How did Obama fare on his 2014 State of the Union to-do list?

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Another Class Warfare State of the Union.

Two weeks after the Paris terrorism attacks, in the opening days of a new Congress where Republicans control both chambers and are moving to reshape domestic policy, why has the White House used the lead-up to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to promote his post-speech interviews with luminaries such as Bethany Mota, a 19-year-old YouTube celebrity who became famous for showing strangers her fashion and beauty buys online? He went to Tennessee to talk about community college, to Iowa to talk about broadband, to the Federal Trade Commission to talk about identity theft, and even to LinkedIn, where his senior adviser published his plan about paid time off.

After all, that is why these speeches tend to run close to an hour in length; President Bill Clinton, in fact, went over an hour every time he gave one, topping out at an hour and 28 minutes in his final one. Looking to burnish his legacy with two years left in office, Obama will appear before a joint session of Congress in the well of the House of Representatives at 9 p.m. He’ll make it even more of a farce by using it as an opportunity to once again try to convince the American people that you can get something for nothing. He did it with healthcare and got away with it, in no small part due to Republicans failing to offer alternatives and conservatives who just couldn’t bear to vote for Mitt Romney.

The theme of the speech will be “middle-class economics,” and the centerpiece is a tax cut for working families that would be paid for with higher taxes on investments and inheritances for the wealthy. Obama will push a plan to increase taxes by $320 billion over 10 years on the wealthy by closing tax loopholes and imposing a fee on big financial firms.

Obama will tout his plan to make the first two years of community college free for up to 9 million students, as well as his call for increased paid sick leave for employees. It is partly a reflection of the political truism that Americans care a lot more about what a new president has to say than a president deep into his second term, unless war or impeachment is on the table. The president has been leaking dribs and drabs of this year’s “information” for days, and some of the dribs and drabs would be enough to frighten ghosts and scare goblins out of their sepulchers if anyone took any of it seriously, but no one does. That’s because municipalities have built their own broadband networks to compete with internet providers like Comcast and Time Warner Cable, driving prices down and speeds up. And he’ll surely promote a proposal to boost cyber-security for consumers by increasing enforcement capabilities and requiring companies to reveal data breaches within 30 days.

Obama’s aim is to help those left behind by an economic revival taking hold six years into his tenure, which began with the Democrat facing a crippling financial crisis. “Now that we have fought our way through the crisis, how do we make sure that everybody in this country, how do we make sure that they are sharing in this growing economy?” Obama said in a White House-produced YouTube video preview of his speech. The tax riot is the president’s scheme to raise $320 billion in new taxes, raising the tax on capital gains, and eliminate tax breaks for children inheriting their parents’ savings. “Is this for real?” asked an incredulous Bob Schieffer of Dan Pfeiffer, a White House aide, on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Mr. Obama’s proposals are already being viewed skeptically by Republicans who control both houses of Congress and who are in no mood to raise taxes on anyone. “More Washington tax hikes and spending is the same, old top-down approach we’ve come to expect from President Obama that hasn’t worked,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, the top U.S. Pfeiffer returned a sheepish smile, as if to say he had not come to town on the turnip truck, but the president is indeed real, and so is his tax riot.

The administration is legally justifying its air campaign against Islamic State fighters, and its aid to local forces fighting them, on the basis of a congressional authorization. The GOP leadership already lost control of the narrative and put the President back on offense after an ill-timed and ham-handed vote to overturn Obama’s immigration directives.

The approach also reflects the shifting media landscape, in which Americans, especially younger ones, get information less in big chunks from centralized sources and more in fragments from social media and non-traditional news sources. “The mainstream media still matters a great deal, but you can’t just do that anymore,” said White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri. “You have to work harder to reach a larger audience. But White House officials are betting that Republicans, also under pressure to help the middle class and needing to prove they can govern, will be willing to compromise on some aspects of the plan. “So are they going to agree on everything? The speeches are nearly always forgettable, unless there’s someone brave enough in the audience to tell the president “you lie!” as a South Carolina Republican congressman told Mr. But it also has been ambivalent, never offering language for a new resolution authorizing military action and openly voicing concerns that Congress might restrict some actions even while giving authorization for others. This arugula-eating, latter-day Robin Hood will tell people in a soaring voice that income inequality can be solved if only more people paid their fair share to the government.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, after listening to President Obama insert a long diatribe against the court’s Citizens United decision, predicting it would inundate Kansas in a tidal wave and put Mars and Venus on a collision course, was caught on camera mouthing the words: “Not true.” George W. He will carefully thread the needle, not quite blaming the wealthy for the wages that have plummeted and the millions not working, but leaving that to the citizens he’s so confident aren’t smart enough to avoid being Gruberized yet again. The president and speechwriter Cody Keenan began work on Obama’s speech in December while en route to Hawaii, where the Obama family takes an annual vacation. Bill Clinton promised in 2000 that “the era of big government is over,” and Richard Nixon pronounced the Watergate scandal over in 1973. “One year of Watergate is enough.” Enough for him, no doubt. The president will be addressing a House chamber populated with more GOP lawmakers than at any time in decades, a reality that should lower the applause meter (and maybe make the speech move a little quicker?).

Most states already have even stricter laws about security breach notifications, and by the time an identity thief has tanked your credit score, it’s way too late. Alan Gross, the U.S. aid worker whose release from a Cuban prison helped pave the way toward restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba, will be among first lady Michelle Obama’s guests for the speech. But there are a few areas in which Republican leaders—themselves eager to demonstrate their effectiveness to voters—genuinely believe they can make progress with Obama.

Polk set off the great California Gold Rush in 1848 with the word that “an abundance of gold” had been discovered at Sutter’s Mill “that would scarcely command belief.” There went the neighborhood, and eventually San Francisco would be painted a deep shade of lavender. Obama’s speech could also mark the start of the first formal congressional debate over his war against the Islamic State, nearly six months after the military began airstrikes in Iraq and later Syria. Local government has been leading the way on this issue: California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island offer paid family leave, and more than a dozen cities have started offering paid sick days.

Obama’s proposal naturally won’t take into account a wide range of factors that actually determine whether someone is wealthy including overall cost of living, debt, potential future expenses, the volatility of business income, investments, the costs of children, or other dependents and disposable income. With the attacks in Paris having refocused attention on the terrorist threat to the West, the stakes for the military campaign against ISIS appear even higher. For instance, a professional couple making $500,000 a year (a one-percenter) but have college and graduate loans, a large mortgage, a low savings rate, live in a high tax, high cost climate and carry significant credit card debt, are not as wealthy as someone making $100,000 per year who has a much lower debt ratio and lives in a less expensive state.

Except for Jimmy Carter, who sent his written speech to Congress in 1981, presidents have thought that “speaking from the throne” sounded about right. Experts say the plan is dead on arrival—it’s too expensive, Republicans will never support it, and community colleges wouldn’t even be prepared for the influx of students. With unemployment down to 5.6 percent, job growth humming, and gas prices low, it’s in the best shape since Obama took office, and there’s no way he’ll pass up the opportunity to take credit before 30 million viewers. Distinctions all, but through the years the speeches have grown from dull to duller, leaving it to the likes of Joe Wilson and Samuel Alito to keep the audience awake. They are small business owners, lawyers, doctors, engineers, consultants, accountants and countless other regular folks – often two income professional families or business owners – just trying to do the same thing so many other Americans are – own a home, run a business, raise a family and pay bills.

Stagnant wage growth has been the missing piece, and the progressive proposals he’s already announced are oriented around addressing that goal, and the wealth gap more broadly. You’re reminded of the incredible privilege you have in being president.” As for the three people who will interview the president: Green and his brother John launched the online video conference VidCon and the Project for Awesome and have more than 7 million subscribers across several sites.

GloZell is YouTube’s most-followed black creator and has ties to two key political constituencies: teachers (she is the daughter of one) and veterans (she is married to one). The President also thinks you should be taxed on your inheritance upon acquiring it even though you may not sell the asset producing the capital gains. People worry about how they are going to pay their growing tax bills, find work, afford healthcare and put their kids through college to say nothing about providing for an aging parent and having money left for retirement.

In the end, what we’ll get is a strident and emboldened President who will leave the House chamber still lacking a real legislative agenda, because he’s figured out he really doesn’t need one.

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