Tonight, President Obama has given the State of the Union Address.  The formal basis for the State of the Union Address is from the U.S. Constitution:

  • The President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Article II, Section 3, Clause 1.

As such, this address is to present where the nation has come in the preceding 12 months, and where it is going, as well as suggestions to work with Members of Congress in order to achieve these common goals.

What we have heard tonight is a lack of goals, direction and leadership. Congress has shown an unwillingness to work together for the common good, as well as the President has refused to work with Congress. In the President’s own words, “the state of our union is getting stronger. And America has come too far to turn back now. As long as he’s president, he will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But he intends to fight obstruction with action, and  will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.”  The President spoke of working together, embracing the parts of his plans which they agree with, and meeting him on the portions they do not. This is still not creating an enviroment of moving our nation forward.

The House of Representatives is the “People’s House” and as such are there to represent us–We The People. As of lately, they have only represented the two parties.

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Tonight’s State of the Union Address reeked of campaigning, once again. The State of the Union Address also clearly demonstrated an inability to understand the reality of our nation. President Obama has touted the example of Detroit. The decline has gone too far. Detroit just completed a bankruptcy filing. The housing market has crumbled. President Obama has spoken of the thousands jobs in the auto industry. Of these jobs, only a few are in Detroit. Detroit is not getting any better, yet President Obama is holding Detroit as the candle to guide other cities, namely Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Raleigh. Rather than rhetoric, we need solutions.

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The idea of bringing jobs back to America is brilliant. Raising taxes on multinational corporations and reducing taxes on companies bringing jobs back to America sounds good at first, but only drives businesses out of America. At this time, America needs every job we can get. Cutting taxes on some companies is corporate welfare and part of what got us here. Completely removing income and businesses taxes, and moving to a Consumption Tax will create equal taxation for businesses, while reducing taxation on the citizens. Essentials (food, medicine, etc) would not be taxed.

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Yet, the only thing spoken of was closing tax holes, not solutions. We have heard the President speak of tax reform in every State of the Union Address, but nothing has materialized. How can we bring back Detroit without a plan?!

President Obama did state that we need to turn our Unemployment Offices into Reemployment Offices. By creating greater access to job banks, we can employ more people. By having the unemployed use these systems, we can re-employ more people. By matching the unemployed with jobs that meet their skills or education, we can re-employ more people.

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The President has previously stated, “Teachers matter…Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility:  To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren’t helping kids learn. We also know that when students aren’t allowed to walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. So tonight, I call on every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.” Well stated, Mister President. Yes, let us give the teachers resources and stop teaching to the test. First, we must eliminate Common Core. The reality of Common Core is the billions of dollars going to corporations to design textbooks and tests that are mandatory, as well as teachers being held accountable to these tests, rather than holding them accountable as to how well their students learn.

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Let us put those billions of dollars to work in the classroom. Let the teachers have the newest textbooks, approved by the local school board (elected by the people). Let us help students graduate and succeed. Let us teach them the subjects and hold back the ones that have not grasped it, to give them the extra time to learn. The Veterans Party of America firmly agrees that the position of placing mandatory school attendance age belongs with the states. Thank you for not suggesting the federal government overstep its bounds. In addition, Mister President, please inform the Teachers’ Union that you will remove tenure and will work with Congress to pass a law to allow school districts to remove ineffective teachers that were once hiding behind this political powerhouse. But what of these Americans after graduation?

With baited breath, millions of you have been waiting for the President to announce his plan for “Free Community College.” The President speaks of skyrocketed tuition costs. The reality is, Community Colleges are already taxpayer funded. The Dean of these schools is a state employee. All salaries at these schools must be realigned to an acceptable rate. Being a Dean of a COmmunity College, or State University, is a public trust position. It is not private sector employment. Perhaps, as a suggestion, cap the salaries of all state employees at twice the state median income. This will drastically reduce costs while providing an incentive to produce more marketable graduates in order to raise the state median income. A “Free” college program will only burden taxpayers further.

Another reality, Mister President. The average costs of community college tuition and fees, plus books, is around $3,547 a year, or just $9.17 a day. That is less than the cost of two “coffee house“ coffees each day and less than two hours of after tax, minimum wage employment. Yes, the President did state that rising tuition debt is an extreme burden on America’s future. Not the rising tuition is as much as the rising debt based on paying tuition. By creating more student loans, and ease of access to these loans, students are encouraged to take out these loans on the premise of having higher paying jobs to pay off the loans. These loans accrue with high interest, negating the higher salary. As pointed out, working 14 hours a week will pay for community college tuition and fees, as would cutting back on the expensive coffees.

What is needed is good old fashioned work ethics, making the access to student loans more difficult for Community Colleges, encourage the use of PELL Grants, as well as reducing the spending at community colleges in order to reduce, or remove, tuition rates at public colleges. Raising taxes, or levying new taxes is not the answer. Sadly, the President did not discuss “how” to make his plan a reality, leaving many valid concerns unanswered.

The President spoke at length about Climate Change, but we will focus on his addressing our nation’s energy situation, which was not spoken of indepth. In fact, it was barely mentioned. America is currently producing more oil than in many previous years, as well as having a deposit of a century worth of natural gas. The time is now to build more sustainable energy alternatives, not when the costs are higher and supply is less. By installing solar panels on all government buildings (minus historical landmarks), we drastically reduce the costs to operate the government, as part of  the bigger picture. Working to develop more sustainable energy sources, we can make that century worth of natural gas last even longer.

Our nation’s energy resources are as much a matter of national security as they are to the ability of our citizens to move about freely, function,  manufacture and transport goods and provide services. The additional benefit is cleaner, more responsible energy use, for our nation and the environment.

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By stating, you will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects, and we need Congress to fund these projects, the President makes it abundantly clear that he will force his opinion on the will of the people, holding Congress responsible for any failings. The real winners of this plan would be the corporations gaining these contracts, as such. Lifting restrictions on bidding, caps on expenses, and the competitive requirements do not help the American people. These help corporations.

It is Congress that is required to establish the guidelines and rules, in accordance with the wishes of the people, not their respective parties or their corporate donors. In fact, as part of this, if the Keystone pipeline is part of one of these projects, the Eminent Domain clause needs to be removed from any planning and the corporations which stand to profit from the pipeline be forced to pay market prices for land purchases or leases. These very corporations must be made aware that they will be held accountable for any leaks or environmental damage, and the pipeline must be rerouted around Native American lands that are not freely sold, leased, or granted permission to utilize.

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President Obama stated, “Many of you (Congress) have told me that this isn’t what you signed up for — arguing past each other on cable shows, the constant fundraising, always looking over your shoulder at how the base will react to every decision.” It is sad that many in office are constantly fundraising and looking over their shoulders. They represent us. They should know what their constituents want. Their reelection campaign is their vote, each time they vote on the floor.

Quite a portion of the State of the Union Address spoke of the President’s first inauguration, exactly six years ago, today.  By reminding the Members of Congress that he won both of his elections and will campaign no more takes the focus off the way forward and emphasizes that HE is the President. A great leader will speak of solutions and not speak of personal accomplishments. Sadly, this State of the Union Address contained less of “how” to fix America than any of President Obama’s previous State of the Union Addresses. Yes, as stated previously, the State of the Union Address reeks of campaigning.

A few things stated throughout his Presidency are absolute facts. First and foremost, “This Nation is great because we worked as a team.” We did note the past tense. America, and our government, has stopped working as a team. WE must work together, everybody, to restore America’s greatness.

You have stated that these achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America’s armed forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, the members of the armed forces exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together. Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Mister President, and Members of Congress, why aren’t YOU following that example?

Yes, these foundations of teamwork, while focusing on the goals and mission accomplishment, are the foundations of the Veterans Party of America. We do not squabble over petty differences, or have personal ambition. We only desire to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America, and make our nation better.

Mark Wilder

National Chair

Veterans Party of America

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