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Common sense solutions: A NoBo Perspective of the State of the Union Address

A NoBo Perspective

By Keith Spencer

kspencer@nobomagazine.com

Over the last year, our leaders have refused to take advantage of obvious solutions for the problems that we, the people, know will encourage job growth and help establish a stronger, more stable middle-class.

In his third State of the Union address last night, President Obama took a “common sense” approach to many of these problems, calling for higher taxes on wealthier Americans who can afford it. He also offered a slew of other reforms and policy changes that have the potential for further progress and economic growth in the coming years.

Following a recap of the administration’s national security accomplishments, the President proposed that Americans earning more than $1 million a year be required to pay at least 30% in taxes.

“We need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes,” Obama said. “Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. In fact, if you’re earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn’t get special tax subsidies or deductions.”

In stark contrast to the Republicans hoping to replace the President in November, Obama assured the move was not “class warfare”, attaching a tax rate to this “Buffett Rule” discussed in general terms so many times over the last year.

“Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense,” the President said.

While tax reform efforts will unlikely see the light of day in 2012, the speech did represent an expanded commitment by the Obama administration to both traditional and alternative energy research, a modernized retooling of the Defense Department, help for underwater homeowners, rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, and furthering gains in the American manufacturing sector.

In what most political pundits are calling the President’s first speech of the 2012 campaign, he encouraged Congress to avoid the partisan politics that have kept Washington in gridlock for nearly three years, and work at passing the bold legislation.

“What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. And we have to reclaim them.”

“None of these reforms can happen unless we also lower the temperature in this town,” the President said.

“We need to end the notion that the two parties must be locked in a perpetual campaign of mutual destruction; that politics is about clinging to rigid ideologies instead of building consensus around common sense ideas.”

Most of the proposals Obama outlined in the speech do reach across the aisle, including the removal of tax loopholes for companies that move overseas as well as a lower tax rate for corporations that open plants in the United States.

Whether they’d like to admit it or not, the President has moved to the center, establishing a common ground that offers little excuse for either side to back away.

Yet, we all know that the Republican leadership in the Senate has vowed to make Obama a one-term President, and any movement on these issues could lead to further support among independents and other fiscally concerned voters towards the President in November.

Despite claims he will not allow Congress to impede these efforts, I hope the President is ready to take action without them because I don’t see the climate of Washington changing any time soon.

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To read the transcript of the President’s speech, click here.

To visit the official State of the Union website, click here.

To learn more about the President’s Blueprint for an America Built to Last, click here.

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