Wednesday, January 26, 2011

SOTU Reaction - TAPs

Jamelle Bouie, writing at The American Prospect, criticizes President Obama for not talking about joblessness or poverty in his State of the Union address last night.  While one can't argue with their absence, one could argue with Bouie's assertion that, "it's abundantly clear that the White House -- along with the Democratic Party -- has all but given up on reducing unemployment."

Slow down a second there.  We are constantly reminded that the impoverished have the least political capital of anyone in this country, and so by Bouie's own framework where the speech is intended for "the lawmakers, interest groups, and party elites that ultimately craft and pass policy," the President shouldn't be speaking to poor, he should be speaking to the folks that make the policy.  When I listened to the speech, I didn't hear the terms "joblessness" or "poverty."  I can't argue that those elements weren't explicitly stated, but when I heard the president giving a full-throated defense of infrastructure spending, education, and the role of government in our lives, I felt like he was talking about helping the poor.  It wasn't direct.  It wasn't specific or explicit, but I thought it was there, sitting just behind his words.

We live in a time when the opposition seeks to redefine the role of government.  It is an opposition that sees almost no role at all for government.  It would have been great to isolate joblessness and poverty.  It would have been amazing to lay out programs to address these issues, but there is a more fundamental challenge the president faces.  A good portion of this country thinks the government doesn't have a role.   That's a bigger issue then verbiage, and I think the president tackled that issue with aplomb.

1 comment:

Colin said...

It is an opposition that sees almost no role at all for government.

Oh please. Where is your evidence for this statement? Eric Cantor thinks that cutting $50 billion in federal spending is a big deal -- this in the context of a deficit alone that is in the neighborhood of $1.5 trillion.

Paul Ryan said the following the other night:

We believe government's role is both vital and limited — to defend the nation from attack and provide for the common defense ... to secure our borders ... to protect innocent life ... to uphold our laws and Constitutional rights ... to ensure domestic tranquility and equal opportunity ... and to help provide a safety net for those who cannot provide for themselves.

This is "almost no role at all?" Really?

It would have been amazing to lay out programs to address these issues...

Why would that have been amazing? Because the existing programs are doing such a bang up job? Government's incredibly poor track record is a very big reason they shouldn't go around creating new programs.