Is it finally morning in Obama’s America?

21 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

In State Of The Union, Obama Delivers Opening Salvo In The Battle Of 2016.

President Barack Obama, undaunted by the new Republican majority in Congress, issued a sweeping challenge Tuesday night to do more for the poor and middle class and to end the nasty partisan political fight that has characterized his six years in office.

Six years ago this month, the newly elected President Obama declared in a speech that “the strength of our economy can be measured directly by the strength of our middle class.” By that direct measure, the economy is weaker today than it was then – despite accelerating economic growth, tumbling unemployment and rising stock prices. Obama argued that US military leadership in Iraq and Syria is stopping the Islamic State’s advance, but asked lawmakers “to show the world that we are united in this mission” with a war authorization vote.

Scott Applewhite, Associated Press) I was trying to remember Tuesday when the last time a president, in his State of the Union address, asked Americans to reframe their thinking about sacrifice and opportunity. And these policies will continue to work as long as politics don’t get in the way.” The president’s economic agenda for his remaining two years in office includes a proposal to offer free community college, a revision to the tax code intended to benefit middle-class households and expanded paid sick leave rules.

He spoke of millions of new jobs created, modestly rising wages and a stock market that has soared as the country climbed out of the Great Recession that greeted him when he took office in 2009. Not with regard to wartime calls to action, but in the context of our everyday lives — the work we do, the things we want for our children, the expectations we have about this country making it possible for the sons and daughters of those with limited means to move up, move ahead. Obama was quick to point out that 2014 was a break through year for America and the unemployment rate had reduced by leaps and bounds. “More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years.” “Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over. Obama said America learned “some costly lessons” in the fight against terrorism since the September 11, 2001, attacks, and they are guiding his approach to fight the Islamic State extremists. “Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group,” Obama said in remarks prepared for delivery. “We’re also supporting a moderate opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent extremism.

From 2010 to 2013, middle-class families sold off assets and spent down what little savings they had, in order to pay off debt and compensate for stagnating wages, according to calculations by New York University economist Edward N. Will the Democrats continue to be the party “that understands people like you and me” or will that erode on the shoals of new entitlements and runaway debt? We are humbled and grateful for your service.” “America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this. Although members of the Republican leadership have hinted they might be willing to find common ground with the White House, it remains to be seen whether Obama will be able to achieve any of his legislative priorities through a Congress held by the opposition party. His speech proposed new tax credits – including a $500 credit for two-income families and a $3,000 child credit for children under 5 to help with childcare- which would be financed with higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

No question, the country’s wealthiest citizens have bounced way back, raking in record stock-market spoils and watching the companies they own or operate make record profits, year after year. He vowed to relentlessly hunt down terrorists from “Pakistan to the streets of Paris,” then called on Congress to approve new war powers against Islamic State militants. But for the middle class, trying to get a couple of kids through college or figure out how to stretch checks across a family leave, this country has become tougher and less forgiving since Obama took office. After the failure of comprehensive immigration reform on the Hill, he signed an executive order to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from being deported. Obama did that by arguing he had done the necessary work to get the economy into recovery, and by making the case, going forward, for building on a policy philosophy he dubbed “middle-class economics.” “Middle-class economics works,” he declared.

And he acted and sounded liberated from never having to run another campaign except for his own legacy — to keep his base together for a successor and beyond and for his place in history. The problem is that at the same time, the country was gutting the kinds of programs that expand opportunity for the less fortunate — social-service programs, job training, college opportunity programs and, yes, programs focused on correcting the nation’s horrific historical racial injustices. By at least one estimate, comparing what the highest-earning 10% of families take in versus what the lowest-earning 90% make, things are worse now than at any time in the last century. But we will succeed.” While calling for a new era of comity, Obama outlined an agenda that showed he was not going to curtail his own plans in favor of Republican priorities. While he appealed for “better politics” in Washington and pledged to work with Republicans, the president touted bread-and-butter Democratic economic proposals and vowed to veto Republican efforts to dismantle his signature achievements — in particular his health care and financial reform laws.

That’s what middle-class economics is – the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules” – as guaranteed by government. We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix,” Obama said. “And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, I will veto it.” In a section of the speech in which he noted that Americans “respect human dignity,” Obama included the word along with lesbians, gays and bisexuals. “That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.” “Forty percent of our college students choose community college. Instead, he launched the campaign for 2016 by defining what the Obama legacy should be, how to keep the Obama coalition together, and why he wants to be remembered fondly.

Where he has tried to address middle class issues, Obama’s proposals relied heavily on taxing the rich to pay for government programs (most notably the Affordable Care Act) or expanding tax breaks meant to help typical workers endure their rough new economic reality. Obama also proposes paying for more people to go to community college — a sound investment in opportunity that will pay off, not only for the recipients, but also for an economy that’s better stocked with solid earners and more stable families. So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own.” The President was supposed to say “I have no more campaigns to run, my only agenda for the next two years is..” the Republicans started clapping ecstatically. This president’s answer to that, it appears, is mostly improved infrastructure coupled with light industrial policy — targeted support for manufacturing, in particular. Polls show Americans divided about how bad the wealth gap might be, but also show middle-class voters believe they are being left behind by economic policy.

But that’s probably not enough to deliver the number of jobs Obama imagines; even if factory jobs have bounced back a bit with the overall economy, there’s not nearly enough to sustain good paying work for millions of middle class Americans who want it. I know because I won both of them.” “I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information,” the President said. “If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. The things the president is talking about fixing are aimed at tipping the balance back toward opportunity and away from economic isolation and stagnation. He does that by trying to narrow the difference between the taxes on labor income and capital income, or what you earn by working versus what you earn by investing.

Many economists say the preferential treatment for capital income has led to the excessive growth of Wall Street, which has robbed the broader economy of precious brainpower that would be better employed solving human problems and creating more high-paying jobs.

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