Interesting words to hear from President Obama during his State of the Union address Tuesday night, soon after he pledged the government to “helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, [and] retirement.”
Though the president spoke against “handouts,” he talked about government-provided “worker protections, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid” and “schools and colleges, infrastructure and the internet.”
The president urged Congress to pass “child care and sick leave and equal pay; things like lower mortgage premiums and a higher minimum wage.” He referenced his new plans to provide free community college, second-earner tax credits, child tax credits, and a “Precision Medicine Initiative.”
After running through this list of programs, the president took an interesting turn – he claimed that we should make America the “most competitive economy everywhere.” One way to do that, an idea the president failed to mention, would be to lower the country’s corporate tax rate, which is currently the highest in the world.
“Let’s set our sights higher than a single oil pipeline,” said Obama, advocating for a larger infrastructure plan. But if the only problem with the Keystone XL pipeline is that it simply doesn’t go far enough, why has the president pledged to veto it?
The president pledged to keep fighting to close Guantanamo Bay. “I will not relent in my determination to shut it down,” he said.
Obama dedicated two large paragraphs to climate change, citing data from NASA that this year was the warmest on record. He referred to the Pentagon’s claiming that climate change posed “immediate risks to our national security” and that we must “act forcefully.”
But he went one step further when he said “no challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” Not terrorism, not an $18 trillion national debt – but climate change.
The president wrapped up his 6th State of the Union speech with another attempt to build unity, defending himself against attacks that his presidency has actually created more division in America. “A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other,” he said. (This from a president who never ceases to lambast Republicans for opposing his ideas.)
“I commit to every Republican here tonight that I will not only seek out your ideas, I will seek to work with you to make this country stronger,” said Obama. This, after releasing a plan to increase both taxes and government spending without consulting Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee.
“It’s possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” said the president, even though he pledged to veto any bill that would “fight past battles on immigration” earlier in the speech.
“We’ve laid a new foundation. A brighter future is ours to write. Let’s begin this new chapter – together – and let’s start the work right now,” the president concluded.
But with a Congress that reflects a resounding defeat of the Democratic policies the president is pushing for, that may be difficult.