Today: Mar 01, 2024

State of the Union or Pre-Game Pep Talk?

Sarah Green

Photo courtesy whitehouse.gov

The State of the Union address is an annual report given by the president of the United States to the members of Congress. The main purpose of this speech is to allow the head of state to explain his agenda and priorities for the new year. And as expected, President Obama, well known for his outstanding rhetoric, gave an impressive address this past Tuesday.

After several moments spent congratulating Congress on the successes of 2010, Obama launched into a lengthy discussion of the changes and difficulties Americans have been facing. He offered many words in attempted motivation: “We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world,” Obama stated. “What we can do–what America does better than anyone else–is spark the creativity and imagination of our people.”

Yet for all the time spent acknowledging America’s achievements, Obama offered just a brief explanation of how he intends to help America continue achieving. “I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal,” he said. “We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology.”

Obama offered many heartwarming examples of American ingenuity–like that of the Allen brothers he mentioned–to connect with the rest of the general public. Yet while these anecdotes have made the president stand out as an excellent speech maker, they do not offer substantial weight in affecting an actual change. The State of the Union address is intended as an outline for the new legislative agenda; so personally, I would prefer more information and a detailed plan of action with fewer stories about average Joe. While these tales are inspiring, they do not give me greater confidence in our government.

However, I do agree with the president’s statements about education. For too long, parents have placed the burden of educating, disciplining, and instilling morals in our children in the hands of the school systems without offering support at home. President Obama is 100 percent correct when he says that, “It’s family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done.” It is about time No Child Left Behind was replaced with something more focused on the individual students.

Shortly after speaking on education, Obama launched into a discussion about businesses and the American tax system. He highlighted the shady dealings of certain industries and corporations which had sidestepped corporate taxes in the past–and quite rightly, the president declared that this corruption has to stop.

Yet at the end of that segment of the address, I was left with one question. What is your proposed solution, Mr. Obama? Once again, he called for Democrats and Republicans to work together to remove these systemic loopholes. While in reality, this concept of bipartisan cooperation is a fairly impossible goal, party struggles aside, I am left wondering what his plan is. Obama confidently stated, “Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years–without adding to our deficit. It can be done.”

Really, Mr. President? Please, do enlighten us. I would love to know what your plan of action is for this issue. How does one make tax breaks for large corporations without decreasing revenue?

The State of the Union address continued in this manner. There was a great deal of lofty rhetoric–and very few clear-cut solutions offered. Perhaps I was misled, but I thought the State of the Union address was intended as an outline of the president’s overall legislative agenda–the type of agenda which means an organized plan. Instead, I came away feeling like Obama had nothing more to offer than a pre-game pep talk.

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