Last Tuesday, I ended up staying later than expected at work. As I rushed to get home I frantically searched the radio for NPR in an attempt to listen to some of President Obama’s fifth State of the Union address. It was to no avail, though, and I resigned myself to hopefully catching the fleeting minutes of the speech on TV when I got home.
That wouldn’t happen either, though. As I sat down in front of the TV the speech ended and commentators were already parsing the transcripts for partisan talking points.
A few minutes of heated commentary ensued, with some serious pushback from the right about Obama’s threat to go over the Congress’ collective head with executive power.
Soon the screen turned to black as Wolf introduced Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who was to give the Republican response to the State of the Union.
The camera goes live and we see Rep. McMorris Rodgers sitting on nice furniture in front of a fireplace. An American flag was framed over her right shoulder, right next to a picture of her family. I waited for her to begin the Conservative’s response to the President’s vision for our country.
As she began to speak I waited some more. As time progressed I kept waiting.
Don’t get me wrong, I saw her mouth moving, and I also heard words coming out of her mouth. But there was a complete absence of policy.
There were the usual buzzwords, like “unemployment,” “the American Dream,” “freedom,” and the required abortion reference, but there was no attempt made to explain to viewers how the Republicans will affect change on any of these policy fields.
The speech was 10½ minutes of lofty rhetoric. I swore I was watching any political commercial sponsored by any PAC with the word “America” or “Liberty” in the title.
At one point she says, “We want you to have a better life.”
I kept thinking to myself, “Okay… but what are you going to do about it?”
The only tangible policy change I could decipher from the speech was the same nail that Republicans have been hammering ad infinitum: lower taxes.
Republicans seem to think that ANY tax is too high a tax, even though Americans are facing some of the lowest taxes of any developed country. Taxation as a percentage of GDP is less than 1965 levels in the US, and around 33% less than the average of all the countries in the OECD compared to America.
President Obama was widely criticized for flexing his muscles in his State of the Union address, saying he would overstep Congress with executive powers in order to get some progress on important issues. It’s better to try and make progress in the face of intense scrutiny and opposition than to just do nothing.
Republicans think we can solve our problems by taking our hands off the wheel and falling asleep. Somehow the “invisible hand” of the market will come though and magically sort everything out, right?
Wrong. Look around you right now. We are a top 20 country at best. Tax cuts and wishful thinking about “the American dream” isn’t going to help bring our country out of the 20th century. The ideals that made us great 70 years ago will not make us great in 70 years, and that’s all the Republican Party seems to be offering anymore.