Let’s accentuate the positive in the State of the Union address that President Barack Obama made last night. He proposed:
— Building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country and making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development; continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies; passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America. “The nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation,” he said.
— Renewing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act incorporating reforms implemented by the states in the “race to the top” program which offers billions to states that improve their schools to increase student performance. “The best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education,” he said.
— Taking $30 billion from the money that Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. “I’m also proposing a new small business tax credit because small business is the biggest creator of new jobs,” he said.
— Using stimulus money to add another 1.5 million jobs in the public sector — more teachers, construction workers, police, firefighters, correctional officers and first responders.
— Passing legislation that will revitalize our community colleges, which are a career pathway to the children of so many working families.
— To make college more affordable, we should end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans and use the money instead to give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell grants. The student loan program should be changed to require students to pay no more than 10 percent of their income in repaying student loans. All student loans should be forgiven after 20 years and forgiven after 10 years if students choose a career in public service.
—We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy-efficient, which supports clean energy jobs. And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America.
— Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. There’s no reason Eur-ope or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products.
— On health care re-form: There’s a reason why many doctors, nurses, and health care ex-perts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo. “But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know,” he said.
It was a thoughtful laundry list of things to do to move the nation forward.
MR. OBAMA also talked about what ails our politics: “But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We can’t wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about the other side — a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can….
“Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, no matter how malicious, is just part of the game. But it’s precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people. Worse yet, it’s sowing further division among our citizens, further distrust in our government. So, no, I will not give up on trying to change the tone of our politics. I know it’s an election year. And after last week, it’s clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual. But we still need to govern.
“To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills. And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town — a supermajority — then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. So let’s show the American people that we can do it together.“
THE AMERICAN people are waiting, eagerly, anxiously, to be shown.
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