Here’s what was missing from the State of the Union address, and by that I mean both literally and figuratively:
Literally, the president never mentioned the middle class. Not once. (He also did not mention the poor, but he did talk twice about the most vulnerable, which is okay.) If George W. Bush had talked about cutting corporate tax rates without talking about the middle class, he would have been eaten alive. [See a slide show of 5 reasons Obama is the same as Bush and Clinton.]
Figuratively, President Obama did not say what he needed to say about reducing the deficit. Given yesterday’s CBO report that the Obama deficits--projected to be $1.5 trillion this year, on top of $1.4 trillion in 2009 and $1.3 trillion in 2010--“are, when measured as a share of gross domestic product, the largest since 1945.” How big do the deficits have to get before he stops calling for more “investment”? [See an opinion slide show of 10 wasteful stimulus projects.]
What a missed opportunity for the president to rally the country--especially with Christina Green’s parents sitting in the House chamber with the first lady. He had the perfect opportunity after he said, “we believe ... that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.” He could have continued later in speech by saying that those dreams include a future free from crushing debt and high taxes. Every parent dreams of a better life for their children than they have themselves, and he could have touched on that as well. [See photos of first lady Michelle Obama.]
The president was at his most effective in Tucson when he spoke as a concerned parent; Paul Ryan spoke of his worries for his own children during the Republican response to great effect. If he had returned to the theme of children and the future we’re leaving them, the president would have found nearly everyone in the room nodding in agreement. He should have done more than say his deficit commission had made “important progress”--he should have endorsed its findings and called on Congress to rein in entitlements--because all kids’ dreams deserve the chance to be fulfilled. [See editorial cartoons about President Obama.]
Really this is about more than a blown rhetorical opportunity. It’s shameful that he doesn’t seem very concerned about the looming fiscal crisis facing our nation.