President Obama begins his seventh year in office in good position. At this point in his eight-year term, the unemployment rate is a) lower than Reagan's at the same time; b) lower than Romney/Republican targets for the end of 2016 and St. Ronnie's for his entire term; c) Medicare is now solvent at least through 2031; and, d) ~10 million more people are covered by health insurance.
Now, he faces a Republican Congress elected by one of the smallest fractions of the population in history, but nonetheless in control, and determined. Determined to rail against everything good, true and beautiful, and against "everything Obama" no matter how it is characterized.
The president has suffered, often (regrettably) in silence, the lies, the innuendo, the falsifications, the unyielding opposition, of a radical right-wing minority determined to see him fail even if that meant, as it has, delaying and diminishing the economic recovery for millions of Americans.
Now, despite their best efforts, the economy is on the upswing and they dare accuse this president of being responsible for the growing inequality as they block increasing the minimum wage, equal pay for women, and well-paying jobs that could have been created repairing and upgrading our decaying roads, bridges, electric grid, sewers, water systems, school houses and retrofitting buildings to save energy costs and pollution.
If there is one enduring message that emerges, to put Republicans on notice, it should be "don't screw it up...again", i.e, like you did in the '00s.
Without trying to be exhaustive, I urge the president to make the following points:
1. Remind everyone where he started. He might want to use FDR's, "the mess that was dumped into our laps" in 2009. He might also use Churchill's "years the locusts had eaten" to describe the '00s.
Forget about the beltway media (as I call them, the "yaparazzi") who have adopted the "rule" that this president cannot point out the most disastrous economic and financial collapse since the Great Depression as his starting point.
2. Now that Republicans control Congress again, the president's theme should be "Don't screw it up...again."
Indeed, the president should, among other things, stand as the champion of conservative (get it!) accounting techniques. Using "radical math" helped create the mess. The president will stand for conservative accounting.
3. On health care, the president is also speaking to the Supreme Court, who are assembled. He should point out that, when he took office (back to 2009 again, which is why he has to start with it), Medicare was slated to go bankrupt in 2016 -- next year.
Since the Affordable Care Act was passed, Medicare is now solvent at least through 2031. (The septu-and-octogenarians, aka, the Supreme Court, assembled in front of him might want to think about that one).
He can point out that 10 million more people are covered for health care, tens of millions more are protected against bankruptcy, and those with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied.
He should also say that no proposal that does not cover pre-existing conditions will substitute as a solution to the country's health care crisis, and should point out directly that Republicans have been very good at passing repeal, but have never proposed a substitute plan that covers pre-existing conditions.
The president needs to make it clear that Republican talk about a "substitute" for the Affordable Care Act is an attempt to make a fool out of the Chief Justice in particular (whom, we are told, switched his vote to positive when he realized that Americans might not have affordable health care for decades if this admittedly imperfect law were voided by the Court).
Immodestly, I suggest the president adopt my one-word description: "VaporCare". It says it all.
4. The Main Street tax cut. I suggest the president start using "main street" in place of middle class. The president should be bolder -- a 0.5 percent tax on equity transactions, and 0.01 percent per years of maturity remaining on bonds and CDOs, raises $350 billion, calling this a "Wall Street Tax" -- if,for no other reason, to have a starting point to bargain with. Exempt the first 50 transactions so the Right cannot pretend to be protecting the "small investor" in their opposition.
5. Do NOT issue veto threats. Instead, let them pass the Ryan budget, VoucherCare, and their other nonsense first... then, veto it. It will produce a Democratic Senate and President, and possibly House, in 2016. That would be a nice legacy too.
6. Minimum Wage. He should state that poll after poll favors it. Challenge them to do what the American people repeatedly say they want, rather than follow the directions of a few billionaire supporters. That would get at their very inner souls -- if they have them.
7. Infrastructure and Environment as "National Security". The president should recast his proposals for infrastructure work and environment as "national security." If we cannot get troops and goods safely from one place to another, we cannot defend the country. If we are spending our time and personnel rescuing people from natural disasters, it weakens the country. If the worlds' populations suffer droughts and floods, it increases instability and spread of infections. These are all national security matters. Frame them like that.
There is much else... but the speech should be under 40 minutes.