Colorado Front and Center
State of the Union Speech Charts Two-Year Course
Colorado played key roles in President Obama’s State of the Union speech. First, one of the President’s policy proposals focused on aggressive goals for Energy Policy, with a structure almost identical to the course charted in Governor Ritter’s “New Energy Economy.”
The President labeled Natural Gas as a clean fuel needed to achieve his energy objectives — honeyed words to Colorado’s myriad companies in the industry. Even coal received a reprieve from the President when he included “Clean Coal” as one of the energy sources of the future. Coal provides about 45% of electrical production today so, if it becomes “Clean Coal,” it would still be a significant electrical energy source. Oil accounts for only 1% of electrical power generation today so position could be unchanged. The other sources account for the balance of 54% and already are in Obama’s approved categories.
Second, Bruce Randolph School in Denver received a major “shout out” from the President, who highlighted the school’s almost Phoenix-like rise from the ashes of failure to graduating 97% of its senior class. Former Principal Kristin Waters, assigned by then Denver Public Schools Superintendent and now U.S. Senator Michael Bennet to rescue the school, did just that — demonstrating the dramatic progress which can be made in K-12 education with the right leadership and environment.
Obama’s focus on finding paths to educational success included a call to find better ways to reward good teachers and dismiss bad ones resonated across the State and nation. While those words warmed the hearts of education reformers seeking greater flexibility and school choice, the President made certain his educational union backers were semi-mollified by his call for teachers to be treated with greater respect.
Third, U.S. Senator Mark Udall was the biggest winner of the Colorado delegation. His proposal to have Democrats and Republicans change their pattern of segregated seating and, instead, mix the parties was an outright success. Udall’s suggestion was the talk of Washington and, although initially dismissed by some, it quickly became recognized as a simple act to display the potential for civility and bipartisanship. Udall, who is well-liked by his colleagues in the Senate, now has the opportunity to follow-up and begin a long-term initiative.
Camera shots during the speech showed different clusters of members of both parties sitting together. The juxtaposition of some was amusing to those who know Senators and Congresspersons on sight but one of the best shots was that of the Colorado House members all sitting in a row. Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Ed Perlmutter received solid “face time” but the whole Colorado delegation (including DeGette, Polis, Tipton, and Lamborn) set an example for the nation.
Obama’s themes focused on the need to make targeted, strategic investments in education, science and innovation, and infrastructure to move the Economy forward while, at the same time, reining in spending. What was missing were specifics on how the Federal Budget could be balanced.
Obama proposed eliminating subsidies for the Oil Industry and reinvesting them in renewable energy sources. He also called for simplifying the tax structure — a proposal which should be well-received on Capitol Hill — and which has the potential to actually raise revenues if rates are lowered and deductions are eliminated (i.e., trade the hundreds of billions spent on bookkeepers, accounts, tax lawyers, and internal staff for new tax revenue so the net cost is zero but the government gets additional revenues). It will be a challenge to see how Obama runs the gauntlet of special interests which will fight any attempt to gore their tax policy oxen.
Overall, the tone of the President’s discourse was positive and even uplifting. It was a “Yes, we can do it” speech — as much cheerleading as it was policy. By starting with a focus on Americans as one big family, Obama created an atmosphere conducive to working together.
Obama’s argument for unification of the American people was direct and compelling. He argued the United States cannot afford to compete within itself but must find ways to work together internally to compete on the world stage. With stiff competition from China, India, and other countries, Obama urged Americans to reorient their thinking and focus on the challenges presented by global competition.
The President’s challenge now is to translate his inspirational words into specific policies which will pass muster in a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-controlled Senate. While that split will help the President by making passage of extreme measures from the Left or Right nearly impossible, it is unclear how easy any legislation will be to pass in the coming months.
Aaron Harber hosts “The Aaron Harber Show” seen on Channel 3 KCDO-TV (K3 Colorado) on Sundays at 8:00 pm and “Colorado Now!” at 8:30 pm as well as on COMCAST Entertainment Television and ION Television (KPXC-TV). All programs are viewable 24/7 at http://www.HarberTV.com and http://www.Colorado-Now.com. Send e-mail to Aaron@HarberTV.com. (C) Copyright 20111by USA Talk Network, Inc. and Aaron Harber. All rights reserved.