What to like in Obama’s SOTU:
- The gracious congratulations to the Republicans and John Boehner.
- His reminders of the country’s positive accomplishments, including the country’s huge lead in labor force productivity.
- His explanation that the challenge to less-skilled US labor comes much more from technology than from foreign competition.
- Opening the door to firing bad teachers.
- Call for a stepped-up national infrastructure program. If only he’d explained how this would work.
- Call for lower corporate tax rates with fewer loopholes.
- Openness to amendments on healthcare reform.
- Endorsement of cuts to Medicare & Medicaid.
- Endorsement of malpractice reform.
- Bringing forth the designer of the Chilean miner rescue tunnel. Nice!
What’s not to like:
- The disingenuous suggestion that China’s growth is driven by superior Chinese education system. Don’t confuse Amy Chua’s kids with off-the-farm peasants in Chinese factories.
- The call for more creative thinking in American education. Creative thinking is good, obviously. But the kids who are in most trouble need more drill, not more questions about their feelings.
- The too clever-by-half slip from the need for government to invest in basic research (yes) to the value of government investment in development of particular energy technologies (a record of failure).
- The pledge to put electric vehicles on the roads. So long as 50% of our power comes from coal, electric vehicles are not “clean.”
- The pledge to reach 80% clean electricity by 2035. If this is done by neutral across -the-board means like carbon taxes, fine. If done by favoritism for particular energy forms – and especially by tax credits or subsidies – it’s national industrial planning and is bad.
- The misleading implication that bestowing more college degrees will address educational deficits. It’s the low quality of American secondary education that is the problem.
- The endorsement of DREAM – made worse by the total fuzz of the commitment to immigration enforcement.
- No mention of Colombia FTA in trade section of speech.
- Very backhanded comments on deregulation
- Repudiation of benefit cuts to future Social Security beneficiaries.
- Silly earmarks pledge 100% guaranteed to be broken.
- Graceless comment about restoring America’s standing: ill-judged from a president whose foreign policy becomes more continuous with his predecessor’s seemingly with every month.
UPDATE: My mistake, the President did reference the Colombian FTA here:
Now, before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with American workers and promote American jobs. That’s what we did with Korea, and that’s what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks.