Entries in State of the Union (2)


State of the Union: Economists Share Surprises, Disappointments

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(NEW YORK) -- President Obama in his State of the Union address Tuesday night spoke confidently about what he expects to accomplish his second term, but how he described job creation and a showdown with Congress over automatic sequester cuts in the budget took some economists by surprise.

"The most politically significant part of the address concerned the upcoming showdowns on the fiscal cliff, continued funding of the government and debt ceiling," said Robert Reich, the former secretary of Labor during the Clinton administration and Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley.  "On these, it wasn't so much what the president said -- his calls for cooperation were non-partisan -- but his implicit threat that if Republicans play games of brinksmanship on any of these, he will call them on it, and has the power to get the public behind him."

Reich said the president discussed "worthwhile initiatives," such as raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour and indexing it to inflation, and providing every child in America with early-childhood education.  Though, Reich said, none will be enacted amid opposition from Republicans in Congress.

Isabel Sawhill, co-director of the Brookings Institution's Center on Children and Families, agreed that "raising the minimum wage, providing a high-quality preschool experience to every child, enabling more families to refinance their mortgages, providing assistance to struggling communities, or creating new jobs are all worthy ideas."

"But it's not clear how to pay for them or enact them in the current environment," she said.

Sawhill said the president made a "strong pitch" for replacing the arbitrary cuts called for by the sequester with a balanced package including new revenues from tax reform and some modest cuts to Medicare, for example, by means-testing benefits.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who gave the official Republican State of the Union response after the address, said the government "isn't going to create more opportunities," arguing against more taxes and more government spending.

"My biggest disappointment was the president's view that he and the Congress have essentially solved our fiscal challenges when nothing could be further from the truth," said Alison Fraser, the conservative Heritage Foundation's director of economic policy studies.

Fraser referred to last week's Congressional Budget Office report which said the federal government will run deficits no less than $500 billion, and increase to $1 trillion deficits in less than a decade.

"He seemed to want to push off the looming sequester cuts, yet without cuts this level of spending will push debt to economically damaging levels," Fraser said.  "On the most crushing deadline facing Congress, he proposed no serious solutions to replace the sequester cuts which will result in a hollowed out military."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Agriculture Secretary: Drought Won’t Affect Food Prices This Year

Jupiterimages/Pixland/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Food prices may go up next year, but for now the severe drought conditions should not have an immediate effect on prices at the grocery store, according to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“The prices and the impact of a drought will probably not likely be seen in the grocery aisle until later next year in 2013,” Vilsack said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Commodity prices are different from actual prices that we see in the stores the next day.  And while commodity prices are on the rise, Vilsack argues that those increases will not translate into immediate price increases.

The secretary also chastised any business currently engaged in price gouging.

“If folks are using this opportunity to raise prices inappropriately, then shame on them,” Vilsack said.

Vilsack instead points to the high energy costs associated with transporting food as the culprit for any recent fluctuation in supermarket prices.

“That’s why it’s important for us to continue to focus on the President’s ‘all of the above’ approach to produce more energy in the United States,” he said.

Congress is considering a farm bill that would reinstate farmer disaster relief.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio