America needs a reality check.
At least, that’s what President Obama said in last night’s State of the Union address. While the president acknowledged the fact that the economy is improving, businesses are creating new jobs and the stock market is rebounding, he made it clear that there is still a lot more work to do.
The president spoke of the very basics of the business world — that “if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like or who you love.”
Those are simple concepts, the foundation of America, but notions that seem to have gotten lost in the last decade as the economy rose and fell. Obama focused much of his address on the economy and the fact that individual and corporate tax reform is key, and getting rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the wealthy is essential to promoting growth.
New Jobs Needed
However, the president made it clear that deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan. He called attention to the fact that our country needs to create new jobs and invest in the best ideas. He spoke of launching more manufacturing innovation institutes similar to the one in Youngstown, Ohio, that will lead to the creation of more high-tech jobs.
While this all sounds great, the biggest issue America faces is the deficit. Obama said the initiatives listed would improve the middle class, such as increasing the federal minimum wage and promoting cleaner energy and improved manufacturing, should not increase the deficit at all. Fresh off the fiscal cliff debate, he pointed out multiple times that the biggest driver of the debt is the rising cost of health care. The guarantee of a secure retirement is something that the government needs to deliver to seniors.
Allowing Homeowners to Refinance
Perhaps one of the biggest points Obama drove home last night was the fact that too many families with solid credit aren’t allowed to purchase homes, and that is holding the economy back. He proposed a bill that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s rates.
That is an interesting concept — one that would help young families save money while helping the economy grow. Both Democrats and Republicans have supported that bill before, so there is no need to argue this any further. In Obama’s words, take a vote and send him the bill.
While President Obama did what he does best and delivered a rousing, motivating speech last night, all of those words are just words until we see some action. This country has the tools it needs to improve and grow over the next four years. Now it’s time to create jobs, pay our bills on time, and work not with a bigger government, but a smarter government.
Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it seven years ago, helping birth Debt.org into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering college and professional sports, which are the fantasy worlds of finance. His work has been published by the Associated Press, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News, among others. His interest in sports has waned some, but his interest in never reaching for his wallet is as passionate as ever. Bill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.