It’s not officially a State Of The Union™ address, but you can read the prepared remarks or watch a video of the delivery thereof all from  I don’t know if that’s an Obama administration original or not, but I LOVE that the Whitehouse is making information directly available to people like that.  Anyway, here are some reactions to the speech, in “bullet list” style to try to keep me from being too verbose:

  • Obama is smoothly referring to the deficit as something “we’ve inherited”.  I’ve long said that the Dems should take the GOP to task for spending so much for the 6 years they were in total power in Washington.  This isn’t exactly it.  And, since the Dems control congress, they can’t really blame it all on Bush. Indeed, I thought Bobby Jindal speech was actually more direct about calling the Republicans failures on fiscal discipline. (In general I found Jindal’s speech to be intelligent, but not very inspiring.)
  • When he says he wants to cut the deficit in half, is he talking about the ~$400 Billion deficit of the budget or the +$trillion deficit of reality?  If it’s the latter, he could cut it in half and still have the second largest deficit in history after the current year.  That is, prior to this year, we never had a trillion dollar deficit, I believe the record was in the $400 billions… so if he cuts it down to $500 billion….?  I may have my numbers wrong, but it seems like there may be a rather unimpressive way to technically meet that goal.
  • He sure is talking about a lot of spending, and even lowering a lot of people’s taxes.  But at the same time cutting the deficit.  How can it be?  Well, one thing is letting the “Bush tax cuts” expire, but that’s not going to make the difference.  What I’m hoping is that he really will go through the budget “line by line” and eliminate programs that aren’t working.  Take, for instance, the war on drugs.  Can anyone say that it’s working?  And it certainly costs a lot of money.
  • I really like his focus on responsibility and accountability in government.  I hope he can carry through on that.  A lot of politicians talk about that kind of thing, but I do feel like he is really more serious about it than most.  I hope I’m right.
  • I also like his focus on accountability and responsibility outside of government.  Republicans have got to love that too… except that they might think that he is stealing their lines… except that they might actually have some effect when he says them.
  • I really don’t think it’s fair to say that the United States is the nation that invented the automobile.  He could have said that we were the nation to turn it from a rich person’s hobby to a near necessity for everyone.
  • Energy, Health Care, and Education.  Democrats are definitely in charge.  I’m skeptical that they’ll be able to succeed at these goals.  But I hope they do.
  • “dropping out of high school is no longer an option.  It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American.”  This is a great example of the kind of thing that I feel like Obama can say in a way that seems like it would actually resonate with an actual young person considering dropping out.  I hope I’m right.  If he could inspire our nation’s under-ambitious youth, he could transform our society in ways that no law ever could.
  • A really dense section of quite specific and often remarkable claims about his upcoming budget:
    • “end education programs that don’t work.”  That could be a lot of programs
    • “end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don’t need them”. I had to cheer at hearing this.  I sure hope he accomplishes that, although I don’t know how he can given that the Farm Bill just passed with huge Democratic support.
    • “eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq”, more cheers!
    • “reform our defense budget so that we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use”.  Talk about a place to save money!! Maybe he will be able to spend all that money and still cut the deficit in half.
    • “We will root out the waste, fraud, and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn’t make our seniors any healthier.” I don’t know much about this, but I can definitely imagine that there could be a lot of fat to trim there.
    • “we will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.”  The Dems must love this, although I have to wonder if it’s more symbolic than anything.  Companies aren’t exporting jobs for tax breaks, and I doubt that the tax breaks add up to much.  It’ll still be cheaper to hire people in China or India than in the US, companies will keep doing it.  Having said all that, I do agree with the spirit of the statement that the companies shouldn’t get a tax break for doing it.  But… what exactly is this tax break?  anyone know?

Finally, you’ve got to be impressed by Ruth Bader Ginsberg showing up for work yesterday and staying up to attend tonight’s speech.  She looked kind of dazed to me, though.  I hope she’s doing well.