On Tuesday night, President Obama addressed Congress in the annual State of The Union speech.
Obama opened with highlighting the last 15 years of American history. He mentioned the 9-11 attacks leading to the two longest and costliest wars in American history as well as the economic crisis.
As the president mentioned, last year was breakout year for the United States. The economy grew 5% in the third quarter of 2014 which was the strongest quarter of growth since 2003. Unemployment dropped below 6% for the first time since July 2008 prior to the economic crisis and is at 5.6%. The US ended its 13-year combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014. More people have health care coverage than ever before since this information has been tracked.
In describing the State of The Union, President Obama said, "The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of The Union is strong."
Indeed this is good news.
President Obama's asked these questions in his speech about the next fifteen years:
It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.
Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?
Will we approach the world fearful and reactive, dragged into costly conflicts that strain our military and set back our standing? Or will we lead wisely, using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our planet?
Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turned against one another — or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward?
He laid out what this congress should be doing for the next two years. Prior to the speech, it was reported that the president was going to propose two free years of community college.
Other proposals included paid sick leave, paid parental leave, and universal child care. We lag behind other industrial nations when it comes to these policies. The president also called on congress to close the pay gap between men and women. While the global wage gap between the sexes is closing, it is not expected to fully close until the end of this century (and that is a very hopeful estimate). In the United States it is widely cited that women earn 80 cents to every dollar that a man earns. The World Economic Forum says that women actually earn 66% of what a man earns in the United States and we are ranked 65th in the 142 countries that participated in the report.
So much for this country being pro-family and producing pro-family policies.
He made it known that we should make it easier for Americans to vote. I will probably be echoing this line for the next two years, but in the 2014 midterms only 35.9% turned out for the election. That is embarrassing. The United Kingdom will be holding a general election in May at the latest, and I am willing to bet that turnout for that election will double the turnout for our recent election. We should be embarrassed.
The president also took digs at Republicans regularly.
The president urged the congress to pass a jobs bill that improves our infrastructure to manage the challenges of the 21st century and not just one pipeline as he put it.
He told the congress to raise the minimum wage with this line.
Probably the best line was this:
President Obama might have run his last campaign, but I think he still has some fight in him.
In interviews he has made it known that his presidency is in the fourth quarter and interesting things happen in that quarter. Ask the Green Bay Packers about that during last week's NFC Championship in Seattle.
During the lame duck session of the 113th Congress, the president was able to get his nominees appointed to the federal judiciary and confirm his selection for Surgeon General. He also announced a new policy regarding normalizing relations with Cuba and announced that he was taking executive action to fix America's broken immigration system.
And while the Democrats did take a beating in the last midterm elections, President Obama appears to be gearing up for the next fight.
Yes, as Obama stated, he has run his last campaign, but I think the State of The Union set the stage for 2016.
One thing I noticed during the State Of The Union was that the president offered many modest proposals that both sides of the aisle can agree on and was supported by Republicans in the past. Rebuilding our nation's roads and bridges, promoting educational opportunities, raising the minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, and making it easier for people to vote in this country.
And not once did Republicans stand and applaud those proposals.
Congress, especially Republicans, were not sent to Washington, DC to just oppose the president as they have done for the last six years. Apparently in the last election, 36% of those that voted believed that Congress should do something. And in that election a majority of that 36% believed that the Republicans had better ideas and should be given more control over the legislative branch.
We are already three weeks into the 114th Congress and the new Republican majority is proving they have no interest in cooperating with this president and know that any of their proposals that they ran on in 2014 will be vetoed by this president.
President Obama will not repeal ObamaCare despite how many times they try to pass efforts to repeal it.
After a revolt by Republican women over language concerning rape and incest, the Republican House passed a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks with language saying that no taxpayer dollars will be used for abortion which if any of these people know their history tax dollars do not go towards abortions. It was in the Hyde Amendment passed in September 1976.
Republicans may have the Senate, but they only control 54 seats. Maybe one of the woman senators could filibuster the bill. If it passes the Senate, it is likely that the president will veto the bill.
The Keystone XL pipeline bill passed the House and likely has enough votes to overcome a filibuster. The president should veto that as well and neither chamber has enough votes to overcome a veto.
The president is setting up the 2016 chessboard that his party, the Democrats, are the ones who are capable of governing. For the past six years, the Republicans have shown no interest in cooperating with this president and have gone to great lengths in demonizing him. As a matter of fact, it was exactly six years ago on the night of the State of The Union that a group of Republicans got together and plotted to undermine this president as he was celebrating his inauguration.
They said no to his health care proposal, a plan they originally supported. They undermined him when it came to the stimulus. Everything the president proposed they obstructed him in every possible way by saying no and offering nothing as a rebuttal to his proposals or the same tired talking points that voters rejected in two consecutive presidential elections.
Democrats should also take a lesson in this too. In the last election, they ran away from the president. Campaign strategists stowed Obama away as if there was something wrong with him. They told him don't bother going onto the stump despite having a successful record. I think if the president made a few campaign stops in key senate races (ahem, like Colorado), Democrats would have been able to keep the Senate. The Democrat in Michigan, Gary Peters, had Obama come stump for him and he won his senate race. As did Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy who was facing a difficult re-election bid.
Come 2016, I hope the Democrats plan on running on their achievements and successes of this president as they SHOULD HAVE in 2014. They will also be running on that the Republicans cannot effectively govern and will have proven that during the time they were in control of the legislative branch. If you want an idea what these next 21 months will be like, look at what the Republican led Congress has done in the last three weeks.
And I think President Obama has learned his lesson too about these last six years and dealing with Republicans.
He should have stopped giving a fuck what Republicans think a long time ago.
That speech proves that he has no more fucks to give.
It is about damn time.
And the fight for 2016 has just begun.