During tonight’s State of the Union address, there weren’t very many surprises. The president hit on expected topics like the economy, job creation, immigration reform, gun control. President Obama provided a mixture of rhetoric and policy and during the gun control portions pulled on our heart strings. In his wide-ranging speech did the president answer our questions, or simply open the door for more questions?
When it came to fixing the economy, the president focused on building the middle class. One of his proposals, raising the minimum wage, to do this will certainly draw the ire of the business community and Republicans. Opponents of this will stress the impact this will have on business and prices to consumers. He also proposed more projects around rebuilding the infrastructure of our nation. We have heard this before during the debates for the stimulus, but had to admit some projects weren’t as shovel ready as they thought. This time he didn’t use the word shovel ready, but questions will remain as to whether these projects are ready to go.
He really dug into tax reform, talking about refining the tax code to make it more efficient and reward businesses who want create jobs and grow the economy. It remains to be seen if this divided Congress can come together on tax reform, even though both parties put reforming the tax code as a high priority item.
A decent amount of time was spent on climate control and the importance of believing in the evidence from nature and science. He went as far as committing that if Congress will not act, he will instruct his cabinet to come up with executive orders that can be enacted right away.
He spent very little time talking about the housing and foreclosure crisis. He mentioned the gains in the housing market, but that is not enough. Neither is the refinance plan that he mentioned. Nothing he said addresses the foreclosure crisis, or the failed programs that were put in place during his first term.
He proposed nothing new when it came to gun control and immigration reform. During the gun control portions he highlighted policies he has already pushed like universal background checks and encouraged Congress to bring them to a vote. It was during this time that he pulled on our heart strings by mentioning victims and calling out the names of people who deserve a vote. With immigration reform, he stressed the importance and put the onus on Congress to pass a comprehensive package so he could sign it. However, nothing new was proposed.
Overall, the speech was one of his more well-rounded speeches. He did a good job of mixing rhetoric with policy and keeping the heart strings to a minimum. However, the details were still on the weak side as he focused more on covering a lot of topics. His failures to mention a specific plan in dealing with the foreclosure crisis, or on what specifically should be in tax reform, or even what cuts should be part of any package. Even his plans for job creation through infrastructure projects raise more questions than answers. So despite being a well-rounded speech, I don’t believe that he answered enough questions but raised more.