For the past two years President Obama has had a contentious relationship with Republicans, and at times the enmity reached a point that regardless his efforts at cooperation, nothing worked. Obama did work out a compromise tax-cut deal with Republicans in the lame duck Congress, but critics agree that he nearly had to give away everything to eke out a compromise. With Obama’s State of the Union address focusing on big plans and high expectations for America and its people, Republicans are sure to ratchet up their obstructionism and criticism of Obama’s policies.
The President’s speech was upbeat about the country’s prospects in the spirit of Kennedy and Reagan, and Americans certainly were enthusiastic according to the approval ratings in polls after the speech. Their enthusiasm appears to be for the prospects of good news for a change and for the big plans Obama laid out for jobs and rebuilding America’s greatness and standing in the world. However encouraging the president’s rhetoric about regaining America’s exceptionalism may have been with the public, it is his proposals that are sure to ignite an all-out war with Republicans.
The nature and specifics of infrastructure improvements, education and innovation, clean and renewable energy were not given, but one thing is certain; Republicans will not fund any of the job creating ideas the President offered to the American people. The president issued a challenge to scientists and engineers that if they assembled the best minds in their fields and tackled the hardest problems in clean energy, that the government would fund their projects.
There are two problems Republicans have with funding research and development in the clean energy field and either one will be a deal-breaker. Republicans are not going to fund any scientific research to do with clean energy because they would have to admit that global climate change is a reality, and because they are heavily indebted to the oil industry that does not want any research that may supplant them as sole providers of energy. The same is true of the president’s goal of providing incentives for research to break our dependence on fossil fuels, or his goal of being the first country to have a million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.
Groups like Koch Industries will not sit idly and allow Republicans to have any part or parcel in creating an industry the Koch’s cannot control or reap massive profits from. As if to add fuel to the fire, the President is asking Congress to eliminate billions in taxpayer dollars that the country gives to oil companies regardless, as the president joked, “they’re (oil companies) doing just fine on their own, so instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.” Obama may as well have insulted Republicans’ mothers and sisters with that two-fold assault on big oil, and they were most likely plotting their counter-attack the minute they heard his words. As if to rub salt into the Republicans’ wounds, the president challenged Democrats and Republicans to work toward the goal of having 80% of America’s electricity come from clean energy sources.
The President also set a goal for high-speed rail lines that are accessible to 80% of Americans, and to deploy the next generation of high-speed internet access so 98% of Americans can be connected regardless of location. Obama reiterated that these improvements would not only create jobs, but would help businesses to compete in the global market. Republicans have stood in the way of high-speed rail lines because more mass transit means fewer automobiles burning gasoline.
The president addressed immigration reform and increased tax credits for higher education that will certainly meet with Republicans’ objections because they do not want an educated populace regardless the tax credits on offer. Their argument will be the country cannot afford the tax credits for higher education because they prefer to give tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations who in turn fill their campaign coffers. The only time Republicans talk about immigration is during election season when they complain about the jobs immigrants are taking to garner support from angry racists.
Every one of the President’s challenges and goals will create jobs and improve the quality of life for all Americans. Republicans should be excited that the president is doing their job creation work for them, but if history is any indication, they will fight against each and every proposal Obama offered. One of the president’s recommendations was to examine regulations that impede business, and if he thinks that will satisfy Republicans, he is incredibly naïve. Mitch McConnell said last week that the president was finally starting to be friendlier to business, but he still wasn’t going far enough. Indeed, until the President signs an executive order eliminating all regulations and taxes from businesses and corporations, Republicans will never go along with his ideas. But Obama is not naïve and at the end of the day, he can tell Americans that he did try to cooperate and compromise with Republicans; even though it will never be enough.
The President made some bold, progressive goals for America that Democrats and Republicans should support. Republicans though, are beholden to their masters in the oil industry and the corporate world and will not fund or go along with any proposal that does not continue our dependence on fossil fuels. They will also not go along with clean energy initiatives because it means admitting there is global climate change. Taking away taxpayer subsidies from the oil industry will also meet with obstruction and outrage from Republicans in Congress and governors’ mansions of oil producing states.
Every one of the President’s proposals are good for America on many levels, but Republicans are not interested in what is good for the country whether it is creating jobs or breaking our dependence on fossil fuels. They are interested in big oil and big business and little else. Republicans are also not interested in education because an educated populace is dangerous for conservatives.
President Obama was right to take these bold proposals straight to the American people because we need good news, and, when Republicans begin lying about the President’s long-term goals, most of the public will have heard the truth first. Republicans will mount a campaign to downplay the need for jobs, innovation, education, and infrastructure improvements like they downplayed the need for affordable health care. However, since Republicans have made no effort at doing anything for the American people for two years, their misinformation campaign will fall on deaf ears.
America is sick and tired of Republicans’ bad news and assault on the people and their well-being. Judging by President Obama’s favorable poll numbers, they are ready to see his proposals implemented, and, if Republicans obstruct progress in America for two more years, they will not fare well in coming elections. It is going to be interesting to watch Republicans’ in action; it may be their last act.