A New Chance for Mr. Obama

In his State of the Union address, President Obama must fully delineate his own plans in the face of a newly strengthened and shrill Republican Party.

Comments: 125

  1. The State of the Union Address ia no test at all. We all know that President Obama is capable of reading from the teleprompter some of the finest speeches that other men write. What matters is what he does about jobs and the ecomnomy. What he says matters very little. So far, Obama looks like the sequel to Jimmy Carter. If he is going to become more Reagan-like, he must start to directly focus upon and tackle unemployment and our unhealthy economy. Nothing else matters.

  2. If President Obama is to give anything akin to his "Tucson remarks" in the address, it will be a eulogy for bipartisanship. There is nothing he can say that would convince the T-Party to delay their demand for "instant gratification" on the issue of budget cuts. I truly believe the nouveau Republicans consider him-however irrational it may be-a threat to our nation. Obama will be facing a hostile audience who have no intention of doing anything other than cut, cut, and cut some more. It is really up to the "old guard" Republicans; Boehner, McConnell, et. al. to rein them in, and I suspect they are not up to the task. In fact, the GOP congressional leaders will be fighting on two fronts; against their arch enemy democrats on their left, and the T-Party on their right.
    Until they are able to reach a compromise within their own house, nothing will get done in Washington. And all the while, the unemployment rate will be flat at best, and the economy will stagnate.
    Issues such as tax reform and education will not even be on the radar screen. The battle will be engaged starting on Tuesday night when Michele Bachmann gives her own reply to the SOTUA.

  3. This editorial tells President Obama that he must continue to support big government programs and big taxes, and pay no attention to what the voters were saying in the recent election.

  4. Over the past two years, the debate on the progressive side has largely been between folks who feel that President Obama and the Congressional Democrats have compromised our principles far too much, and people who think that the Obama Administration followed a good strategy for making as much progress as was reasonably possible.

    While frustrating at times, President Obama’s strategy to date of compromise made a lot of sense, as the possibility of alienating even a couple Republican or conservative Democratic votes was a big risk given that it would have sunk the ability to pass any legislation. But now, with the shift in Congress making legislative gains for progressives close to impossible over the next two years, a shift in strategy is necessary. Progressive critics of the Obama Administration also need to change their strategies for the next two years, however. In short, the SOTU should be used to launch:

    * Increased Boldness and Aggressiveness From the Administration – One major change in strategy should be in how the Obama Administration approaches Congress and the Republicans. Rather than continuing with the approach of compromising and attempts at bi-partisanship in order to try to get legislative victories, the Administration should offer bold plans on the economy and other issues, and not water down their proposals in an attempt get things passed. The Administration should also go on the attack against the Republicans for their continued hindrance of an economic recovery, favoritism of the wealthy elite, and efforts to undermine Social Security, Medicare, and other important government programs. And, the Administration should get as much progressive change as possible through agency rulemakings and other steps that do not require Congressional approval. Such a change in strategy is appropriate for at least two reasons. First, because with the House run by the Republicans, no good progressive legislation is going to get enacted regardless of how much the Democrats compromise. Second, with the 2012 elections coming up, boldness is necessary to change the political dynamic that existed in the elections this past November, and to fire the base up.

    * Increased Progressive Focus on Our Policies and on Challenging Republicans – While the Administration should start taking more of the aggressive approach that many progressives want, progressives need to adapt to some of the changes that the Administration has been urging. In particular, too many progressives have spent much of the past two years complaining about compromises made by President Obama and Congressional Democrats rather than highlighting the advantages of progressive victories that have been achieved and attacking the real opposition – the Republicans. The result is that, with Republicans opposed to President Obama and progressives constantly attacking the Administration, the messages about how progressive policies are helping the American people and about how wrong the Republicans are were barely ever heard, and too much of the public saw the Obama Administration as a failure despite his long list of accomplishments. We may have gotten away with this during the past two years of large Democratic majorities in D.C., but with Republicans now running the House, there being only a slim Democratic majority in the Senate, and Republicans seeking to repeal the policy successes of the past two years, the next two years are going to be extremely ugly for progressives unless we take the battle to the Republicans, and proudly stand up for progressive victories and policies from the past two years, rather than continuing to focus the bulk of our energy on attacking the President.

    In sum, the next two years are going to be an all-out war by Republicans and the conservative media on the progressive victories of the past two years and progressivism as a whole. The strategies of the past two years achieved a lot, but they are considerably less likely to work over the next two years. So both the Administration and progressives should modify their approaches by being bolder, challenging Republicans more, and trumpeting the benefits of progressivism more, and compromising and attacking folks on our side less.


  5. What Obama needs to do is to promise to abstain from what he and his party have been doing for the past two years. In two years, Obama and a Democrat congress; have spent more money that all of the Presidents before him -- combined. But, unemployment still sits at ten percent and our infrastructure is still crumbling. Where did all of the trillions of dollars go? Where did Obama and the Democrats waste trillions and trillions of dollars of taxpayer money? That is what he needs to tell us in his speech.

  6. Rome collapsed in part because endless wars to maintain its borders sapped its economy of the spending needed to maintain and extend its infrastructure. Roads, bridges, aqueducts, public baths, etc. provided the means by which business and daily life could flourish.
    After the fall of the Republic Emperors found it politically expedient to spend on public distractions like military adventures and public spectacles. Once the money ran out the legions fell apart and the barbarians completed the destruction Rome's citizens had been working on for over three hundred years.
    Today we are the world's policeman, and we spend on (privately owned) sports arenas, and fail to maintain and extend our infrastructure like roads, bridges, rail and air facilities, schools, etc.
    Cut spending by cutting back on foreign commitments, use some of that savings to rebuild our physical plant. Insure that military spending be focused on U.S. jobs, and see to what extent military contractors could switch to civilian, high-tech projects like ultra-high speed trains, and urban mass transit that works, like they have in Europe.
    We spent 50 years building the Interstate Highway system (still not done, and never will be), and its economic benefits have been unquestionable. We have to take a similar long-term view of our public transport. Why can't the auto manufacturers use their expertise to design, build and maintain an integrated national transport system that incorporates urban mass transit, inter-city high speed, and regional ultra-high speed rail with cars designed to merge with the carriers?

  7. President Obama in his upcoming State of th Union address should tell the truth. The state of the union is now in its most perilious position of any time in recent history, The Wall Street collaose we averted and have turned around stands to return with the debt od states and the possible inability of many states to meet their financial obligations in pensions owed. The ineptitude of those in power should never threaten those who gave their lives to public service. From th school janitor to the retired state legislator all who earned the right to a pension deserbe to know that they will get it. The State of the Union is not good, its poor its recovering very slowly with those at the top demanding more from the worker instead of hiring another person, hiring part time help to escape the benifits package that full time workers recieve. The continued slurping sound of the military industrial comples absorbing all the dollars they can while poor people suffer.
    1) Republican and Tea party activists are utilizing projection guilt. This political strategy is a diagnosed psychological action, that can be used to blame specific problems on an adversarial group to redirect their own culpability, the GOP uses this very effectively.
    2) The defining and implementation of the three, We believe in community, security and liberty, must be defined and extolled simply
    3) Tell the truth on the economy to the people, forget the markets, people do not trust government anymore! Win their trust back, true bad news is better than dishonest good news. The people need to trust government again.
    4) Explain honestly about the situation in Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea, regardless of international opinion, the people need to know the risks present and our plan of action, you know it, I know it but most people cannot even fathom the real situation in these three countries who either have nuclear weapons or are on the cusp of having them, all unstable with real danger of those weapons being used. Nuclear non proliferation is the most important issue of all.
    5) Climate change, there is no denying dynamic changes are under way now, the world has witnessed every single action predicted by scientist and climatologists and those changes have exceeded science and its predictions regarding every single prediction. Things are accelerating quicker than anticipated. Not good news for mankind at all. These changes will kill hundreds of millions in the coming decades due to our refusal to acknowledge and address climate change. Right behind, nuclear proliferation in importance.
    6) the budget, our big problem although not beyond solving, this truth is painful, it will increase unemployment and every last person has to sacrifice. Defense spending must be cut by 25 %, taxes must rise on all but the lower middle class and the poor. the uber rich need to be subject to very large tax increases, the very rich subject to large increase in taxes, the rich need to pay much more, the upper middle class a modest increase, and a minimum increase on the middle class. Social security taxes need to be taxable to the first 250 thousand dollars. We need to impose import taxes and tariffs or raise them. We need to end subsidies to big oil and coal. These are hard decisions that need to be implemented to address the deficit enough to prevent economic collapse.
    7) Education, from pre school to masters degrees and everything and everyone in between we need to make the most of our children as we school them into adulthood. We are failing, totally failing. Urban blacks barely reading at eighth grade level at age eighteen. Some of the lowest math and science scores from our white middle class students in comparison to other industrialized nations ie; South Korea, Germany, Japan, Much of China, and many more. The best performing students are Asians who live here. We can and need to do better, we need to cull those who will never go to college and teach them trades from IT tech support to electricians and plumbers, no person should be educated without a skill from which to earn a living. Otherwise we have failed.
    8) Foreign Policy, we need to understand we can no longer afford to be the worlds policeman alone. We need to engage China 1.6 billion people do not disappear. The planet has grown much smaller with technology and China and the United States need to be working for the common good of mankind, too much can be wasted in military competition with China. Firm but fair, with both parties profiting and both parties compromising. But with alliances with both Russia and China keeping our ego in check the three of us can get done internationally what one alone would take fifty years to accomplish

    A speech like this would be refreshing, calling a spade a spade and taking leaps not steps in moving the Unites States into this new century.

    Thomas McMahon
    Millis MA

  8. President Obama is keenly aware of what he can, and cannot, achieve given his present electorate, and will employ his Union Address to that end.
    As long as the Republican Party can utilize the likes of Fox and Friends to sway the limited views of the uninformed he can only hope to sow the seeds of a greater nation. Education is notoriously poor in the US; the incarceration rate notoriously high, recidivism notoriously high; gun linked homicide a thousand time worse than any other first world nation. Little can be done, within the bounds of democracy, to change such a situation until the populace is more informed, and that will not be achieved within his presidency. At best he can only hope to open doors, get people talking, and may even be able to pass on some the facts of life.
    His two year honeymoon was well spent with health, banking, and a little education reform. Not unexpectedly the beneficiaries of big oil, big coal, big banks, spurred up the media machinery to denigrate his every move, and set the GOP one identifiable goal: get the socialist out.
    There has been no talk of with what he, and his policies, will be replaced because there there is no need. The fans of Fox don't ask that sort of question because Fox is aimed at the uninformed, the uneducated; such people are not used to thinking; they don't need to think. Fox thinks for them.
    Were they to be educated they just might ask an inconvenient question or two. Were they to be educated sufficiently to ask questions they might wonder at the size of a defense budget which exceeds that of the education, health, and social security budgets combined. They might wonder from where comes the threat to a nation insulated between to enormous oceans and bordered by friendlies.
    President Obama can only move to the center, preserve what he has achieved, and make enough friends to continue in office as long as he can, because make no mistake, if the Presidency should fall to the looney right again, the world will be tossed back into the abyss of ignorance that was the time of the draft dodging Commander in Chief with a 'C' grade degree and a DWI.

  9. The fact that president Obama recently got astonishing 52% approval ratings clearly indicates that the rest of the country deserves the failing grade.

    Mr. Obama was elected to shake up the things. He has changed nothing. He has fundamentally stayed on the same wrong course as his predecessors.

    He has wasted two years on the health care bill that improved nothing. Using a restaurant-related terminology, his bill gave the right to the customers to order anything they want but they still have to pay for it. That’s no change. The more we order, the more we spend and the deeper into debt we go. Our problem is solvency, not a lack of choice.

    Why we as a country cannot understand the basics?

    It shouldn’t be hard to comprehend that Mr. Obama hasn’t done anything to improve our economy. He borrowed the money. The uptick in the business activities will last until that money is spent. After that we will be in even deeper crisis.

    Without changing the fundamentals we can not change the course. Mr. Obama changed no fundamentals. It’s the same old policies all over again.

    As somebody previously said, the definition of insanity is doing exactly the same things and expecting the different results.

    If the public has wrong impression of our current position, the responsibility lies with the businesses, the media and the political parties. All of them failed either to clearly explain the problems or to understand them.

    Why would anybody waste $2 trillion on waging the protracted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while firing the teachers, police, firefighters, librarians and the workers at home due to lack of money? Why would anybody let the US infrastructure crumble in order to rebuild any foreign country? Why would anybody give the credits to already highly profitable big corporations to export the local jobs overseas while wiping of the retirement funds and the pensions of the Americans? Why would anybody open the US market to the foreigners while they effectively blocked the access to their economy? Why should we compete who can make something cheaper with the other nations that have dozens of times lower wages? Why should we give away our strategic advantage – the enormous US market – to the foreigners free of charge? If that policy makes sense, maybe we should hand over the control of the US military to the foreigners too!


  10. Economist Joseph Stiglitz in an interview with Democracy Now explained why we need a second stimulus and why austerity during a recession is a bad idea. “My view is we cannot afford not to stimulate the economy. So anybody that says we should go back to austerity or we should not have a second of round stimulus just doesn’t understand economics. And let me be very clear about this. If we don’t stimulate the economy, the economy is going to get weaker. When the economy gets weaker, tax revenues go down and expenditures go up. Already, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps. The number of people on Medicaid is reaching record levels. So, revenues go down, expenditures go up, deficits get worse.

    “If you stimulate the economy, then people get jobs, they spend money, tax revenues go up. Now, if we spend the money on investments—investments in education, technology, infrastructure—you grow the economy in the short run from the stimulus, you grow the economy in the long term because of the returns that you get on these investments. Just think about this from the point of view of a firm. If you are a firm and you could borrow at zero to two-and-a-half percent, which is what the government can borrow, and you have investment opportunities that yield 10, 15, 20 percent, you would be irresponsible, you would be foolish, not to undertake those investments.

    “So, anybody that says, I’m going to only look at one side of the balance sheet, the liabilities; I’m not going to look at the other side, the assets, is really not understanding economics. It’s that kind of reasoning that got our country in the trouble in the first place, shortsighted behavior of the banks that got our country in trouble in the first place. And to me, I just view those kinds of statements as totally irresponsible.”

    Ireland’s austerity medicine is not working; it's killing the patient. Steep cuts have led to an unemployment rate above 13 percent, a significant rise in poverty, and less consumer spending. These cuts have caused the economy to shrink by 7.1 percent. The bond market pushed Ireland into austerity to reduce its debt. Instead, it has rising public debt and it's in a double dip recession. (In Ireland, a Picture of the High Cost of Austerity: http://www.nytimes.com...)

    Social Security should remain off the chopping block. It has a separate stream of financing and has “not” added a dime to the deficit. Absolutely “nothing” has to be done in the near-term. According to the CBO, Social Security can pay all scheduled benefits through *2039* and will be able to pay 78 percent of benefits after 2039. If the payroll tax was applied to all income (at a minimum the $106,800 cap must be increased) it would be solvent for the next 75 years.

    The U.S. healthcare system ranks #1 on cost of care and #37 on quality of care. Our costs are unsustainable and account for almost one-fifth of GDP. We pay twice as much per person as other industrialized countries and have worse health outcomes. Much of the problem lies with the insurance industry (over 31 percent of every dollar goes to paperwork, overhead, executive salaries, and profit) and the pharmaceutical companies (we pay 2-3 times the price for the same exact drug sold in Canada or in Europe). Medicare for all would bring our costs in line with other countries and save hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

    “Every dollar spent on making a bomb or a tank is a dollar not spent on education, infrastructure, health care” (Eisenhower). The U.S. spends almost as much as the rest of the world combined on the military and endless wars. Even if we cut spending in half that would still be more than current and potential adversaries. Infrastructure projects create 40 percent more jobs per dollar than spending on the military, healthcare creates 70 percent more jobs, and education creates 240 percent more jobs.

    In advanced countries, progressive taxation is the basis of economies that have a better and more equitable standard of living. According to the CBO, extending the tax cuts is the “least” effective way to stimulate the economy. The best way to grow the economy is to increase aid to the unemployed. Other efficient ways to spur growth is by investing in infrastructure and providing aid to the states. The country has the resources to make the necessary investments in our crumbling infrastructure, broadband, high-speed rail, clean energy projects, and education.

  11. regarding post #5: The author is peddling the usual fake Fox-News line that the Democrats have expanded government in their relentless thirst to destroy the American economy, when in fact the number of Federal employees has actually shrunk. Can anyone name the huge numbers of new government initiatives that Obama has begun? I'll wait. There are four major reasons for the government deficit: the wars in the Middle East; Medicare Part D, the tax cuts for the wealthy and the stimulus. The only one that was necessary was the last one; the other three all took place under Pres. Bush, who entered the office with a surplus and immediately transformed it into a gigantic deficit. The budget has only been balanced in four of the last 30 years, and all four under a Democratic president. The Democrats have got to start calling out the liars on the other side if we are ever going to get the country moving in the right direction. Another fact: under Clinton, the economy created 20.3 million jobs; Under the 12 years of Pres Bush fils and pere, it lost 3.5 million, according to the bureau of labor statistics. Stubborn little things, facts. Democrats should try trotting them out once in a while.

  12. Obama has proven resilient, and inspirational, when the chips are down. He has balanced the most difficult Presidential times of our history. He remains a chess-player, while most of the rest of the Nation is struggling with checkers.

    Neither progressives nor main-stream conservative regards his choices as ideal, nor heavily one-sided. (The loud Right-wing Glen Becks, Limbaughs,Palins,Savages,O'Reillys are clowns seeking publicity, and their slanders are compliments to Obama, by virtue of their sources.)

    Obama has had to compromise his principles, due to the Right-wing leaning Press, dwelling on dissent, and the poor teamwork of his "Democratic" team, with so many semi-Democrats, now largely voted out of office. Obama has been like a skilled, sleek running back, but with an erratic offensive line. He has learned how to run better with his flawed team, and will likely perform more effectively as the next 6 years come. There is no way to come out of this muddy field looking clean, but he has been pretty effective, witness the number of campaign promises he's delivered on, in so far just two years.

    Like others, there are several causes for which I wish Obama had taken a stronger stand against the Republican "just say No" opposition, but I think he has generally made decent choices, some very good, and will do yet better now with more experience in the ugly game he has to play.

    This will particularly be true if his fans on the sidelines will back his causes more strongly, come to the polls like we did in 2008.....

  13. "Beyond the usual laundry list, however, the president will have to balance inspiration — the kind Americans saw in abundance in his Tucson remarks — with feisty confidence in his fundamental principles."

    Tell it!

    But while reading this editorial, it finally dawned on me what Obama is missing. It's the same thing Dems accused the first President Bush of being totally devoid of - the big V. The Vision thing. In spite of all his inspirational, rhetorical gifts (most recently displayed in his talk in Tucson), he doesn't really seem to have a compelling idea of what he wants this nation to be.

    And saying inspiring things is not a sufficient substitute. To use a sports analysis, his is always a defensive game. He is great at last minute saves, but not a offensive brilliance. He is Michael Jordan before he became Air Jordan.

    Obama has to decide what he believes in (I mean, besides family, patriotism, compromise and moderation). He has to, like his idol Lincoln, show us where he wants to lead US. And then lead US there.


  14. Let's be realistic. What do we really think the President has a chance of getting passed by the Republican house? I see that as a non-functional group and I listen to the absurb rhetoric disbelievingly. It would be great comedy if it were not so important. It provides good fodder for Stewart and Cobert but does nothing for the American people.
    We face a worse situation in Texas where we have a legislature and a governor, overwhelmingly Republican, which confronted with a huge budget shortfall of thier own creation are now proposing Draconian cuts to our schools and safety net to protect the wealthy from taxation - those people in poverty like the Koch boys and Perry.

  15. "We're broke!" yells the GOP. If they had yelled that at the height of World War II, when we were a lot closer to broke than we are now, they would have been justly accused of treason. We weren't broke then and aren't now. We are certainly challenged to correct the trends of spending and taxes in a way that best assures growth in the future. Carefully considered spending cuts must certainly be part of this correction. But the absolutist GOP position that we can get where we need to be by simply cutting spending is seriously wrong. Government spending has always been a key element of laying the groundwork for future economic success from the Erie Canal, through the transcontinental railroad, through public education, scientific research, the space program, etc. To pretend it is no longer needed or appropriate is to deny our history and doom our future.

  16. Here is what President Obama should say:

    My fellow Americans:

    For too long, you and your state and federal governments have borrowed to maintain a standard of living that we cannot sustain in a world where the competition pays their workers one-third what we do. Free trade is clearly not free, as 20% of us are underemployed or unemployed. Our borrowing covered this reality and resulted in the crisis we just faced. We are basically borrowing money from China, which we then use to buy their goods and employ their workers instead of our own. We send nearly $650 billion of our precious wealth overseas, $500 billion from our trade deficit (goods and oil) and another $150 billion in interest.

    As a result, we have seen debt levels relative to income nearly double for households, while government debt relative to GDP has risen from 60% the size of the economy to nearly 100%.

    Further, we are aging as a nation, with 5 workers per retiree in 1960; about 3 today and only 2 by 2040. We cannot continue to lead the world with these demographics; our global empire must be reduced to a regional one.

    Our current path therefore is clearly unsustainable and unethical, as it places our burden on future generations. It is also likely that this path will result in a much more serious crisis than the current one, requiring inflation that will significantly and permanently damage the wealth Americans presently have.

    Therefore, today I call upon Congress to enact measures to accomplish the following:

    1) We will put Social Security on sound footing for the next 75 years, by limiting the annual cost of living adjustment to inflation and removing the cap on the payroll tax, which is currently 107,000. We cannot afford to give seniors more purchasing power than they currently have, but we will make sure the effects of inflation are balanced.

    2) We will enact trade barriers and capital restrictions to eliminate trade deficits with foreign countries over the next ten years. U.S. corporations that source their manufacturing overseas and ship those goods to the U.S. will face stiff tax penalties.

    3) We must reverse the Bush tax cuts. These represent roughly 20% of our deficit problem. This will help ensure we limit the costs of borrowing (interest rates) that our government faces.

    4) We must address the drivers of healthcare costs: obesity, defensive medicine, a shortage of doctors and nurses, heroic intervention at the end-of-life, redundant payment systems, incentives that reward more care instead of better care, and fraud. I call upon Congress to enact simple, easy to understand separate laws to address each of these problems.

    5) We can no longer afford to be the world police. I call on Congress to reduce defense spending from $700 billion back to $300 billion (where it was under President Clinton) by 2020. During this time, the difference will be invested in our clean energy infrastructure, to contribute to the global effort to avoid potentially disastrous environmental consequences while putting our folks back to work building 200 nuclear plants, wind farms, bullet trains, etc.

    We will also use resources freed up from defense spending to put our young people through college. Our graduates should not start with a crushing debt burden. I will create by executive order a commission to find how to reduce the costs of higher education by 25%, as they have grown considerably faster than inflation.

    6) The Federal government will reduce aid to states that do not implement a minimum 5% income tax and ensure all new employees are placed into 401K-like plans. States cannot afford their current pension arrangements. States will have to raise taxes to fund their current obligations and reduce their future obligations.

    These steps are critical to getting you back to work, which is in turn critical to getting the government back on sound footing. I call on Congress and the American People to support these measures. The costs are high, but they are higher the longer we wait.

    Thank you and let's get back work forging a new America for the 21st century.

  17. The problem Obama faces is that we really do not want to hear from government and nor do many of us believe government is the solution. Progressives are obsessed with all the touchy/feely issues of which government should have no part in. If Obama said he was just going to get out of the way and Michelle (looking cool, confident and strong) was going to host a nightly show on Oprah's own network showcasing a successful American company- every single night- there would be standing ovations all around.

  18. The important paragraph follows:
    "The top of his agenda should be explaining to the public why job creation and growth are more important than short-term spending cuts, and why those two paths are incompatible. Now is the time for a full-throated statement about the need for federal investment in infrastructure, education and state aid. He should capitalize on his new team of business-oriented advisers to explain which industries he believes will provide the jobs, and show what he is prepared to do to foster that growth."

    This is the agenda I shall be looking for most intently with emphasis on "which industries will provide the jobs" and those jobs must be here at home and outsourced jobs must be brought back home. This is the heart of the matter without a doubt.

  19. Mr. Obama has no plan of his own, other than what Wall street tells him. He's no different in his submission to banksters than any other politico.
    This country needs a whole new different kind of leader, for main street. It will happen, one way or another, sooner or later; people will rise up.

  20. Good editorial but Obama can no longer be trusted.

  21. Nobody cares what Obama has to say or what Obama does. I voted for him and I never will again. He has done the opposite of everything he talked about doing. I'm sick of the sound of his name. I don't understand why there is no primary challenger yet.

  22. First and foremost, the president needs to abandon the naive notion that the GOP (now taken over by tea party extremists) have any interest in bipartisanship or compromise. They are all 'my way or the highway' people, as they have proven repeatedly over the last two years of obstructionism.

    Second, the president needs to cease with giving away the farm before any negotiations have even begun. He has already signaled a willingness to throw senior citizens under the bus to appease rightwingers who are determined to entirely dismantle Social Security (which of itself has nothing to do with deficits).

    Thirdly, the president must do a better job of controlling the message. He allows rightwing lies to be repeated unchallenged and to take permanent root.

    The above things are what he MUST do as a Democratic president. Moving further to the political right and trying to sell that as bipartisanship is a fool's errand.

  23. The Republican's plan for drastic cuts is nothing less than a transparent effort to smother the fragile recovery in its cradle. They'd rather see a deepening of economic and social distress than an ever strengthening economy resulting in another four years of Obama. Their vision is so narrow and self serving it inspires caricature rather than debate but their wicked witch routine is tiresome and ultimately futile. The President skillfully manoeuvred them into their dead end. He may not, at this time, deliver the coup de grace, but he certainly has their number.

  24. Let's hope the Republican response to the President's attempts to stimulate the economy aren't more useless crumbs thrown to their base, as was the case with their House vote to repeal the health care provisions. Probably all we'll get from them is some more anti-abortion, Second Amendment and States Rights crumbs to keep the base happy. Providing jobs, decent, affordable health care,salvaging what's left of the Middle Class and food on the tables of the poor appear not to be in their Lexicon.

  25. It is very disconcerting when Mr. Obama's former opponent praises him two weeks in a row, and in a public forum. It is even more disconcerting when a Republican hawk who has the respect of opponents and admirers alike, comes out on a national broadcast to claim the sitting Democratic president as his own, and urges the Republican party to support him because "Mr. Obama is so easily teachable."

    This should be a clear signal to those of us who are true Democrats to take our cue and either protest by not voting at all, or take a chance and vote for anyone who is a known liberal and not Mr. Obama. This should also be a clue to Mr. Obama to reflect on his appointment of Wall Street people in practically all key posts, and his inaction in the areas of race relations, education, welfare, jobs, and a host of issues that are near and dear to his core base.

    While I won't ever vote Republican or Tea Party, I may end up protesting by not voting at all.

  26. So, Republicans are "shrill" while Barack Obama is "feisty." He spends like a feisty, drunken sailor .... and it's time to rein that in, not expand the already bloated reach of the federal government.

  27. More than anything else since Obama owes his obligation as the President to the betterment of American society according to the vision laid down by the constitution, he should shed all the doubts and hiccups he might have been possessed of during the first-half of his term, and start afresh with a clear vision, with an acknowledgment of the pressing needs of society, its economy and polity, currently under the state of drift, and what suitable policy action agenda does it require to return to its lost elan and health. Since it was the financial/economic collapse that had produced the cascading multiple negative effects in American society, and was the cause for much of the economic distress and deprivation, Obama has to so prioritise his agenda as to give precedence to economic revival, which helps create adequate jobs as also unleash the growth impulse, meaning that, he has to balance the short term essential spending with long term deficit reduction goals together with revenue generation effort through restructuring of the tax code. The remaining part of the domestic and foreign agenda could be open to bipartisan consensus.

  28. President Obama: Please don't mention "American Dream" at all. Nobody
    blieve it. It is just a delusional cliche in our society.
    do you really think the 1 in 7 Americans on food stamp believe American Dream? I don't think so.
    do you really think the 23% of US homeowners are underwater and/or in forecloure believe American Dream? I don't think so.
    do you really think more than 90% of US adults are always in debt since they entered adulthood believe American Dream, I don't think so.
    You need talk about the massive human suffering in United States.

  29. Right in front of Obama's nose.

    Obamacare (take ownership of it as though it was yours).

    32 million NEW patients =doctors =nurses= technicians =hospitals =education =food services. The LARGEST potential job CREATOR on the planet. And good skilled high paying jobs. Millions of them. And as the new medical workers enjoy paychecks they will be buying personally like the consumers of old. Time to hoist the Republican / tea party by it's own petard.

    And job killer extraordinaire Boehner wants to eliminate 15 percent of the federal work force. That is job killing on steroids. But you see the Republicans /tea partiers DON"T consider those REAL jobs. it doesn't fit their ideology.

    The whole point here is in the market place of ideas if only ONE is on display it wins by default. Time to man up Mr. obama and take ownership of what you created. With warts and all it is the best thing to happen in a long time.

    And elections are ephemeral. When 32 potential patients discover they are back in the emergency room and no coverage one might think they would remember who did that. And for the 15% of government workers you can't politicise your views on the job but you sure can personally remember who wants to put you out on the street. In a couple of years one little pull of the lever will take care of that.

    Simple Boehner-Cantor-McConnell and their fellow compatriots. Job killers forever.

  30. People, people, people, Obama is a Republican.

  31. Inspiration, can not replace a plan. China for example is competitive because companys do not have health care to cover as our companys have not do they have for profit health care, and thats just one example.
    So inspiration is not what is needed but we can inspire the familys left behine without a home or a living wage.. good luck because mangement has clearly failed at every leval.

  32. Nothing has changed except Obama's desire to do what ever bending he needs to do to stay in the Presidency.

    I don't think people will be fooled again.

    He will try to fool them but there is just so much of his background that keeps emerging to the top no matter how hard he tries to keep it down.

    He has his agenda. He will do whatever it takes to get that last four years of freedom for him to do whatever he wants to do to this country.

    Deplorable state of the nation under Obama.

  33. One sentence, which the president would give from the Oval Office: "No more tax exemptions, for anyone."

  34. The State of the Union address and its rebuttal are nothing more than opportunities for rhetoric, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing.

  35. This newspaper reveals itself to be extreme when it maligns the Republicans as extreme for proposing cuts in discretionary spending. It is unfortunate that some government employees will lose their jobs but that is not a reason to perpetuate jobs that are unnecessary. The government spends more than it can afford. Wouldn't the newspaper cut staff if the situation required?

  36. Say whatever it takes to get a second term...after two years of GOP dithering about how to $crew the middle class America will be ready to renew the Democratic majority. Once Obama is free to set the agenda, perhaps he will be able to fulfill his promise for hope and change in America...or not.

    I'd rather take that chance than surrender to the Republican Dream.

  37. "He will have to make his case in the face of a newly strengthened and shrill Republican Party,"

    Did you really need to say that considering that unemployment benefits have been extended for a year, that the nuclear arms treaty with Russia has passed and that DADT is no more?

    If you want to see shrillness, maybe you should look in the mirror?

  38. If our pragmatic and cautious president were to do that it would be new for him.
    Hope may spring eternal for those of us who are NOT President Obama, but apparently we
    are ALL out of the loop on what knowledge his brain and sense of judgment ascertain as
    being bold leadership. As much as I admire our president--and I really DO admire the man--
    he has found himself deluged within a governmental framework that ties his arms behind his
    back thanks mostly to bipartisan gridlock. Bold does NOT appear to be in his leadership repertoire.
    But maybe it is we who are misguided to think bold is a realistic solution presently.
    Maybe we SHOULD trust the man a bit more than we seem to.
    Why doesn't the GOP ever seem to get the same withering scrutiny that the Dems do?
    Amazing, truly amazing.

    I'll never understand why people like Mitch McConnell and Johnny Boehner don't get a fraction of the heat for trying to do right by big business at the literal expense of the average American that President Obama or Nancy Pelosi get for trying to do right by average Americans. Oh, that's right! Big business OWNS the media outlets and decides what you and I get to see and hear and read. McConnell and Boehner only want to look out for campaign contributors and special interests. So do a lot of Democrats I suppose but it doesn't appear to be anywhere near of the magnitude that the GOP whores themselves out to bidding of big corporations. Corporations who are NOT individuals much less even American anymore typically.
    Nope, it is a feudal corporate fiefdom we're headed for presently.
    Greed begets greed.

    The squawkbox over at Fox is just a facade store front for the top one or two percent and yet they manage to dupe so many ill-informed Americans into believing the GOP actually can look out for the American people's interests. No, they can't and they won't. They win elections and do the bidding of big corporations that ship the average American's jobs off to other countries because it is more profitable and we're supposed to cheer them for raking in record profits despite it NEVER being in the COUNTRY'S best interests or EVER coming back to ANY of US. The COUNTRY is US, NOT big corporations with free access to setting legislative agendas ad infinitum. What the GOP can't and won't do for average Americans is to actually govern, much less govern responsibly.

    For thirty years the GOP has adhered to this laughable Reaganesque trickle down economics theory.
    At this stage of the game, even a third grader can see that record corporate profits do not translate into
    doing right by the average American. To be sure, there IS indeed a trickle down of something, but I think it would be in poor taste to paint too graphic a picture of what it is that is trickling down on the average American, metaphorically speaking.

    Paul Krugman actually DOES appear to know what he's talking about after all.

    I truly can't believe what's become of us in such a short amount of time.
    It is truly horrifically breathtaking and yet we seem to just take it all in stride, don't we?
    What other choice do we have?

    I will continue to vote--because I consider it sacrilegious as an American not to--but I believe my vote is truly trumped by special interests, gridlock, and God knows what else anymore.

    I shudder to contemplate what's coming ahead yet. We are doomed on this present course.


    We need an honest to goodness miracle.

  39. I truly believe Mr. Obama can turn our economy around and lead the country to the better future.

  40. There is a blind spot in the public discourse regarding the quality and effort of public school teachers in the USA. Nobody works harder with more determination than public school teachers. Bill Gates has pledged 335 million dollars to improve teaching. One of the facets of the plan is to videotape teachers for training purposes. These tapes will reveal that teachers put their minds, hearts and souls into educating children everywhere in this great country.

  41. The "extemist" and "shrill" are those who previously supported President Obamas far left agenda. These same people loved his 2 apology tours early in his presidency. They are the ones now upset that the President has moved, or appears to have moved, ever so slightly towards the center left and may actually be willing to work with people with whom he disagrees.
    The GOP isn't right all the time, but someone has to be a leader as weel a listen to the voters since the last two years the President has ignored the voters and chosen to let Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid do the leading for him, as a result they lead him over a cliff.

  42. Watch Obama sell out to big corporations.

    We better have a primary so we can get a real liberal in there as President. Obama is just one dissappointment after another.

  43. President Obama has a reckless history of "sacrificial offerings from the podium."

    He gave away the "public option" and the cheap importation of drugs at the beginning of the health care debate, ended COBRA subsidies last summer, and recently pleased the GOP with a reduction in the federal workforce without even being asked. Every time the man speaks, I fear, something valuable will again go flying out the window.

    I dread his next speech.

  44. Ronald Regan is dead and has been for many years and sooner or later the GOP will realize that what worked back then doesn't work now.... if they wanted to be like Regan they would look at his dealings with Tip O'Neil and how they got things done and the fact that while he got tax rates down he also raised taxes when necessary. Today's GOP is a shadow of the Regan era.

  45. I am sure the President will have a fine speech with lots of clapping and motivated stirring comments. He is actually very good at speaking and the other small details are the problem and they will not be solved in a speech. Speeches are for politicians not people who want action.

  46. Obama just doesn't get it, and it's long been obvious that the NYT doesn't, either.

    Any plan to shrink government -- you know, because WE'RE BROKE -- is going to mean not only the chopping of programs, but the firing of the people who man those programs. Welcome to reality, folks.

    No one is saying those programs are necessarily unworthy or that they have no redeeming value, or that those workers are craven. We're only saying we no longer have the money to spend for every program -- no matter how viable or valuable -- and tough choices must be made.

    We just sent a group of adults to Congress -- you remember that "shellacking," right? -- to make those choices and we expect action now.

  47. When all is said and done it is going to come down to a choice for Americans. If we continue to allow, thru our uninvolvment and inattention, the corporate takeover of America that is being ushered in by the Republicans, inside of 5 years it is entirely likely we will no longer have a middle class. So many jobs have been sent away now, and so much deference given those who sent them away, that the next obvious step will be for them to demand wages be lowered. God help us all if they get a green light on that from our so called leaders.

  48. When you read this editorial and look at the Republicans' agenda -- they are against health care, clean environment, public safety through government regulation -- all in the name of so called 'small government', you can see that the greatest threat to this country is the Republican party. Ok, so we can slash spending and bring down the deficit, and then what? We would have completely destroyed our educational, health and other infrastructure. What will we have left? What strengths will we have to compete with countries like China and India? If the Republicans are really 'patriotic', then they should be willing to let the rich pay a little more taxes to help us invest in the infrastructure that we need to make our country stronger.

  49. Is everyone still taking seriously what politicians say in public, including the President? Debate the issues? Convene a commission? The American people expect...

    The Superpower Democracy (a lovely oxymoron) is a fait accompli and we, the people, will pay for the partnership of government, the military and the corporations.

    Please discuss...

  50. I believe the NYT editors have it all wrong. They choose to gloss over the wishes of the American people from the November elections and go about its usual diatribe of labeling those who disagree with the progressives as shrill. Its not about all the speeches and the teleprompter, its all about jobs, real jobs, jobs created by private industry, not the government. This president has been running for the presidency since he stepped into the White House. He spent the first two years of his presidency demonizing corporations who are the real job creators. The government does not create jobs, it simply spends money we don't have. As the famous Ronald Reagan said, the government is not the solution, the government is the problem.

  51. How about ENDING the foolish war in Afghanistan and closing some of our 700-odd bases overseas?

    Why are these two budgetary elephants always off the table?

  52. Shrill Republicans? You lost me in the headline. Trillions are owed and those who are worried and voice dissent are shrill? Good grief!

  53. Let's face it. Republican leaders like Boehner and McConnell were criticizing the unemployment numbers the past two years. Truth be told, they WANT high unemployment and will do everything in their power to cut federal jobs.

    Education, transportation, infrastructure, technology. They're against it. Jobs to China; foreign wars, tax cuts to the rich. That's the Republican way.

  54. Cutting government spending is the way to create wealth and grow the economy. Even though government spending on paper increases GDP it is only a Macro-Econ illusion similar to moving water from one end of the pool to another and expecting the water level to rise.

  55. Ah, the NYTimes calls Republicans "shrill" (with not a single example) while urging Obama to be "full-throated" and "feisty".....so much for consistency and bi-partisan 'civility'!

  56. I love how Conservatives stick their head in the sand for 8 years of a wasteful Republican administration and then suddenly emerge during a Democratic regime to complain. "Trillions and trillions" of American tax dollars are in the sands of Iraq and Afghanistan. If you have a shovel, feel free to dig for it.

  57. Whatever medication the editors of the Times are on, I would like try. For millions of us out here in the darkness, hope has faded away. We see a government paralyzed by ideologies, an economy on life support, a rising right wing fascist movement,and a bloated paranoid military with thousands of nuclear bombs. We are the Third Reich on steroids.

    We need a nationwide prescription for Prozac if you ask me.

  58. Wow. The Republicans are "the forces of governmental destruction"? Enough with the armageddon rhetoric already. Those who do not share our views are not intrinsically evil, even if the New York Times or Fox News wishes us to believe so.

  59. You need to get out more. Putting this only in terms of party politics completely misses the impetus and results of last November's vote. If the GOP is shrill as you say, so is the majority of the American public. It's time to start listening and, hopefully, learning.

  60. It's irrelevant what President Obama says. He will serve he's corporate masters under any circumstances. He's a fraud.

  61. Hey he made it back from the islands! Yes, comrade Obama can read from a teleprompter but he remains woefully out of touch and has demonstrated that he is less effective a President than Bush

  62. What happened to the TRUTH? Why are his records SEALED??
    Like taking a vitamin a day, the racist, socialist-in-chief doses us with his LIE A DAY. Lie, lie, lie, lie about health care, about transparency, about earmarks, about the budget, about unemployment, about lobbyists, about immigration, about everything!  The socialist-in-chief aims to destroy our freedom and our Constitution with the takeover of our people with the socialist health care bill, usurpation of education loans, and failure of our border controls.

  63. Obama needs to come out strong for the poor and middle class stating that we can't just cut, cut, cut to programs that will in the long run be beneficial to the USA, i.e. education, etc.

    Dan D. #5, you should really check out your facts as Obama and the Democrats have spent nothing compared to Reagan, Bush I or Bush/Cheney. Also, the stagnation of job growth began under Bush/Cheney and then under their leadership we began a recession not seen since the Great Depression.

    Things can't/didn't change miraculously in two years because when you have a group of people (Republicans) in Congress who don't want things to get better work against you, well, we see what the end result is as we are living it now.

  64. The American worker is plenty competitive, it is management that needs a dose of "competitiveness". Compared to management in Europe and Asia, they are way overpaid. It is time to outsource management in this country. Start with boards of directors who only rubberstamp executive compensation.

    If republicans think that cutting spending is the answer, then they should. Mercilessly cut the compensation of our ruling classes by IMMEDIATELY increasing the tax rates for those making an immoral amount of money for doing things that do not effect the economy in a positive way. Raise the capital gains rate 35% so that Mr. Buffet pays the same percentage as does his secretary. Anyone who makes millions should pay, after all we went to war to protect YOUR profits. get started republicans, chop chop!

  65. The final analysis of what Obama says will come down to his ongoing claim he created millions of secret jobs no one can find other that his people who made the estimate for him. Will we get more of his "trust me" promises and then no action except to blame others for the inaction? The NY Times and other Liberal media want us to forget his first two years and only think about one thirty eight minute speech, which they would have us believe somehow magically changed the world...

  66. Big government does not work. Big spending administered from Washington by big government is fraught with waste and corruption. This has been made manifest over the years and particularly over the past two. Why is it that the Times seems to cleave to these outmoded and demonstrably false ideas?

    The people want accountability and control over spending. Why do you thing the approval rating for congress is in the 20's? Why would the people wish to give even more money to these people to spend on patronage and lord knows what else. I'd liken them to drunken sailors but I don't want to insult sailors.

    Get with the times, Times. Accountability and spending controls are in. Big Government is out.

  67. The clear bias of the editorial page of the NY Times is never more evident than today. Your view is that more spending, more government and more expansion (bloating) of the economy by increasing debt is what is required in order to move the nation forward. Hardly. Tax reform yes, but likely not the kind you would embrace. Immigration reform, yes, but again not the kind you want - assimilation is clearly not politically correct and not something that illegals or the left embrace - otherwise we would not have English as a second language for any American citizen. So what in the end is the goal of "progressives" (a dressed up label for liberal / socialists) - a utopian nation with all equal in income and rank? A nation without borders? "Imagine there's no countries ...", great song but not a governing principle. These concepts have never worked in the history of any nation on this planet and will not work today.

    Many Americans long for a return to traditional American values of stewardship and thrift. These values are what elevated so many to achieve the American dream. It is these values that are needed to save the Republic. We care not who leads the cause, Mr. Obama can, but he can only do so if he truly believes that the way out of this mess is to turn around, reverse course and head back.

    As Mr. C.S. Lewis said so well, "when you realize you are on the wrong road, the man who turns around first is the most progressive".

  68. "A moment for negotiation on the near-term budget will arrive, but it does not have to begin with sacrificial offerings from the podium."

    This could not be said loud enough and often enough. Nothing makes the president look weaker than these unilateral olive branches. Obama needs to project strength and confidence. Yes, he needs to move to the center, but contrary to current wisdom that will mean moving to the left.

    Do so and do it with uncompromising strength.

  69. The only way we are going to break the back of this crazy right wing ideology of getting the government out of the way is for Americans to feel the full brunt of what it is like to live in a third world plutocracy which is what we are rapidly becoming.

    Only when millions are starving and homeless will they realize they have been duped and taken for fools by those who pretended to represent their interests in order to win their votes.

  70. Somehow a lot of people didn't understand the voters message. We do not want the "Regressives" agenda.

  71. It's campaign time and ...tada!... Obama is a centrist again.

  72. The president is a flim flam artist who demagogued his way into office. Once there he demagogued his predecessor, his opponents and his own supporters when they questioned him. Given his unrelenting use of polemics, why should anyone believe this false feint to the center?

  73. Newly strengthened, shrill and USELESS. The most destructive force in the America, the Republican Political Machine, has been given power again. May God have mercy upon us.

  74. NYTimes - you're always telling people on this page what they "must do": how about a little humility? How about you 'suggest' that the President do this or that? He is moving to the center and that's exactly what he should do. Leaders govern from the center - editorial boards whine from the left and right because you don't need to get anything done. You can just sit at your desk and lecture. Journalists used to be in the center - journalists are supposed to non-biased observers who tell it like it is... you guys are partisans - part of the problem.

  75. The unemployed need to begin daily protests at Republican headquarters in their cities. The ONLY thing Republican Politicians know how to do is CUT, CUT, CUT. That is one of the things which led California into its deep hole. Prop 13 destabilized our California State government and it has been downhill ever since. The Titanic effect - where wealth is slanted toward one sector of the population - and the whole ship sinks.

  76. Obama should endorse Robert Reich's tax plan along with a CBO scoring as to it's revenue/deficit implications. I think Robert Reich is on to something and all I need is the CBO to let me know if it will cure or help our fiscal situation. I read that the deficit commission's plan helps no better that letting the Bush tax hikes exercise. I think Robert Reich is on to something. His plan will raise revenue (if the CBO scores it the way I think it will) but it will also inhibit corporate kleptocracy, book cooking and war profiteering. Robe Reich planted the seed. Let the CBO and Obama shed some light on it and lets see what will grow.

  77. Your editorial basically outlines a contrarian view to the recent election. You encourage the President to hold to his ideology and ignore the voting public's demands coming out of the November elections for a change in direction. I don't recall this same tone to the Republicans when they held to their ideology and did not support the President's and Congresses efforts in the past two years. Instead, we heard how Republicans are obstructionists and failed to head the mandate of the 2008 elections.

  78. Re: commentator #1, who writes: "If (Obama) is going to become more Reagan-like, he must start to directly focus upon and tackle unemployment and our unhealthy economy." More Reagan-like? You mean the "President" who was the father of voodoo economics, the mid-wife of supply side "theory," and the one who started us on our path to destruction? Why don't you get your head out from where you're hiding it? Obama is hardly perfect, but he'll never be the disaster that Reagan was. An actor who made many Americans feel good about themselves by ignoring the problems that were facing our nation. A man who may very well have been suffering from Alzheimer's disease while he held the presidency. A man who apparently lent credence to his wife's reliance on astrology when deciding the affairs of state. We really don't need anyone who is more "Reagan-like." We are already surrounded by Reagan's progeny: the Newt Gingrich's, the John Boehners, and the Mitch McConnells. Heaven help the USA.

  79. It's nice of the president to finally address the jobs problem. But it will be difficult at best to convince American corporations and small business owners that the new emphasis of his administration is anything more than smoke and mirrors. With 15% real unemployment what exactly have you been doing for the past 2 years Mr. Obama? Lots of golf, lots of vacations, and lots of deficit spending do not exactly add up to many new jobs for the American people.

  80. The Republicans are correct. The first best way to cut is to get rid of high paid useless government employees, and to reduce the huge payout of current retirement pensions to former Union workers.

    The gravy train is over and done!

  81. ~ "Now is the time for a full-throated statement about the need for federal investment in infrastructure, education and state aid." ~

    Hmm. 'Now is the time' ? Where have we heard this before? Ad nauseum for well over a year.
    If you don't remember, don't worry - most of us Americans will not remember because we are truly a '10 Day Nation'.

    Let me trot out another bit of (sturdy) triteness: one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results each time.

    Really, who out there teaches their children that words are more important than actions? Anybody?

  82. Spend more on 'education'? NYC spends 15k/year/student. This means for each and every group of 25 kids, NYC spends $375,000 per year, meaning close to $5,000,000 during K-12. And yet most of each group of 25 can barely read, write, or do the simplest math? This is a crime. The current spending level is far too high and should be slashed.

  83. I believe that the President has found his voice again. So many of us were upset with the agreement that was forged with the GOP extending the Bush tax cuts to the top 2%, but Obama played the end of the last session brilliantly...getting the best package possible and then passing DADT, Start and the First Responsers Bill. The nation as a whole has witnessed the GOP's childishness and stupidity over the past two months and new polling shows Obama surging while the public views the GOP as too inflexible. Tuesday night will be Obama's big opportunity to set the terms of the upcoming debate on job creation and spending. I expect a command performance and a lot of dour looks on the faces of Republicans during the speech.

  84. The NY Times gives its readers a stunning glimpse of recalcitrance every day as an unthinking cheerleader for the out-of-control social welfare state.

  85. First this President has to explain in simple terms what is wrong with our economy. For decades the US economy has been nothing more than a gigantic Ponzi scheme, one party borrowing from another to pay a third. Instead of solutions the economic elites have offered smoke and mirrors. Accountants have told us that two plus two is no longer four. Bankers have told us that debt makes us wealthy. According to our economists, unlimited growth of production and markets is not only possible but sustainable. Politicians would have us believe that increased production and inter-nation trade are the keys to national wealth. These paradigms are just not working anymore. We've trashed the planet. Too many live in abject poverty while others live like royalty. Where are the minds that are offering other ideas? Dr. Krugman mentions extraterrestrial colonization as an answer to the box we've put ourselves in. Others are hinting at the possibility and wisdom of this now. Such an endeavor would cost trillions upon trillions of dollars, most of which will end up in the pockets of the corporate elites. Who would pay for this? The wealthy don't way to pay taxes and the tax-paying working class is shrinking. Just as the colonization that offered a way out of economic stagnation to earlier empires was built on the impoverishment and enslavement of many, so would a colonization of space. Is this desirable? Where are the minds that can help us think our way to a better future?

  86. This editorial seems more a Gibbs-Axelrod creation, that is, political fluff, than a reasoned account of the administration's position. How many more "new chances" do you want to give Mr. Obama before he further breaks the heart of all liberals and actual as opposed to redefined centrists? The Daley-Immelt appointments merely highlight a probusiness agenda have little practical to do with job creation. If you think market access to China is the way forward (the president's leading talking point), then I hope you will be generous enough to subscribe to the soup kitchens and shelters increasingly needed.

    Mr. Obama (and I do not wish to trespass the bounds of courtesy) is a fraud. You speak of accomplishments. What, in fact, are these, especially when measured against the promises made in the campaign One can go on, but what's the use? We seem blinded by the skillful rhetoric, the opaqueness, the carefully instilled patriotism. We deserve it.

  87. Dan D., Las Vegas posted January 24th, 2011 6:28 am : "In two years, Obama and a Democrat congress; have spent more money that all of the Presidents before him -- combined."

    This statement cannot be true. The U.S. Budget document contains tables showing U.S. Gov. outlays by year:


    See Table 1.1. This data can be used to calculate actual and expected outlays for 2009-2012, 14.8 trillion dollars, much smaller than the 50.6 trillion dollars in previous years.

    The statement in this post is Eric Cantor baloney that he refuses to retract. See:


    If you can prove my post wrong, please provide your numbers and sources.

  88. I don't think the President needs anybody else's advice on how to make a good speech.

    Why are some people ranting about tele-prompters? He writes his own speeches, obviously, because he's smarter than most other people and also has a good ear, a huge vocabulary, and usually something important and original to say. No more kvetching please.

  89. If President Obama n his State of the Union message has the courage to address the inequities of the Republican plan and present a economic plan that preserves jobs and supports all Americans,I will be shocked. The President despite what the media and everyone else is saying has swayed right of center - he freezes federal employees pay as a symbolic act of spreading the pain and holding costs; his henchmen in the deficit commission presented solutions to SS that were way out of whack with the position of most Americans; he surrounds himself with Wall Street; and chooses a CEO know for his off-shoring of jobs. Now the cry across the country from both sides of the aisle is that state and local public sector worker contracts and pensions are unsustainable.
    What is unsustainable is the continued shift of wealth upwards. The general public didn't cause this financial crisis, greedy bankers and investors sold the American people the dream of home ownership fully aware that those very loans would default. But we are left to pay all the costs of their greed.
    So again, I will be shocked if the president makes his own line in the sand - he wont take a chance unless it supports his reelection campaign - which all of his moves up to now have been predicated on.

  90. President Obama's speech is one of the windows, as Chris Hedges puts in on Truthdig.com "into how hollow, vacuous and powerless liberals and liberal institutions including labor, the liberal church, the press, the arts, universities and the Democratic Party have become. They fight for nothing. They stand for nothing. And at a moment when we desperately need citizens and institutions willing to stand up against corporate forces for the core liberal values, values that make a democracy possible, we get the ridiculous chatter and noise of the liberal class."

    "...as if Barack Obama ever wanted to or could defy the interests of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase or General Electric. The liberal class refuses to directly confront the dead hand of corporate power that is rapidly transforming America into a brutal feudal state. To name this power, to admit that it has a death grip on our political process, our systems of information, our artistic and religious expression, our education, and has successfully emasculated popular movements, including labor, is to admit that the only weapons we have left are acts of civil disobedience."

  91. I want to hear one thing in the SOTU speech: That we are withdrawing form Afghanistan and Iraq, and making significant cuts in war spending to correspond with these withdrawals. These wars have failed, and the stated goal of eliminating terrorism cannot be accomplished in war. (Just ask the British, who tried the same tactics with the IRA.)

    Perpetual war is unsustainable, as we're seeing now, and we can't afford to spend 700 billion dollars policing the world when tens of millions of people are out of work and unemployment is still pervasive.


  92. Aside from an absurd beliefs in trickle-down economics, the right of Goldman Sachs to run the world into the ground, and that American interests are best represented by the interests of the military-industrial complex, the only fundamental principle it appears Obama has is the belief that leaders, and Democrats in general, should always capitulate to radicals from the right. I expect Obama to re-affirm that principle when he speaks to the nation. Why doesn't he just use this chance to come out of the closet and join the Republican party?

  93. Tune in for the show! Obama recites blah blah blah. Shouldn't we be looking at his actions as opposed to his speechwriters words?

    He has just appointed the CEO king of outsourcing american jobs to his supposed "jobs committee"! That poster boy for the failed for everyone but the executives, rewarded for incompetence, race to the bottom for american workers corporate welfare executive will no doubt feel right at home with Obama's team of Wall Street errand boys like Geithner, Daley, Summers and so on.

    Obama is a Democrat in name only. On Tuesday night he will continue doing his best for Wall Street and their we (except of course the corporate and banking executive class) can all be more competitive (ie: lower wages, benefits) and compete our way to prosperity scam.

    I'm sick of this fraud.

    I won't be watching Obama Tuesday because I can no longer stomach the sight and sound of him, and yes, I voted for him.

  94. Now that Obama found his 'voice' by proving "The Lame Duck Session" in December as not being just a compact of lazy hours. Instead, he has turned it as a "Devilish Duck Session" by peddling the right cord underneath. After all, we don't see how a beautiful duck performs its devilish act to peddle its way underneath as it serenely floats on the surface of the water.
    By a sheer stroke of luck, the recent Tucson tragedy turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Obama however cruel that may sound. Obama intelligently discovered a rhythm once again in his poetry as he addressed an awe-stuck mourners which touched the soul of America so deeply.
    How is he going to play in his State of the Union forum will depend on what poetry he is going to rely on. Will he deliver a unique message to the people or a message for the people will determine his transformative stature as a leader of our time.

  95. Capitalize on his team of Business-oriented advisers? How will that help? They are a big part of the problem. The only ones they want to help are their friends in Big Business.

    Any industry can create jobs. The problem is that most of those jobs are being created overseas.
    Helping Big Business won't create jobs. Giving them tax incentives may create jobs, but Big Business already gets plenty of tax incentives.

    One of the problems today is a matter of carrots and sticks. It's not that we haven't given Big Business enough carrots to create jobs, the problem is that we have completely stopped using sticks to MAKE the create jobs.

    Reducing taxes does not create jobs. We have have already tried that ... so where are the jobs?

  96. When President Obama talks about competitiveness, what is he really saying? Krugman's column on this matter glossed over a rather key detail - is he talking about domestic competitiveness, that is, companies competing with one another to provide goods and services at the lowest prices?

    No - the domestic U.S. economy is dominated by cartels these days, in every area, from finance to energy to agribusiness to telecommunications to health care providers. These cartels operate much as the trusts of the late 19th century did - and Obama is certainly not a trust-busting president in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt. Rather, he has hired many of the executives of these trusts to guide his policies (consider his new Chief of Staff, of JP Morgan, or his #2 at the Department of Energy, aka BP's Chief Scientist).

    Rather, Obama is talking about international competitiveness - as if the American state and American industry were just one conglomerated business, a giant combine whose only "competition" was other nation-states. He is referring more to something like the competition between the French, Spanish and British Empires of the colonial period - which is rather revealing of his mindset, too. He is not interested in breaking up the cartels and fostering domestic competitiveness.

    This situation mirrors that seen in Germany in the 1920s, when six chemical firms attempted to halt what they saw as "destructive competition" by merging into one single entity, IG Farben. This concern entered into a "public-private partnership" with the German state in the 1930s, in particular with Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist Party. Similar cartels also arose in the German steel and arms industries, and those cartels also ended up in control of all German media outlets. They then turned to "international competition" - and we all know how that turned out. IG Farben seized chemical plants in occupied Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and France - they even built Auschwitz to provide cheap labor for their Buna plant in Silesia.

    The scale of corporate mergers in the United States has now approached that monopolistic limit. In each major industry, there are anywhere from two to a dozen firms "competing" with each other (the most conglomerated appears to be investment banking, with Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan running the show, closely followed by Big Oil (ExxonMobile/Koch Industries/ChevronTexaco/ConocoPhilips/Valero), Big Telecoms (Verizon/AT&T), Big Media (Newscorp /Disney/TimeWarner), the Microsoft cartel, etc. etc.

    The Citizens United case pushed through the Supreme Court has now released all funding restrictions on the manipulation of political elections by these large trusts - and let's not forget that IG Farben played a critical role in financing Adolf Hitler in 1932-1933, in exchange for guarantees of state support for their coal-based synthetic fuel programs.

    If you are concerned about a "Godwin's Law" violation wrt to this post, you could make the same analogy regarding the Soviet Union - only in that case, the cartels were absorbed by the state and became "Directorates" of various kinds - the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Petroleum, the Ministry of Information, etc. In practice, they were no different from corporate boards - just with slightly modified titles.

    Communism and fascism in reality were almost identical in their structure - a small number of people controlling an anti-democratic system from the top down - but in order to do this, they first had to destroy the middle class in both Germany and the Soviet Union. They cynically calculated that desperate and impoverished people would support their totalitarian states, seeing no other alternative.

    This, after all, is the true calculus of the Tea Party backers, is it not? What if they were suddenly given a few hundred million to run political campaigns in every state - with the complete support of the media cartels? What would the result be?

  97. Your title -- "A New Chance For Mr. Obama" -- suggests that somehow he squandered his other chances. I have to disagree.

    The first two years of Mr. Obama's presidency have been among the most productive since either Lyndon Baines Johnson or Franklin Delano Roosevelt. While trying end one war of convenience and refocus a war of (arguably) necessity, Mr. Obama also had to pull the economy out of the clutches of depression, repair and reset alliances all around the world, and do all of that practically single-handedly, with a reluctant Democratic party moving, but not swiftly enough, and while dealing with the single most intransigent, obstructive Republican party ever.

    Elsewhere in the Op-Ed section, one vaunted columnist suggests that "competitiveness" is a hollow cliche. I suppose he would have thought the same when 50 years ago we needed to be more competitive in the race to space. We must admit we aren't all that competitive when it comes to investing in Africa -- truly the only untapped market left on the planet -- where the Chinese are building roads, power plants, dams, factories and more. Unfortunately, Americans have never seen the African continent as anything more than starving, squabbling, former black slaves. Never as a place of important strategic interests, only as a place where one might trick the inhabitants out of their vital natural resources, a place where colonialists long for the good ole days of pillage and plunder.

    Mr. Obama's next challenge is talk over the heads of the Republicans and remind us that we are not competitive in a whole host of areas. Not just health care, education, infrastructure development, heavy manufacturing, but more mundane things like textile production. We don't make the clothing and shoes we wear. Once thriving industries now lay abandoned.

    The Republicans threaten to gut investment -- and there is more than a semantic difference in the words "spending" and "investment" -- in tangible areas that we need -- roads, transportation utilities -- but also education, healthcare, housing, technology. They are willing to cut the safety net for those who are elderly (and in the warped Republican mindset) no longer "productive". There is a move to pull the plug on Grandma: it's called cutting Social Security and Medicare. Less glamorously, it's called "dumping."

    We are not competitive in education. We must face the fact that a single city in China -- Shanghai -- kicks sand in our aces. Students in Shanghai score higher on educational tests across the board. But we got Snooki!

    The State of the Union address is not a test for President Obama, but for us. We need to answer the questions that the President will pose: where do we want to be in 4, 8, 12, or 20 years from now? What is the next great American adventure? How will we spend the next century? Will it be another "American Century" or the decline of a once great nation?

    We didn't elect Superman to the White House, as Colin Powell said over the weekend, so we cannot expect President Obama to handle this all by himself. This is our "new" chance. We need to seize it and make the most of it.

  98. "Mr. Obama is expected to propose a restructured tax code, but that important goal can only be reached in the context of raising more revenue to close chronic deficits."
    I gotta laugh. Raising more revenue is exactly what the editors and Obama were against when they advocated extending the so-called middle class Bush tax cuts in December!

  99. In the olden days, a President would speak to the people about his vision for America and the programs he wanted implemented. He would rally the people, and the people in turn would put pressure on their legislators to get it done. I thought this was what Obama would do, but he has never tried to rally the people, except to elect him.

    We know he is capable, because that is how he got elected. So the only conclusion I can make now is that he never did believe in any ideas that he campaigned on and really has no concern for the people, only himself and the fatcats who funded his election and run this country.

    Will anything he says at the SUTU be a rallying cry for a specific program or idea? I doubt it. It will be a rallying cry for re-election, only he cannot be so crass and obvious in this setting.

    This is the only Vision thing that Obama has - seeing himself as President. Woe is US, the People.

  100. Are we ever allowed to talk about the jobs we're losing to new technologies? Beyond the globalization of the work force, this is the single biggest force that is shaping our economy and our future job prospects. No discussion of the future of the economy would be honest or complete without it.

  101. "A new chance for Mr.Obama.." - the 2010 elections basically gave the car keys back to the people who drove us into the ditch as per Mr.Obama'w own rather famous allegory. So, even if he wins in 2012, until 2014 brings in a new Congress, his tenure is reduced to another allegory - "backseat driving". You can shout and scream all you like but you are not going to change either the direction or your destination. The 'take no prisoners' GOP Congress will see to that. Mr.Obama can pass the time well since he will have a ring side seat.

  102. Whatever Mr. Obama says tomorrow will come out of a jaundiced mouth. He has been a huge disappointment to me and to many other early supporters, given how his pre-election rhetoric failed even to come close to his post-election behavior. He has exhibited none of the bipartisanship that he promised. He has exhibited none of the transparency that he promised.

    Instead, he joined the congressional dems in ramming unwieldly and outrageously expensive laws (e.g., Pelosicare) upon the nation without benefit of even a token attempt to involve the opposition. More recently, he has begun an effort to sidestep the Congress altogether, through his efforts to legislate via regulation imposed by the executive branch.

    And, despite his pre-election promises, the war in Afghanistan rages on. We continue to sacrifice the lives of Americans, citizens of other NATO countries, and, in some cases, innocent Afghanis, in that ridiculous and fruitless conflict. And, we continue to pours billions of dollars into the effort each month, including monies which are siphoned off by corrupt leaders at every level of the Afghan government. This is, as they say, Vietnam "deja vu all over again."

    He fooled us once. We cannot afford to let it happen again. He must begin, and then continue, to demonstrate that his promises are no longer empty ones before trust can be restored.

    I will not allow myself to be fooled a second time by this man. Neither should anyone else in this country.

  103. Article quick summary:
    Obama should oppose Republican ideas during his entire speach and be combative.
    He should propose zero spending cuts and expect to raise the 2.5 trillion dollar deficit shortfall by simply rasing taxes on "the rich (all of us)."
    And you want to charge readers for this on-line paper someday?

  104. The real problem facing President Obama before he even gets to job creation is how to overcome the practical political resistance by all Republicans and some Democrats to do anything but deal with the deficit. The President has to own his role in creating this problem with his tax-cut deal that added almost $1 trillion to the deficit. Now he's faced with how to "thread the needle" between fiscal hawks and doves. The only solution I can envisage is for Mr. Obama to propose a massive infrastructure program--a public-private. Rebuild America, partnership--totally funded by a combination of government and corporate bonds. I'd love to take my tax-cut and Social Security bonus and buy such bonds just like I brought Victory bonds as a kid. The question, of course is: Will President Obama try to thread this needle, and will the Republicans do everything they can to throttle it? Stay tuned.

  105. A perfect opportunity for a campaign speech. What he does best. Being able to con people.

  106. "He [Obama] should capitalize on his new team of business-oriented advisers to explain which industries he believes will provide the jobs, and show what he is prepared to do to foster that growth."

    Sure. Let's have the all-knowing Obama control even more of our economy. I'm sure that at least GE and the unions will be richer.

  107. One of the criticisms of President Obama is that he is not strong or forceful enough a leader. This is an opportunity for Obama. The Democratic party is the better party... and he should speak to that fact with confidence. Of course, we want to work with the Republican party, but Obama should take this opportunity to remind the American public about the core values of the Democratic party (and his presidency). The majority of Americans are concerned about the environment... so Obama ought to play that up. The majority of the American public also supports stricter gun control, and equal rights for all Americans. Obama should highlight these issues and demonstrate that he (and the Democrats) have the American people in their best interest. And of course, Obama is going to need to demonstrate CLEARLY how he plans to improve the economy and create jobs.

  108. Only Hollywood could contrive the challenges Mr. Obama faced two years ago. This commentary about giving him a "second chance" is historically thin. In the past two years, with all the real challenges, what did the Republicans do apart from standing in the wings, holding on dearly to negativity. Now the new story is they will change the ways Washington does things as soon as they take over the senate and presidency. Does anyone want to recall their last eight-year stand, denying recent history? A second chance for whom?

  109. Just tell the truth to the american people and forget about hyperbole, hosannas, and promises. Explain where we are as regards the industrial capacity of our nation relative to the BRIC's and what steps does the USA need to make vis a vis Congress to bring us back into competition in world markets. Truth is the best medicine for a very unhappy nation.

  110. The GOP plan is a simple one: do whatever they can to impede the country's economic recovery today with the expectation that the ailing economy in 2012 will lead to Pres. Obama's defeat in 2012.

    Will they succeed? Hard to tell, but never underestimate the ignorance of the American people and their ability to be persuaded to vote against their own and the country's best interests.

  111. “Now is the time for a full-throated statement about the need for federal investment in infrastructure, education, and state aid."

    "The president may be able to find some rare common ground with Republicans on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (now known as No Child Left Behind). Any new act will undoubtedly provide more flexibility for states and local districts to meet federal standards, but must maintain its commitment to pursuing equity for minority schools, along with a tough measurement system for teachers and schools.”

    Consider the strong currency of competitive achievement and equitable achievement in the nation’s schools.

    There is firm ground for resistance to Federal investment in solving serious problems. It is based on the failures of Government policies to make a difference. Consider public education, my own field.

    First: the Obama administration, as previous administrations, continues to frame the problem – and implied solution – in terms of teacher and school administrator performance. Placing responsibility – or blame – on any one part of an organization ignores the systems approach now widely used in military, industrial, and business environments, which makes continuous learning integral to their capacity to change and survive. The traditional approach: if students do not learn well, students or teachers need to work harder, [‘fix blame’]. The systems approach: if students do not learn well, instructional strategies are revised, [‘fix the system’].

    Second: on a pragmatic level alone, developing policy and regulating from the center, the Federal way, is not possible within the limits of its communication channels. More to the point, as Richard Elmore points out, the investments that make a difference are not taken. “Elected officials…. generate electoral credit by initiating new ideas, not by making the kind of steady investments in people that are required to make the educator sector more effective, and not by investing in the long- term health of the sector and the people who work in it.”

    There are public school systems where students, regardless of background, have met high [‘competitive’] standards, and have done so without Federal ‘investment’, policies or incentives. They have done so by having every interest group and stakeholder engaged in their systems. It has not cost any more than other school systems, and even less in several.

    Elmore’s scathing indictment of self-interest by the interest groups in public schooling confirms my own experience. As Ron Edmonds pointed out, "We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us. We already know more than we need to do that. Whether or not we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven’t so far."

    The more prudent question for the President and his education team is how to get troubled schools and school districts to face the fact that they haven’t taught all students well. The prudent question that follows this one is why so many educators do not already know what they ‘need to do that’, both in pedagogy and in the field of transformational change. They do not!

    The first step for the Federal Government is to grasp, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The second step is to accept the productive and empowering role of facilitator and cheerleader to replace the impossible role of director and overseer.

  112. I realize it is terrifying to people in the U.S. to realize they have a non-representative government, that corporations have bought their lawmakers and judges, that governmental protection agencies like the EPA and FDA are being run by the same foxes that are in charge of the Financial henhouse, and so they want to - the MUST - believe that President Obama is going to live up to his promises of "change" and help the American people to become a viable country again. But it is not the case; almost none of the people in positions of power in the U.S. are interested in the lives of the majority of Americans, who are losing everything previous generations worked and sacrificed for faster than a melting glacier. Historically, we see that such situations lead to banana republics, with most citizens living in poverty among civil unrest, shortages, and a generally steady decline in lifestyle. Why the U.S. should be any different when their elected representatives have so utterly sold them out, why people really believe "it can't happen here", is because of the very kind of speeches Obama loves to make. But when chirpy propaganda is all that's left, in a culture that has fully embraced fantasy and magical thinking, and escape from reality is the primary objective in people's lives, what does it mean to encourage "competitiveness"? Does anyone think Americans will work for the sub-human wages of their competition? If not, where will all those high-paying jobs come from? A huge, painful dose of reality is what is needed now; not "reality" in the TV show sense, but people willing to look at what is actually happening. Until this shift in perception takes place, Americans will keep on believing in Obama and his unicorns.

  113. We need national security and personal security. We need public health, an educated workforce and law enforcement. We need a government to oversee and ensure that these needs are met.

    All of the above cost money. If we want the best, as we do, that will cost us top dollars.

    We can raise the money we need to pay for what we agree that we need by either taxing ourselves or, at least for a while, by borrowing.

    Taxation is out of the question. We have been told that taxes are bad, period. In fact, we believe that the best government is one that governs the least and, therefore, taxes the least. These truths are self-evident (because we have heard them so many times, from so many leaders.) Besides, taxes are unnecessary. There is a painless way to fund all that we need: eliminate "waste and fraud" from the programs we agree we need. Why, we can declare these programs 100% "waste and fraud" and end up with the best government possible, one that governs the least . . .

    It takes capitalism to achieve what Karl Marx promised.

  114. I think the President should enumerate those things which he has not done, rather than the few he has been able to accomplish. He made many campaign promises, and those not attempted or accomplished stand out very clearly. Guantanamo is still open, and rendition still occurs. Immigration reform is hardly mentioned anymore. We are still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan,moreso than before, and we still have troops in every nook and cranny of the world, many times interfering or influencing foreign countries' governments. Our budget is a shambles. And the list goes on. I am a Democrat, but I fear we have in the White House an empty suit which speaks eloquently, but does little. I will not vote for him again.

  115. Obama needs to step up and fix the economy (i.e., JOBS!). Americans voted for republicans in November because of their disappointment with Obama's failure to fulfill his campaign promises -- not realizing, of course, that in doing so, they returned the wolves to the henhouse. He's got one more opportunity to do better or it's all over for the American People. Republicans are on a slash and burn campaign and are determined to cut a huge hole in the safty net. Anything they do will benefit only the rich at the expense of the rest of us.

  116. There's been a lot of fatalism about jobs and economy. They're definitely important, and frankly, I think Obama has done ALOT to help out Americans with healthcare and the stimulus. If you watch the numbers, things have changed. ALOT.

    The problem is that strangely enough, he hasn't communicated his commitment to the economy well. Americans are generally very unrealistic about the government's power to overhaul an economic downturn. People with political and economic educations know that the President's actions in the last few year's helped tremendously. But Obama's got the nations intellectuals in his pocket. We support him. Unfortunately, there has been a turn of anti-intellectualism in this country. People won't listen to you if you're a 'smarty' or come from a 'big league school'. They need 'down home advice'.

    Fine. Give it to them. Obama needs to start working on the populist bent, and start taking the wind out of Tea Party excesses. The Republicans are winning that war because they're entertaining to watch and serve as an echo chamber for America's gripes. Take that away from them.

    Obama needs to put his best effort into making big dramatic gestures about how the economy is going to get back on track, like FDR. Fact is, most of his best reforms, like health care, are the most boring things ever. I know ALL of my friends, don't care about the fact they now technically have healthcare. They're like "No I don't.", when yes, they certainly should. People are unwilling to go through the paperwork of fighting their case in the face of new laws. They're always convinced things are the way they are. They're lazy. Too them, a stack of papers is a stack of papers, and THAT'S the main obstacle for them to do anything.

    Otherwise they're just going to keep accusing him of doing nothing, because they see nothing but a flurry of papers and incomprehensible numbers. The people who get the numbers are on your side, Obama. Time to get the ones that don't.

  117. I do wish this was as simple as many claim, but it is not. Sure, we can cut funds out of the health care bill. Is that going to keep people from getting sick - of course not. Right now when an uninsured person gets sick, the hospital is required to treat them. Who ultimately bears the costs - we the tax payers, either by increased insurance premiums, increased co-pays, or more expensive everything. There is no free lunch regardless of how many people resent being forced to get (subsidized) insurance.

    Can the Defense Department budget be cut ? Of course, but at what price. No-one would advocate sending our troops out with substandard and/or inadequate equipment so that part of the budget is "off the table". What about the National Guards - many of them have served tours of duty in the Middle East. Who is going to pay for the equipment they took with them that was either destroyed or worn out beyond a reasonable lifetime ? Do we want the National Guards to be so ill funded that they are unable to respond to domestic crises - that they are so poorly trained that sending them to combat areas means that a disproportionate percentage of them will die due to inexperience ?

    Do we want to cut Social Security ? That too is hard to justify. Look at how many charitable organizations are stepping up to the table to fill in the cracks in the current "supposedly bloated" system. Take Meals on Wheels as an example. They are stretched to the limit already. Cut back on Social Security and more people will starve or at least suffer in an agonizing manner.

    What about education ? Is there validity to the claim that municipalities know better what their students should be taught than trained educators who are looking broadly across the country and around the world. We can not make the assumption that the educational standards that might be appropriate for SmallVille USA will enable their children to compete nationally and energize our economy to where it can compete with China and India. How are our colleges and universities supposed to choose good candidates for admission to their freshman classes if every town and county sets their own standards and chooses what they will teach and what they won't ? What do the smaller towns do when there is not enough money to pay for teachers - let their children become functional illiterates ?

    Its easy to poke at programs like agricultural subsidies. Sure, there are abuses, but there are abuses in every phase of the US economy. It would be wonderful if the playing field was level, but it isn't and vicious cuts to the Federal budget are not the way to level it.

    As to the claim that big government is bad government and that free market economics will solve all our woes. Horse hockey. Look at the meat packing industry which has been caught time and again turning sick cows into hamburger to send to our schools. Look at the pharmaceutical industry that has had massive recalls due to contaminated medication and has hidden clinical test results which would have cast doubt on their products' efficacy. Look at Wall Street where the current insider trading scandal looks like it will spread far and wide. If it were not for the SEC (as ineffective as they are), the good old boys network would have fleeced us even worse.

    What about TARP ? Sure it is a bitter pill to see billions of our dollars going to banks who are paying their executives staggeringly large bonuses. But what is the alternative. If Congress was replaced by hordes of people who had no experience in crafting and implementing legislation and aiding their constituents when in time of need, would the US be a better place ?

    I implore all the shrill voices screaming out in self righteousness about one side of these arguments or others - start out by defining the needs of the people, both as individuals and as a functioning economy. Then work backwards to articulate what an acceptable solution would look like. Take all of the solution descriptions and see how they interact with one another. Just as we redistrict our states every 10 years, we should look at "redistricting" our government regularly.

    We have met the enemy and it is our own inefficiency in meeting the needs of our citizens. Just chopping away each fiefdom to meet campaign pledges (as long as the cuts are not in OUR community) is crazy and self destructive. Take several deep breaths and determine what our people need and how to deliver it to them. Then, and only then, can you figure out the whats and the hows. Doing the budget chopping as the first step is catastrophically wrong.

    Remember when Michaelangelo was asked how he carved the statue of David. Simple, he said, just cut away everything that didn't look like David. That applies to governing this great nation of ours. Analyze first, cut later, not the reverse.

    If you really think free market controls work should look at the oil spill in the Gulf.

  118. Any effort to "create" jobs coming from Obama (or any other entity for that matter) will REQUIRE spending of some kind, either in direct creation (infrastructure, education, public employees) or tax incentives to private business. Jobs don't just "happen" in this kind of recession environment, especially when drastic budget cutting "unemploys" large groups of people, further depressing demand and disposable income, creating even more layoffs. The Tea Party needs to come to this realization, along with Republicans--although sometimes I think their agenda is to keep things as bad as possible in order to "win" the 2012 circus and undo everything they possibly can. Even with increased spending, improvement in the employment picture will take time, and patience is required in order to rebuild a structure that can again support job creation. The best thing that could happen for the budget is for good jobs to return in large numbers; that will bring in the necessary revenues to head off the deficit. The tax cut extension will also need to expire in two years, it is not sustainable and having had these cuts while engaged in two costly wars has been a very large part of what created such a large deficit. And for those currently engaged in attacking teacher salaries and pensions I would use the Wall Street argument...how do you expect to attract the best and the brightest to teach your children unless you can offer them a decent income? Seriously!

  119. Mr. Obama is still off the mark: corporate profits are at an all-time high. Clearly, that's not where the job problem is. Our real competitive malaise lies in our public education system, which is a shambles and which has left American children last in the developed and developing world in math and science. Our corporate CEOs and senior managers are doing JUST FINE. And they don't want to hire more people because part of the reason they are doing JUST FINE is because they got to slash their workforce and get lower-level employees to do the work of two people for oner salary.

    We're living in a plutocracy, and plutocracies don't offer much in the way of incentives to ordinary folk - American workers are already the hardest working in the West, working the most hours for the least pay, sleep-deprived, poorly rested, with a busted labor movement, bullied by threats of unemployment into accepting anything CEOs care to dish out. Middle-class salary structure was decimated in the last three years and it's not coming back in this generation.

    Mr. Obama can talk competitiveness until he turns blue. We got the shaft and we know it. I don't see him pulling that shaft out of our collective backs while Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, and the rest of the Wall Street crew continue being driven to work in chauffered limos.

  120. Since we live in a country of wealth shifts to the rich, let's go the other way. I propose putting an end to the war machine, bring our military home, cut the Pentagon's budget in half and redistribute that money to infrastructure and affordable education. That's how we could actually be a "powerful country".

  121. Obama needs to do something that gets the support of the middle class.

  122. The problem with Mr. Obama is that by now he has stripped himself of any credibility he had with the American People... I mean that part of the American People who actually think through things and not just follow issues once every four years, and go vote, charisma instead of character.

  123. Astounding that the Republicans now view spending on infrastructure (to prevent more bridges from collapsing) and education (to create *Americans* to fill the demanding jobs of the 21st century...but I suppose they think they can simply outsource all that to other countries where education *is* highly valued) as something that *must* be cut in order to meet their short-term and strictly political goal (of making anything Obama initiates look bad).

  124. The fact is everybody at this point is painfully aware of the true state of the union,and no speech is going to ameliorate current difficulties.What is needed is action; bold decision making of a high order,and not more of the same old repetitive hesitant steps."It's the economy,stupid !" and the answer is jobs,and the way to create them is MASSIVE infrastructure spending a la FDR.

  125. I believe this editorial is delusional concerning the "largely unheralded accomplishments of his first two years" and the need for budget cuts. Obama and his Fed have transferred hundreds of billions of tax dollars to Wall Street, suppressing interest on savings, which in turn has inhibited spending, investment, and growth. Obama has also wasted hundreds of billions of tax dollars in Afghanistan and Iraq. His policies are the root of our economic problems. The hallmarks of all government spending are waste, fraud, and corruption. Any plan to solve our economic problems will have to acknowledge this fact, and terminate the non-productive spending policies of the past.