January 27 2014

State of the Union Address: Stale Ideas Ahead...

Patrice J. Lee

Tomorrow night millions of Americans across the nation (and world) will be tuned in to watch President Barack Obama give his 2014 State of the Union (SOTU) address.

Each year the President of the United States (POTUS) reports on the condition of the nation then trots out an expansive vision with a list of to do’s for his agenda and how he plans to get there. The words he chooses and the emphasis he places set the tone for how we can expect him to govern over the next year.

Over his five years in office, we’ve observed President Obama grow increasingly progressive in his policy agenda, partisan in his rhetoric, and abstract in his plans to achieve his goals. He has increasingly shifted from the listener and convener who  portended a reach across lines during the campaign and early first term to the strongman who flexes his executive muscle boasting that he “will not wait for Congress.”

What can we expect in tomorrow’s SOTU?

Senator Ted Cruz says POTUS should apologize to the five million Americans who lost their health insurance coverage thanks to ObamaCare. I wouldn’t hold my breath.

In fact, don’t expect to hear him say much about his signature healthcare reform legislation, thanks to the woeful rollout last fall and low enrollments to date.

We can expect a new list of “fresh” ideas which are usually just rehashed and repackaged from previous speeches. In short, the same old, same old:

President Barack Obama will deliver an “optimistic” State of the Union address Tuesday prodding Congress to address economic mobility and income inequality — or risk an end-run by the White House.

The election-year agenda is expected to be a mix of initiatives designed to energize the Democratic base of women, students and blue-collar workers, and to attract independent voters. The aim is to highlight differences with the GOP and provide fodder for Democrats along the campaign trail — even though those measures stand little chance of winning approval in Congress.

In private meetings across Capitol Hill, senior administration aides have been talking about reviving proposals from the president’s American Jobs Act, which was used by Democrats repeatedly in the run-up to the 2012 elections. Specifically, they have discussed manufacturing issues, college affordability measures, such as the refinancing of student loans, and a host of women’s issues, including proposals they dub as “paycheck fairness” and more liberal workplace-leave policies.

At the start of this year, we observed that “inequality” –not ObamaCare- would define the progressive agenda this year. From fighting to raise the minimum wage to taxes, POTUS and his Democratic friends in Congress plan to run rich vs. poor plays from the liberal playbook to fan class warfare for hopeful political gains in the midterms.

As it leaked that income inequality was splattered across the State of the Union, the White House shifted gears and pulled back on the inequality rhetoric saying the “income inequality” is out and “ladders of opportunity” is in. What can still read between the lines.

What we likely won’t hear from President Obama is progress on his list of action items from last year’s SOTU because other than the launch of ObamaCare, nothing else was achieved. Remember universal Pre-K? The LATimes reports:

As Obama polishes a fresh list of ideas to tick off Tuesday night, many of last year's proposals remain unfinished — stymied by a politically divided Washington.

His gun control push has petered out. His immigration overhaul is stuck in the Republican-led House. Congress has not heeded his call to raise the minimum wage. And, in the year since his speech, neither the House nor the Senate, where his party is in control, has even held a hearing on a bill to expand preschool.

White House spokesman Jay Carney conceded that progress on last year's proposals was "modest," but searched for a favorable benchmark: "It was not modest compared to what we'd seen in previous years."

Obama's predicament is hardly unique.

... For Obama, the revolving cast has also included mortgage assistance, infrastructure spending, tax reform and college affordability. Despite the prime-time spotlight, many proposals seem to fade quickly.

I will be watching the State of the Union with colleagues while playing bingo and others games based on what we can expect the President to say.

To boil it down, Americans will be on the hook for more spending on ancillary, liberal initiatives while issues that matter to most Americans such as economic growth, job creation, social security and Medicare, and terrorism continue to languish. Happy State of the Union!

 

 

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