Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Union Speech

From the BBC:
"State of the Union: Obama says economic crisis over"

US President Barack Obama has declared an end to the financial crisis and pledged economic policies to benefit all Americans, in his annual State of the Union address to Congress. "Tonight, we turn the page," he said. "The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong." In a speech devised to appeal to working families, Mr Obama outlined his strategy for "middle-class economics".
But the plans are unlikely to make it past a Republican-controlled Congress. Mr Obama also reiterated his foreign policy objectives, saying that the US reserved the "right to act unilaterally" when hunting down terrorists. America had supported Ukraine throughout its battle with pro-Russia separatists, leaving Russia "isolated, with its economy in tatters", he added.  In a speech which he described as more focused on values than policies, Mr Obama declared America had recovered after the worst recession since the Depression. The president said he planned to build on this growth by providing working families with help in the form of sick and maternity leave and affordable childcare. Mr Obama's speech included plans to build a competitive economy by improving America's infrastructure and providing free access to community college. At the weekend, the White House also pledged to close tax loopholes on large inheritances, raise capital gains tax on the richest earners from 23.8% to 28% and introduce new fees on US financial firms with assets about $50bn.Some senior members of the Republican Party dismissed this as "class warfare".

Other plans outlined by the president include:
  • Improve statutory sick leave and minimum wage
  • Stronger cybersecurity and consumer protection
  • Continue with plans to shut the prison in Guantanamo
  • Equal pay for men and women
On foreign policy, he called on Congress to pass a resolution to authorise the use of force against the Islamic State militant group. On nuclear talks with Iran, the president reiterated his belief that an agreement could be reached to prevent the country from gaining nuclear weapons, and said he would veto any new sanctions bill that undermined negotiations. He also said that his decision to begin normalising relations with Cuba, after ties were severed in 1961, had the potential to "end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere". Mr Obama said that the US had successfully opposed "Russian aggression" in Ukraine by imposing sanctions, adding: "It is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters".  On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced the speech as an indication of what he said was the determination of the US to dominate international affairs. Mr Lavrov said: "Obama's address yesterday shows that there's just one thing at the heart of [their] philosophy: 'We are number one'... It shows that the United States wants to dominate the world." Ending his address, Mr Obama said he was optimistic he could work with Congress, despite months of political gridlock. But consensus with the Republican Party on many of the issues he outlined is unlikely. In their official rebuttal, Republican senator and rising star, Joni Ernst, said Americans had not seen solutions from Mr Obama, and criticised his health and immigration policies. "Americans have been hurting, but when we demanded solutions, too often Washington responded with the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like Obamacare," she said. The senator called on Mr Obama to work with Republicans on issues where they might have common ground - including a trade deal and tax code reform.

^ Obama really just said that he knows he has nothing to loose (ie no more campaigns - even to help his fellow Democrats who tend not to want him near them) and so will do whatever he wants to do. His strategy isn't about what America wants (which clearly showed that they didn't care for his policies last November) but what he wants to do.  Also he thinks that the economy is good after the Great Recession which shows how disconnected he truly is from the ordinary people. There may be more jobs, but most are part-time ones so the companies don't have to give full benefits including his Obamacare. I am all for equal pay for men and women and stronger cyber security, but not free community college. He didn't mention our soldiers in Iraq and focused more on Cuba instead. This shows his priorities. He doesn't care about American men and women risking their lives fighting in a place he ordered them to, but only about vacations in Communist Cuba.  He thinks the US has supported the Ukraine enough even though we have only sanctioned Russia and done nothing of real importance. It would be better if he knew he was a lame duck President and stopped doing things without thinking. Americans showed they didn't like his direction when they voted in a Republican-held House and Senate. He should get the message and stop acting unilaterally. ^


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