Wednesday, February 13, 2013

State Of The Union 2013

It was a long night...I was following the coverage of the Christopher Dorner situation...The rogue cop in Los Angelas who killed four people in an atteempt to bring attention to racism and corruption in the LAPD and his own personal demons.... I didn't agree with the way he went about it and I knew it was only going to end one way...The way it did...With his death...

The other news I followed last night was the President's state of the Union Address...This was supposed to be the big story....The Prez kind of got upstaged a little bit...for awhile anyway.

President Barack Obama challenged Republicans on major tax and entitlement proposals in Tuesday's State of the Union address, unveiling sweeping new initiatives to boost the middle class while taking aim at GOP recalcitrance.

The president traveled to Capitol Hill on Tuesday for the annual speech, where he pressed Republicans to allow his proposals on issues ranging from taxes and entitlements to guns and immigration to move forward. While Obama seemed determined to advance his ambitious agenda, he must race against a window of opportunity that often closes quickly on president in their second terms.
Moreover, the president's plans will have to survive the brier patch of Capitol Hill, where Republicans have strenuously opposed much of President Obama’s agenda and are girding for a major springtime showdown on budgets and the swift, automatic spending cuts known as the sequester. Nothing new about that!

“Let's be clear: deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan,” said President Obama, who argued that his second term priorities did not represent “bigger government,” but rather, “smarter government.”

President Obama spent much of the first half of his speech challenging Republicans on that central issue after two years of legislating in Washington that saw the government lurch from the brink of a shut down to the brink of a debt-limit default to the brink of automatic tax hikes.
“Let’s agree, right here, right now, to keep the people’s government open, pay our bills on time, and always uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America,” the president said.
The assertive rhetoric from President Obama recalled the themes on which he successfully campaigned for re-election last fall. Tuesday’s speech mostly lived up to its billing by the White House as a coda to the liberal call-to-arms in  President Obama's second inaugural address on issues ranging from government spending to gay rights and immigration reform.

One issue on which President Obama did not campaign -- stricter gun controls -- featured more poignantly in Tuesday's speech. Gun violence has unwittingly become a cornerstone of President Obama's second term agenda following the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn. last December.

Gun control is an issue on which President Obama faces stiffer Republican resistance, and the president took a much more personal tack in pressing lawmakers to take up his proposals. He turned victims of high-profile shootings in attendance at Tuesday’s speech in urging lawmakers to, at the very least, allow his gun proposals a vote.
"Gabby Giffords deserves a vote," he said, referring to the critically injured former Arizona congresswoman in the House chamber. "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."

President Obama’s speech on Tuesday was delivered in the same vein; the president embraced proposals that might encounter resistance in this Congress, such as new legislation to address climate change. But, in a reflection of  President Obama’s new found feistiness in a second term, the president vowed to take executive action if Congress would not act.I loved it...Some Republicans in attendance looked like they wanted to slit the presidents throat.

President Obama made other proposals. He said would bolster the middle class. Among  President Obama’s proposals were: Universal access to preschool for all four-year-olds, increasing the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour by the end of 2015, $50 billion in infrastructure spending, and partnerships to promote cleaner energy and improved manufacturing.
Those initiatives, the president pledged, should not increase the deficit “by a single dime.”
To help finance those initiatives, President Obama called for broad individual and corporate tax reforms, as well as savings from entitlement programs like Medicare – changes to which have been a lightning rod in recent election cycles. Those proposals carefully track with President Obama's previous demands to close loopholes and deductions to raise new revenue in tax reform.

But Republicans have argued that the matter of new revenue is “settled” following a fiscal cliff deal that saw the GOP relent to higher taxes on household income above $450,000. To that end, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, in the official Republican response, called on the President to “abandon his obsession with raising taxes and instead work with us to achieve real growth in our economy.”

President Obama’s ambitious plans come as he’s asking lawmakers to approve two other major proposals: comprehensive immigration reform that gives undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship, and a series of tighter controls on firearms as part of a broader effort to curb gun violence.

On immigration, the president lauded a bipartisan Senate group’s work on immigration.

“As we speak, bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and I applaud their efforts,” he said. “Now let’s get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away."

But for as much as fiscal matters and economic policy have dominated discussion in Washington, President Obama devoted a good part of his State of the Union speech to foreign policy – highlighting in particular the planned withdrawal of 34,000 American troops from Afghanistan in the next year, a tangible symbol of how that war is winding to its end.

President  Obama also used his speech to address some of the emergent national security issues. He condemned North Korea’s nuclear test on Tuesday and pledged to work with Congress to develop rules for the use of unmanned aerial drones in targeting terrorists for assassination. The administration has faced new scrutiny on that latter issue amid the revelation of a new White House memo arguing that the president has wide latitude to target Americans for assassination if they’re deemed to be assisting terrorist actors.

The President additionally announced a new executive order to inoculate U.S. infrastructure from a cyber-attack, by enabling greater information-sharing between the government and its partners and calling for the development of a National Infrastructure Protection Plan within 240 days.

The event, as always, was filled with Washington pomp and circumstance, including lawmakers to arrived hours earlier to reserve prime seats for themselves. Also, in keeping with tradition, outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu was kept spirited away from the Capitol to ensure continuity of government in case of a security incident.

It was indeed a very long and interesting night...


Eddie said...

Ok so now the Republicans are using Marco Rubio as their Token Latino like the used Micheal Steel as their Token Black. When Rubio fails to pull the Latino vote they'll dump him like they did Michael Steel. Don't let them fool my Latino Brothers and Sisters. They have no love for you.

Zulu said...

If the republicans could have enough hate in them to invite a racist like Ted Nugent, you know they are not going to work with Obama on anything. He has to use the bully pulpit and the power of executive order to get important things done. That's the only way.

Angie B. said...

These republicans don't clap for anything that will actually help the American people. It's so obvious that they don't want to the 99% to have NOTHING! It was a good speech overall!

Arlene said...

Great post, Keith. My concern is with the insipid response from the republicans as well. What I heard from Marco Rubio sounded like a kid responding to what a parent told him to do. He doesn't like it so he's rebelling. He doesn't like government, but he wouldn't have gotten a college education without it. He doesn't like Social Security but his parents couldnot live without it. This is silly. And typically republican. I like the light shining on them. We can see their warts.

P.S. I didn't bother to listen to the tea party position. I've already judged Rand Paul to be a fool, and at my age I don't suffer fools.

Keith said...

Me neither....That's why I didn't bother to mention him!


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