Last week, the American people had the opportunity of hearing the State of the Union address, listening to the Tea party response and sifting through the garbage. I listened to and read both speeches and I’d have to say that I was disappointed. I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything really positive or productive to come out of these speeches, but mistakenly, I did.
Obama’s speech was fairly long and he tried to hammer home the idea that everything is great and that we are progressing more than we ever have. He also passive-aggressively pointed fingers at the Republicans in Congress. After going through the President’s speech, I came away with many questions. The main ten questions and observations are as follows:
1) Has Obamacare truly created more solutions than problems?
2) Can you truly get ahead in America if you merely “work hard and take responsibility?”
3) “Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation…That’s what I’m going to do.” Is that wise? Is the President assuming too much power?
4) What congressional action does he want to be taken to help the middle class?
5) How expensive will the switch to natural gas be? What is the longevity of natural gas?
6) Will taking away the $4 billion in tax credits for fossil fuel companies drive up consumer costs for fuel? What groups will receive this money? How will it be put to use and accounted for?
7) Will raising the minimum wage help get people out of poverty, or will it only force small businesses to make staff cuts? What is the most effective way to raise wages without increasing the burden on small businesses?
8) There are merits to the Affordable Care Act, but there are also a lot of problems. I believe the President is correct in saying let’s not try to appeal the act anymore, but I am all for trying to fix the MANY problems it has. One of the biggest problems is cutting the cost of insurance. People have seen their premiums skyrocket over the past year and that has made this act anything but affordable. My question, which cannot be answered now, is will the President actually be open to other plans that solve the plethora of problems within the Act?
9) The idea that it is, “the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy,” is a great theory, but it is NOT the reality in our country. With all the Super PAC’s special interest groups, misinformation, and apathy towards politics, average Americans don’t have a prayer of being heard. How is that going to be changed?
10) What are these reforms to protect the privacy of Americans? The president already passed one reform bill that did not go nearly far enough. If anything, it was an attempt to gain some approval points back, not an attempt to truly fix the situation.
Senator Mike Lee had a much shorter speech, and, I have fewer questions and observations.
However, I feel as strongly critical of his speech, as it was extremely partisan. He attempted to paint himself and his Tea Party colleagues as reasonable people who are going to solve America’s problems and rid us of a so called horrible President and his liberal agenda. I have a big problem with that idea. Here are eight questions and observations from Lee’s speech:
1) You are speaking to people forgotten by both parties? Give me a break. The Tea Party is a hardcore conservative group that does not appeal to liberals and most moderates. This statement is a desperate attempt to get some points from the middle.
2) Lee is right about the government overstepping its bounds and spying on its own people…but we already knew that. The spying and overstepping its bounds started with a conservative government and has been increased by the latest liberal government. There is plenty of blame to go around.
3) He mentions principles that are similar to what the President said in his speech. These principles are “immobility among the poor, who are being trapped in poverty by big-government programs’ insecurity in the middle class, where families are struggling just to get by and can’t seem to get ahead and cronyist privilege at the top, where political and economic insiders twist the immense power of the federal government to profit at the expense of everyone else.” Lee blames government, while Obama says that there is plenty of blame to go around. However, Obama and the Democrats did not take enough responsibility. Lee fails to state that the private sector has done its fair share to hurt the middle and lower classes.
4) Lee says states can’t define marriage thanks to the Feds. However, states CAN define marriage as long as they do it within the bounds of the Constitution. Lee is spreading a false idea.
5) Lee is a critic of the federal government but he hasn’t produced or been part of any real, viable solution to the problems the government has. He’s trying to paint himself as reasonable when he clearly is not.
6) Lee goes on to list some very conservative colleagues and says they are working on a number of bills. Like President Obama, Lee does not go into specifics and gives me no reason to believe that they are not just pushing more conservative agendas. He also does not mention a place where people can find out the specifics of these plans.
7) Lee wants to take down Obamacare by introducing better reforms for the healthcare system. Obama said that instead of repealing Obamacare, people should bring forth solutions. Those statements are pretty similar, but judging by past behavior, Lee is likely to promote a radically conservative reform that will get nowhere, and Obama will likely not consider reforming Obamacare. He has his baby, so why would he try to mess with it?
8) Lee’s statement about cutting big government is misleading. What does cutting government look like? How? In what way? This is more political rhetoric, and if someone has power they are not likely to relinquish it.
If I have this many concerns, it is safe to say that I’m not the only one.
I encourage everyone to read both speeches and write down their own questions and observations. Both speeches are easily found at these links: Obama and Lee. Potential answers to any questions individuals may have can also be found there. Get informed. If this country truly wants to progress and not get bogged down by partisan politics and special interests, then we the people, need to be informed and active when it comes to our… government.