Last night, the Powers that Be gathered in Washington DC for the annual Nerd Oscars— the President's State of the Union address. There were ties in primary colors, John Boehner's aggressively orange skin, that hug between the President and Gabrielle Giffords that made everyone cry, plenty of clapping, and more standing and sitting than a Catholic mass. But, of course, what matters isn't what everyone wore, but what Obama said, and he said some very pretty things.
Equal Pay for Equal Work... and Equal Insurance Premiums
The President got wild applause and a standing ovation for his proclamation that women should be paid the same amount of money for doing the same jobs as men. He also made a point to stress the importance of not going back to a time when women and men paid different insurance premiums. I'm sure that men who oppose subsidizing women's health care will point out that it's not fair that they have to pay for childbirth and stuff. I say that if you owe your very existence on earth to a woman who got pregnant, subjected herself to 9 months of various forms of nauseous discomfort, went through unspeakable amounts of pain, and possibly ripped her vagina, paying it forward by subsidizing women's health care is the very least you can do.
Everyone go to high school
The President would like to mandate that everyone attend high school until age 18 or until graduation. This will make for some interesting angry letters to the editors in states where students sometimes drop out of school to work the family farm (Family Farm brought to you by Monsanto) and some interesting screenplays for teen sex comedies about hilarity ensuing when a rule like this goes into effect.
The tuition is too damn high
The President said,
So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can't stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can't be a luxury – it's an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.
As someone who is a part of a generation saddled with $912874912873479 worth of debt immediately upon graduation from college, this is welcome news. This is also great news for people with kids who are just now realizing that it's going to cost one house per year to send Junior to school.
Keep the smart immigrants around.
Obama wants America to know that he's put a lot of "boots on the ground" at the border to keep people out, but he also wants to stop the brain drain and keep people in.
But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let's at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.
For as it says on the Statue of LIberty, bring me your lab techs, your entrepreneurs, your computer programmers, your students halfway capable of doing math...
Mitt Romney, Daddy Warbucks, Uncles Scrooge and Moneypenny, and other cartoonishly wealthy people will have to pay higher taxes.
In what's probably pretty awful timing, potential GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney released his 2010 tax returns yesterday, and it turns out that not only is he making more money per day than most Americans make per year, but he's also paying a lower tax rate than the guy who sits outside of the Dunkin Donuts asking passersby for change. When the President called for everyone making over $1 million per year to pay at least 30% of their income in taxes, he declared what Republicans like to call "class warfare," which is sort of like regular warfare but instead of people getting their limbs blown off and houses burned down, they pay taxes.
This part of the speech will be slowed down, made black and white, edited so it looks like it was shot with a fish eye lens, and played during SuperPAC sponsored ads while a concerned sounding mom type tells the viewing audience that Barack Obama wants to punish success.
But before we talk about loving the President's speech so much that we want our babies to look like it, there are a few things that he didn't say. He didn't talk about the Affordable Care Act specifically. He didn't discuss reproductive health or abortion rights. He didn't mention Gabrielle Giffords or Mark Kirk (the Illinois Senator who is hospitalized after suffering a stroke) by name. There could be any number of reasons for this, ranging from "not politically expedient" to "America's only got so much attention span."
Further, whether or not any of the speech's suggestions will ever go into effect in the face of Republican obstructionism or Democratic inaction remains to be seen. But, for now, let's bask in the shiny, sparkly potential of what was laid out last night, and pretend that it will all happen.
Obama SOTU transcript [Politico]