Americans have big things to worry about, including job security and health care, so besides the actual speech given yesterday evening, it may be the reactions to the 2014 State of the Union speech by President Barack Obama that are also important to people.
From a reprint of the transcript provided at the WashingtonPost, President Obama made some positive remarks:
"Tonight this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: It is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong."
Obama also touted the positive numbers, possibly most meaningful to those with jobs, homes, and enough to look forward to in the immediate future: "... the lowest unemployment rate in over five years; a rebounding housing market -- (applause) -- a manufacturing sector that's adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s -- (applause) -- more oil produced -- more oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world, the first time that's happened in nearly twenty years -- (applause) -- our deficits cut by more than half; and for the first time -- (applause) -- for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world's number one place to invest; America is."
2014 ' a breakthrough year for America'
The President also had very positive words for citizens who will be voting this year in the mid-term elections. "That's why I believe this can be a breakthrough year for America. After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth."
The President questioned whether this would be a year of "rancorous argument" about the proper size of government:
"The question for everyone in this chamber, running through every decision we make this year, is whether we are going to help or hinder this progress. For several years now, this town has been consumed by a rancorous argument over the proper size of the federal government. It's an important debate -- one that dates back to our very founding. But when that debate prevents us from carrying out even the most basic functions of our democracy -- when our differences shut down government or threaten the full faith and credit of the United States -- then we are not doing right by the American people."
In the words of Todd S. Purdum's Politico article, however, even though President Obama "acquitted himself with the requisite dignity on Tuesday night, speaking in mostly upbeat — if none too ambitious — terms ..." the idea that "this can be a breakthrough year for America” seems to ignore the "... reality he faces: partisan stalemate on all the biggest issues."
Purdum mentioned the fact that the partisanship could be verified when " ... one-half of his audience applauded or stood up, while the other sat on its hands, as usual."
But what of the words spoken?
According to Glenn Kessler's TheFactchecker, these types of speeches are "difficult" to fact check:
"A State of the Union address is often difficult to fact-check, no matter who is president. The speech is a product of many hands and is carefully vetted, so major errors of fact are relatively rare. But State of the Union addresses often are very political speeches, an argument for the president’s policies, so context is sometimes missing."
Workforce participation 'only going to get worse'
In a previous Examiner story regarding the "down and opting out" numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is noted that "economists disagree about how much demographics are responsible for the participation rate decline." Retirements can't explain away the numbers.
But Kessler does offer counterpoints on Obama's and the GOP rebuttal in the article. Regarding labor numbers, Kessler cites the 2012 ChicagoFed conclusion that the retirement of "baby boomers" is causing much of the decline in the participation rate. Kessler states:
"Critically, the research showed that the problem is only going to get worse in the rest of the decade, with retirements accounting for two-thirds of the decline of participation rate by 2020. In other words, the rate will keep declining, no matter how well the economy does."
And last month's PEW Research Center for People and the Press poll indicates that the public support for "global engagement" is slipping and much of the concern is on domestic issues. The general public ranks as their 1st and 2nd biggest policy concerns:
- protecting the U.S. from terrorist attacks (83%)
- protecting the jobs of American workers (81%)
Cory Remsburg's 10th deployment
Obama invited Army Sergeant First Class Corey Remsburg to the speech, and from the WhiteHouse transcript, briefly gave remarks why:
"I first met Cory Remsburg, a proud Army Ranger, at Omaha Beach on the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Along with some of his fellow Rangers, he walked me through the program – a strong, impressive young man, with an easy manner, sharp as a tack. We joked around, and took pictures, and I told him to stay in touch. A few months later, on his tenth deployment, Cory was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan. His comrades found him in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain."
Trying to make the point that "... men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy," the President told of how Remsburg lay in a coma for months. Said the President:
"The next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak; he could barely move. Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, and hours of grueling rehab every day. Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger."
Obama quoted Remsburg:
“My recovery has not been easy. Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”
Attached to this article is a very short video from Reuters, featuring Senator Mike Lee who delivered a response Tuesday night to President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech.
Protesting 'dysfunctional government'
Senator Lee said:
“In the few minutes I have tonight — I’d like to speak especially to those Americans who may feel they have been forgotten by both political parties. Those individuals and families who work hard, play by the rules, balance their budgets, honor the Golden Rule … and don’t understand why their government in Washington can’t do the same."
Quoted by the DailyCaller's Patrick Howley, Congressman Lee also stated:
“I believe we need to do what Americans have always done — come together and press for positive change. Protesting against dysfunctional government is a great American tradition, going back to the original tea party in Boston, about 240 years ago. Americans have a natural instinct to stand up and speak out when they know something is wrong."