President Obama’s State of the Union address was inspiring and visionary. He spoke of using our time as the “Sputnik” moment to become the best that we can become as a nation. Rep. Steve Israel ( D. NY), chairman of the DCCC, stated the President’s speech reminded him of Pres. John Kennedy. President Obama spoke of improving education, energy, cutting costs in government, improving infrastructure to roads and Internet and ending the Afghanistan war. Rep. Israel spoke the morning after about President Obama being “pitch perfect” on energy. This year, both parties made attempts to put party aside and sit together. In the words of Senator Barbara Mikulski (D.MD), they came in two by two like Noah’s ark. The mood was somber and respectful this year. The speech comes on the hills of the Arizona shootings and killings. An empty chair was placed for Rep. Giffords.
There were no Rep. Joe Wilson’s ( R. SC) “you lie” moments to President Obama. And there were no shout outs by President Obama to the Supreme Court justices for its decision of Citizens United. But, Mr. Obama missed this moment to speak truth to things that needed to be spoken. As Senator Barbara Mikulski (D. MD) noted, there was no mention of gun control, health care for mental health and women. She stressed that women and children cannot be thrown under the health care bus in cutting measures. President Obama mentioned community action groups in his cutting measures. Measures to help the least of those among us, the poor, cannot be placed on the cutting block. While the President’s speech was visionary on where we need to go, it still left out some key components. He failed to discuss the urgency of helping those needing the most immediate help. Ironically, 2 Republicans, Senator Roy Blunt (R. Mo) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy ( R. CA) agreed. Rep. McCarthy stated during a Politico interview that “everything should be about jobs.” While Obama’s long term investment of our country is necessary, what people want and need right now is most important.
So what was missing in President Obama’s speech? What we didn’t hear was any reference to unemployment. We still have high unemployment and over a million people who have been out of work for over 99 weeks. Blacks have the highest unemployment rates which is still soaring above 16%. No mention of their pain and plan for the future was mentioned. Foreclosures are still occurring at rapid rates. People are losing their homes daily. Again, the African American community is affected in the worst way. The middle class is becoming “ the new poor”. And if we lose our middle class, we become no better than a third world country. And what about the poor? The least of those among us still need the most help. Truly, I hope the Obama administration is not going to cut from their programs, despite what socialist terms the Republicans may call them.
Actions speak louder than words. But, I would still have loved for President Obama to mention unemployment, urgency of jobs now, 99ers, foreclosures and the poor.
Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal and political commentator. She also writes for the Huffington Post. She frequently appears on air on NBC, CBS Washington, DC affiliates, the Michael Eric Dyson show and in the Washington Post, Black Enterprise, Wall Street Journal and other publications. She holds a Juris Doctorate degree from George Washington University and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.