Maybe it’s because Republicans have been such non-cooperative, partisan, political ideologues opposed to his every move or utterance over the last six years. Maybe it’s because he sees his final two years as President of The United States as liberty rightfully earned with two back-to-back, fifty-percent-plus national elections. But Barack Obama put a certain hurt on Republican leaders, one of whom frowned down on him Tuesday night in Washington in his penultimate State of the Union address, by daring to veto bills they would pass that would undo all he’s done.
“So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way,” he said. “We can’t slow down businesses or put our economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns. We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix. And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, it will earn my veto.”
The night of his election in 2009, GOP leaders in Washington and among the states vowed, as we now know, to be as uncooperative as they could to the new, African-American president, a pledge not violated for six years. No longer needing to make Republicans think he’s really just The Butler, there to cater to their every anti-bellum attitude or convincing independent and moderate voters to give him a second term, President Obama delivered his sixth and second to last SOTU speech before a new Congress more Republican than Democrat. After fifteen years filled with war and recession, he said it time to turn the page.
The Obama White House has had a hard slog of it, but it’s unmistakable that a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production are sure signs that America has “risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come,” the president said tonight. The market is up and gas prices are down, which means people will have about $750 on average in their wallets instead of in their gas tanks. People spending money drives the economy, and spending is up even though wages and salaries are incrementally better.
The answer from Republican House Speaker John Boehner, a Congressman from Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, recently reelected in Kentucky, to Obama’s question of “Will we accept an economy where only few of us do spectacularly well?” would be yes. The would likewise answer no to the second part of the question, “Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?”
The president echoed the sentiments of Ohio’s senior U.S. Senator, Sherrod Brown, who told reporters today that Republicans in Washington and Columbus should do more for the middle-class, including raising the minimum wage and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to cover low-income workers without children.
Ohio Congressman Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat from Toledo, said the speech was “very populist” and would appeal to working families in her district who want more cash in their pockets. “My district is ready to put everybody back to work,” she said following the joint session of Congress.
Bold action to adapt to new circumstances, the president said, is the historical hallmark of the nation in which it’s advertised that everyone gets a fair shot. “We set up worker protections, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to protect ourselves from the harshest adversity … We gave our citizens schools and colleges, infrastructure and the internet – tools they needed to go as far as their effort will take them,” he said in prepared remarks. “That’s what middle-class economics is – the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”
Coming off a trail of executive actions from immigration to traveling to Cuba again to free community college for hardworking, responsible students, President Obama is unchained in a way many wished he would have acted from his history making victory in 2008, following eight years of Republican control of the White House and six years of Congress that produced negative jobs, a meltdown on Wall Street and a Great Recession second only to the Great Depression of the 1930s. “I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents,” President Obama said from Washington.
Having successfully extracated America from a war of political convenience, started by President Bush the younger, the Commander-in-Chief won’t let American get dragged into another ground war in the Middle East. To accomplish that, he’s been leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL. “No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids,” he said, noting America is sure the government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as it did to combat terrorism.
Maybe it’s foolish to ask Congress to do anything to help him out, but President Obama gave it the old college try again. “And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.”
Republicans showed America what they voted for last November, by starting on day one with legislation that would monkey-wrench once standard transfers from one account in the Social Security Trust Fund to another. As noteworthy, GOP leaders vow to dismantle, derail or repeal The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, passed by Congress, that millions have used to finally purchase affordable, quality healthcare insurance. With spending and budget deficits down, jobs and confidence up, it’ll be quite the show going forward as to what Republicans will do to sour things so they can grip that things aren’t any better.