Here’s what I wish Obama would say this week:
We have given the American people a government that responds more to special interest dollars and cares more about drawing battle lines over ideology than it takes up the real challenges of the day or engages in honest debate about, not what each side wants, but about what is truly best–objectively, rationally, empirically–for the American people.
2013 was a year of failure of government. Government–my government, our government–failed to deliver the promise for a smooth transition to a more just and more humane healthcare system. There were glitches. There were inconveniences. There were failed pledges.
2013 was a year that the government was so deeply divided, that for a time, we could not even find enough common ground to continue running the government and without funding, we allowed our government to shutdown.
It was a bleak year for government.
Now, at the beginning of 2014, our Republican friends have come together with the Democratic party to choose a new direction. We have struck a bipartisan budget deal that will prevent any such shutdowns for the next year by continuously funding our government.
But we should not congratulate ourselves too much on this step. No, we should not be patting ourselves on the back and shouting, “See, we can get things done.” Let us remember that this is merely the absolute, bare minimum that our roles as elected representatives of the people require.
The American people did not send us here for just that. We must do more.
The government shutdown and the problems with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act exchanges prove something very important, though.
They prove that government is an important part of our society.
We know that our Republican friends have been very vocal these last few years, voicing their opinion that government is too big, and that smaller is better. And we can agree with them on that basic idea. That government is best which governs least–so long as it gets the job done.
But we need our Republican friends to understand that it is a very large and very complex country we have been sent here to govern. We need them to accept what our Founders discovered after the experiment in minimal government called the Articles of the Confederation–that hardly any government at all will not keep this nation great.
We must find the balance between a lean government and one that serves the interests of the American people.
The American people deserve a government that does not waste their hard earned tax dollars or obstruct their pursuit of happiness.
But they also deserve a government which promotes the common good by promoting a strong economy, by protecting them from skyrocketing healthcare costs, and by investing in the future through education and research.
That is what we are here to do–in this chamber, in this city.
I know that our Republican friends have brought some citizens with them as guests tonight who have not bee fully served by the Affordable Care Act. And I am glad. We designed the law to improve conditions in our healthcare system. We want it to do that for all Americans. If there are citizens poorly served by it, then we should seek ways to fix the law to help them. We want our Republican friends to help us do that. Not to move backwards and sacrifice all the important gains we have made in controlling healthcare costs and in protecting Americans’ rights to coverage. But move forward, together.
To Make Things Better for America!
So let us continue the march forward begun with the bipartisan budget deal and work together to make life better for Americans and for the world. Come together with us and let’s solve the problems America sent us here to solve.
Yes, that’s what I wish he would say in the State of the Union.