State Of The Union Open Thread

Filed in National by on January 28, 2014

Have at it!  I’ll be here all night!

(Am I the only one that loves these things?  Is that wrong? Or really weird?)

[Update from Delaware Dem]: Some excerpts of the speech are starting to leak, as they always do. The White House, all White Houses, do this to prep the ground and give the pundits something to talk about in the run up to the speech. Here is one such excerpt:

“In the coming months, let’s see where else we can make progress together. Let’s make this a year of action. That’s what most Americans want – for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations. And what I believe unites the people of this nation, regardless of race or region or party, young or old, rich or poor, is the simple, profound belief in opportunity for all – the notion that if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead.

Let’s face it: that belief has suffered some serious blows. Over more than three decades, even before the Great Recession hit, massive shifts in technology and global competition had eliminated a lot of good, middle-class jobs, and weakened the economic foundations that families depend on.

Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by – let alone get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.

Our job is to reverse these tides. It won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything. But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require Congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still – and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

“Opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation is to restore that promise.”

Sounds pretty good. I hope the President really calls out the Republicans.

Tags: ,

About the Author ()

A stay-at-home mom with an obsession for National politics.

Comments (61)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Delaware Dem says:

    I love it too. I watch PBS for the run-up to see the interactions of the various members of Congress, Supreme Court Justices, Cabinet members, etc. Then I switch over to MSNBC for the speech and reaction afterwards.

  2. pandora says:

    Shhh… don’t tell anyone, but I put on my comfy pjs, made up a cheese tray and have settled in for the evening! I’ll channel jump between all the news networks (before the SOTU starts) until Mr. Pandora’s head explodes! He’s so unreasonable! ;-)

  3. fightingbluehen says:

    He’s going to describe income inequality in a tone that suggests he hasn’t been President for the past six years.

    In fact, I believe the whole speech will be delivered with this premise.

  4. pandora says:

    Oh look! FBH has supplied whine to go with my cheese tray!

  5. Delaware Dem says:

    FBH’s comments should be taken in the correct context, and that is he or she has absolutely no problem with income inequality.

  6. fightingbluehen says:

    Executive order this…..executive order that.

  7. Jason330 says:

    Makes sense since congress has cut themselves out of the process.

  8. Delaware Dem says:

    Damn Straight Obama!!!!

  9. pandora says:

    Hmmm… FBH has a problem with Executive orders? Since when?

    # of Executive Orders:
    Ronald Reagan – 381
    George Bush – 166
    William J. Clinton – 364
    George W. Bush – 291
    Barack Obama – 168

    Just sayin’ (Actually, what I’m saying is you’re full of it)

  10. Delaware Dem says:

    So far, this is his best SOTU.

  11. pandora says:

    “Climate Change Is A Fact.”

    Hooray!

  12. V says:

    “…Congress needs to get on board.”

    *Boehner’s face falls*

  13. pandora says:

    “Let’s not have another 40-something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans”

    :-)

  14. V says:

    Let’s all hear it for Dad Craig too. Family Caregivers are the unsung heroes of situations like Corey’s.

  15. Delaware Dem says:

    This speech was fantastic.

  16. knows better says:

    Obamaman! He just makes you feel good.

  17. Dana says:

    Rather than the State of the Union, I watched some reruns of the Big Bang Theory. It’s fiction, but I know that there will be more truth in fiction than anything President Obama says. Paraphrasing Mary McCarthy’s famous statement about Lillian Hellman, “every word President Obama says is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’”

  18. cassandra m says:

    Another credible claim from the man who tells us with a straight face that he is knowledgeable about economics.

    :roll:

  19. Dave says:

    Orders to an agency from the Chief Executive are a routine mechanism by which direction is issued to multiple agencies. And as long as the direction being issued complies with the U.S.C and does not misappropriate funds, it is legitimate. I fail to see anything that contravenes or subordinates the Constitution. Congress is not the Chief Executive despite the fact that they believe they should be and act like they are.

    The President, as the Chief Executive, directed the agencies to increase the minimum wage. As long as they stay within their appropriated funding limit and definition of the line item (usually the line item is DA (Departmental Administration)), they will do as the boss says.

    There is no story here, except that an executive is making decisions within the limits of their authority, which is kinda what Chief Executives are supposed to do.

  20. Dave says:

    I should add, that the Agency Heads and Chief Executives are also authorized to establish contract terms and conditions (within the limits of the Federal Acquisition Regulation and if the customer (the government) establishes a condition that federal contractors pay a minimum wage, the contractor has two choices; comply or choose not bid on the contract.

  21. ben says:

    Topic… Iran Sanctions…

    I wonder if the Dem senators pushing for war with Iran really wanted it.
    Is it possible that they were posturing so AIPAC wouldn’t donate millions to Teabag candidates?… Now that the “Muslim Iran-Lover” has said he would “veto Israel’s existence”… or whatever message AIPAC is going to spin it in to… Those Dem senators “hands are now tied”.

    In any case, I though his comments on the situation were very powerful and very reasonable…. especially the mention that beloved GOP presidents used to negotiate with “enemy states” when the power was much much closer. That really makes guys like Graham and McCain look like wimpy trolls.

  22. Tom McKenney says:

    It was fun just looking at Boehner’s face.

  23. Tom McKenney says:

    @ Dana I watched some reruns of the Big Bang Theory
    That figures you need laugh tracks to tell you what is funny. Just as reliable as Fox news telling you what is real.

  24. jason330 says:

    Best GOP response: “Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY/Staten Island) felt a little tense after the State of the Union. After giving a terse statement to an NY1 reporter, he was asked about the ongoing issue of his campaign finance. He declined to discuss the matter and stormed off, then returned a moment later, apparently unaware that the camera was still rolling, and threatened to “throw [the reporter] off this fucking balcony.” Grimm followed this with “you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.”

    Grimm is a Tea Party darling who was endorsed by Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani.

  25. Dana says:

    The President wants to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. Now, what will that do? It will take millions of workers who make above the minimum wage now, and make minimum wage workers of them! If there is a $2.85 increase in the minimum wage, do you think that the guy currently making $12.00 an hour will go to $14.85, or will he stay closer to $12.00? If you know anything about economics at all, you’d realize that he’d stay closer to $12.00, leaving him above the new minimum wage, but closer to the minimum wage than he was.

    Even if he received that raise to $14.85, he’d still be closer to minimum wage than he is today, on a percentage basis. A $12.00 per hour wage is 65.52% above the current minimum. To remain that far above the minimum wage, were the minimum wage to rise to $10.10 per hour, the current $12.00 per hour worker would actually need a raise to $16.72 an hour, an increase of $4.72. Who here among my good friends on the left believe that most of the current $12.00 per hour workers would get that kind of raise?

    The President’s policies would cluster more people toward the bottom of the economic scale! Or perhaps y’all don’t really care?

  26. pandora says:

    Just ran Dana’s comment past Mr. Pandora (who actually has a degree in economics) and in his professional opinion… Dana’s comment isn’t worth an answer – other than he thinks Dana just found a calculator.

  27. Dana says:

    Shorter Pandora: I don’t really have an answer.

  28. pandora says:

    No, Dana. Your comment was ridiculous. But if you want an answer to your comment, here it is: So what?

    It seems like your entire point is that people making 12.00 an hour will now feel (psychologically) that they are no longer better? superior? to those making minimum wage.

    And no matter how much you try and impress us with your calculator skillz, your comment had nothing to do with economics. It was about how you would feel.

  29. kavips says:

    The most ridiculous part is this…

    The President’s policies would cluster more people toward the bottom of the economic scale! Or perhaps y’all don’t really care?

    What is being said is here that raising the minimum wage is very very bad because as you bring people up off the bottom towards the middle you create a cluster at what used to be the middle.

    Pandora answered it with the best reply possible: so what.

    This is obviously good policy when Republicans have to stretch truth and reason to invent some method to cast doubts on it. Since they can’t find a “real” reason, that is the signal that we must get this done. Because the standard as of last night is now defined at $10.10, that is what Delaware should shoot for. Why do it halfway, and then next year, repeat the process? Just get it out of the way….

  30. knows better says:

    Don’t think Dana will ever know or understand economics but do think Mr. Pandora is a smart and funny man! I’m going to borrow that calculator comment.

  31. Dana says:

    This is just laughably funny: y’all seem to think that “as you bring people up off the bottom towards the middle you create a cluster at what used to be the middle,” to quote kavips.

    Naturally, anyone who actually understood economics and business would realize that such would increase the costs of production, and that prices would have to increase with those costs. Since everybody would bear those costs, there would be no particularly strong competitive reason to try to keep prices down among domestically produced goods and services. (At the minimum wage level, it’s almost all services.)

    The result? The people making minimum wage would be no better off at $10.10 an hour than they were at $7.25, after the prices stabilized, but the people doing better than the minimum wage now, who would be more closely clustered — an apt word, I think! — would be worse off.

    What you really want, though you don’t know quite how to express it, is a change in the percentage of business revenues which goes to labor, a bigger share of the pie going to the workers. Trouble is, businesses are naturally inclined to try to lower costs, to increase the return on sales, and that has had its largest effect on low-skill labor. Many, many companies have replaced their receptionists with computers, which are annoying to callers, but which cost far less over the long haul, and never call out sick. The job at which my mother started, when she first joined a mortgage company, entering payments, has been virtually eliminated, by computers. Manufacturers have replaced many production personnel with robots. And the more you try to increase the share of revenues given to labor, the more pressure you will create to replace labor with machines.

  32. puck says:

    “The result? The people making minimum wage would be no better off at $10.10 an hour than they were at $7.25″

    The people making $7.25 are willing to give it a try.

  33. puck says:

    If labor can be replaced by machines, it should. It’s bound to happen anyway. Being pro-labor shouldn’t mean resisting automation. It should mean the machines and software should be built, designed and operated by Americans, who will get to keep more of the increased profits.

  34. jason330 says:

    lol. Great point. [What he lacks in brain power he makes up for in a willingness to have his ass handed to him time and again. I'm sure Dana's master's appreciate his moxie. He must be well paid for all his efforts.]

  35. puck says:

    “If there is a $2.85 increase in the minimum wage, do you think that the guy currently making $12.00 an hour will go to $14.85″

    That is exactly what happens. Low-end wages are raised across the board. So what if some prices go up; demand is flexible and families can deal with that a lot better than low wages. I really don’t want to think my low prices for goods are based on stepping on the necks of people making $7.25. We do have a servant class in America, and they need a raise. Yes we are going to pay more for their services, because we are now paying too little.
    T

  36. pandora says:

    Perhaps Dana can explain the Costco effect, or just admit he could care less about employees. I swear, a mass strike looks better every day – and employers and Dana should love that since they see no economic value in employees. In Dana’s world, businesses obviously don’t need employees to function, and should actually be thanked for giving people somewhere to go every day. Employees seem to be viewed as a necessary evil, and not a key component to a functioning company.

    Let’s look at Costco and Sam’s Club:

    A 2005 New York Times article by Steven Greenhouse reported that at $17 an hour, Costco’s average pay is 72% higher than Sam’s Club’s ($9.86 an hour). Interviews that a colleague and I conducted with a dozen Sam’s Club employees in San Francisco and Denver put the average hourly wage at about $10. And a 2004 BusinessWeek article by Stanley Holmes and Wendy Zellner estimated Sam’s Club’s average hourly wage at $11.52.

    On the benefits side, 82% of Costco employees have health-insurance coverage, compared with less than half at Wal-Mart. And Costco workers pay just 8% of their health premiums, whereas Wal-Mart workers pay 33% of theirs. Ninety-one percent of Costco’s employees are covered by retirement plans, with the company contributing an annual average of $1,330 per employee, while 64 percent of employees at Sam’s Club are covered, with the company contributing an annual average of $747 per employee.

    So, Costco’s methods are more expensive, but their turnover is significantly lower (17% overall – dropping to 6% after a years employment, while Sam’s Club turnover is 44%). What does that end up costing?

    To be conservative, let’s assume that the total cost of replacing an hourly employee at Costco or Sam’s Club is only 60% of his or her annual salary. If a Costco employee quits, the cost of replacing him or her is therefore $21,216. If a Sam’s Club employee leaves, the cost is $12,617. At first glance, it may seem that the low-wage approach at Sam’s Club would result in lower turnover costs. But if its turnover rate is the same as Wal-Mart’s, Sam’s Club loses more than twice as many people as Costco does: 44% versus 17%. By this calculation, the total annual cost to Costco of employee churn is $244 million, whereas the total annual cost to Sam’s Club is $612 million. That’s $5,274 per Sam’s Club employee, versus $3,628 per Costco employee

    Add to this that “Costco gets one of the most loyal and productive workforces in all of retailing, and, probably not coincidentally, the lowest shrinkage (employee theft) figures in the industry.”

    Do these practices add economic value, Dana? I would say so. Looks like Costco understands economics quite well. Not to mention, that if you pay people more they will spend more. One would think that more customers would be Walmart’s business model.

    Class dismissed.

  37. Dana says:

    Pandora, it’s pretty obvious: whatever Costco’s model, other employers have chosen not to follow it. You can even think that Costco’s model is wiser, and if you run a company, you have the right to follow that model yourself, but most companies seem to choose otherwise.

  38. Dana says:

    An obvious question: if the Costco model Pandora has told us about so many times is so great, why hasn’t the minimum wage simply died out, gone away, disappeared from public consciousness, because all of the other employers would have chosen to pay more?

  39. pandora says:

    The comparison, and results, between Costco and Sam’s Club are telling. Costco is winning, right, Dana? They are making more money (with fewer stores). Isn’t that your definition of a successful business? Add to this that Costco employees do more to help the economy by having more money to spend. I’d think you’d get that. It’s economics, after all.

  40. Jason330 says:

    This is exactly what a brain dead dupe would say: “…why hasn’t the minimum wage simply died out, gone away, disappeared from public consciousness,”

  41. puck says:

    Because we maintain a reserve army of the unemployed (and under-employed). Labor does not have enough leverage. All the economic power is concentrated into fewer and fewer hands. This is an economic problem with political solutions. That’s why the people who give a damn are talking about income inequality.

  42. Tom McKenney says:

    Dana the trend is moving towards the Cosco model.

  43. Dave says:

    While the Costco labor model for their stores (~ 4,000 SKUs) cannot directly apply to something like a WalMart (~140,000 SKUs), there are fundamental principles that can and should be applied. Among these is that employee turnover has a cost in terms of productivity and new hire costs. Retention lowers costs. Happy employees are more productive. Lower costs and greater productivity equals greater profits. I wouldn’t apply Costco’s entire business model to WalMart but I certainly would not ignore things that are intuitively obvious either. Yet many CEOs do. But then many CEOs are not particularly qualified for their job either since they often have a financial background rather than a people and systems background. Happiness is difficult to quantify so it is often ignored.

  44. pandora says:

    We really need to stop pretending business men/women are the smartest people in the room. They aren’t – not by a long shot. Allow me to present Papa John and Herman Cain. What is it with Republicans and crappy pizza? Yeah, they’re rich, but they got that way by selling an awful product. And that seems to be the point – make money by selling cheap crap. (One of the reasons I never shop at Walmart. Hate their business model and hate their product – a product designed not to last.)

    And you know what? People get this. That’s part of the reason Romney’s “run the country like a business” platform failed. The business community is only interested in making money – for themselves. Fine, but life is more complicated than the bottom line, and people know that.

    Imagine if the GOP got its way – health care/insurance would be based on the Papa John’s model. If that doesn’t give you nightmares, I don’t know what will!

  45. Dana says:

    Well, since y’all don’t think I know anything, perhaps you’ll listen to The Wall Street Journal:

    Michael Saltsman: The Employee of the Month Has a Battery
    Minimum wage hikes are accelerating the trend toward automation—and fewer workers—in services.
    By Michael Saltsman | Jan. 29, 2014 7:32 p.m. ET

    Ten years ago it might have seemed far-fetched that a customer could order food in a restaurant without speaking to anyone. But it’s a reality now as service employers across the country—including Chili’s, Chevys Fresh Mex and California Pizza Kitchen—introduce tabletop ordering devices. A few clicks on an iPad-like device and the food is on its way.

    Technology has made these changes possible, but that’s not what’s driving their implementation. Steady federal and state increases to the minimum wage have forced employers in retail and service industries to rely on technology as the government makes entry-level labor more expensive. Now Democrats are pushing to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.25 at the behest of President Obama, who argued in his State of the Union address that the increase would “help families.” Lawmakers should consider the technology trend a warning.

    Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates made the connection in a recent interview on MSNBC. Asked if he supported a higher minimum wage, Mr. Gates urged caution and said the policy would create an incentive for employers to “buy machines and automate things.”

    Mr. Gates is right, but the transition toward self-service began long before tabletop computers were a viable option. Self-service soda machines, available at fast-food restaurants since at least the late 1970s, were a labor-saving device. Even coffee carafes left on the table for customers to serve themselves allowed restaurants to reduce the staff needed to fill cups. More recently, major restaurant chains such as Bob Evans and Chili’s have updated their service model to eliminate bus boys, relying on servers to clear tables themselves.

    Technology has enabled much bigger overhauls. Consider the modern department store: At some Target and Macy’s locations, customers can check their own prices, as well as check themselves out at self-service kiosks after shopping. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2012 that the number of these establishments has grown by 23% over the last 10 years, while total employment at the firms has fallen by 6%.

    More at the link; the emphasis is mine.

    Of course, you can tell me that companies should do this and do that, but I am more interested in how they already behave, what actions they currently take to deal with problems and costs. Pandora can complain, “We really need to stop pretending business men/women are the smartest people in the room. They aren’t – not by a long shot,” but whether y’all believe that the businessmen are dummies is beside the point: they are still the ones taking the decisions, and they are still the ones who will succeed, or fail, based on their decisions. If you believe that you can do it better, fine, go right ahead, start and build a company.

  46. Dana says:

    Pandora illustrates the disconnect:

    Allow me to present Papa John and Herman Cain. What is it with Republicans and crappy pizza? Yeah, they’re rich, but they got that way by selling an awful product. And that seems to be the point – make money by selling cheap crap.

    If their pizza is “crappy,” how did they ever sell it to get rich?

    So, you don’t like Papa John’s or Godfather’s Pizza. Obviously there are other people who disagree, and there are plenty of other competitors out there in the pizza business. If their pizza was universally regarded as bad, they’d never have succeeded.

  47. liberalgeek says:

    So the companies are ALREADY doing this and the minimum wage hasn’t been enacted? So we should lower the minimum wage to prevent this? Do you really have a point Dana?

    Seriously, there isn’t a state in the union where full-time work at minimum wage can rent an average apartment. The minimum wage needs to keep pace with inflation at least and it has been falling behind for decades.

  48. pandora says:

    Not dummies, just not close to the smartest people in the room. Not by a long shot. They have one focus – money. Fine, but not exactly the model to build a society upon.

  49. Dana says:

    Dave wrote:

    But then many CEOs are not particularly qualified for their job either since they often have a financial background rather than a people and systems background.

    it should be obvious: the boards of directors who hire the CEOs find them to be qualified, or they wouldn’t get hired. It’s almost as though corporate boards look at these things differently from the way you believe they should.

  50. Jason330 says:

    How adorable. You sure are a reliable little dupe.

    Well, since y’all don’t think I know anything, perhaps you’ll listen to The Wall Street Journal:

    Your master’s Pravda. How utterly predictable.

  51. pandora says:

    From what Dana has written in the past, he lives close to Jim Thorpe, PA. ‘Nuff said. And the WSJ’s opinion page? Bwhahaha!

    He completely ignores that Costco is kicking Sam’s Club’s butt. Why is that? Yep, so not the smartest people in the room.

  52. jason330 says:

    it should be obvious: the boards of directors who hire the CEOs… blah blah blah…

    I could mention that the acceptance of shareholder primacy changed the rewards structure for CEO’s and caused the collapse of US manufacturing as we knew it but what’s the point. This guy is so loaded up with his master’s bullshit that, in addition to being stupid and ill informed. his talking points are ll too predictable and boring.

    Put in a quarter and he’ll spit out some Rupert Murdoch quote to justify his own serfdom.

    No thanks.

  53. Dave says:

    “the boards of directors who hire the CEOs ”

    Unfortunately, I have to note that members of the board of directors are not necessarily qualified either. What you don’t comprehend is that BODs and CEOs are members of a club. I don’t mean the 1% percenters and crap like that. I mean members of the CEO club. Movement within the CEO club is from one CEO job to another, usually with more responsibility, compensation, etc. Even CEOs who are fired move to another CEO job. The primary qualifications for a CEO job is previous CEO (or CFO) positions AND a reputation. That’s why you get people like D Shivakumar CEO Nokia (they make cell phones) becoming CEO of PepsiCo India (they make um…soda). I know you are rather isolated in the mountains over there in Thorpe, but that’s really the way it works. Often that cross industry change becomes a good fit, but just as often it’s a bad fit, otherwise CEOs would not be fired as often as they are.

  54. Jason330 says:

    Because he is such a brain dead dupe he probably “thinks” people become board members by “working hard” What a joke.

  55. Tom McKenney says:

    CEOs make up boards that supervise and pay other CEOs. Shareholders do not have much say. Almost sounds like a criminal organization.

  56. knows better says:

    @ Pandora: “We really need to stop pretending business men/women are the smartest people in the room.”
    There are some, probably a lot, that don’t fit that description. Not all feel that greed is good. Understand the intent for which it was directed but some at least try to be good humans.

    @Jason 330: “Because he is such a brain dead dupe he probably “thinks” people become board members by “working hard” What a joke.”
    Well Jason some actually do make it to those positions because they did work hard at some point in time of life doing something that was hard work. Not every board member, CEO or CFO was born into the boardroom. Sometimes it only takes one board member to provide an attitude adjustment behind those doors. It really could be worse without those few that do care being on a BOD.

    @Tom McKenney: “CEOs make up boards that supervise and pay other CEOs. Shareholders do not have much say. Almost sounds like a criminal organization.”
    That’s most likely the case for a number of really big corporations of which there are too many getting too big that most likely are worthy of that description but further down the corporate structures there are some that don’t stand for that kind of crap. There actually some that at least try to acknowlege the past that got them into the room.

  57. jason330 says:

    “Well Jason some actually do make it to those positions because they did work hard at some point in time…”

    Right. If hard work resulted in wealth, Sussex County’s chicken factory workers would be the richest people in Delaware. Not Charlie Copeland whose hardest day involves opening up divined checks.

  58. Dana says:

    If Mr Copeland’s checks are his by “divined” right, the he should open them up! :)

  59. SEO says:

    Hey! I know this is sort of off-topic but I needed
    to ask. Does building a well-established website like yours take a large amount of work?
    I am brand new to running a blog but I do write in
    my diary daily. I’d like to start a blog so I can share my own experience and views online.
    Please let me know if you have any recommendations
    or tips for new aspiring blog owners. Appreciate it!

  60. Jason330 says:

    Wow. That’s the most realistic robot yet. Verily, the singularity is nigh.