Tonight, Barack Obama sets the tone and agenda for his second and final term as president of the United States. He will reportedly focus on jobs, the economy and the deficit.
“Nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime,” advance speech excerpts say. “It’s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth.”
He will also announce that by the end of 2013, the number of troops in Afghanistan will be cut in half, with 34,000 men and women in uniform coming home to their families and country. Gun control and immigration are likely to be focuses as well.
UPDATE: 9:19: The president begins with a litany of successes: “Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis.” Nicely put.
9:22: Making his pitch to avoid the sequester, “a really bad idea.”
“We must embrace the idea of modest reforms” in Medicare, but not without also asking more of the wealthy and powerful. “We can’t just cut our way to prosperity,” but need a balanced approach to get there.
Tax reform and entitlement reform: The Grand Bargain is still out there, in other words.
9:29: “The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to another.”
9:37: “I propose we use some of our oil and gas revenues to fund an Energy Security Trust that will drive new research and technology to shift our cars and trucks off oil for good.”
9:44: A Georgia shoutout:
“In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own. So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.”
9:48: Boehner applauds, lightly, the idea of comprehensive immigration reform.
9:52: “Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. We should be able to get that done.”
Let’s just say that’s a big ask, shall we?
9:56: “…. by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.” That will be 13 years. That’s long enough.
10:06: I think the most telling words in the speech may have come very early: “Together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis.” In many ways, especially in tone, this is the speech that a President Obama would have given four years ago if he had not taken office in the middle of the biggest economic crisis in 80 years.
10:13: “Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote.” NRA says “nagannahappen”.
10:16: “‘… this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations.” Correct, Mr. President. And that should not be a controversial statement.
– Jay Bookman