State of the Union: Divided by Partisanship (Jan. 30, 2014)

President Obama delivered the annual State of the Union to Congress and America earlier this week. Predictably, Democrats cheered the President’s remarks while Republicans denounced them.

On some issues, the President offered areas where there’s a real possibility to work jointly across the aisle – immigration, tax reform, retirement accounts, energy and infrastructure. Unfortunately, in others one could tell by the reaction of the audience in the chamber how far apart the two sides seem to be.

I applaud the President for raising the issue of climate change and extending an olive branch to Republicans on passing immigration reform that also secures our border. Tax reform was also mentioned and is an important issue necessary to strengthen our economy and help make American more competitive with other nations.

But there were important aspects missing that need to be addressed urgently – notably the need to tackle our nation’s staggering debt and control federal spending to move us towards a balanced budget. To his credit, the President acknowledged that so many people are still struggling in our weak economy – not working at all or working harder than ever to just make ends meet. But we did not hear of meaningful policy changes to help create more jobs and reduce the challenges faced by small businesses.

The State of the Union, and the reaction to it by both parties, was just the latest reminder of the excessive partisanship that is dividing our nation and preventing us from tackling countless urgent issues. My fervent hope is that the President and Congress start to find common ground on at least some issues and begin to restore the people’s confidence. I hope you agree.

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