The state of Obama's address
Last night’s State of the Union address was the first time in a while that I’ve actually sat down and listened to President Obama speak about anything, which was likely true for many other Americans. Here are three things that stood out to me (a casual observer, not an economist or political scientist) during the hour that the president spoke:
- Obama did not mention abortion, contraception, or gay marriage—issues that many of Obama’s critics single out as the primary focus of his agenda. A recent Gallup poll shows that what Americans are most dissatisfied with right now is the economy, not the country’s “moral and ethical climate,” and Obama’s speech reflected that. His focus was kept mainly on the economy and other domestic priorities such as energy, education, and immigration.
- The address did feature some common good principles that Catholics can get behind. Early in his speech, Obama said, “We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” He mentioned that tax reform should follow the “Buffet Rule” (that people making more than $1 million should not pay less than 30% in taxes) and made promises of clean energy and increasing resources to improve education.
- And, it felt like the president was really taking Congress to task. He challenged its members to present bills that he would immediately sign into law. He recognized Americans’ dissatisfaction with the climate in Washington, noting the growing sense of separation between the city and the rest of the country. He criticized the division between our political parties, saying, “We need to end the notion that the two parties must be locked in a perpetual campaign of mutual destruction; that politics is about clinging to rigid ideologies instead of building consensus around common-sense ideas.”
Though many elements of the speech I thought fell into the category of “easier said than done” and I thought the “America is built Ford tough” subtext was overdone, there was enough material in this address to guarantee that we're in for an exciting election year.