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.