Tonight’s Sate of the Union address

I’m listing to the President’s State of the Union address right now, and wondering how in the hell any of the Republicans currently fighting for their party’s nomination think they’ve got a realistic shot against him come November. I know it’s just a speech, and a lot of the ideas will never come to fruition, but it just seems to me that his pitch is super tight. Sure, the economy isn’t where we want it, and a lot of us on the left side of the spectrum are still upset over the handling of the health care debate, his reluctance to repeal the Bush tax cuts, the increasing threat to civil liberties at home, and any number of other things, but, when it comes to core messages that resonate with the American people, I can’t imagine Gingrich of Romney being able to lay a glove on him. Fear, anger, and the “but he’s a socialist” rhetoric only go so far.

For those of you listening at home, our friends at Think Progress have put together an interesting list of background facts. Here are a few of my favorites.

• Since the last SOTU, the economy has created 1.9 million private sector jobs. [Source]
• The top 1 percent take home 24 percent of the nation’s income, up from about 9 percent in 1976. [Source]
• Private sector job creation under Obama in 2011 was larger than seven out of the eight years Bush was president. [Source]
• The top 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of our country’s wealth while the bottom 80 percent owns only 7 percent. [Source]
• Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 2.5 million young adults gained health insurance. [Source]
• Last year, China spent 9 percent of its GDP on infrastructure. The U.S. spent 2.5 percent. [Source]
• 2.65 million seniors saved an average of $569 on prescriptions last year thanks to the Affordable Care Act. [Source]
• Union membership is at a 70-year low. [Source]
• The United States used to have the world’s largest percentage of college graduates. We’re now #14. [Source]
• 47.8 percent of households that receive food stamps are working, because having a job is not enough to keep them out of poverty. [Source]
• In the last three years, 30 major corporations spent more on lobbying than they paid in taxes. [Source]
• 50 percent of U.S. workers make less than $26,364 per year. [Source]
• More than one in 70 homes faced foreclosure last year. [Source]
• Since 1985, the federal tax rate for the 400 wealthiest Americans dropped from 29 percent to 18 percent. [Source]

So, do you think he sufficiently addressed all of these issues tonight?

Speaking of Obama, will anyone be going to hear him speak when he comes to Ann Arbor on Friday?

update: Did he just say that he’s launching a task force to explore the prosecution of those financial sector executives responsible for the economic disaster we’ve been living through?

update: Did I just hear people in the audience booing Obama for suggesting that we should pass a law making it illegal for members of Congress to benefit financially from insider trading? COuld that be possible?

update: The transcript of the entire address can be found here.

update: OK, here’s the part of the speech about the prosecution of Wall Street evil doers… I just hope that he follows though, and this isn’t just another election year promise, like that time he told us that he’d close GITMO.

…We will also establish a Financial Crimes Unit of highly trained investigators to crack down on large-scale fraud and protect people’s investments. Some financial firms violate major anti-fraud laws because there’s no real penalty for being a repeat offender. That’s bad for consumers, and it’s bad for the vast majority of bankers and financial service professionals who do the right thing. So pass legislation that makes the penalties for fraud count.

And tonight, I am asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans…

As of right now, I’m not terribly inclined to cut the Obama campaign a check. (I figure that’s what corporations are for, right?) That would change in an instant, though, if we actually started seeing bankers being brought up on charges.

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  1. K2
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    He also said that he’d like to cut federal funding to universities that raise tuition. I wonder how that will be met by his friends at U-M.

  2. tran
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    People are uneasy. The facts don’t matter much.

  3. Christopher Bitchin
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    If you think he means to accomplish even 10 percent of what he expressed in that speech, I’ve got land in the Township to sell you.

  4. Edward
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    I bet we’re going to hear a lot of stuff like this on Friday.

    On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world’s number one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.

    We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back.

    Given the fact that Romney penned that editorial in 2008 entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt”, I can’t help but think that Obama will make the auto company bailout a huge part of this campaign.

    Romney’s editorial:

  5. Edward
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Here’s that part of the speech you were referring to, K2.

    Of course, it’s not enough for us to increase student aid. We can’t just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition; we’ll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down. Recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who’ve done just that. Some schools re-design courses to help students finish more quickly. Some use better technology. The point is, it’s possible. So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can’t be a luxury – it’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.

    It’s especially interesting given the Think Progress statistic above about how we’ve fallen from #1 to #14 on the list of countries with the highest percentage of college graduates.

  6. Edward
    Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    FWIW, I think he could retake the White House on the following initiative alone.

    That’s why I’m sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low interest rates. No more red tape. No more runaround from the banks. A small fee on the largest financial institutions will ensure that it won’t add to the deficit, and will give banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust.

  7. Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    Good point, Christopher. Maybe, as an exercise, I’ll go back and look at last year’s State of the Union speech and see how much of it he followed through on.

  8. Meta
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    From MoveOn.

    Dear MoveOn member,

    Did you watch the State of the Union tonight? President Obama did exactly what hundreds of thousands of us have been calling on him to do—he announced a federal investigation into Wall Street. Here’s what he said:

    “I am asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.”

    The best part is, progressive champion New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is co-chairing the investigation and will make sure it stays on track.

    Just weeks ago, this investigation wasn’t even on the table, and the big banks were pushing for a broad settlement that would have made it impossible. Your work changed all that.

    This is truly a huge victory for the 99% movement. Hundreds of thousands of us signed petitions, made calls, and held signs outside in the cold to make this issue something that President Obama couldn’t ignore. Here’s some of what MoveOn members and our allies did to bring about this victory:

    Over 360,000 of us signed a petition calling on President Obama to fully investigate the banks.
    We delivered that petition at over 150 events last Thursday around the country at Obama for America campaign offices.
    Our pressure on state attorneys general stopped the rush to a sweetheart deal that would have precluded this investigation.
    And we’ve called, Facebooked, and tweeted at the White House repeatedly to ask the president to launch this investigation.

    Can you take a few minutes and thank President Obama for holding Wall Street accountable?

    Without an investigation, real accountability for the banks wouldn’t be possible. But while this is a big win, it isn’t enough all by itself. We still need to keep a close eye on the investigation, make sure top bankers don’t escape prosecution, and keep fighting for real solutions for the 11 million underwater homeowners who are still struggling to keep their homes.

    And, we need to keep pushing for more wins for the 99%, including our campaigns to get big money out of politics and tax the rich fairly. That all takes resources, and for obvious reasons, MoveOn doesn’t get big checks from bank CEOs! So please click here to donate to keep the momentum going:

    Progressive victories don’t come that often, and there’s so much more to do. But this is a very big one. Thank you for all you did to make it happen!

    –Elena, Emily, Lenore, Robin, and the rest of the team

  9. Lisa Bashert
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    • 50 percent of U.S. workers make less than $26,364 per year. [Source]

    OMG. I know *I* do, but sheesh!

  10. K2
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Here’s the part of the speech where Obama says that members of Congress should be stopped from insider trading.

    And here’s the what some people on the internet think they heard in response to this idea from the members of Congress.

  11. K2
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    And the cool thing about the Financial Crimes Unit is that it would be led by Eric Schneiderman (unless he’s forced out like Elizabeth Warren). As he seems to have integrity, I’m excited to see where this might lead.

    Here’s video of him in action.

  12. Les Filling
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    “I am asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending . . .”

    The problem with this, as many of us know, is that Eric Holder is a tool of those big Wall Street financial entities.

  13. Meta
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    How about this fact, Lisa.

    Romney makes $56k+ a day. A day! And pays less than 15% in taxes.

  14. EOS
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    How about these facts:

    Romney gave 15% of his income to charity, Obama gave 1%, and Biden gave a total of $369.00

  15. Dan
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink


    Yes, and that money will come right back to him in the form of campaign contributions.

  16. Posted January 25, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    And the citizens of Kolob could be seen dancing in their Magic Underwear around a statue of the Mittron3000.

  17. Posted January 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    You really think he means that crap, after everything he’s done?

  18. Tommy
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Gotta love Move On – need to keep pushing to get big money out of politics. To do that, we need your money … click here.

    Seems to me that they have effectively latched on to the Occupy Movement whether the movement wants them or not.

    Other than that – he gives a good speech. Mostly raw meat for the left while caving in to the right. But not in an election year.

  19. Meta
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    State Of The Union: President Obama Blames Congress for Inaction on Climate Change, While Calling for Increase in Fossil Fuel Production

  20. Mr. X
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    It may just be more pandering to the left, but Obama said today that, if elected for a second term, he will not ask Geithner to stay at Treasury.

  21. alan2102
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    EOS: “Romney gave 15% of his income to charity, Obama gave 1%”

    That means that, proportionally to income, Obama gives much more to charity than Romney. Assuming that Obama’s salary as POTUS is all (most) of his income.

    Why does Romney give so little? He’s swimming in money.

  22. alan2102
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    Did I just write that (above)?!

    Demon rum. Blame it all on demon rum. My mind turned to mush. Hopefully only until morning.

    But the part about Mitt swimming in bucks is right. Why not give 50%?

  23. EOS
    Posted January 26, 2012 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    I’m not voting for Romney, but the guy paid about 6 million in taxes and additionally contributed more than 6 million to charities. Money given to his church (2 million?) can’t come back in the form of campaign contributions. Obama gets more income from his books than his office. I read the 1% figure on Drudge yesterday, but heard he gives 5% on the radio. Alan, why don’t you give 50% if you think it’s such a good idea. Lead by example.

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