Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The State of the Union 2014

I liked President Obama's speech. He listed several proposals that will help our economy, including paying government employees enough so they don't qualify for welfare.
  • His idea for a myRA is an excellent idea because it will make it so all people have access to a retirement plan, and will present competition to traditional IRA plans the way the Public Option was intended in the beginning.
  • Working towards employers paying employees enough to live on is what we need, it will save states money to invest in education and make sure every American has the opportunity to succeed. Hopefully the tax code can be modified to work like the one I have already posted which would reward companies for paying employees a living wage and eliminating the deduction for employees who are paid below a reasonable living wage which should be more than just the bare essentials for someone working 40 hours a week.
  • He mentioned solar power briefly, and extending tax credits to increase the amount of families who use solar power in the lower 48 and Hawaii will make a large dent on our greenhouse gas emissions and create thousands of private sector construction jobs.
  • He talked about trade promotion authority which is of course the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Increasing trade with China and making it so we have strong ties with the Pacific Rim is a good idea, but the Trans-Pacific Partnership has a number of very bad provisions when it comes to copyright and patents which will have impacts on everything from music to literature to agriculture that will be negative for the vast majority of people from what I can find out. I will to make a post on this with a counter-proposal soon on the problematic parts. It also does nothing for tourism around the Pacific rim which is one major problem I have with all of our free trade agreements.
  • His policy on Iran is very important. By using his veto pen (ideally) he can have more or less full power when it comes to Iran and negotiating with Iran to increase trade and bring them closer to the US and Europe as their President has stated he wants. Given how the last election was not fraudulent (and Ahmadinejad's last election was clearly fraught with corruption) it is clear where the Iranian people stand on this.
  • Investment in Preschool which I am very glad to hear.
  • Immigration was touched on and hopefully we can get important immigration reform passed to end the immigration problems that were started by George W. Bush of the severe limitations on work visas that clearly don't work.

When it comes to Representative McMorris-Rodgers speech I thought it was acid to the ears. I participated in debate for four years in high school and have done some judging since, and I have heard better arguments from 14 year olds. It was disconnected, and she keeps talking about how Republicans have better plans than Obama which she fails to elaborate on, and keeps rattling on about her children and how proud she is. She can be a proud parent, and good for her, but an official response speech is not the time to talk about your children, it's the time to present your counterproposals in a critical election year (because the question of whether any significant progress done by Obama for the remainder of his Presidency will be determined on November 4th in the Congressional elections, making this election, like all elections, extremely important). If the Republicans fail to present plans as the Response Speech has traditionally been used than the Democrats should start partying today because it will be a large uphill battle for the Republicans, so I think the Democrats can win the next election because the Republicans are just too crazy and incomprehensible to be taken seriously.

The response from the left I saw has been mixed. A lot of people I have seen have immediately grasped on to say that his speech has not been enough. Robert Reich claims on his facebook wall that Obama didn't show spine, and I couldn't disagree more. He stood up for 4 very important very liberal policies that have a chance to pass, and are first steps. No one should take this as the last step, and after a number of problems with the budget from the Republicans we need to recover ground to where we used to be. A lot of people on the left are taking his most progressive speech and immediately bashing it for being a compromise to the Republicans when the speech had the most similarities to the values he was taught as a child (given his Unitarian Universalist upbringing, "And we do them because we believe in the inherent dignity and equality of every human being, regardless of race or religion, creed or sexual orientation." is extraordinarily similar UU's first principle) I have heard from him since he became President. When people on the left shoot him for finally showing some skin in his speeches they are shooting themselves in the foot and losing credibility. It was a good speech and has a lot of potential to start moving towards an even better speech next year when the Democrats will be in control and they can make serious change like happened when President Johnson was President. I take this speech as a rallying call for this November's elections in some ways because he is starting to up the talk which is the first step to making real change.

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