State Of The Union Transcript Shows Obama Will Discuss Economic Equality And The Middle Class
Tuesday night is, simply put, on of the bigger nights of pomp, ceremony and tradition in Washington, with President Obama's State of the Union address set to take center stage. The annual presidential address, delivered to a joint session of Congress, is often a simultaneously unifying and divisive event — while each and every Senator and Representative crams into the House chamber to listen, it frequently turns into a demonstration of who's clapping, who's cheering, and who's silently sneering. And now, you can likely predict the big moments: the 2015 State of the Union transcript is out, making it easier than ever to guess when Speaker John Boehner's blood pressure will hit the roof.
That might be a little ungenerous, to be fair. Boehner, as one of the two men seated behind President Obama during the speech (along with Vice President Joe Biden, naturally) is usually on pretty good behavior, even if looks a little sour now and then. But these rush transcripts are always useful in advance of high-profile speeches like these, shining a little light on what's coming. So, if you're looking to brush up on what'll be said, or if you simply don't have the time to watch but don't want to miss out, you can take a peek at what Obama's saying tonight, on your own time.
As luck would have it — or, rather, as the White House's prerogative would have it — we actually knew a handful of things about this address before the transcript was even release. In the weeks leading up to the big night, the administration hinted through the media at some of the issues President Obama would be tackling, many of which are indeed on full display. His proposal to extend two years of free community college to eligible students, for example, will get some play in the address, as will his call to expand high-speed internet access across the country, enhance cyber-security, and in a moment that's sure to make countless Republicans gnash their teeth, his proposal to raise tax rates on the wealthy, while cutting a break for the middle-class.
And indeed, the middle-class emphasis — and a call for a more equal, fair economic reality — is central to Obama's message for 2015. Saying that he'll eschew a list of proposals in favor of discussing "the values at stake in the choices we face."
You are the reason I ran for this office. You’re the people I was thinking of six years ago today, in the darkest months of the crisis, when I stood on the steps of this Capitol and promised we would rebuild our economy on a new foundation. And it’s been your effort and resilience that has made it possible for our country to emerge stronger. ... We believed we could reverse the tide of outsourcing, and draw new jobs to our shores. And over the past five years, our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.
As you'd expect in such a high-profile speech to the nation, Obama's speech backs up the typical "the state of the Union is strong" line with a litany of his administration's economic achievements — the reversal of the harrowing tide left over from the 2007 economic collapse.
At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would crush jobs and explode deficits. Instead, we’ve seen the fastest economic growth in over a decade, our deficits cut by two-thirds, a stock market that has doubled, and health care inflation at its lowest rate in fifty years.
Of particular note for Congressional Democrats, and for the people who support them — Obama will also set forth a standing veto threat for any bills that he believes violate what he considers a handful of core truths. This is hugely important stuff for the next two years, as that veto pen is likely to get a severe workout.
So the verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way. We can’t slow down businesses or put our economy at risk with government shutdowns or fiscal showdowns. We can’t put the security of families at risk by taking away their health insurance, or unraveling the new rules on Wall Street, or refighting past battles on immigration when we’ve got a system to fix. And if a bill comes to my desk that tries to do any of these things, it will earn my veto.
Of course, the State of the Union can't be judged solely by text on a page. There are sometimes a few surprises here and there. Who knows how many familiar faces will be seen in the crowd, attending as official guests? In the past, they've ranged from the somber and inspiring, to the frankly quite absurd — like when GOP Rep. Vance McAllister let one of the Duck Dynasty guys tag along. If you're curious, the early guest list for Michelle Obama's row has already been released.
Basically, even when you know the broad strokes of what'll be discussed, there are often some interesting moments of political tension, or ill-timed disrespect that go along with the State of the Union. Whether it's a surly Supreme Court justice, or a yelping member of Congress, or an elected official sending offensive tweets straight from the chamber, you can rest assured there'll be something Tuesday night that doesn't come across in the text. Something, in other words, that it'll be worth watching for. But if you're a little too weary for the officialdom and the drama, a quick read-thru works just as well.
Images: Getty Images (3)