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article imageOp-Ed: State of the Union — Obama sets the stage for the 2012 election

By Paul Wallis     Jan 25, 2012 in Politics
Sydney - President Obama has already won one round of this year’s election. He used the State of the Union speech to redefine America’s big issues as economic rights and privileges. The GOP disliked the State of the Union address, but can’t do much about it.
Obama’s speech was actually a gloves-off statement for this year's election. The speech was clearly targeted at the glass jaw of the Republicans- Their commitment to the 1%.
The New York Times didn’t miss the point, either:
After stating that America would not return to the ways of “outsourcing, bad debt and phony financial profits,”-
Mr. Obama again proposed changes to the tax code so the wealthy pay more, a position he has indicated he will continue to press in this election year against Republican opposition. He called for Congress to put into place his “Buffett Rule” — named after the Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren E. Buffett — whereby people making more than $1 million a year would pay a minimum effective tax rate of at least 30 percent in income taxes.
To illustrate his point, he provocatively used Mr. Buffett’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, as one of his props, seating Ms. Bosanek — whose effective tax rate is higher than Mr. Buffett’s, he has said — in the chamber with the first lady, Michelle Obama.
This was a direct challenge to the GOP, which has fought every tax initiative ever raised by the Obama administration. With revelations of Republican candidate Romney’s effective tax rate as 14%, there’s no doubt at all where the battle for 2012 will be fought. It was a good move on Obama’s part. Good strategy means you define the battleground, not the enemy. Obama has also moved during a particularly confused time during the Republican nomination, where Gingrich and Romney are both still potential winners.
Obama’s speech also included a pretty good pep talk for the nation, a positive note which has been lacking from Congressional Washington for so long. That’s another good move, distancing himself from the two year old level brattish behaviour of Congress.
Ironically, there is one thing to be gained from this election for American voters- If either side gets a clear majority, they can actually get something done without the insane obstructionism of the last decade. For good or bad, the “Congressional Constipation Era” might finally end.
The trouble is that Washington, rightly, is now seen as the problem, the spreader of the disease, even more than Wall Street. The other, and possibly very sad, irony is that so many American voters are now so openly (and quite justifiably) contemptuous of Congress that they may not even vote. A Presidential election does have a certain element of class that a Congressional can never have, so maybe 2012 will be a turning point.
An election result might even restore Congressional credibility, if Reps and Senators will condescend to create a working government instead of a tantrum factory for hick hacks on the make. Let's face it, when you think of American dignity and national honour, the US Congress of the last decade or so really isn't the first thing that comes to mind.
To paraphrase JFK, forgivably, I hope, voters may want to consider this option:
Ask not what these people can do for your country- Ask whether they are fit to represent your country.
That might just solve the problem.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Obama State of the Union 2012, 2012 election issues, 2012 presidential election, 2012 republican primaries
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