Obama heavy on jobs in first State of the Union

Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 9:59pm

President Barack Obama used his first State of the Union address Wednesday night to try to turn the nation’s focus to job creation and away from the controversial health care legislation plodding its way through Congress.

After a setup that included a swipe at his predecessor, Obama beckoned to the joint session of Congress for new legislation to spur job creation and economic growth.

“One year later the worst of the storm has passed,” he said, referencing the recession that began during the waning years of the George W. Bush administration. “But the devastation remains.”

To applause from Democrats and silence from Republicans, Obama said the $1 trillion stimulus bill saved jobs and kept the country from even more disastrous unemployment than it already faces. While the country hovers between 9 and 10 percent unemployment, Nashville has held at around 9 percent. 

“Jobs must be our No. 1 focus in 2010,” the president said, adding that some 7 million jobs have disappeared in the past two years. “And that’s why I’m calling for a new jobs bill tonight.”

Obama proposed the following details:

  • $30 billion of the bailout money the country’s biggest banks have since repaid would be used to help community banks give small businesses new lines of credit;
  • Create a new small business tax credit for businesses who hire new workers or raise wages;
  • Eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment and provide tax incentives for small and medium-sized companies to invest in new plants and equipment;
  • Continue funding new infrastructure projects (Obama mentioned a high-speed railroad project in Tampa that drew funding from the stimulus bill);
  • Slash tax breaks for companies who use overseas workforces and give them to companies that create new jobs in the U.S.

The House has already passed a bill that includes some of the provisions cited by the president. He implored the Senate to do the same. “I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay,” Obama said.

In fact, Obama — who was mostly buoyant, even cracking a few jokes — repeatedly implied that the Senate should stop getting in the way of important legislation. He also hammered Republicans, who at times appeared boisterous and sarcastic in reacting to the president. In general, Obama expressed no small amount of frustration with the gridlock he’s faced in Washington. 

“[The American people are] tired of the partisanship, the shouting and the pettiness,” Obama said, making sure to include both political parties in the criticism. “In this decade, it’s time the American people get a government that matches their decency, that embodies their strength.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, who represents Nashville, was pleased with the address.

“Very solid, mature speech,” Cooper said. “I welcome the president’s focus on reducing the debt and getting Americans back to work. Although Middle Tennessee is better off than many parts of the country, we need more jobs, contracts and confidence that our economy is getting stronger. It is time for all of us to come together and get our country back on track.”

After the speech, Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander issued a statement in which he said the path to job growth would be, in essence, to discontinue the Troubled Asset Relief Program and other government-funded economic stopgaps, thereby beginning to reduce the deficit. 

“My hope is that the president now will focus on jobs, debt, and terror,” Alexander said. “And it would suit me fine if he would stop right there until he has all three headed in the right direction.”

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., was also disappointed. 

"I had hoped President Obama would moderate his policies and his rhetoric, and while certainly there were aspects of the speech I agreed with, it didn’t seem to me that he’d learned a great deal from the past year,” Corker said in a post-address statement. “While that is disappointing, I do get the sense that my colleagues in the Senate have learned a great deal over the past year, and for that reason, we have a far better chance to be able to work in a bipartisan fashion to implement good policies that will stand the test of time." 

Although it took him more than 30 minutes, Obama also got around to addressing the health care reform legislation that has slogged through Congress.

Coming off of a rhetorical riff about bailing out the middle class, Obama said, “It is precisely to relieve the burden on middle-class families that we still need health insurance reform.

“Here’s what I ask of Congress: Don’t walk away from reform now. Not when we’re so close.”

In something of a departure, Obama also called for the repeal of the military’s controversial “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces. Obama said it was “the right thing to do.”

Some other highlights:

  • Obama clarified his recently announced spending freeze, saying that beginning in 2011, his administration would hold discretionary government spending for three years. Excluded is spending on defense, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The president threatened to veto new discretionary spending to enforce “discipline.” 
  • Obama proposed stricter rules for lobbyists. He also urged Congress to pass a bill to counter the recent Supreme Court decision that allows free spending by corporation on elections.
  • Obama said he would issue an executive order creating a commission tasked with reducing the national deficit. The Senate shot down the proposal this week.
  • He urged the Senate to restore pay-as-you-go laws in a vote tomorrow.
  • The president also said he’ll push proposals for economic encouragement of both technological innovation and the exporting of more American-made goods, both of which would place the U.S. in a more competitive position in the global economy, he said. 

14 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 1/28/10 at 6:26

How did we ever elect this BOZO?

By: truthtold on 1/28/10 at 6:58

Idgaf we didn't elect this BOZO. We just let them dumb down our children for the last forty years, and our 40 year old and down children elected this BOZO. Along with the gays, illegal and minorities.

By: Kosh III on 1/28/10 at 8:26

"Along with the gays, illegal and minorities."

Thanks for being honest about your bigotry.
But you are correct. We started down the wrong road when we elected a B actor who relied on astrologers for advice.

By: Kosh III on 1/28/10 at 8:34

It is good that the President will control spending but it does not address the main source of spending: the military, the imperialism that the military supports and the massive welfare paid to military industries.
Close our bases in S Korea, Japan and the EU. They are all capable of defending themselves.
Abolish the DEA and stop it's war against Latin American countries that don't bow to our commands.

By: govskeptic on 1/28/10 at 9:04

Sure was a long speech and covered far too many subjects. Yes it was his first
"State of the Union", but should have zeroed in on 2-3 subjects instead of trying
to convince the public they are wrong about every misgiving they may have.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 1/28/10 at 9:35

By: Kosh III on 1/28/10 at 7:26
"Along with the gays, illegal and minorities."

Thanks for being honest about your bigotry.
But you are correct. We started down the wrong road when we elected a B actor who relied on astrologers for advice.

LOL - truer words have not been spoken!

By: fishfry on 1/28/10 at 10:25

Cooper thought is was "great"? Well, that just figures! What has HE done about unemployment in his district, or illegals, or foreclosures, or bankruptcies?

By: WayneJ on 1/28/10 at 11:49

Kosh III almost has it right. The decline began when we elected the peanut farmer from Georgia (who ironically enough had a dog named Bozo).

By: Kosh III on 1/28/10 at 1:06

WayneJ

You mean because Carter tried to balance the budget? Brokered a peace between Israel and Egypt? Refused to support dictatorial regimes overseas? Suported human rights worldwide?

By: Anna3 on 1/28/10 at 3:05

More meaningless words from Obama. I don't know why I wasted the time watching him...he means to actually do little of what he talked about...and what he does mean to do will be defeated by his own "Do Nothing for the Middle Class" party. Pelosi and Reid will NEVER go along with his programs. Its not the Republicans he needs to convince...its the Socialist - Progressives in his own party.

By: Dragon on 1/28/10 at 4:44

One of the more incredible sights of the address occurred when Obama was criticizing earmarks. Congress (the guilty party) stood up and applauded. What were the applauding?

By: NewYorker1 on 1/28/10 at 6:09

I don't know why Barrack Obama would want to be president of this sinking ship. America was built on murder, greed, and corruption. What is happening to America now is called Karma baby and I hope it gets worst.

By: pswindle on 1/28/10 at 7:01

Lamar has done what for our state? I can tell you that Lamar and Corker have not done one d---- thing for TN. They are both jokes. Go and check Cooper's record, and you will see what he has done for us.

By: Sumsrent on 2/1/10 at 10:35

That a way Obama! You've got it down packed!

You've learned well from all of your NWO predecessors! This one world government must come about quickly!

Tell the masses what they want to hear... give them a sense of confidence... discredit the uncooperative… pass the buck… push through those new policies… say one thing when you mean another… always wave the peace sign using both hands… spend trillions and get them to think it was only one trillion… decrease the surplus population through a false sense of freedom and welfare… smile always… or look dumbfounded when reading books to elementary students during a crisis… never inhale on weekdays… be transparent only as far as the front lawn… always correct the spelling of potato(e)… promote the swagga strut… and as a last resort entertain them with a saxophone…