Non-SOTU Reax

Will Wilkinson:

Oratorywise, so good. Ideawise, so weak. Combination, so dangerous.

Nate Silver:

If it sounds like Jindal is targeting his speech to a room full of fourth graders, that's because he is. They might be the next people to actually vote for Republicans again.

Josh Marshall:

Did I get my sections mixed up or did most of the GOP legislators hop to their feet when Obama said "We do not torture"? That's a major policy switch.


I just heard Obama guarantee that no one making less than $250,000 a year will pay a dime in higher taxes for the budgets he is proposing. He said he would be rolling back the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of the American people. The top 1% of all taxpayers currently pay about 40% of the income taxes. So what Obama is saying is that that is not enough. The wealthy need to pay more. And he is also saying that the other 98%, who are getting all the goodies are going to get it for free. This process cannot be sustained.

Obama at least should be given credit in one sense for political bravery. He made a lot of promises and predictions tonight, and tethered them to policies with his name on them. If the economy doesn’t get better or if his administration does not rise to foreign challenges he will face a difficult re-election campaign.

Simon Johnson:

... honestly, how do you get total credit to go up (or be "re-started") when many creditworthy people and firms don't want to borrow. The crisis of confidence started with credit problems in the fall, but surely now it's much wider - and much more global.


...if I was a defense contractor who wasn’t above rebranding my unused Cold War-era weapons systems as crucial for economic recovery, I’d put more money into my lobbying efforts.

Marc Ambinder:

Forget the nomenclature of what this speech is supposed to be. It's both grand and pedestrian; grand, from the perspective of history, which is that a Democratic president is making an unapologetic case for activist government, for comprehensive, integrated, values-based expensive solutions to major problems, and, indeed, is asserting that the times themselves require that effort.  Pedestrian -- because -- basically -- the speech reads as a President justifying his plans to expand government.

Noam Scheiber:

Among people who follow this stuff inside and outside the administration, there's been a presumption that we're going to need more than what's left of the $700 billion in bailout money Congress approved last fall. But, so far as I now, this is the first time the administration has acknowledged it publicly. I'd guess Wall Street will react pretty favorably tomorrow.

Ezra Klein:

Obama doesn't talk to us like we're stupid. This wasn't an inspiring speech. And it wasn't a terrorizing speech. It was an explanation. The president told us what he was planning to do. And the speech was written as if he believed that we could understand him. He didn't wrap his agenda in a lot of rhetoric about America's mettle or hide it behind stories and icons. He just sort of said it.