(word cloud from the President's SOTU 2013)
Did not stay up last night in Germany to watch the SOTU live, so I taped it and am watching it now. I see that CNN was stupid enough to allow Newt Gingrich to be on it's pundit table, so it deserves what it gets hearing the crap he just loves to say. Sew = Reap.
5:59 PM, EDT: FLOTUS Michelle Obama has just entered the hall. A certain number of Supreme Court justices (Conservatives) are not present. Hadea Pendelton's mother is sitting next to the FLOTUS.
6:00 PM: Secretary of State John Kerry has just entered. The only Department Secretary not there, by law, is Steven Chu. The President's cabinet is now filing in.
You know, for a nation that wanted to shake off any forms of royalty, we sure do love our traditions that, in many ways, remind of royalty....
6:10 PM: the House Sergeant of Arms (Irving) announces: " Mr. Speaker, the President of the United States". Obama enters and "works the aisle". The President went out of his way to shake John McCain's hand. That is an interesting message. The President is greeting the Supreme Court Justices who are in attendance. He greets the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Armed Forces.
6:14 PM: The President gives copies of the speech to both the Vice-President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner (R-OH) then introduces the President formally to the joint session of Congress. John McCain, Chuck Shumer and Graham are sitting together.
6:15 PM: The President begins his speech by referring to Kennedy's SOTU from 1962, where he said that "the Constitution makes us not rivals for power, but partners for progress".
As he mentions that war is winding down, large applause from the entire house.
As he mentions that 6 million new jobs have been created since the Great Recession began, the applause was less.
"Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis and we can say with renewed confidence that that State of our Union is strong".
CNN pans in on Paul Ryan, failed Republican Vice-Presidential candidate from 2012, who looks very, very unhappy.
Obama makes a case for helping the middle-class.
6:20 PM: probably the core of all of this:
"It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country – the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or who you love. It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation."
He notes that American citizens expect the Congress and the Administrative branch to put their interests before party.
6:22 PM: Obama notes that the deficit has been shrinking. "We are more than halfway toward the goal of 4 Trillion dollars that experts say we need to stabilize our finances".
He speaks about the Sequester immediately, noting that it will hurt the military, education and cost jobs.
His first real partisan shot was when he called out Conservatives for wanting to not cut the military budget but essentially gut everything else.
"We can't just cut our way to prosperity" -spending cuts and revenue.
"Already the ACA is helping to slow the growth of health-care costs"
Tom Coburn has a beard and is wearing new glasses, I think. He looks very unhappy.
"We must keep the promises we have already made" - big applause.
Once again, Obama proposes cutting tax loopholes for the wealthy. Why do we hear this every year since I don't know when, but it never happens?
But I must say, Obama is really hammering the Republicans on this.
"Now is our best chance for comprehensive tax reform..." - applause from both sides of the aisle.
Al Franken, Diane Feinstein and Sherrod Brown are sitting together.
"None of us will get 100% of what we want, but the alternative will cost us jobs, hurt our economy, visit hardship on hard working americans...."
Core point number 2:
"The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next. We can't do it. Let’s agree, right here, right now, to keep the people’s government open and pay our bills on time, and always uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America. " - huge applause from all over the house.
He mentioned his jobs act from 2012.
He mentions proposals that are fully paid for.
"Let me repeat – nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime. It’s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth."
He is asking the congress to support creating a network of 15 new high-tech hubs in the USA.
SCIENCE / RESEARCH / ENERGY:
"Every dollar we invested to map the human genome returned $140 to our economy."..."Now is not the time to gut these job-creating investments in science and innovation. Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race. "
He moved to energy:
"We produce more oil at home than we have in 15 years. We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas, and the amount of renewable energy we generate from sources like wind and solar – with tens of thousands of good, American jobs to show for it. We produce more natural gas than ever before – and nearly everyone’s energy bill is lower because of it. And over the last four years, our emissions of the dangerous carbon pollution that threatens our planet have actually fallen."
Obama is the first president to actually talk about combatting climate change.
"But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change. Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend. But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15. Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late." - big, big applause.
"I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy."
Wow. Doesn't get much stronger than that.
"Indeed, much of our new-found energy is drawn from lands and waters that we, the public, own together. So tonight, I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good. If a non-partisan coalition of CEOs and retired generals and admirals can get behind this idea, then so can we. Let’s take their advice and free our families and businesses from the painful spikes in gas prices we’ve put up with for far too long. "
"And I know that you want these job-creating projects in your districts. I’ve seen you all at the ribbon-cuttings."
"Tonight, I propose a “Fix-It-First” program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. "
"Right now, there’s a bill in this Congress that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s rates. Democrats and Republicans have supported it before. What are we waiting for? Take a vote, and send me that bill. "
"Tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America. Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on – by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime. In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own. So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance."
Notice that Obama picked-out and praised two ruby-red states (GA, OK) for their efforts in pre-schooling. This makes it even harder for the GOPers in Congress to thumb their noses at the idea.
"Right now, countries like Germany focus on graduating their high school students with the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges, so those German kids are ready for a job as soon as they finish High School. "
This is correct.
I cannot imagine any sane person could listen to what the President says about education and somehow disagree with it...
"Tonight, I ask Congress to change the Higher Education Act, so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid. And tomorrow, my Administration will release a new “College Scorecard” that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck."
6:47 PM: The 600,000 pound elephant in the room:
"Our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants. And right now, leaders from the business, labor, law enforcement, and faith communities all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform. (big, big, big applause)