Slide Show: 7 Ways Obama's State of the Union Can Save His Presidency | The Nation

Slide Show: 7 Ways Obama's State of the Union Can Save His Presidency

  • 7 Ideas for Obama's State of the Union (1 of 8)

    When President Obama makes his annual State of the Union Address Tuesday evening to a nation deeply riven by social and ideological divides, he will likely emphasize an economic plan centered on deficit reduction and his desire to unite Americans across party lines.


    But as The Nation’s Ari Berman explains, “Obama supporters, who felt neglected for much of 2010, are also looking for the president to follow through on his message of hope and change—not to mention a few concrete campaign promises.” Here are seven policy proposals that Obama should focus on in tomorrow’s speech.


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  • Reduce Everything to Jobs (2 of 8)

    Strongly emphasizing his party’s focus on job creation would give Obama the upper hand in framing proposed Republican budget cuts as imperiling a fragile economic recovery. 


    Obsessing over the deficit won’t get Americans back to work, and as Berman explains, “focusing on jobs would allow Obama to favorably contrast his economic vision with that of the GOP”—a distinction the Democrats desperately need to make if they want to get the public behind a progressive economic agenda.


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  • Put People Back to Work (3 of 8)

    Simply talking about jobs won't be enough for Obama. He needs a plan to actually create more of them and put struggling Americans back to work. The first steps should be a manufacturing policy that keeps jobs in America, a commitment to rebuilding our infrastructure and a principled push for fair tax policy reform.


    Even if the divided Congress fails to adopt these ideas, committing to an ambitious jobs program would certainly help Obama in hard-hit states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where Democrats lost badly in 2010 and need to win in 2012.


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  • Reclaim Economic Populism (4 of 8)

    The perception that Obama is in big business’s pocket has done him great political damage, and if he wants to reverse this scenario the president and his party must reclaim economic populism.


    When it comes to selling policies like healthcare reform and Wall Street regulation, Obama should point out that under his presidency average Americans have gained important protections against credit card abuses and that he has done away with many of the most restrictive health insurance rules. If he does that, legislation that remains abstract for many Americans will become more concrete and popular.


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  • Help Struggling Homeowners (5 of 8)

    The Obama administration’s response to the housing crisis has been widely criticized as both insufficient and ineffectual. Millions of Americans are still exposed to the foreclosure crisis, which remains one of the main drivers of the recession.


    Obama should invigorate the economy with a major mortgage write-down program. Given the bailout funds the banks received from the federal government, they owe Obama one. 


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  • Protect Social Security and Medicare (6 of 8)

    The Obama administration has made it clear that reducing the deficit is a major priority over the next two years, but there’s a good way and a bad way to balance the federal budget.


    The bad way would cut Social Security and Medicare benefits, two of the signature achievements of the Democratic Party and widely popular programs among the American public. The good way is to reduce wasteful weapons systems, close corporate tax loopholes, increase corporate and upper income tax rates, reduce agricultural subsidies and spur targeted economic growth to lift us out of the recession.


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  • Push for Sensible Gun Control (7 of 8)

    Coming less than three weeks after Jared Loughner's rampage left six people dead and 13 more wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Obama’s address will likely appeal for bipartisan cooperation in the face of tragedy


    But he should also counter the violence in Arizona with a frank national discussion of gun control. Arizona’s gun laws are some of the most “irresponsibly lax” in the country, and as Katha Pollitt explains, “whatever Loughner’s demons turn out to be,” what let him carry out his attack “was that he had access to a gun—and a magazine that let him shoot thirty-three bullets without reloading.”


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  • Get Real About Climate Change (8 of 8)

    Climate change is now a reality, and the sooner our politicians recognize the unprecedented stakes of the fight against global warming, the more prepared the US will be for the new energy economy. But Mark Hertsgaard explains that "Republicans are gearing up to put environmentalists and climate scientists on the defensive and block progress against global warming for the rest of Obama's presidency.”


    That’s why Obama needs to turn the tables now, calling out climate change deniers for their anti-scientific ravings and pushing for serious and practical solutions to the crisis. What’s more, clean energy is the best path to economic and job growth. Now Obama and the Democrats just have to own that message.


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