President Obama delivered his State of the Union address to the joint session of the United States Congress on February 12, 2013. He laid out his policy agenda for his second term in office which requires some critique while noting that he is open to building further on his reforms in his first term:
Entitlement Reforms: Health Care And Social Security
Fiscal cliff sets the leitmotif for building further on the Affordable Care Act. The president wants the wealthy to pay their fair share in healthcare for prescription drugs. We, however, see this as too small a step to make a significant dent in health care costs to government. We, therefore, urge the President and Congress to embrace our more innovative solution outlined in our paper below on entitlement reforms:
Barack Obama wants to close tax loopholes and comprehensively reform the tax code. It is high time the United States overhauled its tax code again after the Reagan reforms of 1986 as follows by shifting the tax code to a hybrid income-consumption tax-based system which will also serve the purpose of his pro-growth jobs agenda in manufacturing, energy and infrastructure:
We, however, think structural monetary intervention would be an effective and leading complement in the fiscal-monetary mix to accomplish the president’s agenda.
Energy and Climate Change
On energy and climate change, the president is on the right track in contemplating moving ground transportation off oil. Freight and passenger electric rail, electric cars and Liquified Natural Gas freight trucks will completely move US ground transportation off oil. It would be better to consider a mix of natural gas combined cycle co-generation power plants; upgrading coal plants to FutureGen clean coal power; nuclear; large solar and small solar; the Pickens-General Electric Mid-West large wind corridor; and geothermal to round out the ‘All of the Above’ strategy on power production.
A voucher program tied to private school affordability score cards has been long overdue in reforming the nation’s Pre K- 12 system.
We have been asking in these pages for some time for comprehensive immigration reform whose center-piece is a national identifier. Once immigration is comprehensively reformed, over time border security will not be necessary, of course, predicated on the success of US-Mexico-Columbia joint efforts to combat gangs and drugs.
Violence Against Women Act must more broadly encompass domestic violence against both men and women.
Paycheck Fairness And Minimum Wage
Tying minimum wage to cost of living is a welcome idea but we have advocated for a tax structure which, without dictating a minimum wage, caps the maximum wage at a reasonable multiple of the minimum wage in any corporation, for example, the total maximum compensation in any corporation cannot be allowed to exceed 100 times the total minimum compensation.
Foreign Policy And National Security
Transparency in counterterrorism, diplomatic gestures toward Iran and better cybersecurity are all welcome. Moving toward global zero or elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide together with Russia while preventing Iran obtain a nuclear weapon is encouraging and is a major shift in US sentiment on the nuclear posture.
On global development, poverty reduction and the goal of achieving AIDS-free generations are worthy of note.
It is not sufficient to end weapons of mass destruction. In our view, it is also important to ratify the UN Small Arms Treaty.