The State Of The Union – A Tale Of A Bipartisan Visionary

ProudProgressive 2013/02/13 12:43:13
I certainly can't come close to putting things into their proper perspective with as much skill as President Obama. Last night he laid out a vision of a better America for all of us, with working people not condemned to poverty, an economy continuing the recovery it has struggled through for the last three and a half years, and the rights of all Americans protected. He also proved once again that the divisiveness that has gripped this country is not coming from the Left side of the aisle. I doubt the Republicans were even listening, but if any of them do happen to listen to the entire speech, it's hard to imagine how they can go home and say "let's obstruct this."

Article excerpt follows:

The State Of The Union – A Tale Of A Bipartisan Visionary
By Wendy Gittleson

In Tuesday night's State of the Union speech, viewers had a peek into the President's psyche. He spoke of a country whose greatness is not a relic of the past. He spoke of populism – of taking care of the poor and the elderly. He emotionally addressed gun violence and voter rights. He proposed policy changes. Like many speeches of the last four years, a pervasive theme was bipartisanship – and for the most part, his speech fell on deaf Republican ideas. That being said, the President started the speech with a bow to a controversial GOP obsession – the deficit.

The President opened the speech saying that while the economy is better, it's still not good enough and we need to do more to create jobs. At the same time, he addressed income inequality.

But we gather here knowing that there are millions of Americans whose hard work and dedication have not yet been rewarded. Our economy is adding jobs – but too many people still can't find full-time employment. Corporate profits have rocketed to all-time highs – but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged.

The President's first specific was about the deficit, where he called for sacrifice from everyone. He proposed modest cuts to Medicare as well as tax reform. He acknowledged that creating jobs is ultimately the best way out of debt.

Now is our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit. The American people deserve a tax code that helps small businesses spend less time filling out complicated forms, and more time expanding and hiring; a tax code that ensures billionaires with high-powered accountants can't pay a lower rate than their hard-working secretaries; a tax code that lowers incentives to move jobs overseas, and lowers tax rates for businesses and manufacturers that create jobs right here in America. That's what tax reform can deliver. That's what we can do together.

I realize that tax reform and entitlement reform won't be easy. The politics will be hard for both sides. None of us will get 100 percent of what we want. But the alternative will cost us jobs, hurt our economy, and visit hardship on millions of hardworking Americans. So let's set party interests aside, and work to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future. And let's do it without the brinksmanship that stresses consumers and scares off investors. 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.

It was at that point that the speech took a more progressive turn with both anecdotal and policy nods to how we should create jobs and how to make life easier for the working poor. He spoke of American innovation and of green jobs.

After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar – with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone's energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen.

He warned Congress and the nation that "we must do more to combat climate change," but environmentalists will likely be critical of some of his solutions, which include a bipartisan, free market approach and an increase in oil and natural gas drilling. If Congress doesn't act, the President warned, he would take executive action.

But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it's true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it's too late.

Obama stressed the importance of infrastructure and of education. His immigration reform proposals included border security as well as a path to citizenship.

He stressed that Congress should pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, so women can finally be assured of equal pay for equal work.

He called for preschool for all American children.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the speech was something that was not even mentioned on the campaign trail – an increase in the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour, with increases tied to the cost of living.

We know our economy is stronger when we reward an honest day's work with honest wages. But today, a full-time worker making the minimum wage earns $14,500 a year. Even with the tax relief we've put in place, a family with two kids that earns the minimum wage still lives below the poverty line. That's wrong. That's why, since the last time this Congress raised the minimum wage, nineteen states have chosen to bump theirs even higher.

Tonight, let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families. It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead. For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. In fact, working folks shouldn't have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher. So here's an idea that Governor Romney and I actually agreed on last year: let's tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.

He then turned to the world, praising our troops and touting the end of two decade-long wars. He called for a diplomatic approach with Iran and for a stronger approach to cyber-security.

Then he brought the speech back home, where his mood became more somber as he spoke of gun violence and begged Congress to stop filibustering guns and simply allow a vote:

It has been two months since Newtown. I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different. Overwhelming majorities of Americans – Americans who believe in the 2nd Amendment – have come together around commonsense reform – like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals. Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned.

Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. If you want to vote no, that's your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.

One of those we lost was a young girl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was 15 years old. She loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends, they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house.

Hadiya's parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve 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.

He closed the speech with an anecdote of an African-American woman named Desiline Victor, who at 102-years-old, waited six hours to vote. "The room, he said, erupted in cheers when she finally put on a sticker that read ‘I Voted.'"

Predictably, the speech, an appeal to bipartisanship, had a very partisan response. The Speaker of the House, John Boehner, looked dour as he reluctantly awarded the President a few small smatterings of applause. Once again, Republicans and Democrats sat together – which made many seem uncomfortable.

As usual, the American people are far less partisan than Congress, with 53% of people having a "very positive" reaction to the speech and just 22% having a negative response.

Read More: http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/02/13/the-state-...

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  • AL 2013/02/14 04:45:46
  • seattleman 2013/02/13 22:35:25
    Count me in the "very positive" category.

    I was happy to hear President Obama not just mention, but talk about climate change and the need to address it in a serious way.

    I was also happy to see the president take advantage of the stage and really put gun violence in perspective. I think he hit the right tone. It is not ONLY about those 20 children in Newtown.
  • whitewulf--the unruly mobster 2013/02/13 19:40:07
  • #Justice4Trayvon 629 BLOCKT... 2013/02/13 18:41:31
    #Justice4Trayvon 629 BLOCKT CONS
    I loved the speech.
  • gimini210 2013/02/13 17:35:41
    Let me see, he promised Obamacare would give all people insurance and lower the cost, well it doesn't, you have to buy insurance or get fined even if you work at a fast food place or any job but theirs as they and the Muslim community are exempt and it has gone up faster than the national debt in the last four years. He promised it would not cost jobs but create them, well it did cost jobs but it also created them if you are lucky and got one of the new few thousands of government jobs that we now will be taxed to pay for, even states are cutting jobs due to Obamacare, ironic isn't it? Hours cut at thousands of jobs, most of them where the poorest of poor work making them even poorer, thousands of jobs ended creating more poor, our food stamp roll now larger than ever and has more on it than some countries have people. So is he helping the poor? Sure is, he's helping them get poorer and he is creating more of them. WTG Democrats. So next is to tax the companies and rich more so we lose more jobs and more revenue but create more debt and poor. Got to love the idiots who really believe this bull crap. If not for them our nation would of been out of this mess long before now. But what the heck, let the dumb and dumber in Washington continue to prove just how stupid they are and their followers lapping at their heels.
  • dave s 2013/02/13 16:11:17
    dave  s
    what a load of crap

    same ol' same ol'
  • Artist~PWCM~ 2013/02/13 14:28:51
    Well I admit that it was very polished and positive, some good ideas in there but will obama do any follow-thru? No...it will be the same as the last four years only worse. I especially loved the part where all these reforms won't cost the American taxpayer one dime. Now how is that possible with more taxes and no spending cuts?
  • dave b 2013/02/13 14:05:51
    dave b
    It was a rehash of the same old stuff he's talked about since 2008. As far as Hadiya's murder, that was done in a total gun ban city, which happens to have a shooting murder rate thats the highest in the country, by someone who is clearly not a law abiding citizen.
    Why does the government overlook this fact, and continue to try and pass laws that will only target the law abiding citizen?
  • Sissy 2013/02/13 13:44:32
    I found it ironic that Boehner would have the unmitigated nerve to accuse the President of "not having guts......" at an earlier venue when he can't even keep his own caucus together and has been shot down time and time again by the dysfunctional, divisive republican party who hold the House. I also found that the President most of the time, spoke directly to the country and by-passed even trying to reconcile with our erstwhile "loyal opposition."
  • Guru_T_Firefly 2013/02/13 13:22:10
    It was a great speech. Now we can expect all of the idiot RWNJs to crawl out from under their rocks just long enough to display their single-digit IQs. Much like Ted Nugent already did.
  • johndhutcheson 2013/02/13 13:01:24
    You noticed Boeher too. He should have stayed at home and phoned in. Is quite obviously of the problem.

    Quit a lot of the SOTU address is theatre, Last year's was a good speech, but the partizan politics and influence of donors severely impeded progress in many areas.
    As much as the President can talk a good progressive game, we walks like a blue dog.
  • Sissy johndhu... 2013/02/13 13:46:56
    I think too john, that last year he as well as congress, were gearing up for the tough campaign ahead. This year it was quite different. He doesn't have to worry anymore about running and most of what he laid out....strenghtening the Middle Class is going to be pretty hard for the Pubs to discount. Perhaps that's why the President spoke directly to the country.
  • johndhu... Sissy 2013/02/14 07:20:42 (edited)
    Yes, he mentioned late last year that one the lessons he learned from his first term was that he needed to get people behind him. I think, if for no other reason than to shame the conservatards into to doing the right things. But indeed the role of donors should not be underestimated. Marriage Equality got the presidential thumbs up after a couple of major donor consolidators pushed for it - a rather dodgy way to achieve a right action. The donors also push against replacing fossil fuels. but with so many Americans rightly concerned about the already observed effects of climate change, we can only hope to see a shift very soon. A veto on Keystone XL would be a very good sign.
    There is 2700 gigatonnes of carbon in the ground in the fossil fuels industries business plan. Anymore than 595 gigatonnes will reduce our chances of recovering to less than 80%. It's physics, politics is not good with physics,
  • Sissy johndhu... 2013/02/15 19:15:33
    Excellent points. I hope a Con will pick your comments up and discuss them from their point of view.....with hopeful civility. Ya think?
  • Dar 2013/02/13 12:59:38
    Obama's address....shovel worthy.
  • Sissy Dar 2013/02/13 13:49:23
    Which part exactly? The call for a raise in minimum wage? Or maybe you thought that should be buried with your shovel, as well as making education affordable or a priority? Maybe you didn't care for small businesses being addressed or insuring jobs be brought back? Tsk, tsk, feeling a bit of frustration that the wealthy weren't given enough kudos?
  • Dar Sissy 2013/02/18 12:22:07
    Obama rehashes and repromises the same polices every time he opens his mouth. The only thing you can count on is that America will slid further into unrepayable debt that will burden generations to come.
  • Sissy Dar 2013/02/18 12:49:16
    Just because the Right is not interested or cares if the Middle Class rises above our struggles, doesn't mean he will quit trying to get it thru all of your pointy little heads, that its the middle class that drives the economy. Sometime you will have to regale us how you on the Right and are not in the 1% have managed to hold onto your jobs, benefits, decent living wages, not had any of your homes foreclosed on or kept you and your families from having devastating health care costs. I'm sure none of you have ever needed the nast government help to keep food on your tables and have always sent your kids to bed with their little bellys' fed.

    Then when you're all done with that, then please explain why when the republicans are in power, they have no problem with debt or putting wars and tax breaks on credit cards and not challenge Dick Cheney when he said, "deficits don't matter"?

    Give me a break.
  • John 2013/02/13 12:57:32 (edited)
  • ProudPr... John 2013/02/13 13:25:11
    The sentence is not irrelevant. Assault weapons aren't the only problem with guns in this country. Closing the gun show loophole that allows 40% of gun sales in this country, which even a majority of NRA members support, would stop a lot of people from buying "conventional" guns as well. I admit that an assault weapons ban is controversial and even though a majority of the public supports it the chances are it will not pass this Congress. But if we can enact the other measures on the table we can save at least some of those birthdays, graduations and anniversaries.
  • John ProudPr... 2013/02/13 13:43:52 (edited)
  • Ryan ProudPr... 2013/02/13 17:32:43
    Can you show me where the 40% claim comes from?

    I've tried for weeks and can't come up with any basis for that claim.
  • MidnightCowboy 2013/02/13 12:53:19
    The President scored big last night:

    A  report card

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