How will Obama’s agenda affect the North Country?

Chris Gibson (R-Kinderhook) and Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) show their bipartisanship at last night's State of the Union speech (PHOTO: Rep. Richard Hanna's office)

So as the In Box begins to transition into full election season mode, here’s a thread to discuss last night’s state of the union address.

Early reactions from Republicans in the North Country were mixed.  Rep. Chris Gibson (R-Kinderhook) — whose district stretches up to Saranac Lake — said he thought some bipartisanship is possible in Washington this year.

“I firmly believe 2012 has the potential to be a year of growth and recovery for our country, if we make the right choices.  Specifically, I think there are five areas with which we can find common ground.  They include: comprehensive tax reform that creates a simpler and more fair tax code, regulatory relief, the expansion of domestic energy production, infrastructure investment, and bureaucratic consolidation and reform.  These are all areas which will directly help our country’s hardworking families, small business owners, and farmers, while ensuring our nation returns to a path of fiscal responsibility.  My constituents want Washington to achieve results and I’m confident that, working together in an era of divided government, we can do just that. Additionally, as a former soldier, I appreciated the President’s recognition of the fine work our men and women of the military have conducted as well as the parallel he drew between their missions around the world and what we need to accomplish here at home.
Matt Doheny, the Republican who hopes to challenge Democrat Bill Owens in November, was far more critical.
In tonight’s State of the Union address, President Obama offered his vision for an “America built to last.” But what our commander in chief actually presented was a nightmare.The Obama blueprint is to create a “fair” society, in which government uses its heavy hand to try and erase the disparity between poor and rich. The president’s assumption is that government can devise a more equitable society than the people can themselves create.

I could not disagree more.

Our founding fathers envisioned a country where everyone was guaranteed equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. In suggesting “everyone does their fair share,” Obama is hoping to channel populist frustrations over income inequality into a justification for taking more from the wealthy.

So what do you think?  Did Obama hit the right notes for you last night?  And how do you think the presidential contest will affect North Country races this fall — particularly what could be a very tight contest between Bill Owens and Matt Doheny?

Comments welcome.

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60 Comments on “How will Obama’s agenda affect the North Country?”

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  1. Bob S says:

    Paul & Walker. I’ve been following your discussion with interest. I really don’t profess to understand Citizens United as you guys do but it just seems to me that it may have evened the playing field between corporations and unions. In 1959 I was a Teamster working at a job I badly needed in a union shop. The nation was in recession. I could not quit that job. So I was forced to maintain my membership in the union even though I disagreed with alot of what the union stood for politically. My dues were taken from my paycheck; I had no choice. Jimmy Hoffa was running things and I can tell you both that my job depended on paying my dues. So my livelyhood depended on my financial support for the Teamsters. At least if I was a corporate stockholder I had the option to sell my stock if I didn’t like the corporate politics. Union members then had no such option and I think they have no such option now. So I guess what I’m wondering is what has this decision really changed?

  2. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    I believe that the ruling also protects the interests of the unions as it prevents limitations on their spending in the support of candidates.

  3. Paul says:

    Walker, I should not bother to respond with your patronizing which I don’t appreciate but I will try.

    MY idea of allowing…. Have you gone off the deep end? These are certainly not my ideas.

    First of all I do not necessarily support the ruling. I am simply trying to understand why the judges (very smart folks that really don’t operate as crazy activist like you suggest) may have decided the case as they did.

    They may actually have a point and I prefer to see if I can understand what it is.

    What Kennedy was saying was why should we allow a law that would keep people less informed. Why should we limit the things that these groups want to say about issues or candidates? Whys should we allow only wealthy individuals to have an advantage over a group of individuals (Clapton suggests unions as an example) that might want to pool their resources together to try and get their message out and support their candidate.

  4. Paul says:

    Bob, I don’t really understand this very well either. But to answer the question, since the ruling overturned parts of that law (most of it, foreign owned corporations are still barred from this kind of activity). It didn’t really change anything.

  5. Paul says:

    Also we should not forget that it is also an option to ignore any of the information that we hear these days.

  6. Walker says:

    Paul, you wrote: “If groups of individuals (be they corporations or whatever) cannot come together and use their money to try and get their point across who dose that leave? I guess wealthy folks like Mitt Romney who can afford to do it themselves.” That appears to be YOUR IDEA of the purpose of the Citizens United decision. If that’s not your idea, what is it?

    And yes, the judges are very smart folks. All of them. Including the dissenters.

  7. Walker says:

    Bob S, you’re right, the labor union spending union funds on behalf of candidates that many members may not support is exactly parallel to the situation of corporations. Citizens United empowered both, and I think the nation would be better off if neither could spend money on political ads. The nation is drowning in money spent to promote narrow interests, and anything we can do to limit the effect of money on politics is to the good, in my opinion.

    Paul says “Why should we limit the things that these groups want to say about issues or candidates?” The law Citizens United overturned did NOT limit the THINGS these groups want to say, only the spending of money to say them. How much money did Mahatma Ghandi spend promoting nonviolent resistance? Money IS NOT SPEECH. Money is just money.

  8. Paul says:

    “That appears to be YOUR IDEA of the purpose of the Citizens United decision. If that’s not your idea, what is it?”

    Sorry I have no idea what you are talking about.

    Like I already said a few times these are possible interpretations of the case that could have been part of the deliberations of the judges I don’t necessarily agree with this. To know more I would have to read the whole brief and I don’t have time.

    “the labor union spending union funds on behalf of candidates that many members may not support is exactly parallel to the situation of corporations.”

    What other groups were supposed to be limited by the law?

  9. Walker says:

    Paul: “Sorry I have no idea what you are talking about.”

    Well that makes us about even.

    You can work through the Wikipedia article on Citizens United fairly quickly at

    Its essence: The court struck down those provisions of the McCain–Feingold Act that prohibited all corporations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, and unions from broadcasting “electioneering communications,” defined as a broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that mentioned a candidate within 60 days of a general election or thirty days of a primary.

  10. Paul says:

    Thanks. But I think if you want to get into the thinking of the judges (on both sides) you have to go beyond Wikipedia and look at the brief.

    If you don’t let groups do this kind of thing one remaining alternative that may not be too attractive is to have one rich guy like this bankroll you:

    “Santorum’s Main Backer Plans to Keep on Funding”

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