Monday, February 13, 2012

State of the Union 2012 (Updated)

Funny how a year later almost nothing has changed...
Item's in parentheses are updated information.

Originally published on Technorati as State of the Union 2012.

At least nobody shouted "You Lie!" during the speech.  
Still, it wasn't difficult to distinguish party affiliation during the hour long oratory.  Most Republican's remained seated for most of it with politely folded hands and a 10000 yard stare.

With at least a cursory level of decorum on display in the House chambers last night we witnessed the 2012 edition of the State of The Union with President Barack Obama presiding.

The economy took precedence as the primary focus of the speech with new tax incentives for companies that create jobs domestically while removing them from those that create them elsewhere.    A new investigative unit called the Trade Enforcement Unit is charged with investigating unfair trade practices and monitoring the flow of counterfeit  and unsafe products into the U.S.

Free trade agreements between the U.S. and South Korea, Colombia and Panama were also touted as helping to increase trade and move American products into foreign markets.
(During the election these agreements that had bipartisan support in both houses were used as political barbs by the Republican party)

The president also encouraged private/public partnerships to retrain unemployed workers for technical jobs that otherwise remain unfilled.  He went on to cite the example of a single mother displaced from her job as a mechanic in North Carolina.

" Jackie Bray is a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic. Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College. The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training. It paid Jackie’s tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant."
(This initiative has gone nowhere sacrificed on the altar of the year's budget wrangling)

The cost of higher education was also addressed with an admonition to post secondary institutions to keep tuition costs down or risk the loss of public funding. 
(A great idea but a toothless mandate although new Federal student loans are no longer administered by private servicers.  Pre-existing loans have seen little to no change)

There was also mention of the need to address immigration issues regarding foreign born students studying in the U.S. who are deported because of their technically illegal status.  The President used this as an example to highlight the need for immigration reform.  From the Speech,

 " The opponents of action are out of excuses. We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan (It did) , let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country"

291912_Nexus 7 Tablet. We Sell That, TooThe President also encouraged support for small businesses by allowing easier access to financing and tax incentives for providing better wages and job creation.  He went on to propose the elimination of unnecessary and cumbersome Federal regulations exemplified by the example of dairy farmer's requirement to comply with federal regulations regarding cleanup after a milk spillage because milk was classified as an oil. 

He went on to mention the need for investment in renewable energy and cited support of domestic exploration of energy resources.
(So long as oil, coal or natural gas is considered renewable, there isn't a problem for conservative lawmakers.  Public investment has been largely blocked by congressional deadlock)

The President also called for investigation of risky and abusive behavior of those in the financial industry by  a new Financial Crimes Unit under the supervision of the Attorney General of The U.S.
(Apart from heated questioning of mortgage bankers during Senate hearings, this too was largely a toothless mandate)

In his speech he highlighted the need for cooperation across party lines concerning budgetary and tax fairness issues.  The President also proposed a ban on insider trading for members of congress to curtail the influence of business lobbyists on politicians. 
("Fairness" is apparently an ambiguous term even a year later)

The measure would prevent members of congress from owning stocks in companies that they have a direct influence over or from.
(This did get through congress)

Recognition of the Military's success in eliminating Osama Bin Laden  was mentioned when the President said,

 "For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country."
(Even conservatives had to admit this fact but the political machine did its best to bury it)

The President also stressed  the need to support returning Veterans with funding for the VA and tax incentives to employers who hire veterans returning from service.
(Current budget negotiations still have VA funding on the chopping block.  A number of private funding organizations have sprang up to try to fill the gap)

As with any State of the Union we've come to expect a high level of political ideology and a wish list of associated ideals from the Executive branch.  Regardless of the motivations that craft the annual Presidential address it's understood that most of the admonitions will not come to pass. 

146032_Stylin' Trucks Brand Logo 120x60The Republican response to the speech from Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, for example,  was either diametrically opposed to the majority of the content or focused on election year political rhetoric.   A notable quote from the governor, "  he cannot claim that the last three years have made things anything but worse:"
(Neither can you you governor)

For the previous 4 decades the ideologies of both political parties have prevented true bi-partisanship. The result had been either congressional deadlock or biased legislation in favor of the ideals of the party in power.  

Unfortunately we are a nation of strong ideologies with political parties locked in a battle between the 20th century's New Deal and the 19th Century's industrial expansion.  Both have their merits and deficiencies but neither  is compatible with the other.  Unfortunately, more often than not this makes for an environment hostile to compromise that no well crafted oratory can overcome.

If the State of the Union serves no other purpose it at least exemplifies the constituent components  of the ideologies that prevent progress.