It is much shorter.
My Fellow Citizens,
The state of our union is so disunited that I am going to say little about it.
I like and respect our president, the latter largely colored by my sense that he has an impossible job, so I judge him less harshly than most. When hearing him criticized I recall how President Lincoln was widely looked upon as an incompetent fool during most of his presidency. Even his own cabinet took quite awhile to realize he had a lot more ability than “a well meaning baboon.”
Having said that, I am tired of hearing speeches by our current president. I don’t have much audacity of hope left and need to see things happening rather than hear them talked about. Tonight I can’t imagine him saying anything momentous, and if I’m pleasantly surprised I’ll find out about it tomorrow.
For me it all boils down to what will happen in Congress over the next few months and whatever the President says tonight won’t affect that much one way or another. According to Bloomberg News: “The president will offer proposals for spending on infrastructure, clean energy and education, according to a senior official briefed on the speech. …. He will also stress the agenda laid out in his inauguration address, pushing Congress for action on immigration, gun control, and climate change.”
It all sounds good to me, but I want to see how it plays out, not hear more about it. As indicated in my previous post, the across-the-board budget cuts (called the sequester) interests me more because they play out by March 2 (*1). At least the next act of this ongoing tragicomedy does. I am interested to see how that will be dealt with because sharp cuts in government spending can slow our economy as shown in the last quarter (*2).
Obama has said he would like the deadline to be pushed back again to the summer, so the two parties could work out a more comprehensive approach. However, this strikes me as a ploy, for the Tea Party rump of Republicans seem willing to let the sequester go into effect and see what happens. If it does, Obama will be seen as more reasonable and if the cuts do really make a negative impact on our economy, he can blame the Republicans. For this reason I wouldn’t be surprised if John Boehner cooperates with the Democrats again and goes along with kicking the can down the road. But if he does that, I wonder whether it will split the Republicans apart, or more apart than they already are.
That is what I want to see and believe it will be necessary for much of anything to get done in congress. As long as the Tea Party folks have enough power to veto what they don’t like, which is anything that includes compromise, not a whole lot is going to be accomplished.
With that in mind, I cannot imagine that the President will say anything this evening to make me glad I tuned in, so I think I will watch college basketball instead in preparation for filling out brackets for one of my favorite sporting multi-events: March Madness (the NCAA basketball tournament for the sports-challenged). There will be plenty of analysis tomorrow in case I miss something noteworthy.
If I learn something interesting, I’ll write about it later this week.
(*1) When talking about across the board cuts in spending, we’re really talking about cuts to about one-third of the overall spending, the discretionary part as opposed to entitlement programs and interest on our debt itself, which automatically go into effect each year. That’s why we often hear someone arguing that to really deal with our debt we must deal with entitlements.
(*2) In that last quarter, a sharp drop off in military spending was the primary cut back and under the sequester it would be the primary one again because about 24% of our entire budget is spent on the military. Or think of it as about two-thirds of that one third of the entire budget that is spent on discretionary spending. Linked here is a pie chart of federal spending.