The good thing about President Obama’s state of the union speech is that he acknowledged the public’s anger over the financial crisis.
The bad thing is that he appears to reject it. “Look,” he said. “I’m not interested in punishing banks.”
As expected, the president put the rhetorical focus on jobs and the economy in his state of the union. But the actual proposals, a combination of tax cuts and subsidies were relatively modest. But the combination of his proposed freeze on most discretionary spending and continuing Republican opposition make the possibility of dramatic improvement in jobs and the economy unlikely. The speech didn’t contain the kind of dramatic response that 18 percent real unemployment and a continuing foreclosure crisis demand.
President Obama insisted he would veto any financial reform that wasn’t real. But he didn’t spell out what that might mean. Does that mean he’ll veto financial reform that doesn’t contain a Consumer Financial Protection Agency or meaningful derivatives regulation? The president didn’t say. He also didn’t pledge to fight for any specific reforms in Congress. The only specific he mentioned was his proposed bank fee to recoup costs of the bailouts.
President Obama blames his legislative frustrations on his own inability to fully explain his policies. But the president who has repeatedly promised no more business as usual remains afraid to tap into, and act on, the public’s honest passion for real change.