The State of the Union: Economy on the Rise or Unmanagable Debt?
President Obama addressed the American people today and assured them that his government was hard at work and improving the economy, creating jobs, and maintaining American leadership in the world. Some see the State of the Union address as Obama’s opening bid for re-election. The address was met with resistance from the Republicans, who released an official response. In the meantime, Newt Gingrich has survived the most recent scandal against him regarding his former wife, and has defeated emerged as the new Republican frontrunner, ahead of Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
President Obama opened his address by applauding the success of the US mission in Iraq, and then argued that the new challenge for the country was not terrorism, but the global economy. The US economy and jobs in the country were hit hard by the recent crisis, but Obama claims that the situation is improving and that the government must do even more to improve the economy, especially through a revival of American manufacturing. Obama says the US government will continue to challenge “unfair trade practices” by countries “like China,” to ensure that American companies would play on a level field.
Barack Obama also argued the government should undertake education reforms, especially to encourage building skills in the technology sector.
On the topic of energy, President Obama says the US is set to tap into massive potential reserves of energy, which would be sufficient to power the US for another 100 years. On the other hand, he also argued that the US must become the world leader in clean energy. Republicans have responded by pointing out his failure or refusal to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which is a major energy project.
About the financial sector, Obama claims he has passed bills to regulate the sector more stringently. The President agrees with magnate Warren Buffet, saying that the rich in the US, who earn over $1 million a year, should pay at least 30% in taxes. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who delivered the official Republican response to the State of the Union address, says this would be a “stupid way” of dealing with the tax problem. The Republican response also bemoaned the massive increases in debt under Obama’s administration, claiming that the President’s programs was costing exorbitant amounts of money without showing decisive results.
President Obama’s sharpest criticism was directed at Republicans and Democrats alike who had created and deepened bipartisan divisions in the government, which has made it extremely ineffective. He referred back to the debt ceiling crisis early last year that almost crippled the country, and urged both sides to work together to put divisive politics behind them.
Obama concluded the State of the Union address by assuring the American people that the US was still a world leader in the eyes of many countries.
Report: Main points of Obama’s State of the Union speech (Hindustan Times, 25 January 2012)
Video: GOP Response to the State of the Union (The Washington Post, 24 January 2012)
Report: Read President Obama's prepared State of the Union remarks (LA Times, 24 January 2012)
Gingrich’s New Lead
Mitt Romney experienced the first major setback in his bid for the White House when he lost to Newt Gingrich by a landslide. Gingrich led in the South Carolina primary with 40% of the votes with Romney at a far second at 28% of the votes. Rick Santorum received 17% of the votes, while Ron Paul landed 13%.
It is believed that Gingrich’s win may be attributable to the evangelical Christian vote, as well as Tea Party support. Newt Gingrich’s newfound lead in the Republican race comes at the heels of the most recent scandal regarding his former wife. ABC News’ Nightline hosted Marianne, Newt’s former wife, and aired her claim that during their marriage, Newt asked her for an “open marriage” and asked her blessing to continue his affair with Calista Bisek, who is now his wife.
Gingrich lambasted the moderator of the recent CNN debates, who opened the event by asking him to respond to the allegation. The audience reacted to his stern condemnation with applause, and the other Republican candidates steered clear of what some analysts claim could have been the most damaging scandal to Gingrich’s campaign so far.
At the most recent Republican debate, following the South Carolina primary, Romney was visibly on edge and eager to defeat Gingrich, whom he challenged on his record as Speaker of the House and his record of work for Freddie Mac and as a Washington consultant “peddling influence.” Commentators on the election have noted that one defeat is a setback for Romney, but a second could be disastrous for his presidential run.
Both Romney and Gingrich are in for a tough race ahead. Mitt Romney has revealed he pays around 14% in taxes, far below what the average American pays, a fact that has invited negative reactions from many voters. A large segment of Republicans are also keeping away from Gingrich even as he commands increasing support, citing his many failed marriages and arguing that he would make a poor representative for the ‘family-first’ Republican party.
Report: Neither Romney nor Gingrich gives GOP voters confidence of a White House win(The Washington Post, 24 January 2012)
Report: Open Marriage: Newt Gingrich's Ex-Wife Says He Proposed Extramarital Arrangement (The Huffington Post, 19 January 2012)
Report: Gingrich surges to big win in South Carolina (LA Times, 21 January 2012)