An Organizing Project of members of the Democratic Socialists of America, Freedom Road Socialist Organization and Willamette Reds.
Monday, February 17, 2014
State of the Union: Obama Pulled His Best Punches
By Harry Targ and Carl Davidson
January 31, 2014 Progressive America Rising
In the lead-up to President Obama’s speech Chris Hayes, MSNBC host,
presented a segment on the national mobilization of low wage workers in
2013. He described courageous work stoppages by fast food workers,
campaigns by public employees, particularly health care and home care
workers, and how seemingly isolated pockets of protest spread like wild
fire across the nation.
This, Hayes suggested, stimulated progressive groups, selected
Congresspersons, and visible pundits such as Robert Reich and Paul
Krugman to reemphasize the economic crisis the American working class is
facing, particularly youth, people of color, women, and older workers.
Hayes suggested that we are on the verge of a new mass movement and that
Obama would capture the spirit of this movement in his State of the
President Obama took the podium a little after 9 pm Eastern Standard
Time and presented a State of the Union address that referred to income
inequality, the need for immigration reform, creating jobs by renovating
the transportation infrastructure, and reducing greenhouse case
emissions to forestall climate change.
Specific resolutions and demands were articulated. He did announce that
he would use his executive authority to require that the minimum wage of
companies with government contracts be raised to $10.10 an hour. He
urged Congress, states, and municipalities to follow and raise their
minimum wages as well.
He recommended the creation of a new program that would allow workers
who do not have pensions to invest in a government created pension fund,
similar to 401Ks.
He praised growing government business partnerships and collaboration
with colleges and universities to extend job training, make college more
affordable, and create a 21st century work force that he claimed could
fill the jobs that are not being filled now.
Finally, while vowing to continue national security policies (including
in not so many words a ‘war on terrorism’), he announced he was
committed to bringing almost all troops out of Afghanistan by the end of
2014. He promised to support certain sectors of the Syrian opposition
and remain ready for military action but was committed to negotiations
now with Iran, Syrian factions and Israelis and Palestinians to end
their bitter conflicts. He declared, however, that he would veto any
Congressional bill that came across his desk that called for increased
sanctions against Iran, now during the difficult negotiation process
with that country. He pointed out in perhaps his most significant
statement, that the Obama administration would lead the United States
away from “a permanent war footing.” (Read entire statement)