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President Obama delivers his 2011 State of the Union address
A glimpse at one of the themes in tomorrow's State of the Union address from President Obama:
"When American jobs and livelihoods depend on getting something done, he will not wait for Congress," White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer wrote in an email to Obama supporters Saturday.

On ABC's "This Week," White House press secretary Jay Carney added: "The president sees this as a year of action, to work with Congress where he can and to bypass Congress where necessary to lift folks who want to come up into the middle class."

The Wall Street Journal reports that some areas in which Obama will look to take "unilateral action" include infrastructure development, job training, climate change, and education. Expect him to outline which goals he on which he will look to work with Congress, and which goals he will look to tackle with or without Congressional support.

The centerpiece of the Wall Street Journal report is an effort by the White House to get large employers to commit to not discriminate against hiring long-term unemployed. It certainly sounds like a well-intentioned program dealing with a real problem, but ultimately, there's a limit to how much a president can do without congressional action.

Given that Republicans remain hell-bent on obstructing anything that President Obama supports—they will be delivering no less than three responses to his speech—my personal preference would be to see him confront that obstruction head-on. I'm not against him talking about ways in which he'll try to move the ball down the field even if Congress refuses, but if he does that, he can't pretend it's a substitute for congressional action.

I don't have any inside information, but I'd actually be surprised if he overlooked the fact that Congress has been historically uncooperative. When you consider things like the fact that the GOP shut down the government in October, it would be pretty stupid to give a speech about how to get Washington working without acknowledging that it can't really work unless Congress changes its ways—and whatever criticisms you may have of President Obama, he tends not to say very many truly stupid things.

It seems like the more likely scenario is that the president will use his efforts to sidestep Congress as a counterargument to those who might criticize him for passing the buck if he were to simply deliver a speech excoriating Republican congressional intransigence. Given the way the media works, there's probably some merit to that. But ultimately no amount of spin can change the fact that there are really only two solutions to the paralysis in Washington, D.C.: Either Republicans need to stop trying to destroy everything the president touches, or voters need to throw them out next November. Anything else will be status quo—or worse.


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Comment Preferences

  •  I'd love to see him call out Republicans to their (10+ / 0-)

    smug faces on national TV.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 11:31:01 AM PST

  •  I vote for throwing them out. (8+ / 0-)

    And I am working to help make that happen.  Talk is cheap.  Help make it so.

    Don't bet your future on 97% of climate scientists being wrong. Take action on climate now!

    by Mimikatz on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 11:49:13 AM PST

    •  GOP controlled state legislatures (0+ / 0-)

      voter suppression and redistricting make it harder and harder, even when a solid majority is against them.

      Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

      by coral on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 12:43:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The president has called for action. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bufffan20, thomask

    I agree. Let this be the year of the bypass. Bypass the unworking congress. Bypass the unworking economic recovery. Bypass the past 45 years and wonder what might have been.

    My greatest sadness is the ebb and flow of money and jobs in the political campaign schedule.

    The jobs were there year round when machine politics ruled the day. I imagine a political movement that finds ways to keep all of it's supporters gainfully employed would be quite powerful.

    It's time for action. I agree. I support The President's call for action. How can we be the change we envision?

    Yes, I'm the real Lia Whirlwind. Do you hear anybody else screaming?

    by Lia Whirlwind on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 11:53:33 AM PST

  •  He could ask congress every week at a press (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bensdad, MPociask

    conference from now until the end of his 2nd term to pass a jobs bill.

    Other than that, I'm having a hard time seeing what the executive branch of government can do to bolster employment.

    Or maybe he could ask the Koch brothers to spend their millions being "job creators" instead of pumping it into republican campaign coffers.

  •  Voters MUST throw them out come November or (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    we'll be in for more of the same old same old, with the poor and unemployed suffering while the rich get richer.

    How is it even possible that ANY American with a brain would vote REPUBLICAN in the next, or any, election?  Only the 0.01 percent can find safe haven with Republicans and even they get shafted when these fuckers shut down the government or refuse to raise the debt ceiling.

    This country better wake up and THROW THE BUMS OUT!!!!!

    Best. President. Ever.

    by Little Lulu on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 12:20:22 PM PST

  •  This is kind of scary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask, Lia Whirlwind, BobBlueMass

    I support whatever Obama can legally do from a constitutional standpoint to bypass this do nothing congress.  It is scary, though, to see that a president has this kind of power under the provisions of separation of powers as laid out in the Constitution.  What is so scary to me I guess is that when the next republican president gets into the Oval Office, just think of what he will be able to do.  

    Right action?  I think so.  But scary at the same time.

  •  No. Past time. He should have been.... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask, coral, Jazzenterprises, thomask, skod

    ...."excoriating" Republicans in Congress for their unprecedented obstructionism long ago. He has been a punching bag for them and he has never punched back. Never.

    Taking off the gloves now would be a good idea. It is probably too late, but better late than never. THE ENTIRE SPEECH should be devoted to this intransigence.

    Time for ridicule. He has nothing to lose. If you are nice to them, you will lose the Senate. If you are not nice to them, you have a shot and turning public opinion around.

    America doesn't play 11 dimensional check.

    It plays football. And it will knock you the fuck out of the way if you don't learn to play offense.

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 12:27:05 PM PST

    •  Yep yep yep.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      He's been playing nice with Congressional Republicans since he got elected.  And then we lost the filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.  And then we got killed in 2010.  Then we got lucky when the Republicans went full-crazy, and managed to hold on to the Senate in 2012.  

      And now the President is talking about having to take action without Congress?  What did he expect?  (while this question was hypothetical, so much goes back to the apparent miscalculation by Geithner, Rahm, etc. that the stimulus was big enough, the economy would take off, and people would like the health insurance law).

  •  Treating the sympton instead of the disease: (0+ / 0-)
    an effort by the White House to get large employers to commit to not discriminate against hiring long-term unemployed.
    That's great, but talk about zero-sum.  If employers hire more long-term unemployed that's fewer jobs for short term unemployed.  It's rearranging the deck chairs.  

    We need more jobs, period.  Employers will be a lot less squeamish about hiring the LTU if they have no choice because everyone else has a job.

    I'm not unsympathetic, and yes, I guess it's better than nothing.  But just barely.

    I don't know what's been trickling down, but it hasn't been pleasant---N. Pelosi

    by Russycle on Mon Jan 27, 2014 at 01:10:34 PM PST

  •  We need radical changes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lia Whirlwind, Possiamo

    For instance, a 30 hour work week.  If we raise minimum wage to $12, that would be the equivalent of a 9.6 forty hour week.  Anyone working over 21 hours is part time.  Such people would make over $250 instead of the current $210 for part time workers.

    On argument about this is scheduling, but many firms have sophisticated scheduling software, that can automatically deal with complex scheduling, either an 7 hours for four days or 6 hours for five days.

    We live in a different world than that which created the 40 hour work week.  Tasks take much less time to complete than even 50 years ago, and is cheaper.  Rapid decisions in 1970 across long distance required expensive asynchronous communication.  Today an email, almost free, can be sent and dealt with in a pseudo asynchronous protocol which allows rapid decisions at a fraction of the costs.

    The point is that we should be spending less time 'on the clock'  Those of us who work 'off the clock' tend to get paid for that extra available time.  Those who are paid for on the clock time will now be paid a better wage.

  •  well this only (0+ / 0-)

    took 5 years, where have you been 44 we have been waiting for you.

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