President Barack Obama laid out a sweeping blueprint for economic growth in his State of the Union, unveiling an ambitious liberal agenda that he promised would deliver a “growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs.” Picking up on the assertive tone of his second inaugural address, Obama outlined a package of policy proposals Tuesday, arguing that his plans would create jobs by increasing public investment in manufacturing, clean energy, infrastructure, and education.
“It is our generation’s task, then, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising, thriving middle class,” Obama said. “A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs – that must be the North Star that guides our efforts.”
Despite these lofty ambitions, however, most of the proposals that Obama put forward to Congress Tuesday night are likely D.O.A.
The political reality is that Obama begins his second term amid high partisan tensions. Republicans control the House of Representatives, and are disinclined to help their White House rival achieve his domestic policy goals; meanwhile, Obama has been ineffective as a dealmaker, and his administration’s relationships with Hill lawmakers — including Democrats — have been notoriously fraught.
On top of that, Obama’s aggressive economic agenda offers little room for legislative compromise with Republicans.
Here’s a breakdown of some of his key proposals:
- A $1 billion investment in Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, public-private partnerships aimed at boosting manufacturing growth. Given Republican opposition to anything that looks like stimulus spending, this proposal is probably a no go. Same goes for the $113 proposal for Manufacturing Communities Partnerships, and the $25 million to launch Manufacturing Technology Acceleration centres. Obama has said he will achieve some of this through executive action, but he probably won’t have much success past that.
- Corporate Tax Reform: While there actually is bipartisan political will to reform the corporate tax code, Republicans and Democrats are far apart on the issue, and the Obama administration has put little political capital into this fight.
- The Energy Security Trust, which would use revenues from oil and gas development on federal land to invest in clean energy resources. Yeah, right. Any clean energy initiatives are likely to meet a lot of resistence in Congress.
- The $40 billion “Fix It First” initiative to invest in urgent infrastructure projects. Republicans have actually indicated that they might be willing to increase investment in infrastructure, but would likely ask for spending cuts elsewhere.
- The $15 billion Project Rebuild proposal to rehabilitate communities blighted by foreclosure. This is exactly the kind of program that limited-government conservatives hate, so its unlikely to get anywhere with House Republicans. Same goes for investments Obama wants to make to redesign high schools and improve community colleges.
- Raising the minimum wage to $9 per hour. This will definitely face strong opposition, both from business interests and conservatives, who argue that raising the federal minimum wage hurts job creators.
In the end, the President’s policy proposals are bold ideas that seem doomed to remain just that. And despite his renewed, and lengthy, focus on economic issues Tuesday, Obama did next to nothing to advance the debate over growth, job creation, and government spending.
Watch Below: President Obama’s Ambitious Plans For His Second Term
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