President Barack Obama's comments on income equality seemed to have the most impact on a group of about 35 Democrats who gathered to watch the State of the Union Address at Tuesday.
Early on in the speech Obama said that the defining issue of our time was keeping the American dream, of hard work bringing success, alive.
“We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules,” he said.
The fair share theme continued with statements that both corporations and people needed to pay their fair share of taxes, something that resonated with Wayne Clinton, Story County Supervisor, and others watching the address especially in light of recent news that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's tax rate was below 14 percent.
“Income inequality is the core of the problem facing not only our country but also (the world),” Clinton said. “There is a gap between the have and the have nots and I think he clearly talked about how to end insolvency by having everybody pay their fair share.”
Treasurer of the Story County Democrats Tom Corrieri said Romney's tax rate was unconscionable and said Obama clearly delineated the differences between Democrats and Republicans when he spoke.
“We are the party for the many and they are the party for the few,” Corrieri said.
Clinton and Corrieri, as many of the people watching, were party activists but Jan Bauer, Chair of the Story County Democrats, said she saw a handful of fresh new faces when she turned back to look into the small crowd.
Viewers clapped politely when Obama paused during his speech, but it was this comment,
“And if you're a mortgage lender or a payday lender or a credit card company, the days of signing people up for products they can't afford with confusing forms and deceptive practices are over. Today, American consumers finally have a watchdog in Richard Cordray with one job: To look out for them.”
that received the most applause from the Ames group, said Andy Tang, who watched from the side.
People also mentioned their frustration with the Republicans who refused to work with the president.
“He's offered over and over again to work with Republicans to make a difference in people's lives and get beyond the constant gridlock,” Bauer said.
Clinton said that Republicans decided early on to make sure that the president was a one term president and said they have refused to cooperate on issues that they usually would. But Bauer said most people see through that.
Kim Burnett, who caucused for Obama in 2008, said
“He said, 'If I could work with the Congress, we could make some progress.”