The president outlined a sweeping list of political priorities that touched on many worthy goals – making preschool available to all children, expanding green energy development, comprehensive immigration reform, gun control and a broad infrastructure repair program.
Unfortunately, the president spent relatively little time on the problem many Americans say they find the most troubling – the federal debt.
Yes, he took it on. He acknowledged how spiraling health care costs are driving deficits, and talked about how the nation “must embrace the need for modest reform” of Medicare.
However, the recommendations he offered were fuzzy statements such as asking “more from the wealthiest seniors” and changing the way the government pays for Medicare.
Then, the president pivoted to what he said was the need to close loopholes and deductions for the wealthy and well-off.
If only the nation’s budget problems were so easily solved.
Democrats, led by the president, must come to the table with meaningful entitlement cuts as a part of a balanced approach to get the country on firmer financial footing.
As the cold, hard math of the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission showed, the path there involves additional revenues, but also more painful reductions than Democrats favor.
The president's vision of government was one poised to nurture a nation recovering from wounds inflicted by the economic meltdown.
It was one of compassion for hard working Americans who are struggling, unable to get ahead.
But this vision for prosperity, however admirable, cannot be supported by a government with record debt that cannot even agree on a plan to heal itself.