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El Pais, Spain

An Encouraging Agenda

Translated By Kate Wheeler

14 February 2013

Edited by Kath­leen Weinberger

Spain - El Pais - Original Article (Spanish)

Those who were waiting for a State of the Union address that would be delivered in a more conciliatory tone than that used by Barack Obama in his inauguration speech of his second term will be disappointed. Recently, the president of the United States presented to the two chambers of Congress a stimulating agenda of priorities intended to boost the economy and asked for support in a tone that was overtly partisan, ignoring the Republican opposition. His biggest challenge will be to obtain the minimum number of votes necessary to pass his plan in a paralyzed Congress.

The gist of his speech reiterated the White House’s refusal to significantly reduce social programs if tax increases on the wealthy are not passed in return. Obama, continuing his role as champion of the middle class, has asked his adversaries to accept a new tax increase in exchange for cuts in public spending, intending to balance the U.S. debt and other fiscal holes in the horizon: The most powerful nation in the world cannot manage its economy from crisis to crisis. Republican Senator Marco Rubio’s rejection of this plan was surprisingly moderate in tone, a far cry from the loud commentary of defeated candidate Romney.

Obama seems to have come to terms with the fact that the only way to force the hand of Congress is to win the public’s opinion. But the political reality in the U.S. is complicated and exploiting citizens’ sympathies does not automatically win the favor of the legislature. Nothing assures the president that his priorities will pass through the House of Representatives, which lies in Republican hands. It is likely that very little of the proposed matter will get through this congressional body. The exception to this is immigration reform, largely due to the fact that the Republican Party has realized that change is necessary in order to maintain control in the White House.

Even though many aspects of the president’s plan are defendable, other crucial but ambiguous aspects of the president’s program appear to be more like a wish list letter to Santa Claus. These include whether control of firearms stays in the hand of citizens, how we should take action against climate change and varied educational proposals. The State of the Union contains them all.



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