SOTU 2014: First Impressions

January 28th, 2014 at 10:18 pm

I’ll have more to say in coming days but I liked the speech.  The challenge for the President was to avoid ticking through a list ideas that had no chance of going anywhere.  I think he largely avoided that, though he did hit on ideas that Congress probably will, but shouldn’t block, like extended UI, infrastructure investment, a higher national minimum wage, and an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit (to raise the very low existing credit for childless adults; he noted Republican support on this one, so who knows??).

Instead, he focused on a number of executive orders targeting higher minimum wages for workers on federal contracts, retirement security, better broadband access in schools, and higher fuel efficiency standards.  Of course these will reach far fewer people than federal legislation.  For example, his minimum wage EO will reach a few hundred thousand; the federal bill on which it is based would lift the earnings of 17 million.

But the President cannot and should not let Congress block his every move and good for the administration for trying to find other ways to help working families overcome opportunity barriers in our increasingly unequal economy.  If he, and the rest of us, can convince Congress to work on behalf of the economic well-being of the American people, especially those left behind by the current expansion, so much the better.  But I don’t blame him for not waiting.


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7 comments in reply to "SOTU 2014: First Impressions"

  1. Dave says:

    I think the most important aspect of this is that it shows the voters what direction we would go if the House was returned to Democrats. Without showing intention, it is impossible for the voters to gauge the benefits of voting out bad representatives.

  2. bakho says:

    I wish Obama would stop talking about the debt. No one cares about the debt. Everyone cares about jobs and why there are not enough.

    What I hear when Obama talks about the debt is:
    We can’t spend more money to create jobs because my goal is to not add one penny to the debt.
    Obama thinks not adding to the debt is more important than rapid return to full employment.
    Maybe he doesn’t intend it, but Obama, by harping on the debt, continues to send the message that he doesn’t care much about job creation.
    He’s left with indirect stuff that no one thinks will do much to return us rapidly to full employment.
    This economic policy sounds like a Republican, not a Democrat.

  3. tyler says:

    I thought his speech largely sucked. He didn’t propose a payroll tax holiday, yet that is one policy the GOP would have to support in an election year. He didn’t propose a federal income tax holiday for the first $100k of incomes, yet that is another policy the GOP would have to support in an election year.