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Latest Discussion: President Obama's 2011 State of the Union Address
Posted at 10:27 AM ET, 01/25/2011

Welcome to the Washington Post's State of the Union discussion

By Hal Straus, Interactivity Editor

Washington Post readers are scheduled to start a live discussion and analysis of President Obama's 2011 State of the Union address at 8 pm, Tuesday, January 25 -- about an hour before the speech begins.

Participants agreed to provide their real names when registering for the discussion. However, the Post has not verified that the names provided are actually the names of those posting.

Participants also agreed to abide by the Post's discussion policy.

By Hal Straus, Interactivity Editor  | January 25, 2011; 10:27 AM ET
Categories:  State of the Union 2011  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Next: Programs that support innovation and education on chopping block?


With the exception of his comments on education, most of what the President said was relatively reasonable and about the best that could be expected given the circumstances. We do certainly need to make an effort to improve the competiveness of American manufacturing. We need government investments directed toward sustaining American leadership in emerging technologies. We particularly need to focus on American energy independence and finding a path to meeting our future energy needs with affordable environmentally sound technologies that don't balloon our trade deficit. The particularly attractive feature of this task is that it seems actually doable if we can just find the will to do it.
What was missing is an idea that most of the American political spectrum seems to have a hard time accepting. That is the idea of America first. Yes America has a lot going for us both in terms of human resources and the resources our country provides to us. America should be able to create a pretty good life for its citizens out of the goods and services that Americans can produce with the resources available in America. But Americans are not so superior to everyone else in the world to have earned some kind of entitlement to consume an excessive share of all of the world's resources. The President made no mention of the most obvious objective measure of America's economic problems. That is our large international trade deficit. We have not always had that deficit. It has been growing over the last thirty years or so. But it has really ballooned in the last decade. Success at achieving American energy independence would make a very substantial contribution to reducing that problem. Selling more American goods overseas can also help. But American goods also have to be more competitive at home. If we can't compete at home on quality, we will have to compete at home on price. Unless we can achieve some kind of trade balance, Americans who prefer foreign goods are going to have to pay more for them. The American government is going to have to accept the responsibility to protect the American economy from the true costs of the predatory pricing of the Chinese and others who flood our economy with large quantities of quality goods priced below their true value.
On the subject of education, none of the President's comments had any connection with reality. The fact that all of the President's ideas on education are lost in ideological abstractions does not distinguish him from most Americans. But the idea that our economic problems can be solved by more time in the classroom is a particularly stupid idea and a distraction from efforts with more promise.

Posted by: dnjake | January 26, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

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