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article imageOp-Ed: State of the Union 2013: Focus on the Economy and Job Creation

By Karl Gotthardt     Feb 13, 2013 in Politics
Washington - President Obama gave his fifth State of the Union address to Congress and the American people, focusing on the economy, job creation and he announced that 34,000 US troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by he end of this year.
Emboldened by his re-election for another four years and the recent victory over the fiscal cliff crisis, President Obama, in his State of the Union address, focused on growing the economy, job creation and building a thriving middle class.
Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger.
But we gather here knowing that there are millions of Americans whose hard work and dedication have not yet been rewarded. Our economy is adding jobs – but too many people still can't find full-time employment. Corporate profits have rocketed to all-time highs – but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged.
The president recounted the progress made during his first term, emphasizing that his administration had taken the economy out of rubble, is ending a ten year grinding war and that the troops will be coming home. He applauded the fact that American businesses had created 6 million new jobs and that Americans are buying more cars than they have in five years. He said that the housing market is healing and that America is buying less foreign oil.
After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home. After years of grueling recession, our businesses have created over six million new jobs. We buy more American cars than we have in five years, and less foreign oil than we have in twenty. Our housing market is healing, our stock market is rebounding, and consumers, patients, and homeowners enjoy stronger protections than ever before.
Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger.
President Obama said that the job was not done, since too many Americans are still without a job and those on minimum wage were depending on food stamps to make ends meet, emphasizing that those on minimum wage were living below the poverty line. He urged Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9.
America's debt has reached a record high at $16.5 trillion and annual deficits run in the neighborhood of $1.1 trillion. Despite this President Obama called for new spending. While proposing additional spending in infrastructure, green energy, skills training, education and an increase of the minimum wage, he asserted that none of his proposals would increase the deficit.
Most of us agree that a plan to reduce the deficit must be part of our agenda. But let’s be clear: deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan.
Nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime. It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth.
The president will strive for energy independence by pursuing cleaner natural gas, utilizing more domestic oil and expanding the use of new sustainable energy such as wind and solar energy. This includes investment in research.
He announced the withdrawal of 34,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year and that the war in Afghanistan would end by the end of next year. His agenda includes immigration reform, by securing the border, including more boots on the ground along the southern border, providing work visa to hard working illegal immigrants, a path to citizenship and an opportunity to apply for immigration at the end of the line of those trying to enter the country legally.
Using the Newtown massacre as an example the president said he was looking for common sense solutions to gun control. While everyone respects the 2nd amendment the president said that universal background checks and halting the sale of assault rifles deserve a vote.
With an overriding theme of "We can do this," the president presented himself at the savior of the middle class, while with subtle hints depicting Republicans as protectors of the rich. His overall agenda hasn't changed in the past four years and the president intends to drive his agenda home during the next few weeks.
Senator Marco Rubio gave the rebuttal for the Republican party. Rubio said that the presidents solution to every problem was to tax more, borrow more and spend more.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who was delivering the GOP response, said Obama’s solution "to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more and spend more." More government, he said, will “hold you back.”
House Speaker John Boehner echoed Rubio's rebuttal stating that the president's "go it alone approach" is again pushing stimulus programs which have failed to fix our economy.
The State of the union address probably did very little to achieve better co-operation in Congress on a bipartisan basis, especially where it concerns growing the economy. Singling out Republicans indirectly, the president declared the GOP approach for reducing the deficit worse than the deals Washington had to stomach during his first term.
The Republican party was divided during the fiscal cliff discussions and the president hopes to divide Republicans once again when sequestration comes up again in March. Obama has, once again, laid out an ambitions agenda, time will tell if it will help him with legacy.
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
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