In his first State of the Union address since the dawn of the newly divided government, President Obama called on both parties to help prevent him from accomplishing anything significant for the next two years.
Delivering a series of proposals having little chance of getting passed – including cuts in spending, deficit reduction, and convincing people government is not awful – the president acknowledged that nothing will be changing any time soon.
“Move together? Not at all,” Obama said during his hour-long prime time address. “My goal as president until the next election cycle is to keep things from getting too terribly worse, while making nice-sounding promises so people think we’re doing something. And with the help of a divided Congress, that goal will become a reality.”
Obama promised to freeze discretionary spending for five years, expand wireless services throughout the country, and make money grow on trees. While Democrats applauded the president’s ongoing war on health care, Republicans showed approval for empty promises to curtail earmark spending.
Many analysts say the speech marked a shift toward a new era of bipartisanship. When Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, bipartisanship meant Republicans agreeing with the ruling party; now, Obama said, “Bipartisanship means keeping each other from doing really anything.”
Commenting on the federal government’s role in the lives of everyday Americans, the president said, “We do big things. We spend big, we control big, we pass big volumes of laws people never read. We’re a big presence in your life because we’re simply big. And big ideas are what America is all about.”