Wednesday, February 13, 2013

State of the Union

Anyone who hasn't yet should watch the President's State of the Union speech. While I'm pretty split on Obama's policy ideas, I really liked the positive tone and was very optimistic at the end. My biggest criticism of the address is on its scope. The United States has many challenges but what we need now is a national focus on one or two issues. Here is a non-exhaustive list of topics covered in the hour long speech: budget/debt, medicare, tax reform, manufacturing, energy, climate change, infrastructure, mortgage refis, education, college financing, immigration, domestic violence, minimum wage, Iran, Syria, trade agreements, AIDS, voting process,and gun violence. All important, but none addressed long enough,with enough emphasis or with enough singular focus to make it a truly national issue.

"Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race. And today, no area holds more promise than our investments in American energy."

America needs a new space race. We need an issue to unify Americans because that's the only way something will get done right. As opposed to stop-gap measures that don't fix the problem but simply postpone it. My top priority to unite the country around would be entitlement reform. Our national debt is worrisome, and Social Security and Medicare have the largest long term implications for the national debt. My second priority would be education. Our failing education system will have dire affects long term and we can't tackle the long list of problems from the speech along with those to come in the future with smaller and smaller percentages of the citizenry receiving world class education.

While this critique is not unique to this year's address, now is a critical time to "be authors in the next great chapter of our American story."

1 comment:

  1. I would encourage you to consider the limitations of the forum. This is the way State of the Unions are. A one hour address about energy policy, while I would welcome it, would not provide the narrative framework Obama (or any president) wants to set for the course of year/administration.

    I would also argue that there are in reality four major issues in the country. One is crushing economic cost of Medicare and health insurance. But related to that - and I would break it out as a second point - is the public health crisis we face from obesity and our sedentary lifestyles. We can improve health outcomes and lower costs if we can improve the American diet and activity level. Third, I agree that the education system is fundamentally challenged, and that includes the challenges related to higher education. Finally, I think energy independence and the related issue of climate change needs to addressed.

    And quickly, my response starts to sound very SOTU-esque.

    I am the C-Train.