Before the start of Tuesday's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama promised that his plans for our country's future would stand in contrast to the vision of the Republican candidates who are vying for the right to oppose him in November's election.
From that standpoint, Obama's speech was a success.
Unfortunately, the message the president delivered was one of continuing the failed economic and energy policies that his administration has helped to craft during its three years in office.
Sounding as much as a campaign speech as a report to the nation, Obama continued to call for government to have an even greater hand in issues that affect society and the economy, setting up an election-year battle with Republicans, who are calling for less government intervention that will allow the free enterprise system to work.
The president pointed to his successes in national security, including the raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden and the demise of Libya's dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Those are accomplishments that Americans agree have helped make our country - and the world - safer.
Obama, however, offered little to be encouraged about on the economic and energy fronts. The president talked about the efforts his administration has made to help create jobs, but he failed to mention that just last week he rejected the Keystone Pipeline project that proponents say would have created around 100,000 jobs, 20,000 in the construction phase alone, and helped to lower energy costs. The 1,700-mile pipeline, which was proposed by the Transcanada energy company, would carry oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast in Texas.
The president offered a little glimmer of hope for our area when he discussed the potential role natural gas will fill in meeting the country's energy needs. With the drilling activity under way in the Marcellus and Utica shale formations, that's good news for the Tri-State Area. But, while the president said the country needs a strategy that develops every available source of American energy, we join with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia - like Obama, a Democrat - in wondering why coal, which produces nearly 50 percent of our energy and is vital to the economy of our region, does not seem to be a part of that mix.
We also find it encouraging that Obama called for community colleges to receive the resources needed to become community career centers, but we would like to remind the president that such programs have been in place at our own Eastern Gateway Community College for years.
Obama came to Washington in January 2009 promising change, and, again, that's a promise he has delivered on. Consider:
When Obama took office, the national debt was $10.6 trillion. It is now $15.2 trillion, having increased by approximately $1.5 trillion a year.
In 2008, before Obama took office, the federal budget was $2.98 trillion. It has risen under Obama to $3.75 trillion, having increased by approximately $1.5 trillion a year during Obama's time in office.
When Obama took office, the nation's unemployment rate was 8.3 percent. It now is 8.5 percent.
Yes, Obama has brought "change" to Americans. It's up to you to decide whether it has been beneficial or not.