State of the Union speeches can be inspiring when the President lays out a specific agenda for the coming year and gives an honest appraisal of the nation’s progress during the previous year. President Obama delivered an inspiring speech that highlighted creating a level economic playing field for all Americans and reiterating how far the country has progressed since he took office, but as usual, Republicans railed against Obama’s speech. It was interesting to listen to the Republican official response to see if they conjured up some new approach to governing, but first one had to come to grips with which country Indiana governor Mitch Daniels was pontificating about.
At first, listening to Daniels brought two questions to mind. Either he lived in a cave off the grid for the past three years, or he is developmentally disabled; a grown man with the intellect of a 3-year-old child, and why was this poor creature dressed in a suit giving a televised speech to a national audience. After reality set in that Governor Daniels is not mentally challenged and knew things a hermit would not, it was apparent his speech was another set of GOP lies about the President. Daniels’ response was suspiciously similar to the Heritage Foundation, CATO Institute, Americans for Enterprise, and Koch Industries’ mission statements on economic policy and fixes to help the 1% maintain their grip on the country.
The contrast between Obama’s speech and the Republican response was that the President cited empirical data of his accomplishments and laid out specifics for moving the country forward, and Daniels made generalized accusations based on lies and misinformation. Governor Daniels provided a wealth of lies in his response, but a few stand out that are easily debunked; for those with a strong constitution, the text of Daniels’ response is worth a read.
Daniels took John Boehner’s cue and lied about the number of jobs the proposed Canadian pipeline will create. He said “the extremism that cancels a perfectly safe pipeline that would employ tens of thousands” is a pro-poverty agenda;” the pipeline’s builders, TransCanada, claim it will employ hundreds. Daniels also claimed the President failed to create jobs with “all those stimulus dollars the President borrowed and blew.” President Obama blew the stimulus dollars saving America’s automobile industry and creating millions of jobs at home, and he proposed creating more by eliminating tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs and rewarding manufacturers with incentives for relocating back to America. The President’s specific proposal to create jobs is identical to the one Republicans blocked last year to protect corporate un-taxable foreign income.
Daniels proposed strengthening Social Security, but Republican’s propose shifting a wildly successful government retirement system to a private 401(k) system to enrich Wall Street. The simplest fix to maintain Social Security’s solvency for a thousand years is eliminating the cap that allows wealthy Americans to avoid contributing the same percentage as those earning less than $102,600. That means Willard Romney pays the same.062% on his $22-plus million income as a minimum wage janitor, and if every rich Republican paid the same percentage as working Americans, the controversy over extending the payroll tax-cut would vanish.
The prescient question is; why does every Republican resort to generalized lies about this President’s accomplishments? One might answer; to protect the wealthy, Wall Street, the oil industry, the corporate world, and because Mr. Obama’s is African America and those are all correct. However, the simple answer is Republicans are irked that despite their obstruction and fallacious rhetoric, President Obama succeeded saving the economy Republicans crashed with deregulation and unfunded, out-of-control spending during Bush’s presidency. The underlying tone of Daniels’ response was that President Obama failed to right the economy after Bush-Republican’s economic malfeasance, and achieve full employment in the process. Of course, the President made no such promise, but Republicans are framing the 2012 election on that premise because they have nothing else.
The Republican response started in January 2009 and Daniels’ speech was a checklist of every uber-conservative think tank and pundit’s complaints about the President. Daniels even used the Koch Industries-inspired tea party meme that Obama is a tyrant who is stifling free enterprise and robbing Americans of their individual liberties. Daniels provided nothing specific, but his coded message to ignorant tea party Republicans was that, “In word and deed, the President and his allies tell us that we just cannot handle ourselves in this complex, perilous world without their benevolent protection. Left to ourselves, we might pick the wrong health insurance, the wrong mortgage, the wrong school for our kids; why, unless they stop us, we might pick the wrong light bulb!”
Daniels provided Americans with nothing they haven’t heard for three years and the people are weary of Republican lies and misinformation about this president. Americans are fully aware that General Motors and Chrysler repaid their government loans and are back in business stronger and leaner, and that the private sector is hiring again because the economic stimulus created millions of jobs. The economy is growing slowly, but it is growing in spite of Republican attempts to sabotage it to portray the President as ineffective.
Republicans cannot run against President Obama on his achievements because they lose that battle every time, and with more Americans approving his proposals in the State of the Union address, they cannot run against his plans for America’s future either. Their only legitimate complaint against President Obama is that he succeeded in spite of their obstruction and it will be their undoing.