1.27.2011

Not So Live Blogging the State of the Union Address


I did not watch the State of the Union address live - I was in bed before it started - and I have not watched or read any commentary about it since. But I did read the transcript over the next couple of mornings. Here are some of my reactions.

"What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow." I am a sucker for Obama's rhetoric. He has demonstrated genuine desire for bipartisanship, which I appreciate.

"The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100." Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is a more accurate portrayal of the challenges of job creation in our modern economy than the more popularly believed "we lost those jobs to China and Mexico."

"Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science." Somewhere, Amy Chua nods in approval.

"Remember — for all the hits we've taken these last few years, for all the naysayers predicting our decline, America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world. No workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We're the home to the world's best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any place on Earth." Translation: reports of America's demise are premature.

"What's more, we are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea — the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That's why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here. It's why our students don't just memorize equations, but answer questions like 'What do you think of that idea? What would you change about the world? What do you want to be when you grow up?'" Co-sign. This is the America I love: combining raw talent with inquisitiveness and idealism.

"The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation. None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn't know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do — what America does better than anyone else — is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We're the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn't just change our lives. It is how we make our living." Innovation is also inherently disruptive, to old industries and old job types. This is the challenge of a nation that is simultaneously entrepreneurial and democratic. What will the historians say about what we did to see ourselves into this new economic order?

"Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it's not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout our history, our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That's what planted the seeds for the Internet. That's what helped make possible things like computer chips and GPS. Just think of all the good jobs — from manufacturing to retail — that have come from these breakthroughs." As right-leaning as I am, I acknowledge the role of government in seeding innovation.

"We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if — I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own." Obligatory dig at an easy target. Whatever.

"Within the next five years, we'll make it possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans. This isn't just about faster Internet or fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age." My boss wrote an op-ed on this earlier this month.

"For example, over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change. So tonight, I'm asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years — without adding to our deficit. It can be done." A tax code that is simpler and flatter. Republicans should be nodding their heads in agreement here. And, because it's the rich who usually qualify for exemptions, the less of those there are, the more progressive the result, so the left should be happy with this as well.

"Our troops come from every corner of this country — they're black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love." You may know where I stand on gay marriage. The reason I've never blogged about DADT is because I'm incredulous that we would care about the sexual orientation of our armed forces. So though I realize that there actually is a debate on this issue, for me it's a non-debate.

"That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father's Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth." Can I assume that John Boehner started tearing up at this point? Or was he on his fifth hanky by now?

I realize I breezed through whole sections of his speech. And, probably the responses are worth reading and commenting on as well. But this is what I got at this hour.

Post a Comment