Streams

State of the Union Preview: Talking About Inequality

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), delivers his State of the Union speech. Feb. 12, 2013 (Charles Dharapak-Pool/Getty)

"I would imagine you'll hear more about opportunity than inequality," says Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress about tonight's State of the Union. She breaks down what President Obama may call for, including executive action around the minimum wage and carbon emissions.

Plus, at 21:00m, a surprise call from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. He calls on Obama to help end dependence on foreign carbon and domestic coal by changing purchasing policies by the military and federal government -- alongside other executive actions.

Guests:

Neera Tanden

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Comments [52]

Jeffrey from Manhattan

GOD, I wish Bobby Kennedy could enjoy more national visibility. He nailed it. He's a great mind and a great soul.

Next, It's maddening how David Brooks and the conservative apologists atttempt to refine the "thousand points of light" decoy (created by Bush I on the heels of the Reagan travesty) every chance they get. WTF! Opportunity? Did Brooks support the stiumulus? How do you propose government promote opportunity? CHARTER SCHOOLS? Charter schools are going to solve single parenthood? Talk to the kids who come to my amazing PUBLIC last-chance high school pregnant from the stairwells of their ill-staffed and misguided charter schools. Please, Brian, maintain your brand by calling DB and ilk on their empty rehetoric! And, NYT, grow a pair and find a real thinker to 'balance' out your op-ed page.

Finally, if you'll indulge me, onto a grammatical pet peeve. WOULD YOU PEOPLE PLEASE LEARN HOW TO USE COMMAS?!!!!! @Martin Chuzzlewit (and you are hardly the only offender), your comma carelessness weakens any argument you might put forth. To wit: "Boehner, et al can..." A SECOND COMMA, after "can" MUST OFFSET YOUR COMMA CLAUSE; otherwise your sentence falls apart, as does my interest in anything you have to say.

Feb. 02 2014 12:21 PM
heng from nj

exec orders are to enforce current law. not to make new ones. recent exec order overturned congressional veto of both houses, re billions $ green energy bill, defeat by 70% of BOTH houses, . another exec order gave citizenship to 1.6 illegal's, after congress did not pass 'dream act bill'. our president is not a democrat. he is hijacking the o democratic party.

as an aside see page 28 of 85 of senate report on Benghazi = US Africa command did not know of USA offices in Benghazi & same night as attack general Han in charge of that part of world was recalled in mid of night, then resigned. no American flag displayed. Hilary's congressional testimony, many unanswered questions

Jan. 28 2014 07:10 PM

Oh my GOD.

The closest to Obama that an "environmental moderate" like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. can get -- is calling into a NYC radio program?

Let's hope Americans vote a progressive -- or at least moderate -- into the White House in 2016.

Jan. 28 2014 03:21 PM
John from NYC

Brian in your analysis of David Brooke’s pointer about marriage and poverty, you and Neera completely missed the argument he was making. What he was correctly saying is the paucity of blue-collar jobs that makes men ‘marriageable’ in the low to middle-class segment and that leading to more single-motherhood. It is not the social dynamics. He was talking about.

Jan. 28 2014 02:05 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretenious Hudson Heights

I predict that we will once again see Rep. Elliot Engle leaning into the aisle to shake Pres. Obama's hand as he leaves the Senate chambers.

Jan. 28 2014 12:42 PM

It's not an issue of left or right.

It's an issue of $$$.

This one is not dissimilar to the last. The next will be the same, too until WE GET THE $$$ OUT!!!

http://www.ted.com/talks/lawrence_lessig_we_the_people_and_the_republic_we_must_reclaim.html

Jan. 28 2014 11:31 AM
Kelly from Stamford CT

The US Family Court system is broken!!! It is made incredibly difficult for fathers to even see their children if the ex is hostile. Not to mention men (and some women of course) are going broke, losing their homes, committing suicide because this horrific system of biased judges and greedy lawyers and GAL's ( guardian ad litems) are all profiting off of the very people that have come to them for help and to make rational decisions for their children. So rather than condemning fathers for not being a part of their children's lives have a clue about what you're talking about! Many fathers cannot see their children and are desperate to be an equal part of their lives. There should be equal shared parenting as a presumption in all family court cases unless of course they are unfit. Anything other than that is unacceptable and Obama needs to address this epic injustice that is being committed against our children every day in this screwed up country. People are spending tens of thousands of dollars on proving their worth to our corrupt family courts. And in most cases the non- custodial parent still can't see their child/children because the judges side with the custodial parent, forcing people to keep going back to court over and over. It's big business and it's not being regulated by our Government it seems and these courts are behaving like we live in the Wild West. Divorce Corp (the film) exposes what is really going on and I pray it makes an impact, something needs to be done NOW!!!

Jan. 28 2014 11:17 AM
Linda

I feel like we are being sold a bill of goods here. For the most part, the pattern coming from the Whitehouse is almost always, black vs white, poor vs rich, women vs men, legals vs illegals, main-street vs wall street, and on and on but as some else has said very little leadership of all of us. It is all about getting votes be teasing out little constituencies. Since I wouldn't vote for the other "team", I feel like I have no party. What happened to harnessing the country (all of us) for something inspired instead of getting us fighting with each-other. Where is the Kennedy space-shot moment - I lost hope of hearing it.

Jan. 28 2014 11:06 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

"to send Boehner and his obstructionist enablers to the unemployment line."

LOL, well, at least Boehner, et al can count on the extended (indefinite) unemployment checks that the new Dem Congress would surely quickly approve.

.... and spend his food stamps on those cigarettes, as many can easily finagle.

Jan. 28 2014 11:02 AM

Jean Marie from Manhattan~

AMEN!!

Forced unpaid, post-school work is CRIMINAL!!!

Jan. 28 2014 11:02 AM

Why does David Brooks have a job??

…at the New York Times, no less?!?!

I ask that, not because I never agree with him rather, because his often circuitous arguments NEVER make any SENSE!!

Jan. 28 2014 10:59 AM

Jose from NJ~

AMEN!

Jan. 28 2014 10:56 AM

FBastiat-ass

Jan. 28 2014 10:55 AM

@Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

"Obama is a LAME DUCK already, thank heaven."

That's your wish, Martin, not facts. BHO is less than effective because Congress has been constipated by Tea Party knuckleheads.

280 days and we'll take the nation's temperature again. You, no doubt, hope for GOP gains. I want Democrats to gain to send Boehner and his obstructionist enablers to the unemployment line.

Who will win KochBros or the American people?

Jan. 28 2014 10:50 AM
FBastiat from NJ

Robert Kennedy Jr. Must be back on the JUNK. He is DELUSIONAL. Almost all of what he said about fossil fuels is incorrect! Since 2011 the US is a net energy exporter due to the FRACKING that he opposed. Wind & Solar are incapable of servicing our power needs due to their intermittent nature. Plus they are the worst abusers of CRONY CAPITALISM because no one would use Solar and Wind without subsidies, grants and forced purchase requirements.

Jan. 28 2014 10:47 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

"Robert from NYC - What doe Chuzzlewit think of Pete Seeger!"

I liked Pete Seeger (well, 45 years ago) for the same reason I like Dickens (Hard Times, Christmas Carol) .... there were larger, illiberal inequities (child labor, Jim Crow) that every "liberal" like myself disdained.
The featherbedding extremes of the NEW LEFT today are appalling and a totally different animal.

... and Pete Seeger wasn't in the White House... or hosting a WNYC morning show.

Jan. 28 2014 10:45 AM
Jose from NJ

I am or more precisely was an Obama supporter. I am so tired of the cop outs we are hearing. As I recall he has gotten all of his major initiatives through (at the least the ones he actually stood behind and didn't just pay lip service through). Almost all have ended up poorly or far below my expectations. The guest has amnesia, since the President got the stimulus which was supposed to go to infrastructure and didn't do much of anything but disappear. I had such high hopes, but the blame game has gotten really old at this point... STEP UP! Governing is more than just political optics and speeches that are tested and polished but go nowhere... LEAD!

By the way leadership takes more than writing executive orders. It means proving your point and getting buy in. I cringe when I think of the Pandora's box we opened up with these executive orders. One day the Republicans will feel real comfortable going in the same direction -throw in the new Senate rules and the rah, rah, attitude we have now will quickly evaporate.

Jan. 28 2014 10:38 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Obama is a LAME DUCK already, thank heaven.

Fear not, centrists, tomorrow he reverts back to his empty-talk, empty suit self. None of this proposed chicanery will succeed. His lack of commitment is our salvation. Nobody will remember tonight's blather a month from now.

Jan. 28 2014 10:35 AM
ivan obregon from manhattan

Shifting the blame from single mothers to divorced fathers is a pretty lame knee-jerk feminist approach, brian. Child support is mandatory (even when unfair to the fathers' own economic viability and driver's liscence grant - 50% of income off the top for 4 children, for example); child custody-visitation procedures are very biased towards mothers (whomever has child custody has the legal benefit of the doubt and yes, most mothers want child custody, including poorer women most, as government services and benefits are dependant on this custody when government support is necessary; tax policy is totally beneficial towards single mothers (children are tax-dependant claims that fathers can't claim as tax-deductions and all tax-income refunds go to the mothers while fathers can't even deduct the child-support in nearly all states unless very poor, much less other expenses paid towards their children); finally, obstructionism by mothers towards their ex's access to their children is often so petty and easy to get away with through the family court system and so personally problematic and hazardous to fathers (mothers can claim anything and get the benefit of the legal doubt even usually without more proof than an accusation)that fathers give up or minimize visitation, even legally-won rights, while still paying child support for the whole 21 years (in NY and other states). The family court system is hardly fair to fathers (poor, working class or middle class), too, so stop victimizing what is often another victim to the paens of ideological feminism where one sex is almost-always wrong and the other almost-always right from the institutionalized get-go based almost exclusively on gender and yes, sexist prejudice and agenda. Family court is by and large an institutionalized ideology implemented to alleviate poverty on one side (properly) and enhance it the other way (wrongfully) in the name of an unjust "justice".

Jan. 28 2014 10:32 AM
Robert from NYC

What doe Chuzzlewit think of Pete Seeger!

Jan. 28 2014 10:32 AM
Jose from NJ

Sadly, if the pipeline doesn't come our way, china has stated it would be happy to help pay for it to go toward the pacific across Canada for export. so that just leaves us buying from the middle east again instead of Canada... seems counterproductive. the oil is coming out of the ground with or without us.

Jan. 28 2014 10:31 AM
The Truth from Becky

I will be watching same as I watched the previous, the President will have my full attention and respect.

Jan. 28 2014 10:31 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Maybe the middle class could help itself by buying fewer Asian-made 60" HDTVs or every stupid gadget that comes out?

Jan. 28 2014 10:30 AM
Robert from NYC

What doe Chuzzlewit think of Pete Segar?

Jan. 28 2014 10:28 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Obama is mostly okay by me. I don't agree with his policy towards Israel. I don't agree with socialized medicine. I don't agree with abortion or gay marriage, but otherwise I do agree about alternative energy, not getting directly involved in Syria or in heavy wars unless absolutely necessary. I think he's a good and honorable man who has done a reasonably good job overall aside from the caveats I've mentioned.

Jan. 28 2014 10:27 AM
SH from Brooklyn

With the current Congress -- and the 24/7 media cycle ready to spin, I can only imagine the President "throwing down the gauntlet" and challenging and calling out Congress -- in minutes, the code words will begin, "angry", "scary", followed by "he's whining." Hey - when you're the first in, you have to take all the garbage (aka, Sen McConnell, let's make him a one-term president by just saying no) thrown at you, so that the people who will come after you might have an easier road in what is one of the toughest jobs.

Fascinating.

Jan. 28 2014 10:25 AM

Ms. Tanden - NAFTA and MFN for China are generally thought of as the acts that led to the gutting of American manufacturing. What happened to permit these acts to be used so destructively? Was there ever a provision for domestic workforce re-training that was stripped out? To implement a plan to move so much of our economic activity abroad makes no sense otherwise.

Also, was the impact of American agribusiness on Mexican and Central American farm workers projected? Did we know at the time of signing that it would cause an exodus of surplus workers to our country?

Jan. 28 2014 10:24 AM
Jean Marie from Manhattan

It is terrific that Obama raised the minimum wage for government workers and contractors...now it would be great to see him BAN UNPAID INTERNSHIPS.

Jan. 28 2014 10:24 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Brian and others probably won't understand the unprecedented resistance Obama faces, and why, until he's out of office and a full study can be done because folks can then speak freely...

Jan. 28 2014 10:21 AM
Robert from NYC

Waste of time. He will talkk the big talk get you aroused and then BOOM nothing. The fast talker is a slow walker. I hope there's good programing elsewhere. I ain't watching.

Jan. 28 2014 10:21 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

The American middle class was created by winning WWI and WWII and not having our industries bombed out the way Europe's were. The period of the "middle class" was just a fluke of history, and the disappearance of the middle class is normal, and a return to the way things were over a century ago.

Jan. 28 2014 10:20 AM
Robert from NYC

Waste of time. He will talkk the big talk get you aroused and then BOOM nothing. The fast talker is a slow walker. I hopw there's good programing elsewhere. I ain't watching.

Jan. 28 2014 10:19 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

TRANSLATION: Call in with your ideas about further lawlessness by this nut in the White House!!

Jan. 28 2014 10:18 AM
Mike from Williamsburg

If Congress wants to play chicken over the debt ceiling again, Obama should mint a platinum coin. Congress already gave him the authority to do so.

Jan. 28 2014 10:17 AM

@MC

You cannot be serious. Your GOP talking point redux is sickening. The commentariat seems to want to resurrect the 'rising tides rises all ships' argument, when clearly the last decade of GDP growth has left the middle and lower tiers behind.

See the Bush Tax cuts for what they really were. Theft of the Treasury surplus so that the only way to pay back the funds loaned to the government by Social Security would be to raise taxes. This effectively makes everyone pay into Social Security TWICE. Who gave Bush permission to expropriate the Social Security surplus to fight his wars?

I used to think that just changing the tax rates back would bring about equity...Now I think a tax on accumulated wealth will be necessary. I also think that a national collection of sales taxes on Internet transactions should be instituted. I am tired of watching the roads fall apart.

Jan. 28 2014 10:17 AM
Andrea Sansom from Red Hook, Brooklyn

An executive action should take place to halt and study the Biggert-Waters flood insurance act of 2012. The so-called "unintended consequences" of this act will price out hard working folks across the country - already people are being forced into foreclosure as a result of exorbitant NFIP premiums. Biggert-Waters wasn't studied. The President should insist on the affordability study that was to have happened before the implementation of Biggert-Waters. This needs more press coverage. NYS doesn't yet have new maps - once we do, we'll see much needless suffering. The NFIP can be made solvent with greater participation. This is not an issue of wealthy person building at the water - it's nationwide and mostly middle and working class who will lose homes.

Jan. 28 2014 10:16 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Fathers will gladly take fully responsibility for their children when the courts demand children live with their fathers, and their children are not being raised by some other man instead.

Jan. 28 2014 10:15 AM
Marco from New York

The American middle class has declined at the expense of the rise of the Chinese and other emerging markets. Export manufacturing abroad and you lose jobs at home...seems pretty obvious.

Jan. 28 2014 10:14 AM
TEAL from TARRYTOWN

David Brooks: conservative dog-wistle.. low opportunity... #1 teach better parenting skills... encourage teenagers to not drop out of school... YES a small minority of the poor are poor teen single mothers and youths who dropped out of school. but the VAST Majority of the poor are oridinary hard working folks in low paying multiple part time jobs and laid off. GET OFF THAT HORSE GOP!

Jan. 28 2014 10:14 AM
Joan Reich from West Hempstead NY

Unsure if this is presidential action or order
Decriminalize use of marijuana.

Jan. 28 2014 10:13 AM
Robert from NYC

Waste of time. He will talkk the big talk get you aroused and then BOOM nothing. The fast talker is a slow walker. I hopw there's good programing elsewhere. I ain't watching.

Jan. 28 2014 10:13 AM
Mary

The elephant in the room is the opening up of favored trade status with China, and also NAFTA back in the 90s under our own guy. Guess what, most of us are now competing against 3rd world wages. Throw in tons of new unskilled workers coming in at the low end just to make matters worse on the working class. Increasing minimum wage etc, just makes us more expensive in comparison and will make jobs even more scarce. We need to review our trade... period.

Jan. 28 2014 10:12 AM
Andrea Sansom from Red Hook, Brooklyn

An executive action should take place to halt and study the Biggert-Waters flood insurance act of 2012. The so-called "unintended consequences" of this act will price out hard working folks across the country - already people are being forced into foreclosure as a result of exorbitant NFIP premiums. Biggert-Waters wasn't studied. The President should insist on the affordability study that was to have happened before the implementation of Biggert-Waters. This needs more press coverage. NYS doesn't yet have new maps - once we do, we'll see much needless suffering. The NFIP can be made solvent with greater participation. This is not an issue of wealthy person building at the water - it's nationwide and mostly middle and working class who will lose homes.

Jan. 28 2014 10:12 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Er...If social/political commentators like David Brooks and the rest of us don't know (1) the connection between extreme inequality and opportunity and (2) the effects on parenting and marriage of the resultant stresses, then we have a long way to go before solving these issues...

Jan. 28 2014 10:11 AM

equally

Jan. 28 2014 10:10 AM

there will always be inequality...there has to be, that's the way the world works. Well meaning people think everyone can be happy

Jan. 28 2014 10:10 AM
antonio from baySide

HAHHAHAHHAHHAHAHHAH!
Always get a good laugh when David Brooks throws his opinions about class and poverty...

Jan. 28 2014 10:09 AM

David Brooks is a blowhard, milquetoast MORON!

Jan. 28 2014 10:08 AM

everyone has the same opportunities...it takes effort

Jan. 28 2014 10:06 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

TRANSLATION OF LEHRER-

How can Obama circumvent (in the name of "social justice") the Constitution and the three branch system of government without the media having to admit it.

Jan. 28 2014 10:06 AM
Ed from Larchmont

The other day Brian Lehrer gave us a glimpse into his metaphysics - he believes in equality (even in accomplishments of generations), so he should enjoy the speech tonight. But it's clear that people aren't equal - in talents, resources, etc. The only way to make them equal is to enforce a kind of equality. Or perhaps equality of opportunity,and before the law. Brian Lehrer, as an agnostic/atheist, doesn't acknowledge another basic equality, that all are equal before God (as the Declaration says), the idea that undid slavery.

Jan. 28 2014 09:54 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

From Remnick’s puff profile of the incompetent, clueless Barry Obama-

"… at an annual dinner he holds at the White House with American historians, he asked the group to help him find a language in which he could address the problem of growing inequality without being accused of class warfare. ...”

He didn’t ask them for advice on what Presidents have actually DONE in the past to IMPROVE prosperity and wealth among all Americans, IMPROVE the landscape for jobs and manufacturing, INCREASE income mobility among groups and REDUCE income inequality.

No, Barry wanted to sharpen his “messaging”, his “optics”, his political strategy of veiled divisiveness … not improve his leadership. How can I be Saul Alinsky without actually sounding like Saul Alinsky? How can I increase the animosity against the rich (which got me re-elected) without actually being accused of it? Give me some tips on proper propaganda phrasing, not policy.
This guy is loathsome.

Jan. 28 2014 08:45 AM

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