That giant sucking sound America heard on Tuesday night was their federal tax dollars, tens of billions of them, flowing out of Washington in one fell swoop. If you’ve got a problem — an ear ache, a sick kid, a sick dog, a dragging muffler on your car, low self‐esteem, not enough time to pick up your kids after school and get them to the next soccer match — Bill Clinton undoubtedly has a government program just for you.
For the first five minutes of his speech the president paid homage to fiscal responsibility and a budget surplus he had nothing to do with creating. If only he had stopped there. If only he had declared the state of the union healthy and prosperous and then let us get back to our regularly scheduled programming. But it was not to be. For the next hour the president unveiled a vision of a European welfare state transplanted to the North American continent. This was the most exhaustive list of government expansions since Lyndon Johnson launched the Great Society. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was brilliantly delivered in less than 5 minutes. It took Bill Clinton an hour and 15 minutes to deliver his message — but in fairness it takes a long time to spend as much money as this administration wants to — especially when with every new idea the Democrats, and all too often the Republicans too, erupted in applause.
The president served up big chunks of raw red meat to the special interest lobbies in Washington–the teachers’ unions, federal workers, the day care providers, the environmentalists, the trial lawyers and on down the line. There is something in this budget for damn near everyone unless you’re one of those endangered species in America who work for a living, pay your taxes and have just one simple request of Uncle Sam: please leave me the hell alone.