I’ve spent most of this evening watching the State of the Union and the Republican response. Here are some thoughts on those:
The State of the Union
- I liked the agenda that President Obama laid out. That’s not much of a surprise, really, for those who know me or who have been reading the sporadic posts on this blog. (I hope to post more as the election gets closer. We’ll see if I can make that happen.) The fact is that we do have a major problem with the economic equality in this country. The middle class is threatened. The deck is stacked in favor of the very wealthy. Obama is right when he says that we have to level the playing field. We should be giving tax breaks to companies that move manufacturing back to the United States, and we should penalize those (through the tax code) that offshore jobs and profits. These are common sense steps that we should have taken long ago.
- We do have to get the money out of politics. A constitutional amendment is needed, though. Bernie Sanders’ proposed amendment is a great place to start. (Actually, I think it should be passed as is.)
- I liked Obama’s confrontational tone. The Fix called it “Confrontation Wrapped in Kumbaya”. I like that; it’s an apt description. Obama fully played on the fact that Congress’s approval rating is extremely low, lecturing them about their inaction. He promised action where Congress has been inactive. He can do a lot through executive order, but that is not as good as legislation. He demanded that Congress send him bills this year and promised to sign them.
- I don’t have a lot of hope that Congress will actually act, though, the cameras kept panning to shots of stony-faced Republicans who seemed to want to be anywhere else.
- The Republicans didn’t seem to take kindly to that scolding tone, and cleared out of the chamber pretty quickly. I enjoyed that. One never likes being lectured to, especially when one knows that the person doing the lecturing is right.
The Republican Response
Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana delivered the Republican response. I was struck by a few things.
- The use of the phrase “loyal opposition”. I see a lot of opposition in the Republican agenda during Obama’s presidency. But I have not seen a lot of loyal. When the Senate minority leader’s stated goal is to make Obama a one-term president, how is that loyally caring for the people’s business? How is the president supposed to work to find a middle ground, when there isn’t any to begin with?
- Mitch Daniels talking about budget math is really pretty rich. Daniels was President Bush’s budget director. A strong case can be made that the deficit and debt issues that the Republicans care so much about now can be laid at the feet of President Bush and his tax cuts. And then fighting two wars.
- The claim that Steve Jobs was a jobs creator was embellished, to say the least. Apparently Daniels missed the New York Times article from January 21. Steve Jobs created jobs, all right, but Daniels neglected to mention that most of those were overseas.
I see a lot more of the same coming from Republicans. They still don’t want to work with President Obama, despite the record low approval rating that Congress enjoys. So President Obama will need to do what he can via executive order, and he’ll have to go out on the road and really sell his plan. And he’s going to have to pick a couple of things he absolutely has to have and fight for them in Congress the way he hasn’t the past three years.