He should be at the podium shortly before 9 p.m. ET but let’s open the thread now so you can sound off on the interminable cable-news pregame. The SOTU is the political equivalent of the Pro Bowl: No one cares and practically no one watches, but if you follow this particular “sport” fanatically, you’re pretty much obliged.
National Journal has a copy of the full text; the Examiner’s Timothy Carney summarizes the theme, quite aptly, as “national greatness liberalism.” How I summarize it: Long, long, long. Seriously, we’re going to be here all night. The entitlements section:
The bipartisan Fiscal Commission I created last year made this crystal clear. I don’t agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress. And their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it – in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.
This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit. Still, I’m willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.
To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.
So, to sum up, ObamaCare’s somehow going to help reduce health-care costs long-term and Social Security reform is A-OK so long as we don’t use any of the traditional ideas for Social Security reform. Other highlights: He calls for simplifying the tax code not once but twice, and — remember this, please — he vows to veto any bill that comes to his desk if it contains earmarks. Which is super, but in the context of a speech in which he’s calling for more federal spending on infrastructure, etc, operates entirely as a fiscal-con fig leaf. This is one of the perils, in fact, of conservatives making earmarks some sort of signature issue. Eliminating pork is all to the good, but it provides easy cover for liberals who aren’t serious about solvency to call themselves deficit hawks too. (Which is not to say that all of them will take advantage.) How about this for a trade: Democrats can keep all their earmarks — in fact, they can take 10 times as many — if they agree to entitlement reform. Deal?
One other line worth noting, buried though it is at the end in the foreign policy section:
We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.
Really? Even in … Egypt?
Obama should run, I assume, until 10:30 or so, to be followed by Ryan and then Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party Express speech carried on CNN. The thread is open.
Update: Since the name of the game tonight is spending, let me toss something else out here. How much can feasibly be cut this year? The GOP initially said $100 billion but has since inched away from that number on grounds that the fiscal year is already well underway. Rand Paul’s new counterproposal for cuts: $500 billion.
Update: Ryan’s released the text of his speech too. Message: Time is of the essence.
Speaking candidly, as one citizen to another: We still have time… but not much time. If we continue down our current path, we know what our future will be.
Just take a look at what’s happening to Greece, Ireland, the United Kingdom and other nations in Europe. They didn’t act soon enough; and now their governments have been forced to impose painful austerity measures: large benefit cuts to seniors and huge tax increases on everybody.
Their day of reckoning has arrived. Ours is around the corner. That is why we must act now.