Opinion Columns & Blogs

Let the American people decide

According to Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, the State of the Union is to give an assessment of the nation with emphasis on the economy and the budget. And so the president did.

Compared to where we were six years ago, America has gained significant momentum towards full recovery. Obama emphasized that there is much more to be done to lift the middle class and working poor. Apparently “The Great One” Mark Levin, a FOX favorite son, wasn’t listening when he said Obama thinks the middle class is doing great. That’s the difference between getting your information directly from the horse’s mouth instead of indirectly from the horse’s a**.

You can view the State of the Union on you-tube or read the transcript by searching “CNN full 2015 SOTU transcript” so I won’t repeat it here. Suffice it to say that the state of the union is impressively strong. What’s more impressive is Obama’s explicit plans going forward.

He called it the “middle class economics” plan: $3,000 tax cut for childcare, free tuition to community college, raise the federal minimum wage, give women equal pay for equal work, reduce current student loan debt, have companies offer educational benefits and apprenticeships leading to higher paying job, hire vets, build modern ports for trade, rebuild falling bridges, upgrade rails, build faster trains, expand high-speed internet for all, and invest in renewable energy, conservation, and electric vehicles.

Joni Ernst delivered the official Republican response. She opened with “rather than respond to a speech I’d rather talk about your priorities.” That’s a euphemism for ‘I’ve got nothin.’ What Joni gave was a personal portrait of a Norman Rockwell Americana. We were graced with folksy tales of growing up poor, wearing bread bags to keep worn out shoes dry, working biscuits at Hardees, serving in the military, and things my parents told me. “Really?” This is what I expect from story time at libraries not from a senator.

It’s a sad day when Sierra Star columnist Bill Atwood (“My Thoughts”) provides a better response (“Misstatements” - Jan. 29) to the State of the Union than a senatorial Tea Partier. Atwood’s response had the substance. Nowhere did I see Obama claim climate change is a greater threat then ISIL or Al Qaeda, although the Pentagon thinks so. Bill condemned the agreement with China to curb global warming because nothing compels them from complying. My nephew is a principle partner in a hedge fund operating in China. He will tell you that the best way to kill cooperation is to compel or coerce a Chinese official or businessman. Bill discredits the insuring of 10 million people because it falls short of the 40 million goal. That is really bad until you realize that the target date is not 2015. That’s terribly misleading.

To discredit Obama further he states there are “still” 1.7 million fewer workers than in 2007. That was true in December 2013. The latest figure reported by the Heritage Foundation is that it is at the same level as 2007. Why use an old December 2013 stat unless there is an agenda? He stated that 2/3rds of people making minimum wage are unmarried or and/or students working at their first job implying they don’t need a raise. How many are single mothers? How many help support their families? How many are working multiple jobs? How many students work to support themselves and go to school?

“The president talked about deficit reduction and nobody has yet explained how the federal budget deficit has been stated as smaller when we have borrowed almost $9 trillion since.” No explanation is needed if you understand the difference between debt and deficits. The modern day version of Herbert Hoover’s “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” is we want a plan where everyone gets a tax cut. We want a plan that helps small business. We want opportunities for people to lift themselves out of poverty without hurting businesses and punishing the rich. We want comprehensive immigration reform. We want a fair and comprehensive tax code. We want to create jobs. We want to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better. Love the menu but where’s the beef?

Americans are tired of nostalgia, criticisms, visions and promises. Lay out details of your plan as Obama has and let the American people decide. Next time you hear what the new Congress wants, demand they tell you how they are going to do it. Don’t you want to know?