Following up on the SOTU
Relative to: President Obama’s State of the Union address last night.
Much more detail on this speech can be found elsewhere. Actually everywhere. But there were a few things that TRC wanted to take a moment and comment on regarding the SOTU. The first is that the praise/complaint about Democrats and Republicans sitting together is boring. It’s mildly interesting that the chamber was a mixed-party affair. But only mildly. That it seemed to cut down on the abundance of applause makes it worth it. If you’re behavior at the SOTU is different while sitting next to Rep. Steve King than it is sitting next to Sen. Franken, well that’s probably behavior best left home.
Second, Energy. This was both a conciliatory speech and one meant to draw clear party distinctions, and in walking that line, I thought the President did fairly well. For example, I wanted to hear about Climate Change legislation. Some kind of plan or acknowledgement from our Democratic President that we absolutely must have taxes on carbon. That did not happen. Rather, Obama spoke at length about investments in clean energy, and the need for competitiveness in this arena, and proposed that our country receive %80 of our electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. These are related topics, one left out, I presume, as divisive; one seen as a bipartisan opportunity. Mentioning Climate Change would just turn the nose of Speaker Boehner, who mostly remained straight-nosed. I understand that.
–Two last thoughts on the energy section: 1) Why the stern faces on the GOP at the mention of taking back $4 Billion in tax breaks from oil companies? Honestly, who cares about the oil companies? Can we not get past this love and realize that we need clean energy now? 2) President Obama, stop mentioning clean coal. You’ve been talking about clean coal since your days in the Illinois Senate, and it is not real.
Third, Budget, Taxes and Spending Cuts. I’m no budget expert, but I don’t know what’s going on here. President Obama attempted to be bipartisan while drawing a line in the sand. Is there any potential of working together to cut the deficit? No. Because there are fundamental factual disputes that will keep this from happening. Either Healthcare will increase the deficit or repealing Healthcare will increase the deficit. Either spending is largely to blame and budget cuts can largely solve our deficit problem or it cannot. If we won’t increase taxes on the wealthiest of the wealthy, (literally the uber-rich) but will cut education, well, we’re not going to balance our budget. Or if we do, what cost will it come at? This may be the biggest party divide on the issue, but the President is right, taxes are not punishment. “We simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break. It’s not a matter of punishing their success. It’s about promoting America’s success.”
As for a 5-year discretionary budget freeze, will that help?
Most of the rest of speech was surprisingly conciliatory in tone and content: America is the best country there ever was, is, or will be. Education reform is necessary, rewrite the tax code, medical malpractice reform, allowing recruiters into all colleges and universities, shrink and streamline the federal government (perhaps the most surprising part of the speech–salmon regulation is incredibly convoluted). None of this will be particularly pleasing to the “liberal base” but much of this is why, according to Politics Daily, Obama’s speech was so well liked by Americans. The notion that Obama and the GOP could come together and agree on much, and solve problems by negotiating is a very positive idea, and one that hopefully can be realized.
That might be a little too hopeful, but for today, one can hope.