Wednesday, February 13, 2013

State of the Union: Going Forward

On President Obama's first day in office back in 2009, he didn't have the luxury of setting his own agenda. Our economy was careening towards another Great Depression, we were mired in 3 wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, and the "war on terror"), and he had practically an entire federal government to clean up from the messes made by Bush/Cheney in departments like FEMA, EPA and DOJ. Along the way during his first term, he faced challenges like the Gulf Oil Spill and the Arab Spring.

As a result, much of his time and agenda during his first term was taken up by dealing with all that. The fact that he was able to get universal health insurance passed in the midst of it all is a testament to his courage and determination on that issue.

Last night in the State of the Union Speech, we might have gotten a glimpse of what President Obama will do now that he has a little more room to set his own agenda apart from the hand that has been dealt to him so far:
  • tax and entitlement reform
  • investments in science and technology
  • investments in infrastructure
  • investments in education
  • universal pre-kindergarten
  • an increase in the minimum wage
  • an aggressive approach to dealing with climate change
  • comprehensive immigration reform
  • reducing our nuclear arsenal and securing loose nuclear materials around the globe
  • build a defense against cyber attacks
  • join with our global allies to fight extreme poverty
  • ensure the rights of women and gays/lesbians in the military
  • take care of our veterans 
  • ensuring the right to vote
  • gun violence reform
And then he ended with a very familiar call to all of us about our collective task:
We may do different jobs and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title -- we are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations, that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter of our American story.
This all makes me think about how grateful I am to have had the calm determined leadership of someone like President Obama to deal with the immense challenges he faced when coming into office. And we can rest assured that unknown crises will emerge in his second term.

But what we saw last night was the agenda this President embraces about how to go FORWARD - mostly unencumbered by having to fix the messes that were handed to him by the previous administration.

1 comment:

  1. If he can get the voting issue fixed, the rest of the laundry list has a greater chance of seeing eventual fruition during or after this president's tenure.