The Sorry State of Our Union

President Obama delivers his fifth State of the Union Address on Tuesday. Based on White House leaks, the president will emphasize rebuilding the middle class. He will invoke the importance of education, infrastructure, clean energy, and manufacturing.

These are terrific themes, economically and politically. The only problem is that rebuilding the middle class by the public investments that the society needs is out of the question -- because of the downward drag of a budget politics that the president shares.

The administration is officially committed to the idea that we need another $1.5 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade -- a rate of fiscal contraction half again as large as this year's Sequester, and for 10 full years.