Much will be made, and properly so, of President Obama’s State of the Union address as a campaign message challenging the Republicans on fundamental questions. But before we all get to the partisan and ideological analysis, let’s look at a number of ideas Obama offered that ought, in principle, draw a lot of support from conservatives and Republicans.
There is, first, his proposal for lower taxes on manufacturers. The idea that the United States needs to rebuild its manufacturing sector has wide support. Republican Rick Santorum has made it a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Santorum would eliminate taxes on manufacturing altogether. Surely he and other Republicans can support Obama’s proposals at least to give manufacturing firms a tax cut, and advanced manufacturing firms an even bigger one.
Community colleges are praised by every governor in the country, and also by most business people I have met. Obama’s idea to create stronger partnerships between community colleges and businesses is common sense. It helps companies that need trained workers, and it helps workers who need jobs.
His proposals on improving teaching builds on ideas put forward over the years by both parties. And one of his most intriguing proposals — the details, of course, will matter — would create a strong incentive for colleges and universities to hold down tuitions. Obama would reduce funding for universities that fail to hold their tuition levels down. I first heard this idea floated by Republicans who argued that federal aid to students shouldn’t become nothing more than an incentive for institutions of higher education to hike what they charge. Let’s see how Republicans react to this plan when Obama fleshes it out later this week.
Immigration has become one of the hottest of hot button issues. But can’t we at least find agreement on Obama’s call “to stop expelling young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses and defend this country”?
I’ll have more to say about the politics of this speech in my column tomorrow. But it would be a lovely change of pace in Washington if Republicans would take a look at ideas that Obama proposed that they would surely enact in some form if a president of their own party had proposed them in a State of the Union speech.