Four years ago, when President Barack Obama gave his first State of the Union speech, he talked about how the economy had been weakened and Americans confidence shaken, but then vowed we will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before... We are a nation that has seen promise and peril and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again.
This time around, the state of the economy will no doubt take center stage once again in the State of the Union speech. It remains the most critical issue facing the country, the issue that will hamper or help us in tackling all the other challenges facing the country.
Our verdict four years later on the state of the economy, and thus the state of our union? Its slowly improving but remains very fragile. Were on the mend but full-blown economic recovery is still elusive.
Over the years, many have come to think of the State of the Union speech as mostly political theater. But for a nation still suffering, this one needs to set the nations direction and vision. The president needs to offer a detailed agenda that focuses squarely on improving the livelihoods of all Americans one that sets the nation on course to meet its obligations, maintain its global standing and secure its future.
The speech is expected to do a lot of that. Obama is reportedly structuring his talk around three main economic points: making the nation a magnet for jobs and manufacturing; providing Americans the skills they need for jobs; and ensuring that hard work leads to a decent living. He will unveil initiatives around education, infrastructure, clean energy and manufacturing.
Some of the speech will focus on other areas that need the nations attention gun control and immigration reform among them. On both those issues, the president has already made a compelling case for action, and public opinion is on his side in taking aggressive action to deal with them. Many Republicans whove opposed the president on other measures see the need for action on those items as well.
Illuminating those issues and reinforcing Americas values in tackling them is needed. But most Americans will be looking to this address rightly for a real plan to deal with an economy dogged by unemployment, falling wages, widening income inequality and stagnant job growth. Congress has played an ignoble role in the fiscal challenges, more than once hampering the economy with partisan fights over the debt ceiling and other issues.
Congress and the president must work together to effectively tackle our economic problems. In this speech, Obama is expected to acknowledge that by renewing his call for a big deal with Republicans to lower the deficit by cutting spending, revamping the tax code and making entitlement cuts. Both sides must make a concerted, good-faith effort to find common ground. We hope the presidents entreaty will help pave the way.