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Obama’s Republican Verses

The Democratic President Embraced Grand Old Rhetoric in the State of the Union

obama sotu

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address.

Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

At last night’s State of the Union address Barack Obama tried to reach across the spectrum from the Occupy set (he referred to income inequality as “the defining issue of our time”) to the Tea Party (Obama demanded: “No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts.”)

Obama introduced a few specific liberal policies that enjoy broad public support — taxing millionaires at 30 percent, for example. In large part, however, the state of the union featured language that wouldn’t have been out of place on the GOP campaign trail — at least until Huntsman 2012 gave up the ghost — whether Obama was insisting on merit pay for public school teachers, calling to reign in the federal bureaucracy, or roughly endorsing Rick Santorum’s proposed tax favors for domestic manufacturers. Or consider this sop to Big Oil: “Tonight, I’m directing my Administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources.”

Even traditional Democratic positions found themselves, in Obama’s speech, couched in Republicanese. It’s no surprise, for instance, that Obama trumpeted the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. You might have been surprised to hear him insist, however, that the sacrifices of that war “made the United States safer and more respected around the world.”

Throughout the state of the union address, the president repeatedly embraced the central GOP critique of government — as bloated, feckless, and hostile to free enterprise. Perhaps such rhetoric polls well with swing voters, but from my vantage point, it seems like a ton of political yardage to be ceding to the GOP at the kickoff of the general election campaign.

Here, from the speech, Obama’s top 12 Republican verses:

  1. “Tear down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow.”

  2. “Companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It makes no sense.”

  3. “The executive branch also needs to change. Too often, it’s inefficient, outdated and remote.”

  4. “I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets.”

  5. “It’s time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system.”

  6. “This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.”

  7. “My education reform offers more competition, and more control for schools and States.”

  8. “Our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a Government program.” 

  9. “Our iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.”

  10. “I will sign an Executive Order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects.”

  11. “There is no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly.”  

  12. “We’ve already agreed to more than $2 trillion in cuts and savings.  But we need to do more.”




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