The State of the Union Address: hope and change meets reality

Did any of you watch the State of the Union address last week? Don’t worry if you didn’t as it was a shrinking, less ambitious agenda which can be covered fairly quickly. It is apparent that Obama has come to terms with the reality of Washington politics, and has even resigned to using executive orderds when he can. That Obama feels the need to accomplish his goals through executive order shows just how gridlocked and divided Washington is. In the address, President Obama mainly discussed minimum wage, education, and foreign policy. The delivery of this speech was far less enthusiastic than of those prior, as though the president seemed exhausted by all the politics he hoped he could change. It is unfortunate that the most powerful democracy in the world has become dysfunctional. The discord is not just between partisan lines. Four GOP members, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Mike Lee, RandPaul, Ileana Ros-Lihtenen, responded to points presented in the State of the Union in comparison to one in the past. In the past, only one response was made. Clearly there are growing ideological rivalries within the GOP (including libertarians, moderates, and right-wing Tea Partiers). However, the Democrats were not totally pleased with the State of the Union either. Alaska Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat, wanted more emphasis on increasing domestic energy production. Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, also a Democrat, sought authorization of the Keystone XL Pipeline. I agree that energy was nearly unmentioned in the State of the Union. The president should have forged ahead in supporting an all-of-the-above solution that expands green jobs, as well as increases in natural gas production.
On a positive note, Obama stated his intention to issue an executive order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 for federal workers. He will also expand the E.I.T.C, Earned Income Tax Credit, to include individuals without children, giving them more incentive to work. I wonder if Obama read my January 17 Stute post “It’s not Just Minimum Wage or EITC – we need to do both”. He could have gone further with it though in my opinion, but it is certainly a great start. Obama urged states to invest more in childhood education and called on legislators to make college more affordable for more families. He also plans to invest in high-speed Internet in high schools to help move the nation forward technologically. These are all excellent things to do. Finally, Obama stressed the importance of equal pay for equal work for women, but did not delve into any details.
Some say that Obama shortened his agenda list to improve the rate of success, while others argue that since he has already accomplished much, the list is shorter. The truth lies somewhere in between. Either way there is still a lot to do in the next three years. I hope that President Obama along with the rest of our government still have the energy, willingness, and motivation to make things happen for the people they serve.