Foundation

The State of the Union Isn't Dead

by Michael Tasselmyer / /

"Is Barack Obama killing the State of the Union?"

That's what Politico asked in an article on Wednesday, pointing out that the President has already revealed several major proposals he'll include in next week's speech -- including mortgage relief, community college funding, and cybersecurity job training grants -- and transforming the "moment" into a "movement". The State of the Union, then, is nothing to pay particular attention to, since there won't be any major surprises. 

Except that whether they're known ahead of time or not, those measures have serious implications for taxpayers, and history shows that presidents find plenty of ways to propose new programs and federal spending on the night of the speech.

NTU Foundation has been analyzing State of the Union addresses for well over ten years now, recording all of the proposals the President makes and matching those with cost estimates for similar legislation in our BillTally database. We use that information to offer taxpayers some idea of the extent to which the President's agenda might impact federal spending, and in turn, their own wallets.

In all but one of our analyses, we found that the President's proposals would result in a net spending increase if enacted into law (President Obama's 2012 speech was the lone exception, and in that address seven out of 18 proposals were too vague to quantify). That gives us little reason to believe this year's speech will be markedly different in that respect. In fact, we already know that there are significant costs associated with some of the "marquee" policies President Obama will discuss -- a preliminary estimate of his "free community college" proposal comes out to over $10 billion in the first year alone.

Last year, President Obama presented 29 proposals that would have, on net, increased spending by $40 billion per year. Previous addresses have included much more:

So while we may already know some of what the President will speak about on Tuesday night, taxpayers shouldn't ignore the agenda he puts forth as it will almost certainly entail more federal spending and taxes.


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