thOn Tuesday, January 28, 2014, President Barack Obama delivered a masterful State of the Union Address.  In addition to laying out specific accomplishments over the past five years, the President covered everything from ending the war in Afghanistan to closing Guantanamo.  He also confronted the Republican Congress for letting more than a million workers miss out on unemployment insurance last month.  After saying the benefits system should be reformed to be more effective in today’s economy, the President said to lawmakers: “This Congress needs to restore the unemployment insurance you just let expire for 1.6 million people.”  I agree.

The President laid out several specific initiatives that could and should be accomplished this year.  He stated further that in areas where Congress will not act, he would through the issuance of Executive Orders and other administrative actions; he even identified some that were in process .  The President also said that, “We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace, and free from the fear of domestic violence. Today, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act that Joe Biden originally wrote almost 20 years ago. I urge the House to do the same. And I ask this Congress to declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts, and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.” It doesn’t seem fair to me that women earn seventy-seven cents for every dollar men make even though both are doing the same work.  Unfortunately, many in the Republican caucus apparently believe that women do not deserve to be on an income parity with men.  That might be one of the reasons why some refer to the Republican Party as the “good ole boys” network.

For the first time in its history, Republican leaders allowed a women to give the official Republican response to the State of the Union Address by herself.  House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers was the person selected.  This selection apparently came as the Republican Party attempts to strengthen its image among women.  This past December, House Republican leaders met with top aides to GOP congressional candidates to teach them “to be a little more sensitive” on the campaign trail.  “You know, you look around the Congress, there are a lot more females in the Democratic caucus than there are in the Republican conference,” Boehner said at a December press conference. “And some of our members just aren’t as sensitive as they ought to be.” 

While Boehner’s comments are laudable and the Republican Party should be sensitive to the needs and aspirations of women, it seems hypocritical to me that on the same day as Rodgers was to give her response, Boehner’s Republican House passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which denies tax credits to small businesses and middle-class families if their health plans include abortion coverage, and imposes a tax increase on women who need abortion care.  It also makes permanent abortion bans that prevent millions of women — such as those enrolled in Medicaid, federal employees and residents of the District of Columbia — from having health insurance coverage that includes abortion care.  Would you believe that all of the sponsors of this bill were men?  In fact, during the hearings, not one woman was allowed to speak.  How is that for sensitivity training?  These and similar actions clearly reveal to me that some Republicans continue to prosecute some kind of war on women’s rights.  However, Tea Party Republican Senator Rand Paul said that if there was a war on women, then the women won because all of the women in his family are doing very well. A really dim-witted comment.

In addition to spending a good deal of her time talking about herself and her family, Rogers attacked the President’s healthcare law, known as ‘Obamacare’ which Republicans have tried to delay and repeal almost 50 times.  “The President’s policies are making people’s lives harder. We’ve all talked to too many people who’ve received cancellation notices they didn’t expect or who can no longer see the doctors they always have. No, we shouldn’t go back to the things — the way things were, but this law is not working” Rogers said. Of course, she didn’t bother to mention the more than nine million Americans who now have quality health care thanks to Obamacare.

During her response, Rogers claimed that Republicans have plans that focus on jobs first without more spending, government bailouts, and red tape…She said, “every day, we’re working to expand our economy, one manufacturing job, nursing degree and small business at a time. We have plans to improve our education and training systems so you have the choice to determine where your kids go to school…so college is affordable…and skills training is modernized.” Yet she did not identify not even one specific Republican plan; just more rhetoric.  She did say, however, that “we shouldn’t go back to the way things were.”  Could she be suggesting the slightest possibility that there could be improvements made in the healthcare law?  Probably just wishful thinking on my part.

I believe that the Republican Party is in deep trouble mainly because of the influence of the Tea Party, and it will be a very long time before this country has another Republican president.  A strong indicator that leads me to this belief is based on what recently happened in Virginia when the Democrats took control of the entire Executive Branch including the governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general offices.  I also believe that the American people are tired of a do-nothing Congress that spends most of its time (when its members are in Washington), either trying to repeal Obamacare, attacking women’s rights, shutting down the government, penalizing the middle class, and basically refusing to even allow Senate passed legislation to be brought up for a House vote. 

In spite of the Republican state gerrymandering practices that attempt to establish a political advantage by manipulating district boundaries to create partisan advantaged districts, and the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent under the auspices of the Koch brothers, here are my predictions for the 2014 and 2016 elections:  the Democrats will retain control of the Senate, Nancy Pelosi will again become the Speaker of the House, and in 2016, Hillary Clinton will become the first female President of the United States, but that’s just my take.

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