Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Washington Watch: Week 3 (Part 2)

The State of the Union (SOTU) -- Part Two

"Partners for Progress....Really?"

Watch the speech below:

Partners for Progress?  Really?

President Obama began his State of the Union address in his usual style of offering an olive branch to his opponents -- in this case what seems to be the entire Republican party.  

Obama began with the words of JFK from his State of the Union speech of fifty-one years ago: “the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress…"

Doesn't seem to make a difference.  According to a recent Washington Post report and poll:
"Seven in 10 people in the survey said they would support a path to citizenship, including 60 percent of Republicans. But when the same question was asked of a separate sample of respondents, this time with Obama’s name attached to it, support dropped to 59 percent overall and just 39 percent among Republicans."
Think Progress summarizes it further:
"Republicans have long opposed policies only after Obama endorsed them. For instance, GOP lawmakers backed away from the individual health care mandate they supported throughout the 1990s and as late as 2009 after Obama included it in his health care reform principles. According to a Reuters/Ispos poll, strong majorities of Republicans back key provisions of Obamacare, but hate the law because Obama’s name is on it."

A New Agenda....or have we heard this before?

It is true the President trotted out some of his past ideas such as creating jobs through infrastructure repair and 'new' green energy initiatives. He also acknowledged the upcoming battle with the sequester coming (mandatory cuts unattractive to both sides of the spectrum)...and the need to r
educe the budget deficit through a mix of tax increases and spending cuts. (Remember, the sequester was created to induce both sides to an agreement).

Nevertheless, there were new ideas offered--although we can't be sure they will get through Congress...these include: universal pre-school and a $9.00 minimum wage.

The President also made a stronger case for addressing climate change, citing recent storms and that the 12 hottest years on record have occurred the past 15 years.

If I had to guess where the President will spend his 'political capital' -- the support he has in the populace -- I would guess it would be in the three areas he argued for most forcefully:

1. Comprehensive immigration reform, providing a path to citizenship.
2. Voting Rights extension -- in was touching seeing the elderly (102-year-old) woman who had to wait hours in line to vote in Florida.
3. And, some kind of gun control. Again, touching to have so many victims of gun violence in the audience and the President, at his best, calling on Congress to act saying:
"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."

Was Boehner Angry, Sad, Bored, Tired, Confused or All of the Above?

Boehner had the strangest expressions during the speech. Didn't clap or stand for anything hardly...which again begs the question..."What are they for?"   "What will Republicans stand up for?
(Whatever it is, if Obama proposes it they will be against it.)

The First Lady's Box

The White House has put out a neat interactive feature where you click on a chair and it gives a description of who was sitting in the First Lady's Box.  Access it here.

A Nostalgic look at Week Three - 2009:   (Excerpts from my National Scene blog, February 17 2009)

  • In his first major act as President, Obama shepherded his Stimulus Bill through Congress this week, and signed the bill—called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Stimulus)—into law.  The bill had strong opposition from Congressional Republicans, although the public, as well as revenue-strapped Governors and Mayors from both parties, tended to support the legislation. The Administration suggested this needed stimulus package was only the first step in solving America’s economic challenges.
  • Marking the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, President Obama, who has stated his admiration of the 16th President, participated in several commemorative activities.
  • President Obama’s choice for commerce secretary, Senator Judd Gregg, withdrew his nomination on Thursday, saying there were “irresolvable conflicts” between him and the administration. The president selected Mr. Gregg after his first choice for commerce secretary, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, withdrew from consideration because of a federal investigation into his state contracts.
  • The administration launched Recovery.gov, billed as: “a website that lets you, the taxpayer, figure out where the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is going…..the money is being distributed by Federal agencies, and soon you'll be able to see where it's going -- to which states, to which congressional districts, even to which Federal contractors.”


President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Feb. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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