep on accumulating. The long view of history would prove that Keynes, like economists everywhere, was about half right.
It’s called the “endless growth” model. You can keep on overspending, and borrowing money to cover your deficit spending, and there will always be more people to buy the stuff and pay the taxes to… As you can see, it’s rather like a perpetual motion machine.
And for a long time it was true—it worked just as Keynes said it would. But then things changed, so that only one part of Keynes predictions remains true. Our population has kept on growing—that part is true. In fact, there are grounds for believing we are overpopulated. But what about Keynes’ other predictions?
Well, even though population kept growing, the taxes didn’t. Some very large tax cuts were enacted—several times—so the nation’s income kept getting smaller. But spending didn’t stop—it got worse. With income going down and spending going up, annual deficits got even larger, then they got enormous—and our national debt became extreme.
A variety of devices were used, such as the trillion-dollar taxpayer bailout of too-big-to-fail corporations in 2008—and the trillion-dollar tax cuts of 2018—all in the name of supply-side economics. The tax cuts will create lots of new jobs, they said, and all the new jobs will cause more taxes to be paid, they said; it will all work out, they said. Except, just like always, it didn’t. So now our awful national debt is worse than ever.
My friends, how long can your household keep spending more and more, every year, if your paycheck keeps getting smaller every year?
It seems as if the USA has had a death wish ever since 1980—we keep cutting our income lower while we keep running up ever more gigantic national debt. These things have been done knowingly, with eyes wide open—always believing that tax cuts would create lots of new jobs and re-grow the big middle class we used to have. Meanwhile, more people keep getting poorer, and all those new jobs somehow just never happen.
My fellow Americans, we need to throw out these nutty supply side economic ideas. We also need to recognize that John Maynard Keynes’ endless-growth model quit growing about forty years ago. We need a new “steady-state” model, an economy that does not depend on an endlessly growing population to pay endlessly increasing taxes. The United States today needs a steady income we can depend on.
Today there are voices calling for cutting back on Social Security, cutting back on Medicare and Medicaid, cutting back on veterans’ benefits, cutting back programs for children—and every other form of government services that are right and good, that millions of Americans depend on.
These pressures are real, and the loud, angry voices who want to cut these good programs are the same voices that, since 1980, have been calling for increased deficit spending while cutting income from taxes. Would you let these people run your household budget?
Enough is enough. I intend that we shall bring common sense back into the way we govern America, and especially the way we budget our national income and spending.
The measures I have announced today will start turning us around, immediately. We will use our taxes in new ways, to grow millions of new jobs, here in the USA, that pay a living wage, here at home. Exporting our jobs, our means of earning a living, is insane. It stops here, today. If we make all the things we need ourselves, we’ll no longer need to import them. If everybody has a decent living income, we won’t need welfare anymore.
If we cut corporations down to size so they stop trying to take over the world, they may have to start paying their fair share of taxes for a change. If we subdivide the big ones into employee-owned co-ops that have their own incentives to do good, we probably won’t even need unions anymore. If we abolish the financial manipulators that produce nothing whatsoever other than sterile profits leveraged away from honest hard workers, we won’t have to worry whether our pensions will be still there when we finally retire.
My friends, it’s a long list of reforms, and a ton of work to turn around this mighty ship of state, but we have begun and we shall succeed.
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15. Voting Rights
In these remarks I have placed great emphasis on economic rights, but I want to add that no right is more basic than the right to vote. In recent years we have seen shameful partisan efforts to reduce this precious right, or at least make it harder for people to vote.
This is anti-democratic, and it is wrong. My administration will work with Congress to craft legislation that eliminates every barrier set up to diminish absolute freedom to vote in any election, federal or state. New laws will define the right so explicitly that legal or procedural barriers to voting may never again be raised in the USA.
More than that—and to sustain democracy in the world’s first nation to achieve universal voting rights as a central feature of governing ourselves—I will ask the Congress to make mandatory voting a requirement of citizenship in these United States. As we well know, some of the worst travesties in our nation’s history occurred simply because people stayed home and did not bother to go exercise their patriotic right to vote—to democratically help choose the course of the nation’s business and its leaders.
We have long had laws that require young citizens to register with their local draft board. The same idea can be straightforwardly extended to registering all voters who are eligible to vote. As a patriotic duty, voting in every election easily outweighs memorizing the Pledge of Allegiance. The law therefore will impose a fine for failure to register, and a heavier fine for failing, without cause, to actually get out and vote. We have long held ourselves up as the world’s model for democracy, while ignoring crass hypocrisy when able Americans do not register and do not vote. My fellow Americans, we can do better.
Excepting only those citizens who are truly unable to vote due to disability or legitimate cause, our new goal for voting in United States federal elections is one hundred percent.
In early America only men who owned property could vote. Later we broadened that to all men. Then, after 144 years of trying, women got the vote. And, despite a full century of Jim Crow, our African-American citizens attained genuine voting rights—only to see deliberate efforts over recent years to yet again cheat them out of their right to vote.
The right to vote has always been opposed by people who don’t really believe in democracy. They preach patriotism like Pharisees…while betraying the most fundamental characteristic of true patriots—the right to vote.
No more. Let us now make our hard-won voting rights truly real and, for the first time ever, truly universal.
There is another voting-related matter we need to fix. Gerrymandering voting districts deliberately makes some citizens’ votes unequal to the votes of others, thereby to favor one political Party over the other. Gerrymandering reflects conspiratorial intent to control elections. In most other contexts conspiracy is illegal, so we are abysmally tardy in outlawing this grave insult to our democracy.
The legislation I submit to Congress will place exclusive authority over drawing the geographic boundaries for all Congressional districts in a rigorously non-partisan independent office associated with the Bureau of the Census. The Bureau will provide this office with new population data after each decennial census, starting with the 2020 census which is nearing completion as I speak.
My fellow Americans, the democratic ideal of “one person, one vote” is fundamentally necessary in our elections if democracy is to survive in the USA. The opposite of that ideal is gerrymandering, a loathsome back-door way of trying to control our elections—thereby to control our Congress—and thereby to control the business of the entire nation.
Equally loathsome—and illegal—are attempts to control our free elections by meddling with voters’ minds, deliberately spreading subversive propaganda to influence how people decide who to vote for. This is precisely what happened in 2016, as we know from the special prosecutor’s investigation of Russian meddling in that presidential election. A foreign power, with criminal intent to subvert our election, actively used the internet to spread divisive propaganda as a form of brainwashing that they intended to influence American voters’ minds—and thereby to control the outcome of our election.
This was deliberate subversion. Plotting and conspiring to undermine and destabilize the authority, power and influence of our government, by degrading people’s allegiance to government, with intent to overturn or overthrow government from within, is the very definition of subversion. Anyone conspiring to undermine and degrade our democratic form of government has committed criminal subversion.
So let us consider: Is the crime any less a crime if the perpetrators are domestic rather than foreign? If it is Americans who are deliberately plotting to overturn our government from within, propagandizing with intent to control our elections and overturn our laws, isn’t that also a back door way of conspiring to take over our government?
If the crime is committed in slow motion, over many years, is that really any different than Russian propagandizing over many years with intent to control our elections and destroy our democracy? How many Americans remember the Soviet Union’s meddling attempts to prevent President Reagan’s re-election way back in 1984?
The right of free speech requires responsible use of that right. Just as there is no free speech right to maliciously shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre, there likewise is no right to use the privileges of democracy to destroy democracy itself. For an example look no farther than Egypt where, in 2012, Egyptian voters were propagandized and persuaded to elect as their president a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood—and he soon proceeded to declare null and void the democratic institutions that had elected him. He is now in jail.
If a few Americans systematically conspire to propagandize voters with unprecedented big spending on political ads, in order to control our elections and thereby take over our laws and our government, is such conspiracy free speech—or seditious subversion? How many millions of dark money were spent in the past twenty years with intent to persuade American voters to despise their own government—and its regulations—and its taxes?
The intended subversion goes far beyond political dark money to control elections. There is clear evidence of conspiratorial intent to control our economy, control our media, control all policymaking forums, control our tax system, control our Congress, control all our state and local governments, control or eliminate our labor unions, and gerrymander our Congressional districts.
There is clear intention to overturn our free public education system and replace it with for-profit schools run by corporations. There is clear evidence of subversive intent to replace our laws, one by one, until slowly but surely democratic self governance is eliminated everywhere in the United States of America.
More than that: Did you know that a two-thirds majority of the state legislatures—thirty-four states—can call a constitutional convention, and that such a call has now been quietly achieved in twenty-seven states? Let there be no doubt about the risk to our constitutional government—a constitutional convention would be inherently uncontrollable. Such a convention could change the United States to fifty small independent nations under restored articles of confederation that establish a theocracy.
These insidious threats to democracy and many more have been committed quietly and out of sight for many years, and continue today, by a privately funded organization called the American Legislative Exchange Council, and a host of networked activities associated with it. This conspiracy has built up a complex web of front groups, campaign operatives, lawyers, propagandists and media outlets to dispense the propaganda, all coordinated from a center. Its activities collectively are intended to take over total control of our government through a conspiracy to propagandize and control our elections and our lawmaking process. It makes little difference whether the conspirators are Russian, American or Slobbovian when the threat to our democracy is the same.
I have therefore directed the Department of Justice to look into these matters and determine if a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the goals, purposes and activities of the American Legislative Exchange Council and the multitude of associated activities.
This preliminary examination will include a focus on the corporations, trade groups and lobbyists who write the organization’s so-called “model” legislative bills, the associated influence on state legislatures and elections, and whether any laws or constitutional protections have been violated.
I have directed special attention to actions that constitute a slow but deliberate erosion of democracy where each small step, although meeting the letter of the law, undermines democracy a little more—until democracy is gone, simply because no democracy is set up to deal with systematic underhanded efforts to undermine democratic institutions.
The question of intent to control elections in order to take control of our Congress and our state legislatures will be examined, as will related questions about the methods used by both Russian and American conspirators who intend to influence or control our free elections. I strongly recommend that Congressional committees conduct their own investigations of these matters, for which I guarantee the fullest possible measure of support by all Executive Branch agencies. For every American who loves democracy, nothing could possibly be more important for our future as a nation.
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…to be continued…
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