This could be a breakthrough year for America," President Obama declared in his State of the Union address, but the operative word in that sentence is "could."
Actually, the president seemed somewhat doubtful himself about the prospect, since he outlined a unilateral agenda he would implement without congressional support, the most notable element of which is a hike in the minimum wage for federal contractors.
In stressing financial security, he also highlighted legislation that would raise the minimum wage across the board, to $10.10, and index it to inflation.
We agree it’s time to boost the national minimum wage, which has remained static for seven years, but whether $10.10 is the right figure is a matter for debate.
Putting wages on automatic pilot, however, would be a mistake. If this country revisited the sort of high inflation we had in the 1970s, an indexing rule would worsen the problem and force employers to make painful workforce decisions.
Still, we welcome the president’s focus on boosting middle class prosperity and upward mobility. And we too share the frustration that the two parties can’t work together on more issues of benefit to the middle class.
Extending unemployment benefits would help, at least until the economy shows signs of faster job creation. And the president is correct that the nation needs a growth agenda that includes an immigration fix -- even piecemeal reform if necessary to attract Republican support.
It was also good to see Obama emphasize tax reform, although he was vague about specifics. Corporate reform should lower rates, reduce deductions and allow companies to repatriate profits without huge penalty.
It would have been nice to see the president discuss long-term entitlement reform, too, but neither party is probably ready to take that on in an election year.
He said breakthrough year, after all, not miracle year.
~The Denver Post