A largely bi-partisan speech with an emotional ending
Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States
After the familiar introduction, Congress and the American people got a dose of how President Barack Obama intends to govern over the next four years. The president began his second term with a mostly bi-partisan State of the Union Address that liberals should have enjoyed… More or less.
Obama started off by giving examples of how much progress the country has made since he first took office back in 2008. He mentioned the decade of war that is grinding toward its finish, the six million jobs that business has created, the stabilizing housing market and the reduced dependence on foreign oil.
The President went on to talk very little about the recovering economy and the middle class’s role in it, but instead dedicated more of his speech to address the national debt. Referring to the sequester, he made it quite clear that a balanced approach was needed, cuts to Medicare by having the wealthiest seniors pay more, cuts to taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies, etc. He also made mention again of raising hundreds of billions of dollars by cutting tax loop holes for the extremely wealthy.
“The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next”
The economic share of his speech was driven by the need for better infrastructure, better schools and the need to invest in high tech jobs. He spoke of the need to push research and development levels to where they were back during the space race. He gave an example of the importance of R & D by saying that every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy.
I would say the most bold (and impressive) part of the economic portion was his desire to raise the minimum wage to $9.00/HR. It would raise the incomes of millions of working families, take families off of federal aid and for businesses it would mean customers with money in their pockets. He even went so far as to say that the minimum wage should be tied to the cost of living.
Obama’s foreign policy serving was shorter than in the past as he mentioned Al Qaeda only briefly. Instead he devoted more time to nuclear proliferation with North Korea testing a nuclear weapon just one day earlier. He also mentioned a national security subject I’ve never heard bought up before as he spoke about cyber security.
“We also know that progress in the most impoverished parts of our world enriches us all. In many places, people live on little more than a dollar a day. So the United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades”
Other noteworthy mentions in his speech were a call to have nationwide pre-schools available to all. He spoke about voting rights saying that “we are betraying our ideals” when people are force to wait up to eight hours to vote. Later on he mentioned Desiline Victor, a 102 year old Floridian woman who waited in line for six hours to vote.
The State of the Union is not normally known for drama, but Obama saved the best for last when he spoke about gun violence. Having victims of Newtown, Aurora, even several politicians who’ve been shot present in the gallery, Obama didn’t push his gun views or demand action. Instead, Obama simply asked for democracy, pleading with those in the Senate and the House of Representatives to put each of his gun control laws to a vote.
“Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote.”
An of observation I had while watching the speech amused me a little. Since Gabby Giffords was shot a couple years ago, the gallery no longer has Republicans sitting on one side and Democrats on the other. Both parties now sit as couples side by side. So when Obama received a standing ovation only from Democrats, the galley looked like a 3-D checker board.
I had it mind to write more in depth about the Republican rebuttal from Conservative up and comer Marco Rubio, but his speech sounded like it was written by a child a couple of years ago. His rebuttal was simply a reaffirmation of conservative on economic ideology, gun control and big government.
Rubio spent parts of his speech talking about how government programs have helped his family. Medicare for his parents, government loans for his schooling, etc. but he then went on to tell us how bad big government is. The talking contradiction attacked President Obama more than his policies and offered nothing new in terms of ideas. The highlight of the rebuttal was him taking a water break.