By Rick Manning
On Tuesday, President Obama will deliver the State of the Union message and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers of the state of Washington will provide the Republican response. All of official D.C. will be buzzing about which interest groups got their pet issues mentioned and which were omitted as the competing political parties jockey for position heading into the next, seemingly interminable election cycle.
As Obama enters the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives, he will be greeted by the normal crew of Members seeking to bask in his faded glory. It is an absolute sure bet that Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee will be positioned to smilingly pounce on Obama as he comes up the aisle, delaying him as she seeks her annual time in the reflected spotlight.
The speech will be predictable fare. Obama will claim that the economy is taking off pointing to lower unemployment numbers as proof. He will declare that in spite of the gains, more needs to be done and that he plans on using his magic pen that simultaneously creates law while erasing the Constitution to move his agenda. He will unintentionally emphasize his lawlessness by pointing out a number of illegal aliens who have been invited by Members of Congress to attend. No one will rush to deport these law breakers as they will be nothing but useful props to Obama and on the floor of the Capitol laws are made to be broken if they can prod the House to act on this conflated issue.
Observers will watch the face of Speaker John Boehner in an attempt to read the tea leaves of what he will do on this issue that could revive Obama’s legacy.
Once Obama is done talking about income inequality and how he wants to fix it by having government take more from those who are fortunate enough to have a job to give it to those who don’t, it will be the Republicans turn.
House Republican Conference Chair McMorris-Rodgers will present a softer side of the Republican Party which has traditionally played the role of father to the Democrats nurturing mother in national politics.
You can expect her to express compassion for those who are struggling five years into the Obama economy to find work, and for those students who are buried in debt and cannot find a professional job in their field of study. She is likely to talk about the progress that has been made in cutting the national debt in half over the past three years, and promise a pathway to a balanced budget. And she will gently lay the blame for increased income inequality during Obama’s term on Obama himself. Pointing out that he has been more interested in strangling America’s private sector in a sea of red tape than to allow them to grow their businesses, hire more employees and eliminate the government dependency cycle that is driving the inequality.
It is unlikely that Obama will say much about health care beyond providing an assurance that after a rocky start, the program is working. McMorris-Rodgers will likely call for the law’s repeal, the standard stalemate as the system fails just as the Democrats planned all along. But, as with everything else, nothing will come of the rhetoric as Republicans have decided that they won’t risk a government shutdown giving Obama the winning hand in any confrontation on must pass legislation.
Too little time will be spent talking about the brave men and women of our armed forces who prove every day that America does produce exceptional patriots even though they are hard to find in D.C..
And that is the State of the Union, an America with two political parties in a death grip fighting for power, while the people outside the Beltway look on in disgust knowing that neither represents change from the status quo.
It hardly seems worth watching.
Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for americans for limited government