Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Question for Liberals

What issue do you want Barack Obama to mention in the State of the Union speech? I'm not talking about broad themes here or rhetoric, but specific public policy positions that would imply action by the administration. In particular, I'm looking for things that the administration supports, or at least presumably supports, but may or may not take action on -- one of the big functions of the SOTU is to force the WH to choose its priorities.

23 comments:

  1. I'm an Obama apologist. I don't want him to mention one Damn controversial thing. I don't want him to open a can of worms and give ammo to the R's. I want him to say "we're adding new jobs every day and I killed Osama bin Laden" over and over for 45 minutes.

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  2. All remaining extrajudicial detainees to be tried, legally rendered, or repatriated.

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  3. Campaign finance reform law or amendment

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  4. As a former liberal and a latter-day Obama skeptic, I have to say the Fairness Doctrine would backfire spectacularly. (Sorry, Drew, but think about the counter move that talk radio already has prepared.)

    I want him to take some good advice from Chris Christie and revive the Simpson-Bowles plan. Actually, not only revive the plan, but extol its many virtues. Basically what he should've done last year.

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  5. Increased funding for financial regulation and prosecution

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  6. Executive confirmation and filibuster reform or a commitment to appoint his Fed nominees if they aren't taken up and confirmed in a timely manner

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  7. Immigration issues and support for US exports.

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  8. Jobs program. (I got one.)

    Infrastructure plan. (Got one.)

    Regulation review and repeal. (Doing that.)

    Federal government size (shrunk that, both in $$ and employees.)

    Taxes. (Cut them; but I'd like to increase them on folk like Mitt.)

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  9. Increase medicaid funding for services for disabled children with a particular emphasis on autism.

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  10. Whatever works for him politically!

    Seriously, I don't see the relevance of talking policy substance as such, apart from things the executive can do on its own. The combination of the current GOP House, the 60 vote Senate, and an election year makes the prospect for any real legislative agenda nil.

    So for all practical purposes the SOTU is Obama's re-election campaign kickoff speech. But it can, and probably should/will, be framed as a 2nd term agenda - things that could be enacted this year, in theory, but won't be, and will provide a basis for running against the do-nothing House.

    No specifics, because I'm not sure what polls well and is also actually worth doing. Stuff I'd like to see, like infrastructure investment, is probably a loser in the current climate. Goo-goo stuff like CFR does not move me at all, but might be popular.

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  11. Strategically, he has to know that Keystone XL and gasoline prices are going to be huge issues this year. Not sure what he should do, but the issues won't go away if he ignores them, so he might as well go at them hard. Worringly, if someone asked me what was Obama's plan for higher gasoline prices, I wouldn't have any idea, and I suspect most other people don't know either.

    Spending a couple lines in the speech dancing on SOPA/PIPA's grave would be a good idea.

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  12. A simple declaration that property is in fact theft, and a call to expropriate the expropriators. And the public option.

    Anything less, I'm staying home in November.

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  13. I would love it if Obama proposed that both parties adopt the suggestion that Professor Richard Thaler, someone who is reasonably well connected with the president proposed a week or two ago. He suggested that Senator Harry Reid "seek a Senate rule change so all presidential appointees get an up-or-down vote within 90 days of nomination or gain automatic confirmation." This would be a perfect time to do so and sound statesmanlike since there's an election coming up and if Obama isn't reelected this approach will benefit the GOP rather than the Democrats. He might even suggest that while the agreement occurs now it goes into effect the day after the election (or the day after January 20th, 2013). This will put the GOP in the position of having to either defend their potential nominees not getting speedy consideration or accept that the current standoff is harmful to the country if one can step away from one's partisan views.

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  14. Senate obstruction has reached ridiculous levels. There's only so much Obama can do about it, but I would like a matter-of-fact declaration that he will recess appoint any executive branch nominee that isn't given a timely confirmation vote.

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  15. Would love to hear President definitively support marriage equality, alas, that's not happening until after 2012. I would like him to frame the debate around income equality in terms of opportunity and use the GOP talking point to bludgeon them from now until the general.

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  16. I like the campaign finance and obstructionism points above

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  17. Sigh. From a policy perspective: defending reproductive rights, civil liberties, Guantanamo and the related detention issues, and, maybe, looking into the obvious breakdown of financing/distributing higher education in the US.

    But! I don't think any of those things will go over well. Nor do I think my own pipe dream from a politics standpoint would play well either: I want him and every Democrat in the country to actually explain to people what they have done. Round up the several thousand blog posts explaining why this is the most productive Congress ever, describing the administration's role in making that happen and setting priorities, and make the case already.

    But that will make the SOTU look too much like a campaign speech, something the Obama camp would be right to be wary of. So, I really don't know what he can talk about, realistically, that I'd like to hear, unless he has some serious suggestions about economic inequality that he could plausibly implement. Again, sigh.

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  18. We still need more stimulus to keep the economy on its current path to improvement despite the ongoing collapse of the EU. He should demand Congress pass the rest of the jobs programs he proposed last fall in addition to extending the payroll tax cut (not my favorite public policy but the process of extending it is too far along to replace it with something better).

    He should then propose "paying for" the jobs program by immediately and permanently repealing the Bush tax cuts on incomes over $250K (or $1 million if Congressional Dems like that better), eliminating the carried interest loophole (a trap for Mitt Romney obviously but also the right policy), and immediately beginning withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan.

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  19. Yeah, with the Congress configured as it is now, I don't hold out much hope for a lot of legislation to get through, which makes this even more of a political speech than it would normally be in an election year. That said, you can consider it as a 'calling card' on what the President would want to say that he ran on, when January 2013 rolls around.

    Also, too: President Obama will cite a long list of policy initiatives that pundits like Thomas Friedman will give a nod to, and then by July they will be back to writing columns wishing Obama would only champion 'X' (a policy he proposed at least a year ago, and also mentioned in the SotU).

    Because Washington is a town with 500 Village idiots, and just a few writers wandering around with lanterns.

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  20. I would wager heavily that he'll hit legislative ideas that Republicans have backed in the past: things like supporting his call to consolidate several executive branch agencies, extending the payroll tax, and the infrastructure bank. It will be political in that he'll try to put Republicans in the position of not supporting things simply because Obama supports them, or else supporting them and giving him the chance to show bipartisanship.

    I strongly doubt he'll push much that will excite progressives aside from potentially calling for immigration reform (again) and highlighting things like the end of DADT - he doesn't want to give Republicans an excuse to paint him in any way as extremist for proposing policies that have no chance of being enacted this year.

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