Most Daily Kos readers were probably happy with Pres. Obama's address speaking on climate change, raising the minimum wage, providing more preschool opportunities, etc. To better understand where we are and where we should be going, a deeper examination of the speech will help.
In my last diary, I discussed the threats to voting rights and proper representation based on the vote totals. Last night, Obama did briefly say he wanted a commission to look into the hours-long waits many citizens are forced to endure in order to vote. (Unfortunately, when he introduced the 102-year-old woman who had to wait 6 hours to vote, he did not press the point that she was an example of the human terms of immorally long waits designed to discourage voters in selected areas.)
Just this morning, I got an email from People for the American Way's campaign to overturn Citizens United. They want people to ask their Congresspeople to sign the Declaration for Democracy. Pres. Obama said nothing about it. There he was before those very same members of Congress - a perfect opportunity to ask them. PFAW is not what you'd call a lunatic fringe group - they're not asking for anything crazy. Pres. Obama is now in his second term. He doesn't have to worry about running again himself. Yet, he is silent.
He didn't mention the need to end gerrymandering, so Congress and state legislatures reflect the number of votes for each party, rather than the scheming done to circumvent the will of the majority. There he stood, facing a House of Representatives with a Republican majority, when a majority of the votes cast for Congressional candidates last November went to Democrats. The problem was staring him in the face.
OK, but what DID he say? Below are quick quotes with my comments.
"Corporate profits have skyrocketed to all-time highs — but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged."
However, most of his proposals have to do with how we can help businesses, which in turn (supposedly) will hire and pay workers. A recent NY Times article discussed how machine shop workers today are often expected to operate computers and use knowledge of math and science, yet for those skilled jobs employers are often offering $10/hour. More $10 skilled jobs aren't the answer.
"It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few"
Why no mention of Citizens United?
"The American people don’t expect government to solve every problem."
We need to push back against the anti-"big government" narrative. The public can benefit from more government programs - single payer health care, producing green energy on a non-profit basis and selling it below cost if needed in order to fight climate change immediately, etc. Yes, not EVERY problem, but framing it that way helps the small government advocates.
"Yes, the biggest driver of our long-term debt is the rising cost of health care for an aging population."
If so, it's time to do it on a non-profit basis. According to Scientific American, Canada's single payer system provides care at a similar level to that in the US at a far lower cost per person.
"We’ll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies"
Why not eliminate all "subsidies" to drug companies?
"Now is our best chance for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit."
Over the past years, "bipartisan" has become synonymous with more for the 1% and less for the 99%. Obama's continuing efforts to frame "bipartisan" as a desirable attribute is troubling. The "partners" in "bipartisan" are the people whose gerrymandering prevented a Democratic majority in the House.
"It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth."
See above, regarding government size.
"Last year, we created our first manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio. ...a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything."
Letting the government spend money to help companies make money, but forbidding the govt from producing goods & services companies don't find profitable enough isn't good. Also, see above: $10/hr. skilled worker pay.
"Let’s offer incentives to companies that hire Americans who’ve got what it takes to fill that job opening,"
"Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy — every dollar."
Who invested the $1 and who got the $140 ?
"I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago."
I'm not familiar with the McCain-Lieberman plan, but the names raise questions. We shouldn't limit ourselves to a market-based solution. The problems demanding action won't patiently wait until it becomes profitable enough for the market to handle it. The future of the Earth shouldn't depend on corporate accountants.
"But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take"
If you have the power to act on a crucial matter - do it, don't wait for a gridlocked Congress.
"the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. We need to encourage that. And that’s why my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits."
In other words, Fracking and tar sands oil.
"In fact, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good."
There would be even more revenue for that if the government extracted and sold the resources itself so the full amount went to the government.
"America’s energy sector is just one part of an aging infrastructure badly in need of repair. Ask any CEO where they’d rather locate and hire — a country with deteriorating roads and bridges, or one with high-speed rail and Internet; high-tech schools, self-healing power grids."
It's sad that the US wouldn't fix its infrastructure for the welfare of its citizens, but it might to help corporations make more money.
"my administration has worked tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism efforts. Throughout, we have kept Congress fully informed of our efforts."
Is this enough to address the "kill list"?
"We also know that progress in the most impoverished parts of our world enriches us all — not only because it creates new markets, more stable order in certain regions of the world, but also because it’s the right thing to do."
This is one reason I am concerned about Obama's plans to encourage more professionals from other countries to come to the Us to help US corporations at the expense of those other nations.
"We will keep faith with our veterans, investing in world-class care,"
Obama gave a similar message at the Democratic Convention. At the same convention, they also had a presentation about Vietnam veterans doing charitable work for Iraq and Afghanistan vets who weren't getting the help they needed elsewhere.