State of the Union

Longest State of the Union

At just over a thousand words, George Washington delivered the shortest State of the Union address.  The longest was by Jimmy Carter on January 16, 1981 at 33, 667 words.  Mercifully he sent it as a written message rather than delivering it as a speech.  If he had attempted to give it as a speech, he would have been speaking for around six hours.  Here is the text:

To the Congress of the United States:
The State of the Union is sound. Our economy is recovering from a recession. A national energy plan is in place and our dependence on foreign oil is decreasing. We have been at peace for four uninterrupted years.
But, our Nation has serious problems. Inflation and unemployment are unacceptably high. The world oil market is increasingly tight. There are trouble spots throughout the world, and 53 American hostages are being held in Iran against international law and against every precept of human affairs.1
However, I firmly believe that, as a result of the progress made in so many domestic and international areas over the past four years, our Nation is stronger, wealthier, more compassionate and freer than it was four years ago. I am proud of that fact. And I believe the Congress should be proud as well, for so much of what has been accomplished over the past four years has been due to the hard work, insights and cooperation of Congress. I applaud the Congress for its efforts and its achievements.
In this State of the Union Message I want to recount the achievements and progress of the last four years and to offer recommendations to the Congress for this year. While my term as President will end before the 97th Congress begins its work in earnest, I hope that my recommendations will serve as a guide for the direction this country should take so we build on the record of the past four years.

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January 8, 1790: Washington Delivers First State of the Union Address

On January 8, 1790 George Washington delivered the first State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress.  Then called the Annual Message, the practice of the President delivering a speech to Congress would be ended by Thomas Jefferson who regarded such a practice as monarchical, too much like the British King’s Speech From the Throne at the beginning of Parliaments.  Perhaps, or perhaps it was simply that Jefferson was a bad public speaker and hated making speeches.  At any rate the custom of delivering the Annual Message to Congress in writing endured for over a century until Wilson revived delivering the Message via a speech to a joint session of Congress.

Wahington’s speech is the shortest state of the union address on record.  In that, as in so much else, one might wish that his successors had observed Washington’s example.  Here is the text of Washington’s address:

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:
I embrace with great satisfaction the opportunity which now presents itself of congratulating you on the present favorable prospects of our public affairs. The recent accession of the important state of North Carolina to the Constitution of the United States (of which official information has been received), the rising credit and respectability of our country, the general and increasing good will toward the government of the Union, and the concord, peace, and plenty with which we are blessed are circumstances auspicious in an eminent degree to our national prosperity. Continue reading

Chris Johnson Watched the State of the Union Speech So You Didn’t Have To

State of the Union Condensed

 

Chris Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so many times for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, watched the State of the Union speech last night so you didn’t have to:

Got started a little earlier than I thought I would.

2:34 I just got back from Freddie’s Market to lay in booze, er, supplies for tonight’s festivities. The more I think about it, the more I believe that Stephen Green may have had the right idea all along.

7:55 Gettin’ on toward that time so I’d better get the first vodka thing going.

8:02 – Let’s rock and roll.

8:08 – Himself is on the way in.

8:13 “Our combat mission in Afghanistan is over”  Really?

8:15  “Growing economy?”  I don’t have a job, dumbass.

8:18  “We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very hard times.”  Of course that’s never happened before.

8:20 “America is number one in oil and gas.”  No thanks to your opposition to Keystone or fracking, thank you very much.

8:22 Dude’s just making crap up now.

8:23 My way or the highway, bitches.

8:25 Rebecca just isn’t asking for a handout.  Except that she wants “affordable child care” at someone else’s expense.

8:27 You’re not just going to be paying for Sandra Fluke’s birth control.  You’re going to be paying for Sandra Fluke’s birth control AND paid her affordable maternity leave.

8:29 “That’s why this Congress needs to make sure that women are paid the same as men.”  Since they basically are right now.

8:30  Strengthen unions.  Saw that one coming a million light years away.

8:32 Free community college.  ‘Kay.  Who’s paying for it, O?

8:34 Apprenticeships?  You mean like going back to reading law again?  Produced Lincoln, after all.

8:36 This is starting to sound something like a Nuremberg rally.

8:37 “Let’s set our sights higher than a pipeline.”  See you, Keystone.  And get used to paying $3.00 or more a gallon again.

8:40 “And where we too often run under the rocks is how we pay for all this”  Here we go.

8:43 The top one percent.  Saw that one coming a light year away.

8:44 He’s on to foreign policy now.

8:45 Barry thinks his “foreign policy” is making a difference.

8:47 America’s foreign policy has been forceful?  Obama wants a Congressional resolution authorizing force against the “Islamic” State.

8:52  G0 ahead and take “credit” for Cuba, O.  “Stands up for democratic values and extends the hands of friendship to Cuba?”  Care to reconcile those two mutually-exclusive ideas, Barry?

8:53  Computer hackers now?  This have something to do with the IRS scandal?

8:55 Climate change.  Last year was the warmest year of climate change of record, Barry.  Do you have any idea how old the universe is, dimwit?

8:56 Barry wants to go Luddite.

8:57 Dude had to work duh gaze in there.  Pretty much de riguer these days.

8:58 O wants to close Gitmo.

9:00 “I still believe that we are one people.”  Glad you do.

Sorry that things stopped early.  Some kind of technical problem; I’m not quite sure what happened there.  I’ll keep comments open a little while longer. Continue reading

State of the Union Speech 1924

 

 

Although known as Silent Cal, Calvin Coolidge when he gave a speech made certain that each word he uttered was for a purpose.  In 1923 he gave the first State of the Union speech that was broadcast on radio.  His 1924 State of the Union hit hard what was for him a burning passion:  economy in government.  His views are so at variance to what passes for popular wisdom these days, that they deserve to be remembered.  Here is the portion of his speech dealing with controlling debt and the growth of government: Continue reading

The State of the Union Address That Will Never Be Delivered

State of the Union

 

 

Here is the State of the Union Speech that will never be delivered:

“Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, Distinguished Guests, my fellow Americans.  Each year it is a duty of the President to report on the State of the Union to the Congress.  Often these speeches have been mere feel good exercises, frequently containing little of substance.  Tonight is going to be different.  Tonight it is time for blunt truth.

America is a great and strong nation, but in many ways the State of our Union is troubled.  We have the worst economy in the last three decades.  Signs of recovery are few.  I could attempt to assess some responsibility for this poor economy to my predecessor, but that would be pointless.  You, the American people, are not interested in blame.  What you are interested in is improving the economy, and so far, under my watch, that has not happened.  I, in good faith, attempted to stimulate the economy through a massive stimulus bill.  Thus far the results have been meager for the amount of money spent.  Time for a course correction.  Beginning tomorrow I am going to hold meetings with the Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress.  The economy is my number one priority, as it rightly is yours, and I am open to all ideas, from whatever source, to jumpstart the economy and return us to the path to prosperity.  If taxcuts and spending cuts are necessary to get the economy moving, so be it.  Whatever works is my watchword on this key issue.  To quote another President from Illinois, “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present.”  I am a Democrat, by the standards of many Americans a Liberal Democrat.  I’m proud of this, but I will not allow my adherence to certain beliefs to stand in the way of improving the economy.  Time for us all, past time, Republicans, Democrats and Independents, to work together to get the economy moving.    This is my chief concern and I will do whatever it takes to accomplish this task. Continue reading

First State of the Union Address

The first state of the Union address, then called the President’s annual message to Congress, was delivered by President Washington to the First Congress on January 8, 1790.  It is also the shortest.  Would that his predecessors, as in so much else, had followed his example!  Here is the text of the speech:

FELLOW CITIZENS Of the SENATE, and HOUSE of REPRESENTATIVES,

I EMBRACE with great satisfaction the opportunity, which now presents itself, of congratulating you on the present favourable prospects of our public affairs. The recent accession of the important state of Northcarolina to the Constitution of the United States (of which official information has been received)— the ruling credit and respectability of our country— the general and increasing good will towards the government of the union, and the concord, peace and plenty, with which we are blessed, are circumstances auspicious, in an excellent degree, to our national prosperity.

In reforming your consultations for the general good, you cannot but derive encouragement from the reflection, the measures of the last session have been as satisfactory to your constituents as the novelty and difficulty of the work allowed you to hope.– Still further to realize their expectations, and to secure the blessings which a gracious Providence has placed within our reach, will in the course of the present important session, call for the cool and deliberate exertion of your patriotism, firmness and wisdom.

Among the many interesting objects which will engage your attention, that of providing for the common defence will merit particular regard. To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace. Continue reading

The Oft-Repeated Lie About Warren Buffet’s Secretary’s Tax Rate

For last night’s State of the Union Address, President Obama invited Warren Buffet’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, to sit in the First Lady’s box during the speech and specifically promised in that speech to support tax changes in order to mend the injustice Buffet claims occurs allowing him to pay the lowest tax rate of anyone in his office, including his secretary. This line of attack is doubtless partly designed to pave the way millionaire Barrack Obama to make populist attacks on multi-millionaire Mitt Romney during the upcoming presidential campaign. Romney is, after all, very, very rich, and his income comes primarily from investments.

David Leonhardt at the NY Times asks both right-leaning economist Greg Mankiw and the left leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to comment on this alleged tax injustice. Mankiw makes a fairly reasonable case that the reason capital gains are lower is that investment income is based on corporate profits and corporate profits have already been taxed. Companies would have more profits to pass on to investors (either as dividends or in the form of being worth more) if they didn’t pay corporate taxes, and so the tax on investment income is set lower to avoid this “double taxation”. Chuck Marr of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities must know the facts aren’t on his side, because instead of answering the question he provides a canned response about income inequality and how tax rates are lower than in the ’70s. The column is worth a read.

However, there’s another issue here which I think is worth pointing out. Progressives writing on this issue usually act as if billionaire investors such as Warren Buffet are all paying right around 15% (the capital gains rate) in taxes — Buffet claims that he pays 17.4% — and that “middle class Americans” are paying the top marginal income tax rate of 35%. Continue reading

The State of the Union Speech That Will Never Be Delivered

Here is the State of the Union Speech that will never be delivered:

“Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, Distinguished Guests, my fellow Americans.  Each year it is a duty of the President to report on the State of the Union to the Congress.  Often these speeches have been mere feel good exercises, frequently containing little of substance.  Tonight is going to be different.  Tonight it is time for blunt truth.

America is a great and strong nation, but in many ways the State of our Union is troubled.  We have the worst economy in the last three decades.  Signs of recovery are few.  I could attempt to assess some responsibility for this poor economy to my predecessor, but that would be pointless.  You, the American people, are not interested in blame.  What you are interested in is improving the economy, and so far, under my watch, that has not happened.  I, in good faith, attempted to stimulate the economy through a massive stimulus bill.  Thus far the results have been meager for the amount of money spent.  Time for a course correction.  Beginning tomorrow I am going to hold meetings with the Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress.  The economy is my number one priority, as it rightly is yours, and I am open to all ideas, from whatever source, to jumpstart the economy and return us to the path to prosperity.  If taxcuts and spending cuts are necessary to get the economy moving, so be it.  Whatever works is my watchword on this key issue.  To quote another President from Illinois, “The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present.”  I am a Democrat, by the standards of many Americans a Liberal Democrat.  I’m proud of this, but I will not allow my adherence to certain beliefs to stand in the way of improving the economy.  Time for us all, past time, Republicans, Democrats and Independents, to work together to get out of this recession.    This is my chief concern and I will do whatever it takes to accomplish this task.

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