Share your Thoughts about the State of the Union


January 20, 2015

SOTU picture
Below are my thoughts about the State of the Union address. Please share your comments on the address or the responses by scrolling down to the bottom of this page.

The President is asking whether we will be satisfied with an economy that works only for a few, or works to provide opportunities for all. He came into office calling for rebuilding our damaged economy on a new foundation. Middle class economics works! He calls for doing more to restore the link between hard work and opportunity – not just to do no harm, but to do something positive. We have created Social Security, schools and colleges, to provide economic security and opportunity. We want everyone to contribute to our success.

What does he mean by middle class economics? Helping families through lower taxes, high quality affordable child care. It’s not a nice to have – it’s a must have. He’ll create more child care slots, and increase the child care tax credit.

Paid sick leave – 43 million workers don’t have it. He wants a bill to provide it.

Worker protections – equal pay for equal work, overtime reforms, an increase in the minimum wage.

Help workers upgrade their skills. He wants to lower the cost of community college to zero. He wants to encourage more paid apprenticeships.

Let’s pass a comprehensive infrastructure plan.

The President wants to fix a tax system that’s rigged for those at the top, and those who shelter their income. We need a tax code that helps workers get a leg up in the new economy.

In calling for “middle class economics,” he was focusing on ways to help more people to get into the middle class. Help with child care, education, paid leave, an increased minimum wage, help from the tax code – all those will give people more income. Where there are more costs to the taxpayer, he would pay for them by asking corporations and wealthy individuals to pay a fairer share.

Apparently, it continues to be a Republican talking point to call that “class warfare.” Senator Hatch and Rep. Ros Lehtinen used that term today. For years, those with great wealth have captured most of the economy’s gains while most people’s wages have stagnated. Workers’ incomes have not risen along with rising productivity. If any class warfare is going on, it’s pretty clear who’s been winning.

The Republican response is that the wealthy should not pay more taxes because that would discourage them from creating jobs. And there looms the cavernous gap between two views. Despite years of all the economy’s gains going to those at the top, with slow job growth and virtually no wage growth, there are those who insist that the solution is to do more of the same. Another view, espoused by the President, is that specific steps are needed to help people increase their incomes and attain more economic security. Those steps will not just help them – it will create a new and stronger foundation for sustainable economic growth that will help all of us.

The President has outlined some of those specific steps, and we’ll look for more of them in his budget February 2. It is heartening that he has insisted on making the improvements in low-income tax credits permanent; that he would expand affordable child care, require paid leave, fund free community college, and raise the minimum wage. Those policies, plus the continuation of the Affordable Care Act, and continued push for expanded early childhood education, are a pretty important package of supports to help people out of poverty and into the middle class. These, plus adequate nutrition, education, job development and housing programs, are real investments in our future.

Senator Ernst and other Republican commenters are not likely to support these kinds of investments. So far, they’ve pointed to the Keystone pipeline and holding fast to high income and corporate tax breaks as their prescription for economic growth. So far, those tax breaks have worsened inequality, with no trickle-down in sight.

We want to hear from you. Just scroll down to the bottom of this page to leave your comments about the State of the Union. 

A few questions you might want to consider:

    • What is most important in your mind about the State of Your Community, or the State of the Union? What problems do you (or we) face?  What promising initiatives are you a part of that the rest of the country could learn from?
    • What did you like or disagree with, and what was left out – in the President’s address or the responses?


[Photo Credit: Official White House Photo]

Budget and Appropriations
minimum wage
Poverty and Income
State of the Union
tax policy