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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Obama's 2011 State of the Union address « Previous | |Next »
January 27, 2011

Barack Obama has just a year left to govern before his next election contest and he faces a less-friendly Congress than in 2009. His State of the Union address made a strong argument for government intervention:

When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. But I will not hesitate to create or enforce common-sense safeguards to protect the American people. That's what we've done in this country for more than a century. It's why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe. It's why we have speed limits and child labour laws. It's why last year, we put in place consumer protections against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies and new rules to prevent another financial crisis. And it's why we passed reform that finally prevents the health insurance industry from exploiting patients.

It's a rebuttal of the Republican claim that government is "the problem" not the market. But on the economic issues that confront the US Obama played it both ways: We’re going to invest in the future — but we’re also going to freeze domestic spending.

The inference? We are not going to go down the politics of austerity road. He fused public investment and economic patriotism with his "Sputnik moment" term, to describe the United States' current standing on the world stage, presumably with a particular comparison to China's rising status as a dominant force in the global economy.

It's a strange analogy as United States is "no longer the 'exceptional nation,' as in America's past, or a 'beacon on the hill,' the leader of the free world, or the sole superpower.Presumably it meant the importance of investing in education, infrastructure, and basic research in order to build the nation’s long-term competitive capacities rather than creating bogeymen.

This is the Tea Party response---not the official Republican response--- from Rep. Michele Bachmann. this highlights the high unemployment in the US with its sense of urgency and outrage at Obama's perceived socialist state.

It's the politics of austerity that is advocated: the nation got into trouble because government became too large, and the answer is therefore to cut spending, cut taxes, and shrink the deficit. The politics of austerity is then linked to American exceptionalism. Is the reference to Iwo Jima in WW 2 an underhand reference to fighting Chinese totalitarianism in the name of American freedom and exceptionalism?

A key problem is that the bursting of the housing bubble put an end to Americans spending by using their homes as ATMs – leaving them without enough purchasing power to reboot the economy. So how does the state boost consumer spending by putting more money into the pockets average Americans?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:25 AM |