First thoughts – State of the Union

A friend asked me to tell her what I thought of the speech last night. Here’s my reply – I will update next week after my son and I finish watching together as I will probably pick up more on the replay:

Oh, I had such fun last night twittering away along with my all my political junkie friends!! It was the best two hours. I’m going to watch it again next week with Alex. He called and asked me to save the recording so we could watch it together and take notes. Not sure if that is for school or not…but I did catch him reading his US History book last week just for fun!

I thought it was his best speech since his inauguration. He was upbeat, realistic and of course I personally LOVED how he gave a few smack downs to the ever ineffective Senate and to this obstructionist version of the GOP.

I think I still stand a little to the left of the overall policies he was proposing. The spending freeze is either just some sort of gimmick to attract conservatives or else is just a darn bad idea until the economy is completely healthy. I know it’s not an overall freeze, and also not going to impact programs until 2011…but still…politically I’m not sure how smart this one is.

I’m a cynic when it comes to his promises to repeal Dont Ask Dont Tell. Just do it already and quite talking about it. Again, he’s dropped a lot of verbal platitudes to gays, but has not actually done anything for them yet.

My friend who is a big energy and also nuclear weapon expert was pleased with his proposals on those topics. Still skeptical about the use of coal – ‘clean’ coal is still a huge smoke screen IMHO, but since it was lumped with many other good ideas, I’ll withhold criticism there.

They have GOT to get health care done. It really is a key component to the long term economic recovery. Even those of us with good plans thanks to steady employment are having it impact us. For instance, NU has not increased my portion of my family plan premium, but since I see all the detailed expenses I know that the company has shouldered 40-50% cost increases. Well, guess what – 4 years ago our average merit increases were 5%…topping out at 10%. Last year the average was 3% topping out at 8%. So employees here might think that health care issues do not impact them, but they are wrong. We have no control over what the insurance companies are going to charge us, so we have to cut in other areas to make it fit into our budget. It’s awesome that they don’t want to pass on costs directly, but indirectly they still do. And we ARE the lucky ones. So many other companies are just flat out cutting out benefits, or passing on those increases entirely to their employees. Even if the rest of the economy picks up, health care will continue to eat away at all of our bottom lines if no reform is done.

Loved his proposals to take the remaining TARP money and instruct the banks to use it exclusively for consumer and small business lending. Love the fees on the banks! Love the rolling back of Capital Gains on small businesses. Love the taking AWAY of tax subsidies and exemptions for companies that ship their jobs overseas. LOVE that! And guess what? All of those proposals are totally middle of the road, independent policies. The GOP has proposed those Capital gains tax rollbacks for years. Shoot, I have no idea why they didn’t do that back when THEY had the power, right? So let’s see them fight that one 🙂

Overall I really liked the speech. Many good take away lines. “I refuse to walk away from those Americans (who need health care)” “We don’t quit, I don’t quit” ” Democrats have a big majority… don’t run for the hills” “Saying No to every bill is not leadership” “Every day should not be a campaign”  I don’t have a ton of faith that any GOP leaders will actually *listen* to his pleas for cooperation, but I think it was important for the people who took the time to watch it to hear him call them out. Hopefully some of those voters will contact their representatives and let them know what they want done.


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