President Barack Obama painted the state of the union as strong and safe in his third address to the nation, but glossed over solutions to some of the nation’s biggest problems.
The President, running for reelection, touched base on all major issues including the economy, energy, regulation, immigration and education. He exuded confidence and laid out many points he is expected to hit on the campaign trail.
Although Obama has failed in the past at every attempt to work with the Republicans in the Congress, he still attempted to reach out to the opposition. Most Republicans and Democrats could agree with a good portion of what the President had to say Tuesday night.
Obama emphasized a return to “American values” as restoring the American dream. He gave an urgent message to Americans: We need to get back to basics, and fight side by side – despite our differences – to rebuild a better American.
Obama also stressed the hardship of the middle class and promised to restore its place in our society. The middle class has suffered the most with the recent financial collapse, causing much of our middle class to slide into poverty and thus increasing the great divide between the haves and the have-nots.
In the State of the Union address, Obama said, “Let’s never forget: Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that do the same. It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.” Obama encouraged equal responsibility for all Americans throughout his speech.
Obama went on to say we need smart regulations – not missing the opportunity to point out that during his term he had passed fewer regulations than Bush. He cracked a funny joke about regulation preventing “spilled milk,” illustrating legislation intended to hold oil companies accountable, in turn punishing the dairy industry.
Obama encouraged politicians to put aside differences, acknowledging we all have different ideas regarding “taxes and debt; energy and healthcare,” and stating that Americans – regardless of party affiliation – are cynical about corruption and politicking in Washington.
Obama promised to make sure there were no conflicts of interest with the way Congress does business, and said, “The executive branch also needs to change. Too often, it’s inefficient, outdated, and remote. That’s why I’ve asked this Congress to grant me the authority to consolidate the federal bureaucracy so that our government is leaner, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people.”
Obama quoted his favorite President, Republican Abe Lincoln, in saying “Government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more.”
Although the President talked mostly about domestic issues, he reassured Americans that we have made a difference in the world – particularly the Middle East – and that “the renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. … America is back.”
Obama has been promising change for over three years now. While he did finally start pulling the troops out of Afghanistan, and his State of the Union address was hopeful of more change to come, he will need to step up and play ball if he wants to serve a second term.
The President suggested taking half of the money previously used to fund the war, and splitting this evenly between paying down the debt, and creating building projects to put Americans back to work.
For Obama to win reelection, he will need to spend more time fleshing out how he will make these proposed changes a reality – despite a Republican majority in the House, and a split Senate.