Republican and Democratic elected officials painted the House purple last night. And by that I do mean, they crossed party lines, breaking with a century of tradition in a refreshing bi-partisan effort to unify after two years of particularly harsh and aggressive politicking.
But even President Obama, in his State of the Union address, acknowledged that the visual party castoffs — the mutual agreement to cross the aisle — would not be enough.
“What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow,” he said.
And I think we can all agree (for once) that this statement couldn’t be truer.
Obama set some big goals for the nation last night, essentially asking everyone to shed the party standards and put on their “big girl/boy” pants for the sake of the United States.
He started by making some key concessions to Republicans when he declared the need for further tax cuts even expressing not so much a desire, but an obligation to cut the fat from community action programs which he cares about. In a nod to the Tea Party, Obama also vowed to veto any earmarked legislation to make it to his desk.
He even hinted at his awareness of “rumors” that many are still unhappy with health care reform (a huge concession to Republicans to be sure), however, the address was markedly lacking in anything specific as far as a fix. Said Obama, “If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you.”
Nevertheless, his middle of the road stance only went so far. Though the morbidly-forbidden phrase “cap and trade” never left his lips, Obama clearly intimated the need to invest in clean energy sources. He challenges the nation to move away from the traditional energy sources and by 2035 operate through 80 percent clean energy.
If that wasn’t enough, he delivered a backhanded insult to oil companies, saying, “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.”
Brave? Yes. Stupid? You betcha.
Not that we didn’t already know where Obama’s allegiance lies, but for a man gearing up for a 2012 election season he’s essentially insured a depletion in any southern votes he might have wrangled before.
He also widened the gap for himself in declaring the need to solve the illegal immigration problem, though it wasn’t so much his declaration, but his hint at amnesty for illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children (a la the recently-defeated DREAM Act) behind it that made some Republicans cringe.
Pulling ourselves out of the recession is going to hurt, luckily, we already knew that. His proposals included a five-year freeze to annual domestic spending, an end to tax extensions for the wealthiest 2 percent and a strengthening of social security and investments in innovation and education.
“Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may make you feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you feel the impact,” Obama said.
Other key issues presented at the podium:
* An entire overhaul of the federal government. “I will submit that proposal to Congress for a vote — and we will push to get it passed.” (Did anyone else just feel that cold chill come through the room?)
* A simplification of the individual and corporate tax codes.
* Improvements to the nation’s infrastructure.
* A slightly-dated insult to former President Bush concerning No Child Left Behind (which we all know was full of holes) and a touting of its pseudo-replacement with Race to the Top, a program that challenges schools to innovate and in turn receive better funding.
* In lieu of tax subsidies for bankrupt banks, a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college.