What It Means: President Obama State of the Union Proposals

22 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Tonight, We Turn The Page’: Obama Lays Out 2015 Agenda.

BOISE, Idaho (Reuters) – A day after delivering a defiant State of the Union speech to the Republican-led U.S. Seven years ago this month, when Barack Obama won the Democratic caucus in Iowa and was on his way to being elected president, he offered the American people a hopeful and optimistic vision of America’s future.

WASHINGTON — The morning after major Democratic losses in last year’s midterm elections, President Obama walked into the Roosevelt Room with a message for his despondent staff: I’m not done yet. Fifteen years that dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious recession spread across our nation and the world. As predicted, Republican responses to the speech ranged from dismissal to anger—or rather, mock anger; since it has always been clear that Republicans would reject anything Mr Obama were to offer up, their condemnations of his failure to reach out were pantomime too.

Obama showed that he fully intends not only to maintain his relevance as president, but that he will do everything in his power to leave behind as his legacy a strengthened Democratic Party and a political narrative in which the fundamental differences between the two parties could not be clearer. Obama left Washington for a two-day trip to Idaho and Kansas to push his message that everyone should stand to gain from an economy that has all but recovered from years in the doldrums. Mike Lee, a Republican senator from Utah, inadvertently captured the circular logic of the situation: “For him, it’s all 2016 partisan politics now, and Republicans shouldn’t waste time debating the merits of the president’s political talking points.” Of course, if Republicans are unwilling to debate the merits of Mr Obama’s proposals, one can hardly expect him to deliver anything other than political talking points. Tax proposals that would boost middle-class families were in the president’s speech; so were calls for a new approach to immigration and a push for free education at community colleges. If anything, the speech was a master class in presidential trolling, in which he contrasted his successful presidency with that of his predecessor, and his hopeful vision with that of his opponents. “Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999,” said Obama. “Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.

Obama lives in an alternate reality, divorced from their belief that voters repudiated the president’s agenda last year, inside the West Wing, there was relief that the sometimes brooding leader of the past year was gone. 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.

The president repeatedly touted “middle-class economics,” and he invoked the story of one young family that struggled to make ends meet during the worst of the economic crisis to say Americans have rebounded. Six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Obama asked, rhetorically, “Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? It was light, however, on policy details. “I want to focus less on a checklist of proposals,” the president said, “and focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us.” He offered name checks of cherished Democratic chestnuts — universal child care, paid sick and maternity leave, government guarantees of equal pay for women, and a higher minimum wage.

To a crowd of more than 6,000 in a stadium at Boise State University, Obama continued to chide Republicans and noted that their limited applause during his speech on Tuesday made clear that they did not back his ideas. “I know there are Republicans who disagree with my approach. He offered a new initiative to do “precision medicine” and offered support for humanity expanding into the solar system, not to visit, but to stay. (Yes, please.) He wants more money to fight Ebola. I could see that from their body language yesterday,” he said to laughter from the crowd. “My job is to put forward what I think is best for America. Will we allow ourselves to be . . . turned against one another . . . or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward?” The contrast could not have been clearer — which party supports only the few, which party drags the nation into costly conflicts, which party turns Americans against each other? The specifics were rather light, particularly on his extensive array of tax proposals, which will raise a significant amount of money with some rather sweeping changes to the way we tax educational savings, capital gains and estates.

Surely, in Obama’s view, it’s not the Democrats. “At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits,” said the president. “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 fifty years.” Or to put that more concisely, Obama was telling congressional Republicans — who spent most of the speech either on their hands or on their phones — “you lied.” Obama went through a litany of progressive policy goals, including raising the minimum wage, expanding subsidized child care, and providing free community college, all of which have little chance of becoming law. So far this year, Obama has stiffed the GOP agenda.”) Those of us sick of all this talk of empathetic nods and inches given or stiffed would prefer to find some way to talk about the content of governance.

At this moment – with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production – we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. According to Obama, “We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree . . . that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.” On immigration, he said, “surely . . . it’s possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.” On voting rights, “surely we can agree that the right to vote is sacred; that it’s being denied to too many, and . . . we can come together, Democrats and Republicans, to make voting easier for every single American.” But of course Republicans don’t believe that – and surely Obama knows this. They would probably be considerably less excited to hear that Obama wants to tax the earnings on educational savings accounts, or that any assets they inherit from their parents would be subject to a capital gains tax. But some early reactions to President Obama’s speech are focusing on whether his message against cynicism and his touting of economic, foreign and domestic gains was a bit too cheery to match America’s mood. In political speechwriting, one often tries to create a strawman, an argument so fanciful and unrealistic that the speaker can then proceed to beat the bloody hell out of it.

He felt constrained from forcefully promoting his policies, like his plans to overhaul the nation’s immigration system and fight climate change, for fear of undermining Democratic Senate candidates in conservative states. Obama pledged to veto Republican efforts to overturn his signature healthcare law, executive action loosening rules for undocumented immigrants, and efforts to force the White House to approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. But one can look at its political reception to gauge whether this is an issue that effectively advances the Democrats’ attempts to force Republicans to take unpopular stances. Republicans called for Obama to be more humble, given that they took control of both chambers of Congress this month after winning the midterms handsomely. “We’ve only been here 2-1/2 weeks, and he’s put seven veto threats. If so, it will be more likely to play a role in the party’s profiling over the next two years, as it readies its stance for the 2016 presidential elections.

The suggestion that members of both parties can agree on issues like women’s health, immigration, and voting was meant solely to remind voters which party, in reality, has little interested in compromise. In September, realizing the elections would go badly for Democrats, Denis McDonough, the president’s chief of staff, began a series of White House meetings, many of them with the president, aimed at determining how Mr. Since the only hope of getting significant legislation passed in America now seems to be winning an electoral trifecta and gaining control over the presidency and both houses of Congress, the first key question to ask about any proposed legislation is whether it furthers that goal for the party that proposed it.

Estates get what’s known as a “stepped-up basis” on assets — meaning that when you inherit a house from Mom and Dad and later sell it, you’re taxed on the difference between the value at the time you inherited it (your basis) and the value at the time you sell it. Let us work the legislation before you decide something’s going to be vetoed,” House of Representatives Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on the CBS “This Morning” program. Ernst also recounted details of her own life, from her days of working on a farm and on a “biscuit line” to the hard work done by her parents and grandparents.

Obama proposes to use the price your parents paid as the basis, though the first $200,000 is exempted, and there’s an additional $500,000 exemption for homes. Because the details of the proposal will be unrecognisably altered by the time it makes it into whatever legislation is adopted three years down the line (provided the side proposing it wins that trifecta), it is a good idea not to get too wrapped up in specifics. He called in his speech for Congress to give him so-called fast-track authority to help complete major trade pacts such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal being negotiated with Asia. “The president made very clear last night that TPA (Trade Promotion Authority) and TPP is now a top presidential priority and now is the time to get it done,” said Evan Medeiros, the top White House aide on Asia. While she didn’t shy away from criticizing President Obama’s policies, she added, “with a little cooperation from the President, we can get Washington working again.” There’s no shortage of conservative rebuttals to the president’s address.

While some conservative Republicans oppose giving Obama fast-track authority, the heaviest resistance might be from fellow Democrats who worry that trade deals could hurt American workers. [ID:nL1N0V02XG] Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said on Wednesday that after recent talks with Republicans he was confident a business tax reform plan can make it through Congress. And they decided that nothing in the president’s relationship with Republican lawmakers suggested that a speech filled with offers of compromise would lead to a surge of legislative successes. Lew put the chances of passage at “better than 50-50.” In Idaho, Obama visited a lab at the university’s Micron Engineering Center, telling students and staff that he was good at engineering despite not having studied it. For example, is the Earned Income Tax Credit still the best way to address inequality, or does it fail to reach the poorest because they are unemployed? The answer is that this gives him an imaginary revenue source he can attach to his equally imaginary plans to subsidize community college and child care.

Hillary Clinton, the likely frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, is already facing heat from Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and others on the left, who worry Clinton may bow to pressure from Wall Street and not push enough of a populist agenda on the economy. The key, though, is to look at policy proposals not in isolation, but as moves in a long game that gradually determine the shape of policy proposals on each side. I still believe that together, we can do great things, even when the odds are long.” “As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained,” President Obama says. He says that America must reject stereotypes of Muslims, defend free speech and “condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.” He goes on to say he is determined to shut down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, noting that it costs $3 million per prisoner to house them. The slightly less pithy summary of Obama’s speech is that he’s back in his element: campaigning as the Bipartisan Voice of Reasonable America, rather than trying to govern.

Now we need to step up & deliver for the middle class. #FairShot #FairShare”. (Additional reporting by Julia Edwards, Doina Chiacu, Jason Lange, Howard Schneider, Susan Heavey, Krista Hughes and Richard Cowan; Writing by Alistair Bell and Jeff Mason; Editing by Ken Wills) Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does: Fourteen of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.” Addressing claims by critics who say they’re not scientists, Obama says, “I’m not a scientist, either. He entered the House chamber Tuesday night with a “spring in his step,” one adviser said, believing his economic policies were finally taking hold. “Sometimes, a speech like that looks like he’s being provocative,” said Phil Schiliro, who was Mr.

Ben is back in construction – and home for dinner every night. “It is amazing,” Rebekah wrote, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.” America, Rebekah and Ben’s story is our story. And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.” Saying that Americans “lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy,” Obama says the country has to leverage its strengths and maintain its own strategy, instead of being provoked by others. “First, we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists — from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris.

But it’s a pantomime of actions and attitudes that are real, or may eventually become real if one side amasses the power to push legislation through America’s hopelessly creaky, antiquated, broke-down political system. Obama delivered on that cold morning in 2013 were designed as a forceful statement of liberal principles in the face of near-certain Republican opposition. “The president was thinking, ‘I don’t want to shrink from the big challenges,’ ” recalled Jon Favreau, the president’s former speechwriter, who wrote Mr. In that case there probably isn’t much point paying attention to American democratic politics at all, and I recommend switching to a good hockey match.

Obama failed to enact much of his ambitious agenda: gun control, an immigration overhaul, climate change legislation, a bipartisan budget deal and a minimum-wage increase. The lesson may be that even a powerful speech is no guarantee of success in a political environment where the opposition party controls Congress and a volatile world regularly surprises. Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices. More than 20 people will be sitting with first lady Michelle Obama during tonight’s speech, from Alan Gross, who was freed from a Cuban prison last month, to cystic fibrosis survivor Bill Elder and Dr. 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.

We gave our citizens schools and colleges, infrastructure and the internet – tools they needed to go as far as their effort will take them. “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.” “I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. Like millions of hardworking Americans, Rebekah isn’t asking for a handout, but she is asking that we look for more ways to help families get ahead.

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. 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. That means helping folks afford childcare, college, health care, a home, retirement – and my budget will address each of these issues, lowering the taxes of working families and putting thousands of dollars back into their pockets each year. During World War II, when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority – so this country provided universal childcare.

It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. To give working families a fair shot, we’ll still need more employers to see beyond next quarter’s earnings and recognize that investing in their workforce is in their company’s long-term interest. America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free, sent a generation of GIs to college, and trained the best workforce in the world.

Thanks to Vice President Biden’s great work to update our job training system, we’re connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs like coding, and nursing, and robotics. Tonight, I’m also asking more businesses to follow the lead of companies like CVS and UPS, and offer more educational benefits and paid apprenticeships – opportunities that give workers the chance to earn higher-paying jobs even if they don’t have a higher education. We’re slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting years to get the benefits they need, and we’re making it easier for vets to translate their training and experience into civilian jobs.

But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago – jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla. Let’s pass a bipartisan infrastructure plan that could create more than thirty times as many jobs per year, and make this country stronger for decades to come. 21st century businesses, including small businesses, need to sell more American products overseas. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair. I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine – one that delivers the right treatment at the right time.

I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world. Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual bank statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford. When we make rash decisions, reacting to the headlines instead of using our heads; when the first response to a challenge is to send in our military – then we risk getting drawn into unnecessary conflicts, and neglect the broader strategy we need for a safer, more prosperous world. Instead of Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan, we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead, and we’ve honored our troops’ sacrifice by supporting that country’s first democratic transition. Instead of sending large ground forces overseas, we’re partnering with nations from South Asia to North Africa to deny safe haven to terrorists who threaten America.

We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small – by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere; removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba; stands up for democratic values; and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. As His Holiness, Pope Francis, has said, diplomacy is the work of “small steps.” These small steps have added up to new hope for the future in Cuba.

Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies – including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict. In West Africa, our troops, our scientists, our doctors, our nurses and healthcare workers are rolling back Ebola – saving countless lives and stopping the spread of disease. In the Asia Pacific, we are modernizing alliances while making sure that other nations play by the rules – in how they trade, how they resolve maritime disputes, and how they participate in meeting common international challenges like nonproliferation and disaster relief. And no challenge – no challenge – poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record.

And because the world’s two largest economies came together, other nations are now stepping up, and offering hope that, this year, the world will finally reach an agreement to protect the one planet we’ve got. As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse. 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 naïve, and that there are too many people in this town who actually benefit from partisanship and gridlock for us to ever do anything about it. I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates from New York to California; and our newest officers at West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs, and New London.

I’ve seen something like gay marriage go from a wedge issue used to drive us apart to a story of freedom across our country, a civil right now legal in states that seven in ten Americans call home. And 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, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision.

A better politics is one where we debate without demonizing each other; where we talk issues, and values, and principles, and facts, rather than “gotcha” moments, or trivial gaffes, or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives. Because I want this chamber, this city, to reflect the truth – 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, and help our neighbors, whether down the street or on the other side of the world.

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