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Posted at 9:25 PM ET, 01/25/2011

Lots of vision, but few policy specifics

By Ezra Klein

sout11.jpg

At more than 6,000 words, there was a lot in tonight's State of the Union. The bulk of it was a vision of what American economic policy should be pointed towards in the years to come: A country that has a better educated workforce, a more sophisticated infrastructure, and a more innovative economy than any other. A country where the public sector has an acknowledged and crucial role in supporting the private sector.

But vision is there to support policy. And though there were a lot of policy proposals in the speech, there weren't enough specifics to really know where the president is going.

For all the talk of investment, it was presented more as a philosophy than a proposal. The president expressed his intention to invest in "biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology," but no dollar amounts were discussed. He set a goal of producing 80 percent of America's energy from renewables by 2035, which has impressed many in the clean energy community as being laudably ambitious. But whether that goal will have sufficient research funding or serious enforcement mechanisms behind it remains to be seen.

Infrastructure investment also got some goals -- giving 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, and 98 percent of Americans access to high-speed internet -- but no numbers. And so too for education, where the president extolled the 'Race to the Top' program as the future of education reform, but offered few specifics for what that meant. Twice as much money? The same amount of money?

In contrast, the proposals for deficit reduction were relatively specific. The president proposed to "freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years," which "would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade." He also called for the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for income over $250,000. The president could've been similarly specific on the other side of the ledger. He could've said, for instance, that for every three dollars we cut, one will be invested in our future. Or that following the recommendations of the CEO-led Council on Energy Innovation, we should invest $16 billion annually in clean energy research. But he didn't.

The White House says more numbers will be forthcoming in their 2012 budget. That's undoubtedly true. But until then, it's hard to say what the president really means when he talks about investment, because we don't know how much investment he's proposing that we do -- nor where the money will come from.

What follows is the text of the president's speech, edited down to the specific positions, proposals and requests, and sorted by issue area:

Research and Development:

Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology – an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.

Energy:

I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.

Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all – and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.

Education:

Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. These standards were developed, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country. And Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that is more flexible and focused on what’s best for our kids.[...]

Of course, the education race doesn’t end with a high school diploma. To compete, higher education must be within reach of every American. That’s why we’ve ended the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to make college affordable for millions of students. And this year, I ask Congress to go further, and make permanent our tuition tax credit – worth $10,000 for four years of college.[...]

One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.

Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let’s agree to make that effort. And let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.

Infrastructure:

Over the last two years, we have begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. Tonight, I’m proposing that we redouble these efforts.

We will put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We will make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based on what’s best for the economy, not politicians.

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying – without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.

Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn’t just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It’s about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It’s about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.

Health care:

Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law. So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.

What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition. I’m not willing to tell James Howard, a brain cancer patient from Texas, that his treatment might not be covered. I’m not willing to tell Jim Houser, a small business owner from Oregon, that he has to go back to paying $5,000 more to cover his employees. As we speak, this law is making prescription drugs cheaper for seniors and giving uninsured students a chance to stay on their parents’ coverage. So instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let’s fix what needs fixing and move forward.

Taxes:

Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change.

So tonight, I’m asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years – without adding to our deficit.[...]

The best thing we could do on taxes for all Americans is to simplify the individual tax code. This will be a tough job, but members of both parties have expressed interest in doing this, and I am prepared to join them.

Trade:

Before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with American workers, and promote American jobs. That’s what we did with Korea, and that’s what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia, and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks.

The deficit:

So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we have frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years. I’ve proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.[...]

Now, most of the cuts and savings I’ve proposed only address annual domestic spending, which represents a little more than 12% of our budget. To make further progress, we have to stop pretending that cutting this kind of spending alone will be enough. It won’t.

The bipartisan Fiscal Commission I created last year made this crystal clear. I don’t agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress. And their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it – in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.

This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit. Still, I’m willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.

To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.

And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.

Government reform:

To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I’ve ordered a review of government regulations. When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. But I will not hesitate to create or enforce commonsense safeguards to protect the American people. That’s what we’ve done in this country for more than a century. It’s why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe. It’s why we have speed limits and child labor laws. It’s why last year, we put in place consumer protections against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies, and new rules to prevent another financial crisis. And it’s why we passed reform that finally prevents the health insurance industry from exploiting patients.[...]

In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America. I will submit that proposal to Congress for a vote – and we will push to get it passed.

In the coming year, we will also work to rebuild people’s faith in the institution of government. Because you deserve to know exactly how and where your tax dollars are being spent, you will be able to go to a website and get that information for the very first time in history. Because you deserve to know when your elected officials are meeting with lobbyists, I ask Congress to do what the White House has already done: put that information online. And because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.
[...]

Afghanistan:

Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home.

Veteran's affairs:

Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families. Let us serve them as well as they have served us – by giving them the equipment they need; by providing them with the care and benefits they have earned; and by enlisting our veterans in the great task of building our own nation.

Our troops come from every corner of this country – they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.

Photo credit: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post.

By Ezra Klein  | January 25, 2011; 9:25 PM ET
 
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Comments

president obama was smart not to give a policy talk.
many members of congress balk at having to read too much, anyway...and it is not clear that a vast majority of americans would have the attention span to listen to a policy-oriented speech. they would probably turn to see snookie, or something.

if president obama gave a policy speech, people would say,
"you see, he doesnt know how to connect with the american people. always talking policy....never reaching out in simple plaintalk."
or they would say, " you see, he is not hopeful enough. it is a president's job to inspire people, and make them feel optimistic."
well, this president can provide policy and all of the details, like a thanksgiving dinner, with all of the trimmings...for anyone that is interested. but tonight, he created a hopeful, buoyant,optimistic "vision" of how he sees the future.
the importance of education, of more teachers, of innovation, of commitment to education, to infrastructure, to fairness for all americans, to energy efficiency....to a belief that we can accomplish all of this, if we try to work together.
i think he touched on all of the right notes, and it was beautiful, inspiring speech. a speech that should inspire congress to try, as he said, "not just to sit together, but to work together," for the sake of all of our futures.
i hope in the light of recent events, that they will try to do that ,so that we can move successfully into the future.
we needed some buoyancy, and that speech offered that.
i think it was a wonderful speech, for where we are at, at this moment in time.

Posted by: jkaren | January 25, 2011 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Your criticism only makes sense if the State of the Union is a format in which the president lays out specific policy proposals. I think we can probably agree that it's more of a vision statement than anything. Also- don't discount the "vision thing." You know what George Lakoff would say....

Posted by: phillycomment | January 25, 2011 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Same exact nonsense speech he gave last year. Yawn.

Posted by: krazen1211 | January 25, 2011 11:27 PM | Report abuse

Thank God he didn't mention the dusty old constitution, huh Ezra? Who can understand something more than 100 years old?
It's a safe bet that had you said something that pathetic about anything the left reveres, (like abortion or dependency) you'd be out on your ear.

Posted by: GregBuls1 | January 26, 2011 1:03 AM | Report abuse

What Paul Ryan and the Republicans can't seem to get into their tiny brains is that everything is shifting beneath our feet. There is no going back to the 1950s when America reigned supreme and called all the shots.. Now, other countries want a piece of the action that we have had all to ourselves for eighty years; powerful countries like China, India, and Brazil for example, which will forever change the geo-political landscape, and they are not going to be denied or intimidated by a myopic and hegemonic America trying to relive past glories. The Republicans, as usual, are hopelessly out of step with reality. Global warming is real, so "reasonable regulation" won't do. Instead of developing green technologies to supply us with our energy needs, they want to pump out and refine the last drop of oil and natural gas, gut the clean air and water acts, further damaging the environment, in the mistaking belief that job creation trumps every other cause on earth. And because, of course, industrialists, with the power of unlimited political contributions, are running America now, not the people. Like it or not, Americans are going to have to forfeit a portion of what they are pleased to call the "American Dream" to the rest of humanity, even if it means less prosperity and a more modest standard of living. The only alternative is endless warfare, environmental destruction, and the quickening of our descent into third rate nation status. Lets get over the hubris of American "exceptualism." The American Century"is over.

Posted by: heuristic77 | January 26, 2011 1:04 AM | Report abuse

President Obama did challenge the country and the GOP, by putting the ball in their court.

It's now up to the Country and the GOP to best figure out how to accomplish everything that he listed in his speech.

Unfortunately, I don't think the Country or the GOP is up to the game, because of the fact, much of the country is spoiled, dumbed down, and lazy and has been for much too long now, at least during the times Bush was in office.

Now Obama is challenging them mentally and intellectually to play the game, but they don't know how to start, how to play, and its way too much work for them to even think about it, even if it's for just a few minutes.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | January 26, 2011 1:09 AM | Report abuse

What a terrible speech. Now that the Republicans have already banned corrupt earmarks he's going to keep the promise he broke when he signed tens of thousands of them into law over the last two years? How cynical can you get? And is he going to freeze spending for 5 years, or spend...oops invest..hundreds of billions more on the teacher unions and take another shot at infrastructure spending? Before we let Obama spend hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars on infrastructure should we find out what to all the money from the corrupt stimulous bill that was suppose to fix all that infrastructure that is still so bad. And do we really need more gamblers trains to pay off powerful politicians in Congress and the cost of tens of billions? Should the priority be cutting back spending and getting the debt under control before it destroys us, then invest? We haven't had such terrible leadership since Jimmy Carter!

Posted by: valwayne | January 26, 2011 1:16 AM | Report abuse

What a terrible speech. Now that the Republicans have already banned corrupt earmarks he's going to keep the promise he broke when he signed tens of thousands of them into law over the last two years? How cynical can you get? And is he going to freeze spending for 5 years, or spend...oops invest..hundreds of billions more on the teacher unions and take another shot at infrastructure spending? Before we let Obama spend hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars on infrastructure should we find out what to all the money from the corrupt stimulous bill that was suppose to fix all that infrastructure that is still so bad. And do we really need more gamblers trains to pay off powerful politicians in Congress and the cost of tens of billions? Should the priority be cutting back spending and getting the debt under control before it destroys us, then invest? We haven't had such terrible leadership since Jimmy Carter!

Posted by: valwayne | January 26, 2011 1:17 AM | Report abuse

What a terrible speech. Now that the Republicans have already banned corrupt earmarks he's going to keep the promise he broke when he signed tens of thousands of them into law over the last two years? How cynical can you get? And is he going to freeze spending for 5 years, or spend...oops invest..hundreds of billions more on the teacher unions and take another shot at infrastructure spending? Before we let Obama spend hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars on infrastructure should we find out what to all the money from the corrupt stimulous bill that was suppose to fix all that infrastructure that is still so bad. And do we really need more gamblers trains to pay off powerful politicians in Congress and the cost of tens of billions? Should the priority be cutting back spending and getting the debt under control before it destroys us, then invest? We haven't had such terrible leadership since Jimmy Carter!

Posted by: valwayne | January 26, 2011 1:17 AM | Report abuse

I am truly upset, after checking newspapers, east coast and west, that President Obama didn't have a committee of op-ed writers prepare the State of the Union message for him. They are so much wiser, more insightful, and more skilled with words than he.

Posted by: jonstephens | January 26, 2011 1:20 AM | Report abuse

The speech was 100% teflon. The rightwingers can't touch it and everyone else will like what they hear.

Borderline brilliant.

Posted by: leoklein | January 26, 2011 1:35 AM | Report abuse

Many of us, perhaps too many of us, have previously been inspired by his words, only to be rudely disappointed by his later decisions and actions. So, as we now hear many words and statements that we can reasonably agree with, we already have seen too many intentions changed, compromised or discarded out of political expediency, instead of being steadfastly advocated and pushed in the face of varying degrees of opposition. We no longer, perhaps, believe that the promise of the words will be fulfilled.

We now no longer experience a trusting approbation, but instead harbor a probationary caution. Will he stand by what he says, will he truly veto "any bill reaching his desk that contains earmarks"? Will he really fight for a clean energy economy? Will he fight for and insist on the funding of infrastructure projects? Will he truly protect Social Security? Will he truly fight to end the wasteful governmental subsidies for oil companies?

These and many more "promises" will await proof of an abiding commitment to leadership and action on the ills that he has identified and diagnosed for prescriptive treatment.

How this is to be done in the two-year campaign lead-up to 2012 will be more than just a challenge, it will be a trial by ordeal as Republican and Tea Party partisanship inevitably opposes granting this president a victorious path to re-election.

If Mr. Obama has succeeded with this SOTU address in rekindling an expectation and a hope in those who once believed but have since lost confidence in Mr. Obama's competence and resolve, then Republicans and teabaggers will continue their opposition only at their own peril and will end up losing again (as they should) in 2012.

Now we need to see what he does, how committed he is, and whether the interests of the people are spoken for and acted upon.

Posted by: jdecp | January 26, 2011 1:36 AM | Report abuse

The speech with the whole competition theme was a smart way to sell high return public investments that we should be making far far more of.

Yes, people misunderstand and think of global competition as zero sum game, but it’s also very much that Americans hate the idea of not being number one, especially in wealth and technology.

I see once again that you underestimate Obama at your own risk. We may see big moves from him in a second term, and we already saw an enormous one with the passage of a (more or less) universal health program after 100 years of trying.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | January 26, 2011 2:45 AM | Report abuse

Expanding on my earlier comment: It’s true that one speech rarely makes much difference, but if this is just the start for this message, the start of a relentless attempt to disabuse ourselves of the toxic Republican narrative that’s done so much harm over the last generation and caused so much decline, then this could be the start of something big. We’ll see over the next few years if Obama gets a second term.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | January 26, 2011 3:09 AM | Report abuse

These SOTU become more useless and more a peice of political theater every year. It has become little more than an opportunity to pander to the lowest common denominator. There is very little of substance or detail in these speeches. They are full of half-truths, omissions and obsfuscation, nothing more than stump speeches given from the "bully pulpit".

I want to make it clear that I'm not signaling out President Obama for this: he stands at the end of a long process of degeneration that began decades ago. These SOTU were useless years ago and just became more useless every year.

I don't expect them to go away but I do wish that next year, President Obama will set an example and take us in a new direction by delivering some real substance in his next SOTU.

Posted by: andrew23boyle | January 26, 2011 4:25 AM | Report abuse

Vision does NOT create jobs!!
Real action could..........

If you really want to create jobs, Mr. President and members of Congress; start by doing just two things:

First rescind all those tax & tariff breaks you voted for the muti national companies that took and are taking American jobs overseas. You just gave these companies incentives to take American jobs out of this country. WHY??

Second reinstate The Glass-Steagall Act. After all it worked for many years…..Until its repeal …. Certainly kept these financial insitutations to some degree of honesty.

Why does this NEVER get mentioned??

Our elected representatives have made this country a Cashrarocy and took away our Democracy.

Posted by: bkarpus | January 26, 2011 5:20 AM | Report abuse

Enough hypocrisy! The President is a mere figurehead mercado.Políticos capital in all colors lose their dignity as men and choose to live on his knees pretending to cooperate with the welfare mundial.Somos all silent witnesses of a farce that bleeds us every day and that We are all prisoners of comfort superfluous, victims and victimizers in promiscuous cohabitation.
1. Nationalize the banks in full.
2.Sanear economy implies the capital return to its rightful owners, the citizens in their totalidad.Terminar with investment funds, mere instruments of coercion and pressure to handle the market will be a good start to restore confidence.
3.Medicina free public without confabulations Concessions or hallways.
4.Sanear the economy also would slowly dissolve the entire stock market liquidity by returning tothe ordinary citizens.
5.The credit is an endemic disease in an economy that shows your last agonía.Están transmitting the disease to the world.
Political masters, his will and desición.El trabajo.Resolver capital in the first time emerged as a possibility to facilitate the exchange of goods and servicios.Es a means, not an end.
Do what you must, as it should, when you need is your duty as representatives of a successful democracy.

Posted by: gordohippie | January 26, 2011 5:25 AM | Report abuse

Enough hypocrisy! The President is a mere figurehead mercado.Políticos capital in all colors lose their dignity as men and choose to live on his knees pretending to cooperate with the welfare mundial.Somos all silent witnesses of a farce that bleeds us every day and that We are all prisoners of comfort superfluous, victims and victimizers in promiscuous cohabitation.
1. Nationalize the banks in full.
2.Sanear economy implies the capital return to its rightful owners, the citizens in their totalidad.Terminar with investment funds, mere instruments of coercion and pressure to handle the market will be a good start to restore confidence.
3.Medicina free public without confabulations Concessions or hallways.
4.Sanear the economy also would slowly dissolve the entire stock market liquidity by returning tothe ordinary citizens.
5.The credit is an endemic disease in an economy that shows your last agonía.Están transmitting the disease to the world.
Political masters, his will and desición.El trabajo.Resolver capital in the first time emerged as a possibility to facilitate the exchange of goods and servicios.Es a means, not an end.
Do what you must, as it should, when you need is your duty as representatives of a successful democracy.

Posted by: gordohippie | January 26, 2011 5:25 AM | Report abuse

Obama's proposals for tax reforms and to freeze the budget are the most specific and significant policy ideas to control debt by any President or party leader since debt first became an issue.

You can't more specific than that in a SOTU address. It is very clear what major policies Obama wants done.

Ryan's proposal is SS centric, yet according to some (Douthat), he did not utter the words SS in his response (I did not watch it). The reason Ryan apparently did not mention SS is that his proposals will never be agreed to by Americans, and as such Ryan's plans are not practical. That's too bad, because until Obama got specific on the freeze thing, Ryan's plan was the only thing out there with serious cred. But because Ryan blew his chance to win Americans over, well, it's now Obama's game because Obama was fully unafraid of being specific on his historic and ambitious proposals.

Further, it is apparent Obama believes we must grow ourselves out of debt (i.e. investment in critical areas) even as we cut waste (de-investment in inefficient areas). This is precisely the wise way to go. We don't just cut where possible, but also shift dollars from the old to the new while investing in the new as well. The 90s boom proves investing in innovation while tweaking taxes is the primary method of erasing debt.

In essence, Obama positioned himself as the most serious and practical debt hawk in US politics. No Republican is even close because no Republican will dare explain their ideas to the American people.

I doubt the GOP is up to the task though, and they will act as the nihilists and saboteurs they are. Since 1992 they have been an all or nothing party, and they will continue to drag us down to mediocrity and ruin. That is why I am no longer a Republican. And Obama meanwhile, has done much last night to restore my faith in him.

Posted by: lauren2010 | January 26, 2011 6:12 AM | Report abuse

"A country that has a better educated workforce, a more sophisticated infrastructure, and a more innovative economy than any other." In other words, let us a few more trillions to the debt. Let us continue to grow government. The Progressives/leftwings/liberals/socialists do not have a clue of what works!

Posted by: josedfarias | January 26, 2011 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, love ya, but you wear me out. There is this thing called the President's budget coming out shortly, as many details as you want.

Anybody who is serious about this could have seen two years ago the same basic ''philosophy'' embedded in Obama's first budget document.

Obama used this SOTU to lay out a strategy, not just for one year, but for years to come. Do we want to be competitive in the world or not?

If there is agreement that we will work together to lead the world, then specific programs and details can be negotiated. If we can't agree on the goal, specifics are a waste of time.

BTW, your Wonk Book link to the CRS primer on the ''nuclear option'' is still http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/news/moment-truth-report-national-commission-fiscal-responsibility-and-reform, interesting for sure, but not about filibusters.

Posted by: Clear_Eye | January 26, 2011 8:09 AM | Report abuse

1957 - Americans watched in horror as a communist satellite circles around the globe in low earth orbit announcing the great socialist triumph over the United States.

2009 - Americans watched in horror as a communist plant flies around the globe in Air Force 1 announcing the great socialist triumph over the United States.

Posted by: randomusername | January 26, 2011 8:23 AM | Report abuse

The S. Korean trade agreement promoted for swift passage by Obama will cost more US jobs than it creates.

And the "vision" of doubling exports in five years is not a possible or realistic goal in THIS current world economy.

Millions of unemployed Americans will get little to no help from this administration.

And while US college grads after spending many tens of thousand of dollars on their educations can't find a job, 90.7% of China's college grads find a job in the year of their graduation.

"Free trade" is destroying the US economy for average Americans, who do not have a business partner in this administration.

Posted by: EMF2 | January 26, 2011 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Well, last night put to bed ANY question of Obie's I.Q. It is <90. The American public took away the checkbook from Dems in November because of runaway spending. Obie just proposed 5 years of spending increases.

BZZZT. A box o' Rice-a-Roni for Obie and the back door in '12...

Posted by: illogicbuster | January 26, 2011 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Obama's message lack specifics and energy! The speech was dull and non-inspiring. Obama's answer to everything is "invest" taxpayer dollars. It did not work with the stimulus and it won't this time. Barack is in way over his head....he is frailing at the deep end of the pool!

www.eclecticramblings.wordpress.com

Posted by: my4653 | January 26, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

President Obama argued strongly in his State of the Union speech last night for a bipartisan effort to create jobs, but most Americans think the best thing government can do is get out of the way.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 60% of Adults think decisions made by U.S. business leaders to help their own businesses grow will do more to help create jobs in America than decisions made by government officials. Just 24% say decisions made by government officials to help the economy grow will do more. Sixteen percent (16%) are undecided.
Yet while 79% of Republicans and 58% of adults not affiliated with either of the major political parties think decisions by business leaders will do more to create jobs, Democrats are evenly divided on the question

Posted by: LETFREEDOMRING2 | January 26, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

"All hat but no cattle"! The State of the Union is Unacceptable!
Obama be doin what him do best - spending other people's money on things they don't want and things they don't need! And quite often Obama has been praised and enabled by the Republicans and RINO’s. Republicans and Democrats who are not in alignment with the following goals need to be voted out of office and return to the private sector. It is not the job or responsibility of the taxpayer voters to insure career political positions especially when the return on the investment is simply not there. America needs to start seeing a noticeable difference between the GOP and the Democrats attitude toward the following:
1. Concentration on job building
2. Measureable Efforts to improve the economy
3. Steps to end the Iraq/Afghanistan War – this was supposed to happen twp years ago, hence the reason why Obama was elected.
4. End of the Czar position paychecks – these are not legitimate political positions; they still draw a paycheck even though they were not ELECTED.
5. End of useless money spending department which are either not needed to benefit America or are in competition with private industry and free enterprise.
6. Cancel the Departments of FDA, FTC, TSA, Education, Homeland Security, Treasury, Health and Human Services, White House hand maidens, Interior, Labor, Commerce, Agriculture, Post Office. Based of profitability and productivity, these departments cannot and should not be justified.
7. Work toward finding a responsible Secretary of Defense, Gates needs to go!
8. Elimination of current government exclusive healthcare privileges, Congress and President the same plan offered to their bosses, the taxpaying voters.
9. Auction off Pelosi's old jet and stop this perk for any future Speakers of the House.
10. Fire Bernanke and Geithner - their performance does not warrant giving their further paychecks.
11. Stop the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and its wasteful spending to redundant agencies. A newspaper would be just as beneficial to the unemployed.
12. Eliminate the secret service for past and present Presidents, they are on their own along with those of us who live near the border in Arizona!
13. Dismantle the TSA and have them pick up trash on the side of the interstates, maybe they can handle that!
14. Stop funding NPR.
15. End foreign aid to Mexico, the have oil, they can fund their own corruption; we have enough to pay for with Obama, Reid, Pelosi and Frank running amuck.
16. Term limits – One Term! Take measures to amend the constitution to restrict all Senators, Representative and the office of the president to one term as a simple method of reducing pork barrel spend and corruption.
17. 25% salary cut for all Administration and Congress. Moratorium on all government raises.
18. Immediate investigations and reprimands for political corruption from all political parties.

Posted by: Templeton62 | January 26, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Uhhh, Ezra. Your hero Obama is nothing but an intellectual lightweight, and that's not changing anytime soon. After all, an opportunist like Obama doesn't really need a brain, just a good sense of timing.

Posted by: Azarkhan | January 26, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

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