In a confrontational State of the Union address last night, President Barack Obama set the stage for an election year debate over high-profile issues like taxes, job creation, and America’s position within the world.
With an emphasis on domestic issues like manufacturing growth and clean energy — two relative bright spots in his domestic record — and on his foreign policy accomplishments, Obama struck a note of optimistic populism, staunchly defending the middle class while also indicating that better days are just around the corner if we follow his lead.
In many ways, this year’s State Of The Union was basically the first campaign speech of Obama’s reelection bid. It laid out a blueprint of what we can expect from the President this time around, and made a quick grasp at the high ground in what will undoubtedly be a very dirty election cycle.
If you missed the speech, this paragraph pretty much sums up the message we can expect to see from Obama going forward this year:
We don’t begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it’s not because they envy the rich. It’s because they understand that when I get tax breaks I don’t need and the country can’t afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference – like a senior on a fixed income; or a student trying to get through school; or a family trying to make ends meet. That’s not right. Americans know it’s not right. They know that this generation’s success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to their country’s future, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility. That’s how we’ll reduce our deficit. That’s an America built to last.