I found a lot to like in the President's speech.
I strongly support his commitment to bring back American manufacturing. For generations, factory jobs meant a spot in the middle class; jobs in the service economy or in retail often do not. Reforming the tax laws to reward companies for creating American manufacturing is an important step. Cracking down on unfair trade practices by China and others will level the playing field for American manufacturers. And extending the payroll tax cut will put money in the pockets of working and middle-class families so they can buy American manufactured goods.
It was a relief to hear praise for public school teachers and a commitment to public schools. Public education has been hit with deep cuts in North Carolina and elsewhere, and teachers have come under attack for our economic problems, like it was public school teachers who bundled predatory, subprime mortgages into toxic financial assets.
And I welcomed the President's promise to hold accountable the people who really were responsible for the financial crisis and the painful recession. The President promised to create a special unit to investigate and prosecute fraud and other financial crimes. The failure to investigate evidence of crimes by the economically powerful has offended the sense of justice of many Americans, including me. The same rules have to apply to everybody. The Administration announced separately tonight that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will head that task force. Schneiderman has been a tough, independent prosecutor, and will not allow himself to be used as window dressing.
Most achievable: criminal investigations and prosecutions of fraud and other financial fraud is entirely within the executive branch's power, and requires no action by Congress. The penalties that result can help homeowners who were wronged and stabilize the housing market without taxpayer dollars.
Hardest to achieve: the call to work together without regard to politics. Intense, destructive partisanship will likely be with us for a while, certainly for all of this year, however much most Americans wish it were not so.