While Pres. Barack Obama told Congress he was eager to work will all members of both parties, during his State of the Union Address he did throw down a gauntlet of sorts: "Wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that's what I'm going to do."
After six long years of attempting to collaborate with the opposing party and adopting many of its former program proposals only to be slapped down, Obama is threatening to take unilateral action whenever his executive powers will allow him to.
As Rep. Peter Welch stated following the speech, "It's time to start making this economy work again for working people."
"Congress has to focus on policies that will rebuild the middle class, like investing in infrastructure, energy efficiency, expanding broadband, making college more affordable, and investing in research," noted Welch, who encouraged Obama to work with Congress.
But though Welch has an intriguing knack of working with Republicans, he admitted whenever the president faces a "just say no" Congress, "He should use all of the legal authority available to him to create opportunity and rebuild the middle class."
The right-leaning Wall Street Journal, wrote that the State of the Union "was essentially a manifesto designed to inject new vigor into his languishing agenda ... The goal was to position the president as the champion of struggling Americans fed up with the bickering in Washington, marshaling an array of policy proposals aimed at helping them save more, earn more and find work in a tough economy."
Republicans, naturally, responded by saying Obama has given up on trying to work with Congress.
Sen. John Thune, of South Dakota, said the president "ought to work with us on bipartisan measures ...."
But what are those bipartisan measures? For Thune and other Republicans it's approving the Keystone XL pipeline and making changes to the Affordable Care Act, both non-starters, which the GOP knows. But that's been their tactic since Day One of Obama's tenure: Throwing out proposals they know Democrats and Obama will flatly reject and then accuse them of not being willing to work with Republicans.
On the same day Obama gave his State of the Union Address, three Republicans presented a proposal to repeal and replace ACA, but this fits right into their cynical agenda to offer a plan they know no one will accept.
How does it work? It would cap at 65 percent the pre-tax exclusion employees are given. Right now, 100 percent of your payments to your employer-sponsored health care plan are exempt from income tax, but the new Republican plan would raise taxes on a four-member family by about $1,345, according to Forbes.
"Removing a bunch of corporate taxes so that the middle class can pay more seems like a political non-starter, wrote Matthew Herper for Forbes. "This plan would likely mean that more people would lose insurance, or be forced to go to smaller networks of doctors."
In other words, it's the same-old same-old from the GOP: Heap more of the burden on the middle class while rewarding its corporate sponsors with another tax cut.
It's no wonder the president is rattling the saber of executive action; no matter what he does, he can't work with a group of Congressmen that has for six years stood in the way of his agenda, an agenda that was favored by the majority of Americans that elected, and then re-elected him to office.
"I'm eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still -- and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more Americans families, that's what I'm going to do," he said during his address. "With or without this Congress, I will keep taking actions that help the economy grow. But I can do a whole lot more with your help."
We don't expect that the president will get much traction from his threat, but we can't blame him from resorting to it. We just wish he wasn't so donnish when dealing with the obstructionist wing of our government. There comes a time when you have to raise your voice and hammer the podium with your shoe. We'd be OK with seeing Obama lose his temper and unleash a flurry of scorn on the Republicans. In fact, we would welcome it. But, in all reality, then the GOP would just call him an angry black man, maybe even a thug. And what did NFL player Richard Sherman say about calling a black man a thug?