President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday night clocked in at a little more than an hour. To our ears, though, its essence was captured in a pair of quotes.
President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address Tuesday night clocked in at a little more than an hour.
To our ears, though, its essence was captured in a pair of quotes:
“We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”
“We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get a tax break I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit or somebody else has to make up the difference, like a senior on a fixed income, or a student trying to get through school, or a family trying to make ends meet.”
Translation: The disparity of wealth in the United States has created a self-perpetuating cycle in which the 1 percent get richer as the middle class struggles to keep its place. Meanwhile, rich guys like my possible Republican opponent enjoy lots of breaks from a tax system far more friendly to the rich than to the middle class. Even my possible opponent’s opponent for the GOP nomination admits it.
Obama didn’t mention Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich or Occupy Wall Street by name, though he might as well have. Gingrich’s surprising challenge to Romney has brought into sharp focus a tax system that favors the super rich. His attack on Romney’s “crony capitalism” via his work with Bain Capital put a spotlight on the central tenets of the various Occupy movements that sprouted across the country in 2011.
This wasn’t the conciliatory, compromise-seeking Obama who has disappointed his most ardent supporters from 2008. This was election-year Obama taking aim at his probable November opponents (both of them, at this point) and a Congress defined by its intransigence and atrophy.
“With or without this Congress, I will keep taking actions that help the economy grow,” Obama said. He also vowed to “fight obstruction with action.”
Those are bold words that, to us, sounded the starting bell of the 2012 campaign. In that sense, we can sum up Obama’s speech in two words: game on.
State Journal-Register of Springfield, Ill.