President Obama laid out his blueprint for America during last night’s State of the Union speech. The President didn’t talk about short-term solutions to keep unemployment low; he focused on long-term problem-solving to make our government more effective. And he focused specifically on manufacturing and creating sustainable employment practices here in the US.
In the Republican response, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels laid out the GOP’s typical plan: kill the problem instead of solving it.
Let’s go back to what the President said first, on employment:
First, if you’re a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn’t get a tax deduction for doing it…. Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here….Third, if you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here. And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers.
At the same time, he pointed out, over and over, the roadblocks he faces in Washington while he tries to pass sensible legislation to fix our broken system. A key line from the speech was:
In the next few weeks, I will sign an Executive Order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects. But you need to fund these projects. Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.
This got to the heart of what the President was saying: We need to be willing to invest in this country to get anything done. But, somehow, Republicans followed immediately on that message of unity with a message of dissonance. When Gov. Daniels gave his rebuttal, he talked about how the REPUBLICANS want to save America’s safety net, and Democrats want to run it into the ground.
Or, kill the problem instead of solving it. Here’s the exact line:
We must unite to save the safety net. Medicare and Social Security have served us well, and that must continue. But after half and three quarters of a century respectively, it's not surprising that they need some repairs. We can preserve them unchanged and untouched for those now in or near retirement, but we must fashion a new, affordable safety net so future Americans are protected, too.
Somehow, Gov. Daniels confused “cutting” with “saving,” and immediately brought partisan politics back into the debate. And his equally partisan congressional counterparts rallied around this message.
It looks like there will still be challenges to the State of our Union in 2012. But let’s hope we see at least some work on the President’s blueprint for America.