Last week we witnessed the annual drawing of the battle lines during the State of the Union address presented by President Obama with rebuttals from senators Rubio and Paul. Our political system continues its dysfunctional method of running the country. It seems in unison with the national media, once known for being the watchdogs of political shortcomings. Instead, the national media continues to be ineffective in its role to police ill-mannered, self-serving political figures.
Republican Sen. Rand Paul gave the Tea Party rebuttal 12 hours before the president delivered his speech. Paul’s speech was sarcastic and ended with a call for the president to be tried for treason and banished from the country. Comparing the president’s not-yet-given speech to one worthy of Iran President Ahmadinejad, Sen. Paul called the speech: “Full of empty promises and bald-faced lies we’ve come to expect from President Obama who tonight made a case for his own impeachment.”
Sen. Paul’s prebuttal was preceeded earlier in the day when Speaker of the House Boehner made the comment; “I don’t think he (President Obama) has the guts to do it. He doesn’t have the courage to take on the liberal side of his own party — never has.” In fact, the speaker said, judging by the tone and tenor during the Inaugural Address: “I would expect tonight to be more partisan.”
The president didn’t leave his critics without cause to cry and lament. He laid out plans for debt reduction, tax code overhaul, enhanced job creation, minimum wage, climate control, immigration reform, education improvements, defense and foreign trade. His bully-pulpit ended with examples of families affected by gun violence, as he challenged members of the Congress and Senate repeatedly with: “They deserve a vote.”
The president called for cuts to spending on things like education, job training, Medicare and Social Security benefits to reduce the deficit.
“Deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan,” Obama said. He also recycled a frequently used phrase from the past, assuring the nation none of this would cost the country a “single dime.”
“Let's set party interests aside and work to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future,” Obama said.
The president knows that the divided Congress may not fall in line behind any of his priorities, specifically mentioning climate change, but said he'd move forward with or without their support.
“If Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will,” Obama said.
These and more comments were made to a sustained standing ovation from Democrats in the chamber while Republicans and Speaker Boehner sat silent.
The president’s speech lasted long enough that by the time Sen. Rubio appeared for his rebuttal, I, like many others, had long fallen asleep. According to media reports the next morning, the only thing they wanted to cover was his groping awkwardly for a quick drink of water. Rubio made it clear that while the president doesn’t believe we can create a path for prosperity by cutting spending, he and the Republicans do not believe we can tax our way to economic growth. Thus gridlock is safely preserved for yet another term as our political reps do their best to pit citizen against citizen.
Sadly, it seems nobody in Washington is prepared to get down to business and find the common ground that requires spending cuts and tax overhauls. Neither side seems ready to do more than grandstand and place blame on the other, while we see costs and debts on the rise and the economy struggle. It’s time we contact our representatives and say: “Get serious….please! For all our sakes!”
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.