Checking Obama’s State of the Union Speech (continued)

This is the second of a two-part blog reacting to President Obama’s State of the Union speech.

Iran
President Obama said that his administration would do anything to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb. If Iran crosses a “red line” in its nuclear program, Obama has vowed to bomb its nuclear facilities, with all the deadly consequences such an action would almost certainly bring. Obama has continuously said that all options are open but that is not true: he does not support the option of making the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone, nor does he support the option of living with Iran having a nuclear bomb, as it would be an act of national suicide for Iran to use one against either Israel or the United States.

Housing
There is improvement in the housing sector but it is still a massive problem. Obama’s only solution in the SotU speech was to urge struggling homeowners to take advantage of a program to give each homeowner $3,000. This program has fallen far short of its goal and many homeowners are so far underwater that $3,000 would not help them very much. Meanwhile, bankers who had home contracts robo-signed and mislead homeowners about contract terms have not suffered any penalties.

Education
President Obama’s educational proposals probably resonate well with the public but a high-quality pre-kindergarten program available to every schoolchild will certainly add more than “a dime” to the deficit; also, Obama gave no indication of how equipping each high school student with a job skill could be worked into the school day. Obama also wants to tie federal aid to colleges and universities to how well they hold down costs; however, the tricky thing will be how to set parameters so as not to reward institutions that lowball their educators.

Voting Rights
Curiously enough on the right to vote, Obama, in both his reelection acceptance speech and in his SotU speech, referred to long lines at polling places. Long lines can be fixed by more voting machines and more precinct workers. The real problem is GOB-led efforts to disenfranchise groups that are likely to vote Democratic. Obama should have moralized the issue by likening modern voter suppression efforts to the poll taxes and literacy tests of an earlier era.

Labor Unions
President Obama could not be expected to hit every issue that a segment of the public supports; however, the omission of labor uniuons was a body blow to union members who worked very hard to get him elected. Obama gave labor unions short shift in his first term by failing to push for legislation to make it easier to form unions; giving tepid support to Wisconsinites trying to nullify Governor Scott Walker’s massacre of public employee collective bargaining rights — a Wisconsin woman either offered or actually sent Obama a “confortable” pair of shoes that he had promised to march in if collective bargaining rights were threatened — and when Ohio held a referendum to sustain or overturn the GOP-enacted law to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights, radio talk show host Bill Press had to press Obama’s media team very hard to get them to say Obama supported an overturn.

Tax Reform
President Obama said he is prepared to lead a fight for bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform; however, when he agreed to the permanent extension of most of the George W. Bush tax cuts — the GOP contends that 84 percent of the cuts were preserved — the GOP is making it crystal clear that raising more revenue is out of the question. A major phrase in the GOP tax reform lexicon is that any change in the tax code must be “revenue neutral.”

Gun Control
One commentator has said that the seven minutes devoted to gun control will be the part of the speech that will be remembered longest. I concur that the gun control segment was Obama at his best but I also believe that if Obama were to get everything he has proposed enacted, it will have a beneficial but limited effect on firearms violence. The handgun is by far the deadliest firearm and it is almost totally neglected in Obama’s proposals.

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