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State of the Union

The State of the Union address is Washingtoon pomp at its finest.  Everyone makes sure they have the right special guest and place near the teevee cameras to scene and be seen.  But this year  it’s also an important event because the newly elected President tells the nation what his last term will be all about.  This is my rough “live blog” of the big show.

State_of_the_Union_ObamaObama opened with the progress that’s been made, and there has some.  “We have cleared away the rubble of crisis” was a bit over-stating it, but things certainly could be worse.  Pledging to increase opportunity is great, but I can’t help but think the Middle Class is something like the weather – everyone talks about it but no one does anything about it.

Hitting up the Fiscal Cliff early on was a good move, but avoiding sequestration is going to be a lot more than talk.  To lay out Medicare reforms as part of the package was the first olive branch, and that will probably be the talk of the Left after this.  A partial embrace of Simpson-Bowles was also nice in that it stakes out the middle ground for Obama.

Comprehensive tax reform – more than just closing loopholes – is a good thing that Obama and Boehner alike are in favor of, so it seems as though Obama is willing to support the beleaguered Speaker a bit.  That’s good news for moving something forward through the House.  It’s also just a damned good idea.

“The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next. Let’s agree, right here, right now, to keep the people’s government open, pay our bills on time, and always uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America. The American people have worked too hard, for too long, rebuilding from one crisis to see their elected officials cause another.”  I liked this section a lot, and it’s worth highlighting.

Obama talked about more manufacturing jobs, like a good Democrat, but his proposals seem pretty weak all around.  Manufacturing hubs are not bad, and could have long-term payoff, but the structural problems of high employee overhead and a strong dollar didn’t get any mention.  Tech investments are helpful, but outside of energy and environment there doesn’t seem to any strategic focus.

Between that and the infrastructure development pledge, Obama does have a solid growth agenda.  It’s a good balance with the austerity of spending cuts and tax increases that he opened with.

Preschool, aka early child education, is one of those things everyone agrees is a great investment, but somehow we’ve never gotten around to funding.  I hope Obama can be the one who finally makes this universal.  Calling for real technical skills that lead to a job right out of High School is very important, and also something that is long overdue.  The college scorecard is something I’ll have an opinion of when I see it.

On to comprehensive immigration reform – something the Republicans have decided they don’t want to be on the wrong end of.  However, the number of people crossing from the South is really more of a function of how things are going in the economy than anything else.  The real bipartisan standing ovation came when talking about skilled workers, so let’s see if that can happen.  It should be a gimmee.

Raise the minimum wage?  I wonder where he’s been with this the last four years, but let’s welcome the prodigal president.  Tying it to the poverty line is very important, and I hope we can get it.  I hope it also ties back to his call for a simpler tax code, too.

It seems funny to hear Obama talk about war and al Qaeda.  This Democrat has a pretty strong record of success on this front, facing far more criticism from the Left.  His promise to have a more transparent legal framework is good, but another one I’ll believe only when I see it.

Being the beacon of hope and freedom around the world is easy stuff, and it sounds more like a campaign speech than anything else.  I really hope support for the Veteran’s Administration is also bipartisan.

And there was  “common sense” gun reform.  Hadiya featured prominently, as well she should.  That was a terrible tragedy.  The call, “They deserve a vote” is a strong one, and it should be clear that something will happen.

Did we learn anything new here?  Perhaps not, but the commitment to solid growth and equal opportunity did seem to me like a president leaving crisis mode and seeing a strong foundation to build on.  That’s been my theme as well, and it seems very appropriate.  It seems like what 2013 will indeed be all about, and I hope we can carry it forward.   This was a Democrat speech with a lot of initiatives, but I believe that is what the times demand.

What are your thoughts on the State of the Union?

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12 thoughts on “State of the Union

  1. Good speech, and I think you nailed what it was about. Good call on your part as well. I did wonder how we are going to pay for all this.

  2. It seemed to me like a long laundry list of things he wants to do, which disappointed me. I was also concerned that he didn’t ask us to get connected and involved. I guess it wasn’t anything all that new & I expected a bit more.

    • He was ambitious, but I see this as building on the foundations laid in the last few years. I do think it’s about time, and we have a strong path to deal with the debt we’ve accumulated – spending cuts, tax increases AND growth. Yes!

  3. You must be proud that the President sees things the way you do. 🙂 I never watch these speeches but read about them afterwards. Most of the commentators I have seen didn’t like how it was a long list of things and wasn’t ‘inspiring’ but there are a lot of things that just need to get done. I am OK with that.

    • I think Obama follows my lead, yes. 🙂 No, seriously – centrist Democrats do have a consistent philosophy and it’s not hard to predict what they’ll come up with. We, that is.
      Obama needs to be more inspiring, I agree. I don’t know why he doesn’t go out and sell his stuff more often. Democrats really need to be in the loop on this stuff, if for no other reason that it’ll build the organization they’ll need in the 2014 elections.

  4. When republicans promise big tax cuts and non expasionary policies, few ask how are we gonna pay for it. I still think Keynes is correct and policies that are more democratic can be more pro growth. Growth of the economy is the key and hopefully we can do it without wasting the earth.

    • Excellent point on environmental protection, yes. That is where the Democratic coalition has fallen down in the past, and I hope we can keep it together.
      I think this is just the Democrats time. We’re the ones who have the right solutions when there is a Depression. 🙂

  5. I pray for our President every night. There is so much to be done in this country, you have to expect a long list of things! But he standing up to republicans who want to turn us back to the time of robber barons and poverty with little in between. Not all Republicans are bad I know that but we just want the rich to pay their fair share and be a part of the solution not the problem for once!

    • There is little doubt that the Democrats have all the momentum right now – it’s a matter of making something of it. Obama is much more in line with my thinking lately than he has been and I like this. I still want a New Deal, but other than that I think we’re on the right path. The House leadership seems to understand at least some of this, too, IMHO.

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