Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The State of the Union

I said earlier today that I probably wouldn't be watching the State of the Union Address. I was wrong. I forgot to check with my wife. She wanted to watch it and it was on our favorite channel (Fox) anyway, so we tuned in. The following are comments based some notes I took during the speech.

First of all I must say that President Obama, in my opinion anyway, seemed less arrogant than usual, less bragadocious, and less confrontational. He did say a few things to and about Republicans but not nearly as many times as in the last five SOTU addresses. At least that's what I saw.

He started talking about how unemployment was down – conveniently leaving out that over 90 million people are not working in the country and that the actual unemployment numbers, counting everyone, is closer to 12%. He spoke of the economy and how he will cut taxes for middle class. He talked about child care and paid sick leave for everyone. I'm not sure how he's going to make that happen but it won't come free of charge.

Obama said everyone must do their fair share to help grow the economy. Yet under his leadership dependence on government subsidies has doubled. Nearly half of Americans are on some government subsidy at the present time.

Obama said something must be done so that women will earn equal pay pay for equal work. But White House records show he hasn't even accomplished that in the White House.

Of course, he called for increasing the minimum wage without telling people how those increases will actually effect the job market and consumer prices.

Obama has proposed two years of free junior college for everyone wthout bothering to state directly how the bill will be paid. He did talk about that eventually, which I will address later.

Obama said we need to pass programs and policies that will strengthen unions. After all – unions are part of the reason he is in office. But unions are trying to strongarm Americans out of work if they (those Americans) don't want to belong to a labor union.

Obama talked about better care for veterans. Following the VA debaucle last year it's about time he tried to improve the system but it's difficult to believe given that he once said vets should pay for their own -post war care because they're all volunteers.

Obama talked about reparing the infrastructure... again. He has been promising the repair of the infrastructure since he first began campaigning in 2008. He used it in 2012. And now we're in 2015 and he's still just talking about it. So what has he been doing wth that money?

Obama said we need to bring companies here to America and offer them incentive to come. But he never once said anything about cutting corporate taxes, the highest in the world, as part of that incentive. Those taxes are causing companies to leave our borders yet he refuses to cut them to bring them back.

And now - who pays for the free stuff? The President says we need to make the top 1% pay for free college and infrastructure. He wants to change the tax codes to reduce loopholes (which I can support and which will never happen) but he doesn't want to cut the great numbers of people on government subsidies. That was not even mentioned in his plan, even though it has been proved that when more people are working and paying taxes revenue goes up.

He talked about improving the economy and decreasing the deficit, once again leaving out that pesky detail of the national debt that has doubled under his administration.

Obama said we stand united with countries effected by terrorism, from Pakistan to Paris. He should have followed up with “Sure, I wasn't there but we were united.”

The President says that American policies against Russia have stopped Putin's aggression. American diplomacy, rather than force, has prevented Putin from attacking Ukraine. Oh, wait...

The President said that Republicans and Democrats need to come together and work for what's best for America – just before he made it clear that if Republicans introduce any legislation that changes anything he has done or is trying to do he will veto it.

The President says that diplomacy is working in Iran and that he will veto any sanctions that might be proposed by Republicans. Yup – that's working together all right.

The President said that since he took office in 2009 he hast taken careful and deliberate steps to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. He has been saying that every years since he first took office and has yet to do it. He has made progress lately – releasing five Taliban commanders back to the battlefield in a swap for deserter Bo Bergdahl and releasing others at various times last year and this year without Congressional approval. I believe he will accomplish his goal of closing Gitmo before he leaves office in 2017 – good or bad.

Obviously missing from the speech was any real substance on the war on terror - something may Americans feel is the top concern that our nation faces today. And true to form - he refused to call the terrorists anything related to Islam. I'm really surprised he mentioned ISIS instead of calling it VESIS - Violent Extremists of Iraq and Syria.

As I said earlier – his tone was more conversational and less aggressive this time. And I do believe he set a record for using the words “I” or “me” and instead replacing it with “you” and “we.” Whoever wrote his speech seems to have realized that bragging on himself the last few years wasn't going over well.

The last ten minutes or so of his speech he made some statements about what we as Americans can do together to make life better for all of us. And not all of his suggestions were bad. Unfortunately, it is really difficult to believe he means a word of it given his propensity for and history of lying. He has two years to prove he meant what he said but it won't take more than a few weeks to see if he follows through with his suggestions. I have my doubts.

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