Last night President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union speech. In the speech Obama addressed growing concerns in the country about lack of opportunities and yawning wealth inequality. Poverty, lack of labor participation, and wealth inequality have gone to record levels under his administration. As the problem has gotten progressively worse the rhetoric seems to be ever more soaring.
In his State of the Union speech Obama did acknowledge the trends.
Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by; let alone to get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.
Obama’s policy proposals involve sending more people to college and raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. Policies that will have little to no effect on inequality nor upward mobility. In short, he is going to talk about it and not do anything for another year.
However, one commitment he does plan to keep is to try to jam through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that would turn over sovereign decision making authority to corporate tribunals. Not to mention, as NAFTA well demonstrated, trade agreements kill jobs not create them.
Let’s do more to help the entrepreneurs and small business owners who create most new jobs in America. Over the past five years, my administration has made more loans to small business owners than any other. And when 98 percent of our exporters are small businesses, new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help them create even more jobs. We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment and open new markets to new goods stamped “Made in the USA.”
More opportunities for Big Business to profit by driving down wages and pollute without consequence will lessen inequality? Team Obama might want to rethink that one.
But it would not be a real Obama speech without “pragmatic” fear-mongering to justify belligerence.
The fact is that danger remains. While we’ve put Al Qaeda’s core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved as Al Qaeda affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world. In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable these networks. In Syria, we’ll support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks. Here at home, we’ll keep strengthening our defenses and combat new threats like cyberattacks.
Al Qaeda engages in cyberattacks? Not to mention those weapons meant for the moderate Syrian opposition are now in Al Qaeda’s hands.
President Obama then went on to say he would, ironically, “work with Congress” to address any needed intelligence reforms. Then tried to distract from the issue by asking (again) that Congress close Gitmo. What’s interesting is that one of the talking points for those spinning the speech is that Obama would overcome a do-nothing Congress by acting unilaterally, a “year of action.”
But when it comes to the surveillance state Obama wants to punt to Congress.