President’s speech misses the mark

Like many Americans, we were anxious to hear what President Barack Obama would say during Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

What we heard, however, was another speech that was long on rhetoric and short on policy, one that failed to indicate the president was willing to take on concerns about the economy, one in which he called on his political opponents to work toward consensus on key issues while indicating he had little interest in compromise himself.

The president delivered his fourth State of the Union address (and fifth address to a joint session of Congress), still demonstrating the confidence he has shown since his re-election in November.

While enthusiastic in his oratory, he failed to deliver on the key issues that are facing our country. While we can agree that changes must be made to better the economic prospects of the middle class, we find the president’s insistance that those improvements will happen as a result of higher taxes and more government intervention to be troubling, at best.

He continues to call for Americans to pay “their fair share,” yet he has failed to define exactly what that is, and indicated he had little willingness to work on a plan that would include any more than modest reforms in entitlement spending and modest tax increases.

Answers are needed quickly, as the government faces the prospect of running out of money to fund federal agencies on March 27.

This is all set against a backdrop of a national economy that is struggling. According to The Associated Press, the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent in January, and the economy shrank at a rate of 0.1 percent during the last few months of 2012.

We do agree with the president, however, on his call to increase educational opportunities for pre-kindergartners as a way to build a solid foundation toward future learning. His willingness to work with Congress on immigration reform is encouraging, as was the news that 34,000 American troops soon would be leaving Afghanistan.

His positions on increased gun control and climate change legislation, however, appear to have little traction in Congress, where Democrats control the Senate and Republicans the House.

Yet, we also agree with Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who delivered the Republican response to the president’s speech when he reminded Americans that “More government isn’t going to help you get ahead. It’s going to hold you back. More government isn’t going to create more opportunities. It’s going to limit them.”

Even the president himself told Americans that we don’t need more government, but we do need smarter government.

Let’s hope that he follows through on that sentiment.