Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Obama Appeals to His Base and the Opposition

Without doubt, President Barack Obama is one of the greatest orators in American history. The beginning of President Obama's State of the Union address was similar to his 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention.

He attempted to transcend race, religion and party affiliation. Obama focused on things that matter to all Americans. Obama asserted that:
"We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled."

His speech also emphasized American exceptionalism and patriotism. President said, "What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook."

President Obama discussed a wide range of topics. The President called on Congress to stop giving billions to oil companies. He urged Congress to use that money to invest in clean energy. According to Obama, that will spark technological innovation and stimulate job growth. Obama touted his Race to the Top education program. He renewed calls for immigration reform and investment in America's infrastructure.

His speech was moderate and balanced. He brilliantly attempted to please his base and Republicans at the same time. For instance, Obama mentioned eliminating government regulations that hinder business. However, he stated that he will continue regulations designed to protect the American people. He expressed a willingness to further compromise on health care reform, but he vowed prevent health insurance companies denying coverage based on preexisting conditions. Obama stated that he was willing to eliminate any unnecessary programs, but he promised not do it on "the backs of the most vulnerable citizens."

This compromising approach raises several concerns. Health care reform is already diluted. There is no public option. Millions remain uninsured.  There is no need for any additional compromise on that issue. The Republicans do not have enough votes in the Senate to repeal health care anyway. In addition, despite his promise to protect the most vulnerable citizens, the President mentioned the possibility of cutting Medicaid and Medicare.

I was pleased to hear the President state that the nation cannot afford to make tax cuts for the top 2% permanent. Hopefully, the President will vigorous fight any attempt to further extend tax cuts for the millionaires and billionaires.

If this nation is serious about reducing the deficit, the United States must end the extremely costly occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Contrary to the President's happy talk about Iraq, the war rages on. In the past week, over 170 people  have died in bombings. During the State of the Union address, the President promised to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July 2011. However, past government statements suggest that American troops will remain in Afghanistan indefinitely.

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