I’m not sure he took full advantage of it, instead choosing to offer poll-tested, tired liberal ideas in a campaign-style speech that simply will not shake the current political dynamic on Capitol Hill.
Obama failed to present a real plan to balance the budget and begin to pay down our rising $16 trillion debt.
On immigration, the president expressed support for a comprehensive, bipartisan bill and rightly applauded the lawmakers in both houses courageously working on the issue.
On gun control, he attempted to use the recent tragedies of gun violence to call for congressional action, saying the victims "deserve a vote," in an effective, repetitive rhetorical fashion. He did not express outright support for an assault weapons ban, and the road forward on gun control is unclear because the political path for significant new laws remains uncertain.
Overall, it was a highly partisan and uninspired speech, which I suspect will not change much on Capitol Hill. He failed to reach out to Republicans and proposed nothing that can pass a Republican-controlled House.
Instead, he proposed billions of dollars in new spending, pretending none of it would add to the deficit because taxes and loopholes could be increased to pay for them. This kind of fuzzy math doesn’t lead to a balanced budget, only trillions of dollars in new debt.
He threatened to use executive orders to advance action on climate change, which undoubtedly could not garner enough political support to pass even in the Democrat-controlled Senate, let alone the House. This tactic will imperil the confirmation of whomever he chooses to nominate to lead the EPA, a selection he is expected to make public in the next few days.
According to Obama, every problem in American life can be solved with a new government program.
To summarize his State of the Union: “I am from the government and I’m here to help.”
Matt Mackowiak is co-founder of MustReadTexas.com and an Austin, Texas, and Washington-based Republican consultant and president of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC. He has been an adviser to two U.S. senators and a governor, and has advised federal and state political campaigns across the country.