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The State of the Union We Hoped For, But Never Received

The State of the Union We Hoped For, But Never Received

Healthcare is now more affordable than ever, with stories of innovative treatments and promising research filling the news each day.  Our immigration system is one of the most efficient and easily-understood in the world, offering millions of hardworking immigrants the opportunity to contribute, succeed, and live safely within the U.S. borders. The economy is consistently adding full-time jobs that lead to fulfilling careers, and wages are improving at a breakneck rate. The State of the Union is strong.

This is what most of us would want to hear in the president’s final State of the Union address – which he will deliver tonight – if only it were true. The sad fact is that not one of these statements is true, and the blame lies squarely with the government-knows-best failed policies of this administration. In January 2009, when Barack Obama stood before our nation to deliver his Inaugural Address, he called for a new era of responsibility, and promised each and every one of us a better country:

“That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood… Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.  Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered… Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real.  They are serious and they are many.  They will not be met easily or in a short span of time.  But know this America:  They will be met.”

Have these challenges been met? When President Obama took office, healthcare was in need of reform – as were our immigration system, and the economy, having just been hit by The Great Recession. But growing the size, scope, and interference of government in each of these areas has made things worse, not better.

When it comes to healthcare, the government is now more involved than ever in decisions between us and our doctors. The new system cannot function unless the young and healthy pay more, placing a huge burden on the backs of Hispanics, who are a decade younger than the rest of the nation and the largest uninsured population. And each day brings news regarding the failure of the co-ops, which is beyond belief.   

The president has played politics with immigration instead of constructively engaging with his opponents, and failed to make reform a priority even when his own party controlled both Houses of Congress. What limited actions he did take may have been well-intentioned, but caused uncertainty and hardship. The start of the year brought the news of a large-scale immigration crackdown, where federal agents have begun to raid the homes and businesses of unauthorized immigrants from Central America.  While the Secretary of Homeland Security had indicated they would prioritize the deportation of criminals, this latest move marks an apparent shift in time and resources to deport Central American families and children.

And then there is the economy. Is there any doubt the President will tout the number of jobs added this past month? Jobs added are always welcome news, but he will likely fail to mention we are experiencing one of the lowest participation rates since the 1970s, that 1.16 million Hispanics are forced into part-time work, and that wage growth is barely keeping pace with inflation. How are we supposed to pursue a better life with an economy like that?

 I’m closing by borrowing another line from the President’s 2009 Inauguration speech — because while his big-government tactics didn’t get us to where we should be in terms of healthcare, immigration, or the economy, I think most of us can agree the goals outlined at the beginning of his tenure are still possible, and still what we want for our country: “In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given.  It must be earned.  Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less.  It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.  Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor — who have carried us up the long rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.”