Going into President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night many felt the president would come out with a partisan tone, hammering Republicans on income inequality and congressional obstruction.
Well, he hit on all those points (and more) but did so in a way I don’t think many people expected. He was uplifting, he was extremely moderate (though I’m sure conservatives will disagree) and he aimed at bringing people together.
While obviously taking shots at Republicans, he did so in a much more subtle way. He clearly made an effort to not be overly divisive while still bringing up topics that liberals have been demanding action on for a long time.
He reiterated his previous stance on shutting down Guantanamo Bay, something that’s a huge issue with many liberals. He also reaffirmed his decision to end most major military operations in Afghanistan, and encouraged both sides of the aisle to come together on immigration reform.
Obama also announced that he would sign an Executive Order requiring government contractors to pay their employees at least $10.10 an hour, and encouraged states to pass legislation which would raise each state’s minimum wage.
Other highlights of the speech were Obama saying:
“The debate is settled – climate change is a fact.”
“Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too.”
“Today, the federal minimum wage is worth about twenty percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan first stood here. Tom Harkin and George Miller have a bill to fix that by lifting the minimum wage to $10.10. This will help families. It will give businesses customers with more money to spend. It doesn’t involve any new bureaucratic program. So join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise.”
“Let’s not have another forty-something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans. The first forty were plenty. We got it. We all owe it to the American people to say what we’re for, not just what we’re against.”
“It’s time to do away with workplace polices that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode.”
Plus quite a few others. You can read the entire transcript here if you missed it.
Now I know conservatives are slamming his speech with the same ol’ shtick of “we need to trust the free market economy” and “taxes are stifling job growth” – and we can’t forget their new line about how it isn’t about income inequality it’s about “income opportunity,” which is something that makes absolutely no sense.
If corporations are cutting jobs, limiting advancement and outsourcing jobs to jack up profits and fatten the pockets of the executives – there is no opportunity there.
Then who can ignore the “official” Republican response from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (though they made sure to have 3 other “non-official” responses from men) where she went on some random, babbling nonsense about how she met her husband then ended it with over-the-top references to religion by saying:
“That, with the guidance of God, we may prove worthy of His blessings of life … liberty … and the pursuit of happiness.
For when we embrace these gifts, we are each doing our part to form a more perfect union.
May God guide you and our President, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.”
On a side note, I wanted to mention the honoring of Army Ranger Corey Remsburg. It was one of the most touching shows of respect by everyone in attendance I might have ever witnessed. I had to fight back tears hearing his story and seeing the response he received by everyone in attendance. This man is a true hero.
But one thing I am sure of – the next few days should produce plenty of ridiculous responses from the Republican party to President Obama’s speech.