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‘The Shadow Of Crisis Has Passed,’ Obama Says In State Of The Union Speech

Politics Tribune News Service

‘The Shadow Of Crisis Has Passed,’ Obama Says In State Of The Union Speech


By Kathleen Hennessey and Christi Parsons, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama called on Americans to “turn the page” in a State of the Union address Tuesday night that laid out a sprawling, post-recession domestic agenda aimed at leveling the economic playing field — and revitalizing his presidency in what he dubs its “last quarter.”

“America, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to come back; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this: The shadow of crisis has passed, and the state of the union is strong,” Obama said early in his address.

Obama’s speech included a proposal for free community college, expanded child care tax credits, a push for paid leave and a proposed tax increase on the wealthy to pay for programs the White House argues will help a battered middle class participate in the economic turnaround.

Obama spoke of “a breakthrough year for America,” a declaration of a new day that was a first for a president who has spent all of his time in office either slogging through grim economic news or pleading for patience for better times ahead.

His aim is to create a stark contrast to his political opponents, who in their rebuttal to Obama’s remarks will paint Americans as still rattled from the aftershocks of the Great Recession. Sen. Joni Ernst, a freshman Republican from Iowa, squarely blamed the president’s policies, including his landmark health care law.

“We see our neighbors agonize over stagnant wages and lost jobs. We see the hurt caused by canceled health care plans and higher monthly insurance bills,” she was to say in the Republican response, according to excerpts released in advance. “Americans have been hurting, but when we demanded solutions, too often Washington responded with the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like Obamacare. It’s a mindset that gave us political talking points, not serious solutions.”

Obama looked out on a House chamber filled with the first entirely GOP-controlled Congress in a decade and more Republican opponents than at any point in his time in office. Still, the president did not signal that he would come to the podium bearing offers of compromise and political centrism.

Buoyed by rising public approval and an improving economy, Obama is eager to use the moment to show the public — and Washington — he won’t go quietly, White House aides suggested.

He was expected to talk of policies aimed at challenging Republicans and trying to shape the debate for the final two years of his term, and likely the 2016 presidential race threatening to soon overshadow him.

White House advisers said he planned to propose a tax package that raises $320 billion in new revenue over a decade. It would increase the capital gains and dividends tax to 28 percent, close what the White House calls the “trust fund loophole” and impose a new fee on large financial firms.

The money would pay for a $60 billion plan that offers two years of free community college to some students. It would expand higher education tax credits, the child care tax credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, which benefits lower-income workers.

White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer, previewing the plan, described it as setting up a showdown between “middle-class economics” and “trickle-down economics” to “see if we can come to an agreement.”

After a year of being whipsawed by foreign crises, Obama was to defend his policies overseas as “a smarter kind of American leadership.”

“We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition-building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents,” he was to say later in the speech, according to excerpts released in advance by the White House. “That’s exactly what we’re doing right now — and around the globe, it is making a difference.”

The president will cast the U.S.-led coalition battling extremists in Iraq and Syria as strong, and urge patience.

“This effort will take time. It will require focus. But we will succeed,” he will say, adding that he would work with Congress to rewrite the law for use of force that has authorized the air campaign already underway.

Even as Republicans in Congress refuse to allow the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to U.S. prisons, Obama planned to affirm his belief that the U.S. should go beyond its dramatic reduction in the number of detainees at the controversial prison and close it altogether, as he promised he would do shortly after taking office in 2009.

Obama was to point to other areas of potential cooperation with Republicans — trade, cybersecurity legislation and Cuba policy top the list. The president will tout his plans to open up U.S. policy toward Cuba, urging Congress to end the half-century-old embargo. Alan Gross, the imprisoned American aid worker freed in conjunction with the new policy, was invited to attend the speech with first lady Michelle Obama.

Still, most political observers saw Obama’s proposals as more of a search for political high ground than for common ground with his newly empowered GOP opponents.

Obama was expected to pick up on last year’s theme of executive action and vow to work around Congress when necessary. Officials said he intends to try to build on his recent success in getting China to commit publicly to cutting carbon emissions.

He will vow again to veto any bills further sanctioning Iran that arrive on his desk while international negotiators are still engaged in talks to halt the country’s military nuclear program, the officials said.

Some Republicans answered the White House’s symbolism with their own during the annual Washington ritual. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida invited Cuban activist Rosa Maria Paya to the speech. Paya’s father promoted democracy in Cuba and was killed in a 2012 automobile accident that some have suggested was orchestrated by Cuban officials. Rubio said he hoped her presence reminded Obama of the regime’s abuses as high-level diplomatic talks get underway in Havana.

Also invited to attend with the first lady was to be Ana Zamora, an immigrant living in Dallas who qualified under the president’s 2012 deferred deportation program for Dreamers. Her parents are potentially eligible for the same protection under the executive action Obama announced in November.

The first lady’s guest list also suggested Obama planned to address racial tensions and policing in his speech, after riots in Ferguson, Mo., last year helped catapult the issue to the front burner. Obama was to honor a Los Angeles Police Department captain and his wife for their work building community partnership in Watts, the White House said.

Photo: President Barack Obama delivers the State of The Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)



  1. charleo1 January 21, 2015

    In my opinion, President Obama’s State of the Union speech was by far the best so far! And for all the right reasons. For one thing, his successes on bringing the economy back from the brink, and ending the Country’s two, decades long foreign wars, left some oxygen in the room to lay out his vision, and trumpet the priorities of the Democratic Party, for the Country going forward. How to re-empower a struggling Middle Class. And challenge Republicans to raise their own visions of rebuilding America, beyond a single pipeline. And how to pay for it, if this Congress has the will to take on their big money backers, and close some loopholes. At least enough to raise their taxes a couple of clicks. Whether or not the majority Republican Party acts on any of these proposals, is not so important at this point, as laying them out, and framing the dialog, and shaping the battleground, that will hopefully be front and center, when the fickle throngs of center-left millennials, put down their I -Phones, and return to the electoral process, in the only election they seem to realize exists, or believe is worth the trouble. But I hope they heard the speech, or will. I think it was a doozie!

    1. GinnyAlbert January 21, 2015

      Well stated, I liked the inclusion into the speech where he indicated it was necessary to have discussions touting “facts,” as the GOP, lacking the desire to speak from reality, are unable to do. You see, if the GOP used facts, they would have to agree with the President on nearly every issue, and that is most unlikely. Fortunately, the President was the President we voted for last night, and Democrats have nothing of which to be ashamed, but every reason to be proud! The President spent six years — though the GOP denies it — trying to compromise with a body bent on his destruction. The President now sees that it was a waste of time, and he isn’t going to do that anymore. Bravo Mr. President!

      1. charleo1 January 21, 2015

        Thank you, Ginny. And you’re absolutely correct. It was one of the President’s most important admonitions to the GOP. And to their adherents, if they were even listening. That we must use facts, if we’re to conceive workable solutions. Or confront such serious challenges, such as Global Climate Change. I can’t recall a President ever needing to say that. But then, if the opposition used facts, they would find very little to oppose about this speech, or this President.

    2. neeceoooo January 21, 2015

      I have to agree, it made me very proud.

    3. ralphkr January 21, 2015

      It is indeed a pity that it took President Obama to finally become a Democrat and get up on his hind legs.

      1. charleo1 January 22, 2015

        Right! But don’t you love all that support he’s gotten from Democrats though? They couldn’t wait to throw the Republicans out. But not until a Democratic controlled Congress got handed this God awful, collapsing economy, two failing wars, soaring debt, and a bankrupt GM. Dems. worked furiously on the crisis’ for two years. The economy doesn’t collapse, GM doesn’t go bankrupt, and is now thriving, and the wars and their aftermath were set on a
        course of conclusion that’s about the best we can hope for,
        considering. Then, Democrats sit home the first chance they had to back up Obama, and their party for all that hard work. And our President loses his majority. Some thank you, right? And it was a lot of those Democrats that thought Obama and their Party had betrayed them, by not delivering on singe payer healthcare, that wanted a more progressive agenda, that sat home. So a lot of what we wanted that we didn’t get, turns out to be more a case of what we as Dems. deserve. The President we elected, but didn’t support. Just my own opinion, here.

  2. darkagesbegin January 21, 2015

    Joni outlined a solution that can work. Who needs full employment, a living wage, and affordable health care when we can have bread bags for children’s shoes? Just don’t ask the taxpayer to ‘foot’ the bill. Those children should be out on the street begging for bread bags. Let them learn the value of hard work–nothing should be handed to them…

  3. Wise words ... January 21, 2015

    Obama is like the ebola of presidents.

    1. Stuart51 January 21, 2015


      His visionary ideal is truly infectious.

  4. joe schmo January 21, 2015

    Who’s paying for this brainfall?

    Same old, same old. Not listening to the people. Take from the poor, middle class and rich. Give to the Obama administration. By the time this idiot is out of office, he will have accrued a debt more than any other of our former 43 Presidents……and the audacity of it all, he’s taking credit for the oil boom… What a farce.

  5. Budjob January 22, 2015

    Finally,The mouse that roared! Go get em Prez !!

  6. Braven Eworld January 27, 2015

    The myth of Obama isn’t anything more than an ever-shifting mirage of deceit and delusions.


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