The State of the Union address is almost upon us. In official Washington circles, this is known as the Day of Maximum Help, for groups far and wide provide whoever is president with a detailed analysis of the speech (before it is given) and free advice on running the country.
Here’s just a sample:
The Concord Coalition, which has the unenviable task of trying to inject common sense into the budget process, said President Obama should resist the consensus view to “shift the political spotlight away from fiscal reform efforts for a while.” Why?
“That’s because our nation’s largest fiscal problems remain -- and solving them is essential to future economic growth and prosperity.
“These problems include mounting federal debt, rising interest and health care costs, an aging population and a tax code that lavishes hundreds of billions of dollars a year in subsidies on favored individuals and industries.” [Concord Coalition]
The Partnership for a New American Economy has a somewhat easier task. It wants the president and Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Obama will certainly call for that but the House will likely remain a house divided on the topic. The partnership argues that immigration reform is just good economics, to the tune of $1.5 trillion in added GDP over the next 10 years:
“Newly legalized immigrants will help create jobs: Higher personal income of newly legalized immigrant workers would generate increased consumer spending – enough to support 750,000 - 900,000 jobs here in the US.” [Partnership for a New American Economy]
Obama set an ambitious target of doubling U.S. exports by 2015. To help do that, he wants Congress to provide him with fast track Trade Promotion Authority so he can expedite trade deals such as the TransPacific Partnership. Mr. President, that is a bad idea. Just ask the Tea Party Nation, the U.S. Business & Industry Council, and Phyllis Schlafly, founder and president of Eagle Forum, who called TPA:
“[A] massive attack on the U.S. Constitution, on the constitutional powers of Congress and the 50 states, and on U.S. sovereignty.”
Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, envisions a SOTU where Obama takes steps to incentivize reshoring, upgrade the nation’s infrastructure and do something about currency manipulation. His ideas include one old-fashioned prescription for government spending;
“Ensure the government is spending our tax dollars on American-made steel, iron, and manufactured goods instead of outsourcing those projects to China. In short, Buy American.”
Thomas E. Mann of the Brookings Institution tells Obama not to worry about something so “hopelessly unrealistic” as producing a “bountiful legislative harvest.” Instead, he offers this advice:
“What President Obama can do is challenge extreme conservative views about what economic policies are needed to achieve higher growth, more job creation and widely shared prosperity; forcefully embrace his signature policy achievement, the Affordable Care Act, while identifying the costs to citizens of undermining its implementation; and speak frankly about how divided party government virtually guarantees acrimony and gridlock under present conditions of asymmetric partisan polarization.” [Brookings Institution]
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has different priorities for the president, including saying he’s sorry for Obamacare. And while he’s at it, Cruz suggests, the nation’s chief executive should also apologize for his failed economic policies:
“Will the President recognize that his economic policies have failed to create the millions of jobs that he promised and have, instead, reduced the labor force participation rate to its lowest level in decades? Will he commit to commonsense, job-creating policies such as the immediate authorization of the Keystone Pipeline, a moratorium on new regulations, and fundamental tax reform for every American? [Sen.Ted Cruz]
With all these suggestions and criticisms, you can’t help thinking that the president’s head could be spinning by the time he is able to put up his feet and have a cold brew. Where is the love, you might be asking?
That’s when he should call in two of his most trusted advisers – Sunny and Bo. The First Dogs will provide a sounding board every bit as responsive as Speaker Boehner and won’t pop off with something startling like Joe Biden is apt to do. Mr. Obama could go back over the high points of the speech with Sunny and Bo and see how they react. My guess is they’ll provide the unconditional love every politician, at least in some back corner of his or her mind, yearns for.