Highlights of Obama’s State of the Union Address

This year, thanks to Huffington Post publishing Obama’s entire speech on line, I was able to read while listening to the President speak. This helped the words sink in more clearly – and, for the most part, I liked what I heard. For the most part. Simply because I am a Democrat does not necessarily mean I will agree with everything the President had to say. His speech was encouraging and very refreshing to hear, especially after we have all been witnessing the deterioration of our country.

Obama began by honoring the enlisted and veterans by saying,

“Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought — and several thousand gave their lives.

We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country….

…These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces.”

Obama addressed many of the concerns of the citizens of this country – which the Occupy Movement did a wonderful job of waking people up out of their slumber. He sees the class war struggle occurring, how the wealthy only become wealthier and pay a lower percentage of taxes than those who are barely able to keep a roof over their heads. His words helped build an optimism for a future fairness among the various socioeconomic classes within our country:

“Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.”

Obama also addressed the outsourcing of jobs and that corporations “shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it.” Additionally, he recognized the fact that the construction industry was greatly damaged when the recession hit and still suffers:

“In the next few weeks, I will sign an Executive Order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects. But you need to fund these projects. Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.”

It was a relief to hear him acknowledge how the banks basically got away with murder when the mortgage industry collapsed. “Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money. Regulators had looked the other way, or didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behavior.” When Obama said, “So if you’re a big bank or financial institution, you are no longer allowed to make risky bets with your customers’ deposits.” I was hoping he was going to re-enact the Glass-Steagall Act, but that hope was crushed. However, he brought my spirit back up by affirming that those banks and institutions which frauded the people need to be held accountable for their actions:

“And tonight, I am asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.”

Education has always been a passion of the President, and as a country, our children are “dumbing down.” Although this next proposal may sound rather harsh to many, especially Newt and his pro-child labor views, Obama called “on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.” Additionally, “Higher education can’t be a luxury — it’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”

For several years now, our country has been treating illegal immigrants as though they committed murder. Has our country forgotten that we, ourselves, was a rogue group of people running from oppression? Yes, our country does have problems with illegal immigration, but rather than treat them like a plague, provide them with a reason to become a productive member of our country.

“…We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.”

Energy. This is where I had some issues with what he had to say. I do feel his support of using clean energy has waned since he was elected. Obama talked about the use of Natural Gas more strongly than he did developing renewable sources. I was rather dismayed with this. Although this is a better alternative than oil, our country needs to focus more on renewable energy.

One interesting item Obama pointed out was how some laws simply do not have common sense, and will begin eliminating the “rules that don’t make sense.” For example (and this includes his joke of the night),

“We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill — because milk was somehow classified as an oil. With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk.”

The best thing Obama said all night:

“I’ve talked tonight about the deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. But the divide between this city and the rest of the country is at least as bad — and it seems to get worse every year.

Some of this has to do with corrosive influence of money in politics…. Send me a bill that bans insider trading by Members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow. Let’s limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact. Let’s make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can’t lobby Congress, and vice versa — an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington.”

This right here is what the core problem is now with our government.  But I doubt this will go over very well by our Congressmen, regardless of their party affiliation. They all have a LOT to lose with that one.

_________________________________

Now, on the flip side, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels gave the response to the SOTU Address. In keeping this brief (there is a link below if you would like to read more), as we all know that he will attempt to discredit anything and everything Obama said, there is one item I would like to point out. Daniels said, “No feature of the Obama Presidency has been sadder than its constant efforts to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others.”

Allow me to remind you, Mr Daniels, of what Mitch McConnell said:


.
Both speeches are available in their entirety online:

Obama’s State of the Union Address
Mitch Daniels response to the SOTU Address

In closing, I would like to share a few words President Obama opened with:

“Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

We can do this. I know we can, because we’ve done it before. At the end of World War II, when another generation of heroes returned home from combat, they built the strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known….”

I hope so. But in order for any progress to be made, the war in Washington must stop.

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