Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SOTU Address and Response Surprises

1. President Obama threatened less taxpayer funding if tuition goes up. Rightly so since higher education costs have increased significantly (439% since the 1980's). The increase is starkly more even than the increase in healthcare costs (251% since the 1980's).
"And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down. Recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who’ve done just that. Some schools re-design courses to help students finish more quickly. Some use better technology. The point is, it’s possible. So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can’t be a luxury – it’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford."
The American Federation of Teachers isn't going to like the threat of cutting federal dollars.

2. The President ended his speech with a double God bless: "Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America."

3. Governor Mitch Daniels, by contrast, did not invoke God's blessing or directly refer to Him at all. Rather Daniels used the more tepid "city on a hill" reference to link back to Reagan to link back to the Puritans to link back to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:14).

Strange when the Democrats do better at speaking the language of faith than Republicans. Though, perhaps, not a Republican who called for a "truce on the so-called social issues". Maybe to Governor Daniels that means avoiding all things religious as well as moral.

4. Neither man made any sort of clear comment on Obamacare. It's like one of the main political issues has just disappeared. Odd for President Obama because it is his claim to presidential fame. Odd for Governor Daniels because it's the single targeted issue that most Americans agree with Republicans on.

5. Just technically Governor Daniels needed help on his microphone quality. Especially in the beginning one could hear him drawing in deep breaths. Why do Republicans have such difficulties with small technical issues like this? (Remember Sarah Palin's teleprompter difficulties that she masterfully overcame so that no one noticed?) Unfortunately it leaves the hint of a question as to whether people who can't even get the sound quality right really can solve complex issues.

UPDATE: I forgot one big point. What's with Governor Daniels saying that the rich shouldn't get benefits like social security?
“Decades ago, for instance, we could afford to send millionaires pension checks and pay medical bills for even the wealthiest among us. Now, we can’t, so the dollars we have should be devoted to those who need them most."
Maybe he forgot that social security was set up to be retirement insurance not a welfare tax. And, if we're only going to give to those who "need" it most, then payout should not be determined by years in the system or amount paid in, but purely by need. Talk about bankrupting the system. Someone in only 10 months might need a full pension more than someone in 30 years.

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