President Barack Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address: A Recap

By Madeline Sanders

Political Analyst


CHICAGO, IL – In one hour and five minutes, President Obama made a convincing case before the American people about his successes and the challenges that remain, and, as he implied, if everyone would work together, for the good of the American people; the Republicans, the Tea Party congressional officials, the blue dog democrats and everyone in between, his proposals would pass and the winners would be the American People.  Following is an analysis of what he said:

The Foundation Has Been Laid

He began by saying Bin Laden is DEAD, and General Motors (GM) is ALIVE.  In fact, thanks to the bailout that he insisted on giving to the auto industry, rather than allowing it to fail, GM is now the world’s largest auto maker.  President Obama noted that:   We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What are at stake are American values.”  Of course, the question that must be asked is:  Whose values; there are Americans who subscribe to the notion of every man for himself; no government hand-up or handout.  This is, however, hypocritical because EVERY person in Congress pushes their agenda for their constituents.  Consequently, no politician in Congress can argue that (s) he is not receiving hand-ups or handouts; it is really a matter of semantics! 

What Caused The Current Economic Mess

President Obama correctly put the current economic meltdown in proper prospective when he said:  Long before this recession, jobs began leaving the US.  Certainly, some of us are cognizant that as early as the 1960s civil servants were getting laid off because their jobs were being outsourced.  Moreover, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), with its policy in place of outsourcing even more jobs to Canada and New Mexico, exasperated the “jobs leaving America” fiasco. Further, instead of retooling the manufacturing sector to accommodate all Americans who wanted to work, many large corporations outsourced jobs to places like Chin and India.  Today, because the American economy is primarily a servicer, we accordingly have millions of Americans out of work.  No country can have a healthy economy built on servicing its products to the exclusion of manufacturing and research and development.  As a side bar, we have helped create many millionaires and billionaires in China and India!

Financial Crisis and Regulation

President Obama talked about the toxic mortgages that millions of Americans received that they could neither afford, nor should have they received them in the first instance.  Unfortunately, most people want the experience of home ownership and, sometimes as an act of desperation along with failing to critique what they are getting into, people will settle for what is offered to them.  In too many instances, and as the President maintained:  Regulators looked the other way, plunged our economy into an abyss, and eight million jobs were lost even before he took office as well as before his policies were implemented.  However, as he further noted, since he took office, businesses have created more than three million jobs, and that is more jobs created at one time since 2005.  Significantly, he also maintained that he will oppose and fight any policies designed to return us to the position that got us into this mess in the first place.

Blueprint Going Forward

The President did not engage in rhetoric and promises.  Rather, he mapped out a very clear and concise blueprint about what he wants to do to continue reinvigorating the American Economy and thus create jobs, jobs:  President Obama wants to reinvent the manufacturing sector:  For example, he noted that GM is not only the top auto maker in the world, but with the quality of manufacturing between them, Chrysler and Ford, 160,000 jobs have been created.  He cited a company named Master Lock whose CEO invested the company’s financial resources to bring jobs back to America.  And, using that example as a backdrop, he called on business leaders to ask themselves what they can do to bring jobs back, and he promised that the government will do everything to help them bring jobs back to America.  Doing so means, in part, ending tax breaks and credits for jobs being shipped overseas.  The President further maintained that we should pay the moving expenses of companies bringing jobs back, and there should be big tax cuts for making jobs on our shores.  Unfortunately, premised upon the facial appearance of the Republicans that cameras beamed on, they were clearly unenthusiastic about the President’s proposals, thus signaling their intent to continue fighting the President at every turn.  President Obama’s resolve is, however, strong, and it was evident as he spoke about his hopes, aspirations and commitment to restore America back to its place as the unquestionable economic powerhouse.  His resolve was ever so evident when, for example, he talked about American cars being on the streets of Seoul, Korea.  Going forward, and to put some real muscle behind bringing jobs back to America, President Obama will: 

(1)        Create a Trade Enforcement Unit, which will have, among its responsibilities, checking for unsafe goods coming to our borders

Establish a policy prohibiting foreign companies from shipping unsafe goods to America

 2)      Push his commitment to ensure that two million Americans are trained in skills leading to jobs

(3)     Give community colleges more resources to train workers resulting in the unemployed becoming re-employed

(4)     Push his commitment for education by giving schools the resources to empower good teachers  

(5)     Establish a national requirement that youngsters must stay in school until the age of 18

(6)     Stop interest rates on student loans from spiraling out of control

 (7)      Create more work study jobs for students attending school and

(8)     Push for the termination of sky rocketing tuition – education is an economic imperative

Immigration Reform

President Obama promised to address the problem of students who, because of their parents being in the United States, were born to illegal immigrants.  Comprehensive immigration reform is a problem that he intends to address – he wants a citizenship bill on his desk which he said he will sign immediately. 

Equal Pay for Equal Work

President Obama wants women to earn equal pay for equal work

Innovation and Research and Development

President Obama fully appreciates the marriage that must exist between economic growth and the significance of innovation via research and development.  His message:  Don’t let other countries win the technology battle.

Clean Energy

Six hundred thousand (600,000) jobs can be created as the result of US participation in clean energy.  Accordingly, President Obama was very clear for those who have or are establishing clean energy businesses when he said:  I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy.  He further maintained:  {We have} subsidized oil companies for 100 years.  Relative to providing subsidies, one hundred (100) years is way over the top!  We concur with the President that the umbilical cord must be cut.

To further the cause of clean energy, the President proposed that clean energy fields be established to provide alternative energy to 3,000,000 homes.

Additionally, he wants the federal government to help manufacturers upgrade their factories.  Retooling is indeed the only make sense approach.  Remember we are in the twenty-first century!

Rebuild Our Infrastructure, Our Rail System

President Obama wants a bill creating construction jobs for workers who would repair our crumbling roads and bridges and every aspect of our infrastructure.  He made the important point of reminding some and educating others that both the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge will built via President Roosevelt’s massive infrastructure rebuilding bill to bring the country out of the Great Depression. 

Redirection of Previous War Money

President Obama noted that since the billions that were being spent to support the Iraq War is no longer the case because the war is officially over, one-half of that money can go towards paying down our debt, and one-half can go towards rebuilding economy.  Sounds like a brilliant idea. 

Americans and Their Mortgages

President Obama wants every American who has a mortgage that needs refinancing to have the opportunity to do so.  That will re-infuse the mortgage industry with a badly needed shot of adrenalin and, it will spur real estate growth of new and existing homes over the long haul. 

Moreover, the President wants a special investigative unit created to ensure that bad loans do not happen again, ever. 

Payroll Taxes

President Obama asked Congress to pass legislation authorizing a payroll tax cut.  Employers would certainly appreciate that. 

Tax Reform

Persons earning in excess of $1M annually should be willing to pay their fair share of taxes, and thus participate in the thirty percent (30%) tax bracket which is reasonable.  The President correctly articulated that if the richest people are not paying taxes, somebody else must pay.  It is indeed a no brainer.

Simple Up or Down Vote Within Ninety (90) Days

The President wants to end gridlock with the congressional authorization to execute a simple up or down vote on legislation, a procedure that would occur within ninety (90) days.    This, according to the President, would make our government leaner, quicker, more responsive and void of impasse because of rigid ideologies.   

Partnership With Afghanistan

President Obama wants to build a partnership with Afghanistan; we have the ability to stand against tyranny which is no match for the resources available via the US.  Peace time personnel:  Ready to go to Afghanistan, and offer our skills, talent and expertise? 

Veterans Hired By Companies

President Obama reminded business owners that when they hire a veteran, their business is entitled to tax credits.  Also, to further the cause of veterans being hired, he has authorized the creation of a Veterans Job Corp.  As a veteran of the US Navy, we wholeheartedly endorse such positive moves to stabilize the lives of those of us who have served our country

Madeline Sanders is owner of ES21, a solar energy startup business and The Hilliard Project, a research and public policy business serving the needs of organizations, businesses, foundations and institutions shaping and legislating global policy.