STATE OF THE UNION: FEDERAL DEFICIT AND INVESTING IN LONG TERM TECHNOLOGIES IS A PRIORITY

Watching President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, I found that I agreed with many of the President’s statements and was happy that he acknowledged some areas where the Federal Government fell short during the last two years.  I also agreed with Senator John McCain when, after the speech, he said that all the standing ovations made the State of the Union address into a televised political statement instead of a progress report on our country.  I might have enjoyed hearing the speech without so many interruptions and listening to how the comments were strung together.

That aside, it was a good speech.  The President recognized that not enough had been done about the economy and he recognized that the deficit is out of control, both of which were points that he needed to make.  I disagreed with him when he said that the burden of program cuts shouldn’t be on the backs of some in our society.  I believe that if there are cuts, everyone should share the burden.  If we go into this session of Congress with this attitude, then we’ll spend valuable time arguing about which segments of our nation don’t deserve cuts.

The problem with our Federal budget is that we’re providing more services than we are capable of funding.  People who receive services are going to have to expect less if we are going to solve this problem.

The survey work from Illinois Corn Growers Association membership, which has pretty broad participation, would indicate that farmers want to see the Federal deficit brought under control.  They understand the long term implications relative to interest rate costs and that we can’t just keep borrowing into the future.  If the pain is shared equally across all sectors of our population, farmers are willing to accept their share of the cuts.

Also of interest to Illinois farmers, the President talked about energy and the need to keep investing in new technologies.  The US has led the world in technology development and it’s an area that we need to keep investing into the longer term future.

Stepping back and thinking about where our country may have made some mistakes, we haven’t made long term investments into new technologies, new infrastructure, or other programs that will affect the ability of future Americans to remain competitive in a world market.  We have tended to invest in short term projects that offer immediate gratification.  That needs to change.

One of the best statements the President made was about how there will be no laws passed in the next two years that do not have both Republican and Democratic support.  The question I would ask about those laws is, will they be laws passed because Congress feels backed into a corner with no other choice?  That set of laws will likely not be well thought out.  Alternatively, will the laws passed be proactive and have true bipartisan philosophical support?  If the latter happens, I think Illinois farmers will feel progress is being made in the next two years, especially compared with the last two years.

Rodney M. Weinzierl
ICGA Executive Director

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