In case you missed it, the Daily Beast has compiled video clips of the “best moments” from President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night.
Josh Barro digs into the substance of the speech: Obama is calling for protectionist tax policies, aimed at rewarding companies that manufacture here and punishing those that manufacture abroad. This is economically inefficient–less expensive manufacturing abroad is a key downward driver of the price of consumer goods, which raises Americans’ real incomes. It’s also a fool’s errand. There is nothing that forces multinational corporations to incorporate in the United States. Attempting to use America’s unusual system of worldwide corporate taxation to tax the foreign operations of U.S. companies just advantages foreign-incorporated multinationals over American ones.
Jared Bernstein says the speech was about short-term economic fixes: This wasn’t “win the future” with a long-term investment agenda. It was “build on the momentum we’ve got right now“ by creating incentives for manufacturers, skills for workers, jobs in fossil fuel extraction and clean energy innovation, all financed by a fairer tax code.
Jonathan Chait: “The first two years of the Obama presidency were a frantic rush of policymaking with barely any concern for political messaging, which suffered as a result. Tonight’s State of the Union Address was just the opposite. President Obama knows full well that Republicans in Congress will block everything. In the absence of policy, he is backfilling the political narrative… It was the speech of a man who realizes that he has only one thing left to do, and that is to win reelection.”
John Cole, meanwhile, swooned: [E]very time I hear him speak, I am still aware of all the things I disagree with him on, but think “That is a good man doing what he thinks is best.” That is really all you can ask for from someone, because as far as I can tell, I’m the only one who agrees with me 100% of the time. And as you all know, if you give me a week, I’ll disagree with myself. We really don’t deserve him. We really don’t.
Jim Fallows thought the speech was effective: I think the speech advanced his aims in some ways that are obvious and others that plant little markers for the rest of the campaign year.
Mark Halperin: “The speech was clearly poll tested to within an inch of its life, filled with programs and themes of broad appeal running from the left to the center right. Rhetorically reached out to the opposition by invoking national security, the need to get Washington working and a few familiar areas of common ground (entitlement and education reform). But much of the speech focused on policies that divide the parties absolutely. And, judging by the press releases and tweets from the Republican leadership, this State of the Union address will serve to lay down markers for November’s election rather than break the current gridlock.”
E.D. Kain thought the speech was “pretty good”: The point of a speech like this one – an election year State of the Union Address – is not to lay out a grand vision. To be honest, the time for grand visions is over. What the president needs to do – and what he didn’t do enough tonight – is lay out in stark terms why his presidency is important and distinct from the hypothetical presidency of Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich.
Josh Marshall mocks Romney: Great idea for Mitt to release his tax returns today. True stroke of genius. Because who could have predicted President Obama would make the Buffett Rule a centerpiece of his speech?
Andrew Sullivan: “I was hoping for a vision. I was hoping for real, strategic reform. What we got was one big blizzard of tax deductions, wrapped in a populist cloak. It was treading water. I suspect this will buoy liberal spirits, but anger the right and befuddle the independents. It definitely gives the Republican case against Obama as a big government meddler more credibility. I may be wrong – but the sheer cramped, tedious, mediocre micro-policies he listed were uninspiring to say the least… We voted for Obama; now we find we got another Clinton.”
Mark Steitz liked the mortgage refinance plan: Tonight, the president announced that he is sending the Congress a plan to allow for the refinancing of the mortgages of every responsible homeowner. Conventional wisdom in Washington has it that little if any serious legislation will pass this year. But this issue may and should be different. Many of the primary beneficiaries of this streamlined refinance policy are Republican voters in Tea Party districts. Broad based refi represents a market based approach that doesn’t require significant taxes or an increase in the deficit, but will strengthen the real estate market. Shouldn’t Republicans line up?
Ken Tucker: The television high point of the evening occurred just before the speech, as the President, in making his way to the podium, paused to hug Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is resigning this week to recover from her brain injury. A chant of “Gabby, Gabby, Gabby” could be heard throughout the House floor, as Giffords was given a standing ovation.