President Obama used his State Of The Union address tonight to literally shatter everything the Republican Party claims to stand for.
President Obama first discussed fairness early in his address, “The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.”
The president later discussed what caused the 2008 economic collapse, and how the economy has recovered,
Those are the facts. But so are these. In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005. American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Together, we’ve agreed to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion. And we’ve put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like that never happens again.
The state of our Union is getting stronger. And we’ve come too far to turn back now. As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.
No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.
Obama also took a jab at Mitt Romney for opposing the auto bailout, “On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world’s number one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs. We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back.”
After outlining his plans for manufacturing, reforming the tax code, energy and education, President Obama demanded that the rich pay their fair share, “Right now, we’re poised to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was supposed to be a temporary tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. 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.
Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Or do we want to keep our investments in everything else – like education and medical research; a strong military and care for our veterans? Because if we’re serious about paying down our debt, we can’t do both.
The American people know what the right choice is. So do I. As I told the Speaker this summer, I’m prepared to make more reforms that rein in the long term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors.”
He continued, “But in return, we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of Members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes. Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right: Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. In fact, if you’re earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn’t get special tax subsidies or deductions. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn’t go up. You’re the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You’re the ones who need relief.”
Obama also challenged the Republicans class warfare argument, “Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense. We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference – like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet. That’s not right. Americans know it’s not right. They know that this generation’s success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to their country’s future, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility. That’s how we’ll reduce our deficit. That’s an America built to last. ”
President Obama spoke about his foreign policy successes, and used the SEAL team that got Bin Laden to return to his message of a united America,
One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn’t matter. Just like it didn’t matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates – a man who was George Bush’s defense secretary; and Hillary Clinton, a woman who ran against me for president.
All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn’t deserve credit for the mission. It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job – the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control; the translator who kept others from entering the compound; the troops who separated the women and children from the fight; the SEALs who charged up the stairs. More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other – because you can’t charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there’s someone behind you, watching your back.
So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I’m reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those fifty stars and those thirteen stripes. No one built this country on their own. This Nation is great because we built it together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other’s backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we’re joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.
Usually State Of The Union addresses are a laundry list of achievements and policy wants, but Obama’s address tonight was different. It is rare to see a president deliver an address that is designed to simply emphasize a few themes. The lofty dreams of bipartisanship that was never going to happen were gone. Instead Barack Obama told Congress to work together, or he will work without them. President Obama wasn’t asking Congress to do things. He was telling them what to do.
The theme of Obama’s address was fairness. It is not a coincidence Obama was calling for the rich to pay more taxes on the same day when it was revealed that quarter of a billionaire Mitt Romney pays the same effective tax rate as someone who earns $50,000. Obama also sought to take the domestic energy issue away from the Republicans by advocating a comprehensive domestic energy plan that included natural gas, renewable energy, and America’s own energy resources.
President Obama’s fourth State Of The Union address revealed a more mature president who understands his powers and his voice. All first term presidents have to find their voice. The good presidents grow into the job and are in step with public opinion. Bad presidents never seem to get it, and are always out of step with the nation that they lead.
Obama’s address laid out his plan and vision for the future of America. While his potential Republican opponents bash and smear, this president charted a course for the future. Nothing on his agenda was radical. Much of it was downright practical. This was a very moderate State Of The Union address. As the Republican Party continues its trek right into oblivion President Obama is not only occupying the middle, he owns it. New polling has revealed that the president has regained his popularity with moderates and independents, and this SOTU made it easy to see why.
Republicans like to paint Obama as a socialist extremist, but there was nothing socialist or extreme in his State Of The Union. The Republican Party should have been terrified by what they heard tonight. Obama made a comprehensive case against everything the Republican Party has been advocating for. President Obama argued against job creators and wealth inequality. The president argued against child janitors by calling for more and better education.
Obama doesn’t want an energy policy that only benefits Big Oil. This president didn’t sell America the myth of energy independence through drilling at home. He laid out a strategy for real energy independence. Obama argued that regulations are a good thing, and the president spoke about a country together instead of divided.
President Obama shattered everything that the Republican Party claims to stand for tonight. If the GOP is the party of the few, Barack Obama’s State Of The Union was an address to the many.
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