Big Hug for Gabby
Bring it in for the real thing! Obama started the evening off on a warm, personal note by giving Rep. Gabrielle Giffords a long bear hug as he greeted those in attendance.
Obama Got Osama
Obama started out his third State of the Union address by trumpeting two of his biggest achievements as president: the end of the Iraq War and the killing of Osama bin Laden. Also, other al Qaeda operatives have been captured, the Taliban has been weakened, and some troops have come home from Afghanistan. In short, I ended a war and I killed the world’s biggest terrorist, so who are you calling a wimp? The president concluded his opening remarks with a unifying salute to the troops. “Imagine what we could accomplish if we follow their example,” he said.
Obama Calls Out Wall Street
The POTUS took a moment to point out why our economy’s “house of cards collapsed” in 2008: Wall Street. The corrupt mortgage houses, the fraudulent banks who made bets and bonuses off other people’s money, and the regulators who turned a blind eye. “It was wrong, it was irresponsible, and it plunged our economy into a crisis,” the president said, vowing that such a crisis would never happen again if Congress passes laws toughening penalties for securities fraud and making it easier for regulators to punish repeat offenders.
Talking Tax Reform
In laying out a plan for the tax code, President Obama referenced a notion we’ve heard him talk about before—“insourcing”—or the return of American jobs that companies had previously moved overseas. Businesses shouldn’t get tax deductions for outsourcing jobs and moving profits overseas, he said. Moreover, American manufacturers should get bigger tax cuts, and high-tech manufacturers should get even bigger cuts for creating products at home. “My message is simple: it’s time to start rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America.”
The Lone (and Weak) SOTU Joke
In referencing a recently trashed 40-year-old law that forced dairy farmers to pay money proving they could prevent milk spills because milk was classified as oil, Obama attempted his first and only joke of the evening. “With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk.” It wasn’t clear whether the audience was laughing at the president’s joke, or laughing because it was so lame. But Obama recovered with a tongue-in-cheek comment about being “confident a farmer can contain a milk spill without a federal agency looking over his shoulder.” Governments don’t need to intervene there, Obama indicated, but they do need to intervene so that environmental disasters like the BP oil spill don’t happen again.
The Buffett Rule
Back to tax reform—again, nothing new here, but some good points made with billionaire Warren Buffett serving as a model. “If you make more than a million dollars a year, you should pay 30 percent in taxes,” Obama said, adding that by the same token, those who are struggling with their finances shouldn’t have their taxes raised. “We don’t begrudge financial success in this country, we admire it,” he said, but the wealthy shouldn’t get tax breaks they don’t need at the expense of the poor.