Obama: ‘Tonight, we turn the page’

21 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Analysis: Obama Seizes on Recovery, Bets on Staying Power.

“Many of you have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for, arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising,” President Barack Obama told lawmakers Tuesday night in his State of the Union address. “Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns.WASHINGTON — Vice President Joe Biden says “I think I could do a good job” as president but says it’s too soon to say if he’ll try to succeed Barack Obama. Imagine if we did something different.” His appeal to the sensibilities of the legislators seated below him was followed less than an hour later by another kind of appeal—a fundraising ask. “I hope you’re excited about the agenda I laid out tonight for 2015,” the e-mail from the Democratic Party read. “Now it’s time to get to work. Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr and Ronald Reagan didn’t talk about manufacturing at all in their addresses, save for passing, oblique references.

Biden says “being president and being leader of the Senate is two different things,” noting a vice president’s constitutional responsibility to occasionally preside over the Senate. The biggest proposals that he will present to Congress and the country will be non-starters with the newly-minted Republican Congress whose support Obama will need to pass legislation.

After years of fighting with Republicans over where to take the country, Obama delivered an hour-long defense of his policies that at times sounded like a victory lap. Tuesday’s speech capped a remarkably activist 11 weeks since Obama suffered the humiliation of Democratic losses that gave Republicans control of both chambers of Congress. Taxes that target the wealthy and a plan to assist students with two years of tuition-free community college will be particularly DOA with both chambers controlled by the GOP. “Proposing a tax hike to a Republican House and Senate is a non-starter,” Mary Kate Cary, who wrote speeches for President George H.W. He asserted that the brightening economic picture — including accelerating job growth, more people with health insurance and lower gas prices — had proved that he was right, and his adversaries misguided, all along. As she uttered her final words, her leadership political action committee sprang to work. “The new Republican majority you elected has made it a priority to reform Congress so that it functions again.

Biden says that running for president is “not my focus now.” He says instead that his goal is “to keep this recovery moving.” Biden also says he has “plenty of time” between now and this summer to make a decision about running. Bush, told The Daily Beast. “There are so many other proposals [Obama] could have started with instead—what a wasted opportunity to reach across the aisle and secure a better legacy for himself.” For the president, there aren’t many options left.

On Wednesday, he was headed to Idaho, a deep-red state he hasn’t visited since becoming president, to follow up on his speech as Republicans pushed back against his agenda. And now we’re working hard to pass the kind of serious job-creation ideas you deserve,” the PAC’s e-mail said. “Please make a contribution of $25, $50, $100 or whatever you can afford to support your new Republican majority.” The auto industry’s next mention was in Reagan’s 1985 speech, when he noted that Detroit had “overhauled assembly lines, increased worker productivity, and is competitive once again.” George W Bush mentioned manufacturing only once, in 2004, as part of a list of things that were going well in America.

The president had been cautious over the past two years not to gloat over news of fitful economic growth, mindful that the economy remained tenuous and public confidence uneasy. The list of worker-friendly economic goals Obama recited Tuesday night, then, was ambitious enough to taunt his enemies: a higher federal minimum wage, a week of paid sick leave, subsidized childcare, a tax plan that would raise taxes for the rich and fees on banks, free community college education, investment in infrastructure, paid apprenticeships to train workers, authority to strike new trade deals, even sending astronauts to Mars.

But with the jobless rate well below 6 percent, the stock market nearing record highs and his job-approval ratings rebounding, Obama on Tuesday night dropped his veneer of reserve and appeared to delight in having proved his critics wrong. “At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious, that we would crush jobs and explode deficits,” he said. “Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health-care inflation at its lowest rate in 50 years.” At times Tuesday, Obama chided Republicans to help improve Washington’s political discourse. He harked back to the themes of national unity that helped him get elected in the first place in 2008 and called for more bipartisan cooperation on key issues. One investment bank, KBW, baldly told clients on Tuesday that it views a bank tax “as political posturing and not a serious policy proposal.” Conservative and libertarian thinktank Generation Opportunity scoffed that the community college plan would involve raising “taxes on 529 savings plans to fund his unaffordable government policies” which would in turn hurt middle-class families. But in doing so, Obama also served to remind the GOP of the reasons their relationship is so fraught — pausing at one point from his prepared text to deliver a spontaneous, and quite partisan, barb. By laying credit at the doorstep of his own administration, Obama is looking to gain leverage over Republicans and weaken their resolve to undo his go-it-alone initiatives on immigration, climate change and Cuba.

When Republicans jokingly applauded after Obama noted that he had run his last campaign, the president quipped: “I know because I won both of them.” Obama took the spotlight in front of Vice President Biden and House Speaker John A. The cost of modernizing the country’s crumbling infrastructure, a favorite Obama issue, starts at $2.4tn, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. It’s about the people’s priorities,” Boehner said in a video posted to YouTube on Tuesday. “Making the government bigger isn’t going to help the middle class. A $3,000 tax break for childcare would seem like to run into the same shoals as Obama’s doomed tax proposal to raise fees on high earners again: this Congress cannot agree on taxes. Thune contrasted the current toxic climate with when he was a Capitol Hill staffer in the 1980s, describing President Ronald Reagan’s White House working with key Congressional leaders, sending back and forth different proposals. “The White House and the president have expressed interest, rhetorically… but when push comes to shove, really engaging with the Congress, we haven’t seen that,” Thune said.

The president announced early in his speech that he would focus less on the usual laundry list of new proposals — the White House had revealed most of them ahead of time — and instead focus on the “values at stake” for the American people moving forward. In 2010, the Commerce Department’s international trade administration said “portion of US production attributable to manufacturing has steadily declined since 1965.” The trend in US manufacturing is now upward.

Bush, said that Clinton’s second-to-last SOTU focused on big issues where parties could find common ground: the federal budget surplus, welfare reform—even solving the Y2K problem. An ESA report optimistically points out that between 2009 and 2013, 75% of research and development spending, 52% of exports, and 43% of foreign direct investment have been generated by the manufacturing sector. These rifts reinforced a sense of structural injustice that fed into the Occupy movement and then, later, a fascination with the work of Thomas Piketty, who Obama himself termed an inspiration. A brighter future is ours to write.” In the wake of the GOP rout in the midterms, the president responded by announcing a series of aggressive executive actions, including measures to protect millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, to work toward reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and to strike a climate agreement with China.

According to a report from Bloomberg Businessweek in October, wages in China’s Yangtze delta had risen from 82 cents an hour in 2001 to about $5 per hour this year. It means, he said, “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.” Middle-class economics serves several important purposes. A recent Wall Street Journal article suggests that in the US, stable wages, competitive energy prices and the desire to shorten supply chains is causing many American companies to consider putting “Made in USA” stickers on products.

On foreign policy, Obama sought to build on the idea, first enunciated during a lengthy speech at West Point last spring, of a “smarter kind of American leadership” in which the United States balances military intervention with diplomacy and coalition-building. Obama has made the case in recent weeks, as he marked the end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan, that the nation is safer after more than a decade of combat abroad — even though he authorized renewed U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria to combat the Islamic State militant group.

And Obama’s middle-class economics reflects, almost exactly, the Center’s project on middle-out economics, from apprenticeships to tax breaks to student debt relief. The president is seeking “trade promotion authority,” or the ability to negotiate trade deals that Congress can either approve or reject but not change. But such a declaration seemed premature, set against images Tuesday of two orange-clad Japanese hostages kneeling in the desert before a black-robed militant.

In the long term, there are fundamental obstacles in our policy and financial system that will hinder the financial progress of those who can’t fall back on inherited wealth. But Obama was determined to project an optimistic view of the nation’s future, and he maintained faith that the country could rise above its divisions. Republicans began the year by seeking to undo Obama’s immigration initiative, weaken provisions in the 2010 financial regulations law, and force approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada. It’s held up as proof not just of my own flaws — of which there are many — but also as proof that the vision itself is misguided, and naive.” “I want this chamber, I want this city, to reflect the truth,” he said, “that for all our blind spots and shortcomings, we are a people with the strength and generosity of spirit to bridge divides, to unite in common effort.”

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