Blogs » Politcs Plus » My take on the State of the Union address



The State of the Union is a constitutional requirement under Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution which states "He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." President Woodward Wilson was the first to deliver his before a joint session of Congress. Presidents before him used to send a written report to Congress. Since that time presidents have used this opportune time to lay out a laundry list of projects that seldom saw the light of day. Presidents have been talking about alternative energy since Jimmy Carter, yet we're still on fossil fuels and every time gasoline goes up a nickel; it's the president fault.

There were parts of last night's State of the Union speech that was leaked to the press days before the event. The pundits said a full draft of the speech was on the Internet 2 hours before the president gave his speech, therefore I was neither surprised nor disappointed with last night's speech. I think the speech was intended for the independent voters because at times it angered the left and then less than 5 minutes later; his prepared text angered the right. I thought the general theme of the speech was for more innovation, unity, and a message of “out with the old way of doing things." The president laid out his agenda, without specifics, calling for spending cuts but not in a way that it will choke our steady but slow economy. He talked about lowering corporate tax rates but also about serious tax reform that will eliminate tax loopholes. He rightly said that the oil companies don't need any more tax incentives, that money could be spent for the clean energy of the future. He recognized the Congress needs to work that out and make it happen if we're going to remain competitive.

It was quite obvious that this speech was different because the political parties weren't sitting on different sides of the isle. We didn't see as much partisan cheering or the sparse hisses. The only show of political divide was the absence of the three most extreme conservative Supreme Court judges, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. It might've been just me but I did see the marine commandant smirk when the president said “no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love." The president quickly followed up with telling the universities that it's time to allow the military recruiters back on campus. The only line in the sand, I remember the president taking was when he said “we can't afford "permanent" extension of tax cuts for the rich."

For some reason, the opposition will give their rebuttal, but it lacks a sting because the speaker doesn't have the advantage of an audience, applause, or any sort of feedback. Congressman Paul Ryan was quite gracious and said the debt was a bipartisan disaster. He went onto explain the differences the parties have on tackling the debt. He gave a typical republican response by calling for a very lean government and more tax cuts. He emphasized the need to take a hatchet to the budget and delivered the GOP message of the day by saying "when the democrats talk of investment; it's code for more spending."The Republican Party had two rebuttals this year; much to the leadership's chagrin. Tea Party representative, Michelle Bachmann, gave her partisan rebuttal displaying a one -sided chart blaming the Obama Administration for all the job losses. She used the same talking points that can be heard every day on talk radio or Fox News, so I'm still wondering why CNN aired the event. The republican leadership should be thankful Rand Paul wasn’t given the opportunity to give his proposals. Senator Paul wants to slash $500 billion in fiscal year 2011, which only has eight remaining months. Bachmann lists more than $400 billion in cuts. This is what Rand Paul's full proposal looks like:

The cuts:

* legislative branch -- 23%
* federal courts -- 32%
* Agriculture Department -- 30%
* Commerce Department -- 54%
* Health and Human Services -- 26%
* Homeland Security -- 43%
* Interior Department -- 78%

The legislation also lists programs for elimination. How about ... the Affordable Housing Program, the Commission on Fine Arts, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State Justice Institute.

If I had to draw a chart, rating the need to make massive budget cuts I would say it's about a 75% need. The GOP thinks, we are going over the edge, unless we make drastic cuts. As the president said the stock market is nearing the 12,000 mark, corporate profits are up, but we need to lower unemployment rates. We still have room to improve our trade imbalances, make new trade agreements, innovate, fund research and development, improve education, cut back on military spending, without panicking. The entitlements need bipartisan reform because if only one party has the task of reform; that party will pay at the polls.

It's early but I still don't think the 112th Congress will pass any significant legislation. The house has passed four bills and not one of them had anything to do with jobs. If the Tea Party is serious about their proposal, and if they have significant clout within the Republican Party; we are in for a ride.