Blasts From The Past: A Look At Obama’s Previous State of The Unions

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Analysis: Do we even need a State of the Union address anymore?.

On Tuesday, he’ll deliver his seventh – and next-to-last – such speech to the nation. President Obama’s job approval rating is back up to 50 percent, its highest since 2013, according to an ABC News/Washington Post national survey released on the eve of the State-of-the-Union speech.I have invented a word for this little epistle, “prejoinder,” which means ‘an answer to some statement or event that has not yet occurred.’ Specifically, I wish to comment on leaked components of President Obama’s State of the Union Address of January 20,2015, the sixth anniversary of his first inauguration.

The president, in using his executive powers, has enhanced his standing with core constituencies like Democrats (up 10 percent), young people under the age of 20 (19 percent) and with Hispanics (22 percent). In short, the President wants to reprise his earlier Robin Hood schemes of taxing rich individuals and demonized businesses (large banks) more to give to the “middle class” (often, actually lower income groups), with the twist that this time Obama wants the expanded government services to be concentrated on higher education. Obama is trying to shore up his legacy and help Democrats seeking to win the White House in 2016 with policies intended to aid Americans who have failed to benefit from the economic recovery. By a 40-36 percent margin, those polled feel the president can “do a better job coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years” than Republicans who run Congress. As an economist who has spent a lot of my life talking about taxation and, more recently, about higher education, these ideas have caught my attention.

House of Representatives (with Democrat Nancy Pelosi first sitting behind him, then Republican John Boehner). 2009: “[W]hile our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before” – Obama speaking in the midst of the country’s economic free fall and right after passage of the American Recovery Act, a.k.a., the stimulus. 2010: “Don’t walk away from [health-care] reform. From expanded health coverage to broadening a tax credit for workers, the president also wants to put more money in the pockets of lower-income earners. The Republicans may have made a tactical error in their first, signature piece of legislation, a bill requiring immediate approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. First, Obama wants to raise the top marginal tax rate on capital gains to 28 percent, up from the current maximum (counting ObamaCare related taxes) of a bit over 23 percent.

His plans face opposition from the Republican-run Congress, which wants to cut taxes and spending. “Now that the economy’s in a stronger place than it’s been in a very long time, we need to double down on our efforts to deal with wage stagnation and declining economic mobility,” Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to Obama, said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program. “In divided government, each side should lay out their agenda, what they think is in the best interest of the country. The ABC/Post poll assked: “Obama says he will take executive actions intended to accomplish some of his administration goals if Congress does not act. The Laffer Curve does exist, and for capital gains income the revenue-maximizing rate is clearly below 25 percent; the Joint Economic Committee of Congress published a study I did on this three decades ago making this argument, and the basic economics has not changed. Watching him speak to a packed Congress was like watching Barbra Streisand sing, Michael Jackson moonwalk, Tiger Woods golf, or Steve Jobs pitch a product.

In 1789, it was perhaps useful to remind the president of the importance of keeping Congress (then numbering fewer than 100 people) up to speed on what was happening in the nation on the whole. Let’s get it done” – Obama exhorting Congress (especially Democrats) after Scott Brown’s Senate victory in Massachusetts looked to imperil health-care reform. 2011:”Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the men and women of the 112th Congress, as well as your new Speaker, John Boehner.

And as we mark this occasion, we’re also mindful of the empty chair in this chamber, and we pray for the health of our colleague – and our friend — Gabby Giffords” – with the new GOP-controlled House and after then-Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot. 2012:”For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country… 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, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules” – as Obama’s re-election message was coming into focus, especially with Mitt Romney as his likely Republican opponent. 2013: “The families of Newtown deserve a vote. Obama will travel to Kansas on Thursday to amplify the themes of his speech—the president will answer questions with viral video stars Bethany Mota, GloZell and Hank Green in a YouTube interview. While workers at the bottom have been aided by government transfer payments, the picture is grim: Transfers boosted after-tax 2011 income for the bottom fifth from $15,500 — based solely on earnings from work — to $24,100, according to a November 2014 Congressional Budget Office analysis that uses different data than the Census report.

The safety net stabilized income in the 2007-2009 recession and its aftermath, said Richard Reeves, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. He is preferred, 45 percent to 40 percent, when it comes to creating jobs and gets a big 61-22 percent bump when it comes to helping students afford college. While most policies were in effect when Obama entered office, his economic-stimulus plan — which included initiatives such as an expansion of a refundable tax credit — helped keep households afloat, Reeves said. His poll numbers haven’t been helped by the speech; on average, his approval as measured by Gallup has been a point lower the week after his addresses, compared to the week prior. To Obama, banks are villains, and the huge extortions in the form of fines on banks in the past few years are border line confiscatory and certainly have reduced their vitality and threatened America’s lead as a financial center.

They deserve a simple vote” – after the Newtown, Conn., shootings. 2014: “For decades, few things exposed hard-working families to economic hardship more than a broken health care system. Transfer payments don’t have the same quality-of-life value as earning money from work, said Mark Calabria, director of financial-regulation studies at the Cato Institute in Washington and a former Republican Senate aide. Amid low wage growth, he said, “the bottom fifth has not done well.” “Our job now is to make sure that every American feels that they’re a part of our country’s comeback,” he said in his Jan. 17 weekly radio address. Bush and Jimmy Carter) going into the last two years of his presidency, but still falls well belong a scandal-plagued Bill Clinton in approval for how he is doing his job. The evidence shows these Robin Hood policies have NOT led greater income equality or reduced poverty under Obama, and have measurably slowed the rate of economic growth.

On Obama’s handling of the economy, Americans are split down the middle — 48 percent saying they approve of his policies, 48 percent voicing disapproval. I have written previously on the absolutely awful community college proposal – the poor already get essentially free community college education, and others do not need “free” tuition to support their college; too many go to college anyhow and the community colleges have a terrible dropout problem, etc., etc. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and the conscience of our nation long enough. He gets a razor-think affirmative vote, 47-45 percent on handling of terrorism, despite unrelenting Republican and Fox News attacks for Obama not being at a Jan. 11 demonstration in Paris.

So let there be no doubt: health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.” – 2009 Financial reform: “I ask Congress to move quickly on legislation that will finally reform our outdated regulatory system. Obama is eager for his ideas to be heard by the public that he’s embraced the fragmentation of the media, announcing his community college plan with a Vine and Facebook for his immigration action.

After Tuesday’s speech, he’ll take questions from a category of people known as “YouTube stars,” one of whom is fond of green lipstick and whose 2012 video of her choking on cinnamon has been viewed 42 million times. (If you don’t feel like doing the math, that’s 126 percent of Obama’s live 2014 SOTU audience.) A bigger problem, though, is that Americans simply are no longer that impressed by the pageantry of the presidency. Honest liberals (who understand basic economics) like Sandy Baum are negative on both the community college and tax credit ideas, although the hard leftish members of the College for All crowd – think Wisconsin’s Sara Goldrick-Rab – strongly support this effort to drop money out of airplanes (or the equivalent) over the homes of America’s protected Chattering Classes.

After Clinton so carefully crafted a role as America’s “Good Father” in 1996, Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr was now investigating Clinton’s weaknesses as a bad husband. The administration has fully embraced social media in the run-up to the speech, starting with White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer previewing the speech earlier this month on the website Medium. And we’ve sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: We will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.” – 2011 Cap and trade: “So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America.” – 2009 Closing Guantanamo: “That is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists – because living our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger.” – 2009 Ousting the Assad regime in Syria: “A year ago, Qaddafi was one of the world’s longest-serving dictators — a murderer with American blood on his hands. CAP, founded by Obama counselor and expected Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, released proposals last week that it says will promote prosperity for all. So let’s get immigration reform done this year.” – 2014 2011: “And tonight, more than two centuries later, it’s because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.”

Clinton’s administration, said that the flurry of activity in advance of the speech could help build excitement for the speech—and even boost viewership. “It helps to pull people into the speech,” said Mr. It gives the president an excuse to talk about his policy priorities, but he certainly doesn’t need to gather everyone together in the Capitol to do that. This administration isn’t new to ambitious plans to benefit the poor: The president’s health law is intended to offer low-income Americans stability through insurance. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already knows (and has likely already dismissed) Obama’s key policy goals — immigration, community colleges — even without Obama’s big address. So Obama walks onto the House floor, passing through an effusive crowd of legislators as they imagine themselves making that same walk, and the Great Spectacle of Washington is upheld.

Because this is what happens in Washington, D.C. — because this is what has happened in Washington, D.C., and, let’s face it, politicians don’t come here to upset the apple cart. Obama would also consolidate several education tax breaks into a single tax credit worth up to $2,500, and is proposing to end taxation of some student loan debt forgiven under income-based repayment plans.

Let’s give them a hand.” As the Democrats applauded the squirming Republicans, he beamed: “That’s great.” With that mischievous maneuver, Clinton spoke over the Republicans’ heads directly to the American people, emphasizing the bipartisanship most Americans want but both parties frequently fail to provide. While again calling for “a government that is a progressive instrument of the common good, rooted in our oldest values of opportunity, responsibility and community,” Clinton tried mobilizing support for Social Security reform. Wage growth remains tepid, and falling gas prices, a boon to the middle class, have done little to help low-income Americans, who often don’t drive. She has gotten both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree since being laid off from her full-time position in 2009 yet only landed a part-time, $20,000 job as a community organizer in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Bush marveled, “Now I understand why he’s inside looking out, and I’m outside looking in.” Since his first inaugural address, Obama has failed to wow Americans with his speeches, as he did so effectively during his 2008 campaign. With unemployment down but GDP up, Obama finally can deliver some of the good news his predecessor was lucky enough to sprinkle throughout his speeches. Obama can flummox Republicans and appeal to the public by seizing the center rather than lurching left, acting as president of all the people, not a partisan leader of the opposition-to-the-opposition.

He might even integrate it all into a coherent, comprehensible, and accessible vision such as Clinton’s opportunity-responsibility-community mantra, so Americans have a sense of forward momentum. But Clinton also conveyed an intense, authentic, infectious love of the people, the policies, and the politics that disarmed many Republicans, thrilled many Democrats, and wooed many independents.

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