Until his peroration “to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more,” the President spent more than an hour last night calling out everyone in the chamber, including himself, for “a difficult year.” Congressional Republicans, Democrats, even the Supreme Court came in for their share of scolding.
The unusual tone of this State of the Union came from both directions. Below each outburst of applause, there was an unprecedented hum of disapproval from stony GOP faces.
“Throughout the raucous House chamber,” the New York Times reports, “scattered boos echoed in the air.”
As the Times and Washington Post lead off with his assertion that “We face a deficit of trust,” there is Barack Obama’s acceptance of the fact that the Washington political atmosphere has turned toxic and his literal pivoting from health care to jobs and the economy as the main issue, along with a figurative shift from bipartisan outreach to bare-knuckles conflict in his political stance.
“At the beginning of the last decade, the year 2000,” he said, (noting that he was “just stating the facts”), “America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion. By the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade.
“Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door…
“Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we’ll still face the massive deficit we had when I took office.”
Outlining his spending freeze and other efforts at deficit reduction, the President noted that the Senate had blocked his effort to empower a bipartisan fiscal commission but promised to create one by executive order and clamp down on lobbyists who stand in the way.
The Supreme Court justices seated in front of him came in for their share of tongue-lashing for their decision last week that “reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests–including foreign corporations–to spend without limit in our elections” as he promised corrective legislation.
The President finished his scolding SOTU by observing that “what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day…