Early excerpts of the State of the Union Address is an attempt each President makes to get key talking points and soundbites into the news cycle to influence voters. These are the thoughts they want every American to walk away with, especially for those that will only pay attention to 30-seconds of coverage on the speech.
Equally, the response from the opposite Party (in this case Sen. Rubio for the Republican Party) seeks to grab as much of the attention as possible knowing that a large portion of Americans stop watching once the President stops speaking. Early excerpts help them widen the audience. Of course they too are targeting the 30-second soundbite approach of political coverage and dissemination that is currently the norm.
President Obama has noted this as part of his key points from the State of the Union Address, a theme that he wants Americans to remember:
"It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few; that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation of ours."
We must comment that Government does not create jobs - the Obama Stimulus is more than enough proof of that. Government does not reward individual actions, the market does - whether increased prices for a stock, a promotion at a job, or customers at a new small business. Opportunity is a function of individual action, efforts made like higher education opens options to get better jobs and higher pay.
In fact Government can largely only impede markets and individuals. A Government that cannot create a budget in 4 years, or balance its spending versus revenues (taxes) in decades, or run a business like the Post Office at break-even or profit (or even maintain the same work responsibilities) cannot make wise decisions for the public on those same issues. A Government picks options for the nation, like Solyndra or A123 Systems, is always wrong because of these very same fundamental flaws. Government cannot micromanage, and fails miserably when it tries.
But, the excerpt is a great 30 second soundbite. It makes it sound like the positives of the nation are somehow the result of the Government. It makes it sound like blind support of the President and his proposals will enhance the lives of the public. The excerpt does what it is supposed to do.
For Sen. Marco Rubio, the early excerpts directly takes on the President, implying that his response will almost line for line counter President Obama:
"The tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle class families. It will cost them their raises. It will cost them their benefits. It may even cost some of them their jobs. And it will hurt seniors because it does nothing to save Medicare and Social Security. So Mr. President, I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors."
The most powerful part, more than likely to be quoted often tomorrow, is "I don't oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbors."
In addition we will comment that Sen. Rubio ignores that the national debt cannot be resolved simply by cutting spending, or reforming Medicare and Social Security. Even by protecting those getting the entitlements today by making changes only for future generations, the cost will exceed funds available (eventually) and cause bankruptcy. Tax increases, of some sort and to some degree, are inevitable.
Which is the excerpt that will garner more attention? Which will fill the majority of headlines and 30 second news broadcast soundbites? President Obama. No matter what is said by Sen. Rubio, or how well. The major news media long ago chose a side.
But given that fact, the personal nature of the excerpt and its universal appeal, will definitely cause it to garner attention and draw politiphobes to Sen. Rubio. More likely than not, the response may bolster a 2016 run for President for Sen. Rubio than help the Republican Party short-term.
In conclusion, the excerpts will do what they are supposed to, provide a message that everyone can remember after hearing in 30 seconds. But the devil is in the details, and the full speeches will make or break both.