# State Of The Union



State of the Union discussion thread

President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address tonight. Share any comments about his speech or his presidency in this thread.

I find the prospect of a Democratic president arguing for austerity budgeting deeply depressing. A domestic budget freeze is a bad idea, and an earmark ban is just a waste of time. Earmarks don't add to the deficit; they just give members of Congress more power to control how certain pots of money are spent.

I cannot believe how much media coverage has been wasted on plans for some Democrats and Republicans to sit together for the State of the Union. Who cares?

The "revisionist history" blaming Rahm Emanuel for Obama's mistakes during his first two years sounds pathetic, even though I am not at all an admirer of Emanuel.

UPDATE: John Deeth is liveblogging at his place.

SECOND UPDATE: I don't know why Obama is so intent on repeating the "great mistake" of 1937.

I've posted statements released by Iowa's Congressional delegation after the jump.

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State of the Union thread (updated)

I won't be liveblogging President Obama's State of the Union address tonight, but here's a thread for the Bleeding Heartland community to chat away. If you're looking for a liveblog, I recommend Congress Matters or Open Left, where the threads don't get crowded as quickly as at Daily Kos. The Des Moines Register set up a live chat here with "politics reporter Tom Beaumont and featured bloggers Connor Anderson, John Deeth, Graham Gillette, Steffen Schmidt and Art Smith."

Alternatively, here's a State of the Union drinking game (another variant is here).

Political Wire already posted excerpts from Obama's speech. There are no surprises anymore.

Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia will give the Republican response, but I think everyone is more interested to see whether there's an outburst during the speech similar to Joe "You Lie!" Wilson's last year.

I'll update this thread later with some reactions to the speech.

Off-topic: Social historian Howard Zinn died today at the age of 87. Here's a quotable quote from him: "If the gods had intended for people to vote, they would have given us candidates."

LATE UPDATE: I caught part of the speech. I had the sinking feeling that Congress will act on everything Obama advocates that I oppose (new oil drilling, nuclear power plants, more money for "clean coal"), but won't do the things I support (ending Don't Ask Don't Tell). He wasn't specific enough about how Congress should move forward on health care reform. I did like his line about how Democrats still have the largest majorities either party has had in decades, and Americans elected them to solve problems, not "run for the hills."

The full text of Obama's speech (as prepared) is after the jump.

Steven Pearlstein wrote the speech Obama would give "in a more honest world."

Reacting to the Republican response delivered by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Steve Singiser pointed out a fundamental contradiction in the GOP stance on health care: on the one hand, they say we shouldn't let the government take over health care, and on the other hand, they promise not to let the Democrats cut Medicare.

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POTUS Speak Up

Five Things to Say about Clean Energy in Your Address

It is that time of year again.  This Wednesday, January 27, 2010, the President will glide down the aisle in the House of Representatives, greeted by thunderous applause, and encounter the usually more dignified elected officials in a slightly teen-bopper, Beatles-esque-frenzy, practically climbing over each other to shake his hand.  

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Barack Herbert Hoover Obama

Please tell me our president is smarter than this:

President Obama will propose freezing non-security discretionary government spending for the next three years, a sweeping plan to attempt deficit reduction that will save taxpayers $250 billion over 10 years.

When the administration releases its budget next week, the discretionary spending for government agencies from Health and Human Services to the Department of Treasury will be frozen at its 2010 level in fiscal years 2011, 2012 and 2013. […]

Exempted from the freeze would be Pentagon funding, and the budgets for Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security.

Instead of delivering his State of the Union address this week, Barack Obama may as well hold up a big sign that says, “I want Democrats to lose Congress.” Over at Daily Kos, eugene explains why:

That will be the equivalent of FDR’s boneheaded move in 1937 to pull back on government spending. The result was a major recession that caused conservatives to win a lot of seats in the 1938 election and brought the New Deal to an end.

Yet FDR had already won his second term. Obama, on the other hand, is embracing a policy that has been proven to fail even before the midterm elections.

If he thinks this is even a realistic or economically feasible policy, he is out of his mind. If he thinks this will save his and Democrats’ political bacon, he is very badly mistaken. Only greater government spending – MUCH greater spending – will pull us out of recession, create jobs, and produce lasting recovery.

Without greater spending, Obama is implying he is willing to live with high unemployment for the remainder of his first term. If one wanted to deal with the deficit, he could follow Bill Clinton’s model of producing economic growth that would close the deficit in future years.

Economically, this course would be a disaster, but politically it’s even a worse move. During the presidential campaign, Obama promised hundreds of times that we would be able to spend more on various domestic priorities because we wouldn’t be spending $200 billion a year in Iraq. With the escalation in Afghanistan, the combined cost of our commitments there and in Iraq will now exceed Bush administration levels, and Obama isn’t cutting fat from other areas in the Pentagon budget to make up for it.

It’s as if Obama wants Democrats to stay home this November.

A month ago, I would have said Republicans had a 10 to 20 percent chance of retaking the House and zero chance of retaking the Senate. The Massachusetts election has already prompted several Democratic incumbents to retire and prospective challengers not to run. If Obama puts deficit reduction ahead of job creation this year, I give the GOP a good chance of winning the House and an outside shot at taking the Senate (which would require a nine-seat gain, assuming Joe Lieberman would switch parties).

Obama told Diane Sawyer today, “I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.” At this rate, he’ll be neither.

UPDATE: So some people are claiming this is no big deal because the spending freeze isn’t an across-the-board freeze, “would apply to a relatively small portion of the federal budget” and locks in a bunch of spending increases from last year. I am not interested in endlessly increasing the defense budget while holding the line on the EPA, Energy, Transportation, HUD and other areas. That’s not the agenda Obama campaigned on, and it’s not smart from any perspective.

Chris Bowers raises a better point, which is that “the people who actually write spending bills–members of the House Appropriation and Budget committees–say they won’t be freezing or cutting social spending.” So this is just window dressing for the State of the Union to show the wise men of the beltway that Obama is very, very concerned about the deficit. Still not the kind of leadership we need from our president.

SECOND UPDATE: Brad DeLong has a must-read post up on this proposal (“Dingbat Kabuki”).

THIRD UPDATE: Turkana helpfully compiled excerpts from seven liberal economists’ comments on Obama’s new proposal. Spoiler alert: they’re not impressed.

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Open thread on Obama's budget speech

Technically, it’s not a State of the Union address, because Barack Obama hasn’t been president for a full year yet. I know plenty of Bleeding Heartland readers will be among the millions of people watching, so please use this thread to share your thoughts and reactions.

Here are a few links to get the discussion going. Chris Bowers puts forward a hypothesis about why so many people care about the State of the Union, which is just one of many speeches the president gives during the year.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility say the cap-and-trade approach to tackling global warming, which Obama supports, won’t work.

Obama seems to be “losing the right, consolidating the middle and left.”

A majority of Americans would rather see Obama stick to the policies he campaigned on rather than take a bipartisan approach:

    Which do you think should be a higher priority for  Barack Obama right now – working in a bipartisan way with Republicans in Congress or sticking to the policies he promised he would during the campaign:

   Working bipartisan way: 39%

   Sticking to policies: 56%

[…]

   Which do you think should be a higher priority for Republicans in Congress right now – working in a bipartisan way with Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress or sticking to Republican policies?

   Working bipartisan way: 79%

   Sticking to policies: 17%

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele (the guy who was supposedly more “big tent” oriented) is open to cutting of RNC funding to the three Republican senators who voted for Obama’s economic stimulus bill.

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