President Obama reminded us on Thursday night why he's still the odds on favorite for reelection in 14 months. The president just sounds sane, reasonable and smart, while the Republican hopefuls sound increasingly shrill and militantly stupid, trying to top one another to gain the favor of the nuttiest people in America.
The president was more bold in his American Jobs Act plan to revive the economy than I had expected, and more aggressive than he probably would have been had he given this speech just a few weeks ago.
While I would have preferred a trillion dollar program, $447 billion is a pretty good shot in the arm for the economy. And the plan seems to skew progressive, with higher taxes on the rich and reductions in corporate tax loopholes, enough money to rehab 35,000 schools, more money for roads, bridges, rail and other infrastructure, payroll tax breaks targeted at the middle class and small businesses, funding to hire more teachers and incentives to hire the long-term unemployed.
In terms of style, the president cleverly and repeatedly took the case to the Republicans, pointing it out each time one of his proposals mirrored something the GOP itself had proposed. It'll be interesting to see them scramble to explain why their own ideas are now bad ones because they're endorsed by the president. Obama also seemed to make it a point to appear serious and energetic, and I thought it worked.
My favorite passages from the speech:
- "Right now, Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary -- an outrage he has asked us to fix. We need a tax code where everyone gets a fair shake, and everybody pays their fair share. And I believe the vast majority of wealthy Americans and CEOs are willing to do just that, if it helps the economy grow and gets our fiscal house in order."
- "Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires? Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs?"
So, overall, I'd say the speech was a knock out in terms of style, and contained several steps in the right direction in terms of substance. Nice job, Mr. President. Now, go get 'em.