Obama said creating and preserving jobs would be his administration’s focus in 2010 [AFP]
Barack Obama, the US president, delivered his first state of the union address in Washington DC on Wednesday.
Al Jazeera spoke to several political pundits to find out their reactions to the Obama address.
Ralph Nader, former independent presidential candidate
On foreign policy, this is probably the most shallow speech Obama has made.
He did not explain how he will turn around the constant intervention, occupation, militarisation of foreign policy, going into any country, blowing up anything, killing anybody he thinks is suspect…
That’s creating more terrorism … Everybody knows that, that al-Qaeda has increased in numbers, it’s diversified in more countries.
You would think he’d say ‘let’s have real evaluation of this’, and ask ‘why do people turn against us all over world?’ Because we’re military occupying their country, and bolstering dictatorships against the people.
The Israeli-Palestinian issue … This is at the core of so much of our problems in the Middle East, spreading all throughout the Islamic world … He has George Mitchell [US Middle East envoy] out there, shuttling back and forth, but he didn’t even give it a line. Not one line. What does this say about his policy? That he’s given up on it.
Tom Price, Republican congressman
“In terms of the spending freeze, I’m all in favour of spending freezes, but let’s have an honest spending freeze, not a fake spending freeze. Not go on a binge where you gain 40 pounds over the previous year and then say ‘I’m gonna freeze it right here’. That’s not a spending freeze.
“We want a real freeze, true fiscal responsibility. What we would do is go back to the levels before the bailout, before the stimulus, and have a s freeze at that level.
“The American people don’t want his agenda. I had hoped that what we’d hear tonight was the president saying ‘I recognise that we’ve been moving in the wrong direction’.
“But what I heard the president say is ‘we’re going to continue on a national energy tax agenda, we’re going to continue on the government takeover of health care, we’re going to continue with bailouts, we’re going to continue on a non-stimulus bill that doesn’t create any jobs and why don’t you all come along?'”
James Galbraith, economist
“It looks to me as if he was laying a very strong agenda for the next year, and then challenging the congress, the senate in particular, to stop obstructing every single bill and demanding a 60 per cent vote majority in order to accomplish anything.
“This struck me in many ways as laying down the gauntlet before the US congress, as setting a very clear, and I think finally coherent and economically strong, programme, a defensive programme for the immediate profit of the country.
“There were a number of very specific proposals. There was the re-direction of the fee on the banks. I thought that was quite the scoop both politically and economically.
“There was a whole investment agenda with transportation, clean energy and education, all of which if implemented would create a lot of jobs and to get that process on the way in the next year would be a very significant achievement.”