Ya know, I remember watching Bush’s SOTU in 2008 and remarking about how much crap he spewed. Our economy is great. Aha. The wars are going well. Yep. The list went on.. I don’t remember having a similar feeling until Obama’s speech last night.
The rhetoric Obama spat out was full of lofty goals and ambitions that made his allies swoon and his opponents blanch. To most Americans it was probably a blah, blah speech for several reasons.
First, the speech was divorced from reality. The President spoke of our “crisis” ending. Wait, the “crisis” is over when a study says over half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. It’s over when the majority of jobs being created are low wage jobs in the low-end part of the service sector. Most Americans know this. It is why they are immune to claims the economy is booming.
Second, Obama came off as cocky. This is kinda funny considering his party got shellacked and they lost Senate seats in blue Iowa and purple Colorado. Oh, and they lost seats in the red states of Nevada and New York. The White House apparently believes this is due to low turnout. Oh wait, more people voted in Iowa and Colorado than did in 2010. Darn!
Understandably, Obama is feeling renewed because he has a bunch of fancy policies to spout on about and his numbers are up. But his tenor came off almost as belligerent and though the speech was not purely partisan it struck one as being more about vetos than bipartisanship.
Third, most Americans are not politically astute. But they are not dumb. So when the President says we all need to play by the same rules liberals cheer and conservatives boo. The middle yawns. Why? Because even they know special interests are more powerful than ever under Obama.
Under this administration unions, renewable energy companies, his wealthy donors, unions, the auto companies, the list goes on, have been able to play under one set of rules. Those other rich people and the rest of America don’t get too.
Now, to be fair, the President did actually put out a fair number of ideas. Some he had already leaked like the .1% tax on high-end financial transactions (of course we all know this never would hit the middle class’s 401Ks) and 2 years of free community college. Other ideas he had hinted at before the speech; 12 weeks paid maternity leave, infrastructure spending, paid apprenticeships and a higher minimum wage.
And again, to be fair, some of these ideas do have bipartisan support. The infrastructure spending idea is not opposed by the GOP. Nor is a minimum wage hike. The GOP just wants states to do it and not the Federal government. Further, some of the middle class tax cuts the President supports by hiking taxes on the wealthy are not foreign to the GOP. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan supports doubling the EITC and increasing the child tax credit. He just does not like hiking taxes on anybody.
Lastly, the President spoke of fairness. But his administration has been anything but fair. Has it been fair for the VA vets denied care under his watch? Or conservative political groups? What about the wealthy that have been demonized endlessly for not paying enough? Or the poor that cannot work more than 29 hours because of Obama’s health insurance mandate? On a sidenote, this might be why a family struggles to live on a minimum wage (though they do qualify for federal food stamps and other programs).
Ultimately, the President’s speech was high on rhetoric and little else. Americans know the economy is far from recovered. Voters sent a message to Obama last year by voting for a Republican and even liberals and moderates who did NOT vote. Apparently, the President did not hear it.