Does Obama Want a Second-Term Legacy Beyond Saying ‘Soak The Rich’?

David Benkof Contributor
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They are rare occasions to rally Congress and the American people behind specific, ambitious policy goals.

Some of the most important concepts in American history, for better or worse, first appeared in State of the Union remarks: Monroe’s Doctrine. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms. Johnson’s War on Poverty. George W. Bush’s Axis of Evil.

What is President Obama going to offer us tomorrow night?

Increasing the capital gains tax in order to give $500 to two-income families. (Wait, don’t one-income families need the cash more?) Plus, he wants to tinker with the tax code a bit, such as adding new rules about retirement accounts and inheritance.

Four Freedoms it ain’t.

Worse, Obama knows his proposals could never become law, because they represent an approach to helping the American people prosper not shared by the party controlling Congress.

Instead of an actual policy proposal, the president has chosen to squander his 2015 moment in the sun by trotting out tired rhetoric about Republicans favoring only the rich, while the Democrats fight for the middle class.

If this kind of fiddling with tax policy was such a good idea, why didn’t Obama propose it when his party controlled both houses of Congress? Is it possible they didn’t want to talk about soaking the rich at a time it might threaten their buddies on Wall Street?

Obama’s crass strategy is to exacerbate class conflict in America, while furthering his nonsense portrayal of the “obstructionist, do-nothing” Republican Congress. But it’s the president who’s chosen to be obstructionist and to do nothing by refusing to use one of his uncommon turns in the spotlight to get something done.

And there’s actually a large bipartisan agenda right now of some urgency. Criminal justice reform, restraining the drug war, curbing domestic spying –  these issues offer common ground for politicians on the left and right – sometimes even the far left and far right.

Economists like to talk about opportunity cost – the value of the next-best decision a person could have made given a specific set of circumstances. President Obama’s opportunity cost in choosing politics over policy is bipartisan legislation virtually of his choice that could solve a national problem, bring politically diverse Americans together, and create a lasting legacy his administration could brag about.

Instead, he’s proposing, among other things, a fee on financial firms that he, Congress, financial firms, and the American people all agree will never be levied.

What a waste.

David Benkof is on the editorial staff of the Daily Caller. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter (@DavidBenkof) or E-mail him at Benkof@dailycaller.com.