The President cannot provide an accurate report-card to the nation without conveying the central operating principle of Republicans to oppose everything he does (aka, "all-things-Obama"), even if they previously favored it, or even proposed it themselves.
The State of the Union address provides one of the few opportunities for the President to address the entire nation. As the Republicans have already guaranteed to fight against "all-things-Obama" (even Michelle's fight against childhood obesity), the President should use the SOTU to explain that Republicans are, quite literally, willing to hurt, injure or even destroy the lives of the American people just to make the President look bad.
Republicans have basically decided that if they cannot control the country, they are going to engage in a scorched earth policy to make sure that no one, except for their wealthy friends, can enjoy its blessings.
Indeed, they still "owe" the country $25 billion for the shutdown, and the President should say so.
He should show that this is not conjured out of his imagination by pointing to just a few of the many documented facts -- such as the Republican inaugural night pact to oppose everything the president proposed (without even knowing what that would be); inveighing against the stimulus while begging for its money in their own districts (the President should hold up a stack of letters from Republican members), and obstructing even routine measures such as infrastructure investments that are not only necessary but also create jobs and economic growth.
The reason, the President should say, that he is calling our attention to this is that "they think they are hurting me. They are not. I am fortunate. My life is, and will be, fine. I have a nice, close, loving family, and have the great honor of serving you as your president. What more can anyone ask for themselves."
He should then explain that they are conducting their vendetta against him by hurting YOU. Think of what it means to take out a political vendetta not against your opponent (that is what happens in politics), but by making the people suffer.
He might refer to Fort Lee. High level executives in the Port Authority thought it was a great joke to keep school-children on buses for prolonged periods because their parents voted for someone they did not like. That is a microcosm of what Republicans consider it a badge of honor to do to the rest of the country.
[Then, the president should hold up those letters of request for stimulus money again]. "It would be like me denying these requests for stimulus money because the Member of Congress from that district voted against it. I did not do it. Indeed, there are photos of many of you at ribbon-cutting ceremonies hailing the jobs the money brought to your districts."
You don't take out political 'revenge' against an opponent by injuring the American people, and destroying their lives.
This country needs jobs and to re-build its decaying infrastructure. We know how to do that.
Not only do we know how to do it. Until Republicans just voted against all-things-Obama, we have always done it. We need to do what we have always done before, and stop trying to settle scores with political opponents by taking it out on the American people denying them safe and modern roads, bridges, rail, water, electric grids, airports and schools, and the jobs that would be created to build them.
The President should remind people that he is the President for the next 3 years. If we have a Congress whose primary goal is to obstruct everything he proposes, just because he proposed it, then the American people will be the victims of that vendetta for those 3 years: Young people will continue to find jobs to be scarce and poorly paid. Older people will slip into retirement without that last decade of a good income to make it secure. The debt will continue to rise due to lower revenues from lower growth.
He can remind people that when Congress's main goal was not to oppose him, they got a lot done for the American people. They stopped the Great Recession from becoming the Great Depression. They saved the auto industry. They expanded health insurance to millions of people, extended Medicare's solvency by at least a decade, allowed children to stay on their parents' healthcare plans to age 26, and slowed the growth rate of healthcare expenses. They eliminated banks as the middleman in student loans, saving $50 billion, and a lot more.
But, equally important, is what they did not do. They did not hold the American people hostage to raising the debt-ceiling to pay for expenses they had already authorized. They did not shut down the government. The President should say that the American people do not negotiate with hostage-takers, foreign or domestic.
The President should conclude this section with a challenge: this is the year to test if divided government can indeed work for the American people.
But divided government cannot mean that nothing happens. No roads repaired, no bridges re-built, no schools modernized, no minimum wage raised, no unemployment insurance extended. The president should say that he is willing to meet them halfway -- half the roads, half the bridges, and so forth.
But doing nothing as in the last Congress, opposing everything proposed because President Obama proposes it, is not what the American people expect, nor should they have to suffer.
The President needs to frame the issue and either get some real progress (unlikely) or make it clear to the American people what they need to do next November.
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