No, he didn’t sing again, but Barack Obama delivered the 2012 State of the Union address last night and fired up his supporters while stressing the non-partisan approach that he believes will help finally get some things done in the country. The speech’s message “America Built To Last,” sort of brought to mind a car advertisement for me, but it went a long way towards restoring the president’s familiar hope and optimism messages from the ’08 campaign — he talked a lot about how great America is actually doing, how we are now safe from bin Laden, etc. His speech felt a little bit like a stump speech from the days when Obama had to prove himself to America. In that super-smart way that he often does, Obama outlined a laundry list of initiatives last night, some of which seemed like common sense — economy stimulators and things like that — and others that sort of came out of nowhere. Some of his more daring proposals include:

  • Rewards for effective schools, coupled with encouragement to follow their own curricula and methods. State laws that require students to stay in school until graduation or age 18. Extend college tuition tax credit and double the number of work-study jobs over the next five years.

  • The creation of a China task force to monitor trade violations. Aggressive inspections to intercept “counterfeit or unsafe goods” from foreign countries.

  • Support for a mortgage refinancing program for all “responsible” homeowners, funded by “a small fee” on large financial institutions.

  • Reform of the tax code that includes the so-called Buffett rule, a minimum 30% tax rate for individuals whose income exceeds $1 million. No tax increases for anyone earning less than $250,000.

  • A ban on “insider training” by members of Congress, and limits on elected officials’ investments in companies they regulate. Lobby reform. Simple majority vote within 90 days on judicial and public service nominations.

I have to wonder about how to enforce mandatory high school completion and how to regulate bootleg goods from China — both sound like impossible tasks — and it’s hard to embrace Obama’s optimistic message when we all know that these are rough times and change is hard to come by. But it’s refreshing to have the recent string of depressing Republican debates interrupted by smart plans for real action by our president.

(And it didnt’ hurt that Michelle Obama was in the audience looking great.)

Did you watch The State of the Union Address? What do you think of The President’s plans?

See CNN for more key points.

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