Obama's State of the Union a national security disappointment

Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama (C), flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (L) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 12, 2013.

Article Highlights

  • When it comes to defense, the headline coming out of President Obama’s #SOTU address could read: “Nothing new here”

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  • If Obama is serious about averting sequestration, he will take the lead in offering specific proposals to cut elsewhere.

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  • This time around, it is President Obama who desires a change in current law to avert sequestration. #SOTU

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When it comes to foreign and defense policy, the headline coming out of President Obama's first State of the Union in his second term could easily read: "Nothing new here."

While it was encouraging that the first topic the president tackled was the federal budget and the looming sequester, he simply recycled his proposals of the past 18 months and again called for more taxes to solve the problem. This is puzzling because the Budget Control Act was written and agreed to in order to address the ever-growing federal budget deficit. It was a law passed with the sole intent of controlling spending. Now, the president wants to change the rules halfway through the game and try to avert automatic budget cuts under sequestration in a manner similar to the fiscal cliff deal: more taxes and little meaningful or real spending cuts.

It was noteworthy the president then started the long-overdue conversation on the need for entitlement reform. This is a conversation the Republican Party is anxious to have with the president since these programs consume the majority of the federal budget.

But if the "fiscal cliff" negotiations are the starting point for currently nonexistent sequestration negotiations, the president is still unwilling to offer the kind of entitlement reform proposals that he previously put on the table during the summer of 2011. This lack of good faith will only guarantee sequestration goes into effect.

This time around, it is President Obama who desires a change in current law to avert sequestration. If the president is serious about averting sequestration, then he will take the lead in offering specific budget and legislative proposals to cut spending elsewhere.

Otherwise, the headline on March 2 will read much like those following the State of the Union address declaring: "More of the Same in Washington."

Mackenzie Eaglen is a resident fellow at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies.

 

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About the Author

 

Mackenzie
Eaglen
  • Mackenzie Eaglen has worked on defense issues in the U.S. Congress, both House and Senate, and at the Pentagon in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the Joint Staff. She specializes in defense strategy, budget, military readiness and the defense industrial base. In 2010, Ms. Eaglen served as a staff member of the congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission established to assess the Pentagon's major defense strategy. A prolific writer on defense related issues, she has also testified before Congress.


     


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