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Diário de Notícias, Portugal

Obama vs. Rubio

By Bernardo Pires de Lima

Where Obama lacks, Rubio can step in.

Translated By Nuno Rosalino

12 February 2013

Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

Portugal - Diário de Notícias - Original Article (Portuguese)

The first of Obama’s speeches on the “State of the Union” was marked by panic management as the deficit had reached 10 percent. This set the tone for the entire mandate: controlling the damage inflicted by the crisis, the damage the banks had wrought upon the housing market, the damage that resulted in bankruptcies and layoffs and the damage caused by two prolonged wars. In the beginning of the second mandate, the theme has changed along with the circumstances. The last fiscal year put the deficit at 5.3 percent, the economy is maintaining its sustainable growth, the unemployment rate has decreased and the war in Iraq is over. Tonight, when he delivers his speech in front of Congress, Obama will focus on the middle class, leaving room for bipartisan effort to reduce the deficit. Or, in other words, first the economy, and then finances.

And what comes after? Education, infrastructure (much of which is now obsolete), energy independence and industrial potential (or the Chinese panic, if you prefer). But the tone of the speech will be a positive, motivational one, generating confidence after legal action against S&P has been taken. One cycle ends, another begins. It is also likely that Obama will address defense reforms, in particular the reduction of nuclear weapons (which pleases Chuck Hagel) while mentioning savings, and without forgetting that Russia would need to lockstep with these reductions. Moscow is unlikely to play along, and the Republicans are likely to jump out of their seats (and not to give a standing ovation either).

The second part of the evening is reserved for Marco Rubio, the politician of the moment and the one chosen to give the GOP’s official response. He will give his response in English and Spanish (which is unprecedented) and will point out Obama’s inconsistencies — the enormous increase in the state’s size. It has fallen upon Rubio to take the initiative on the promised immigration reform bill; no amount of job creation can impose America on the world; strategic withdrawal will only lead to the rise of other powers. Where Obama lacks, Rubio can step in.



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