The central economic message from President Obama in his State of the Union (SOU) speech last night was that the U.S. economy was on a strong footing and well prepared to prosper in a dynamic and rapidly changing global environment. This is hardly a surprising message, but notable coming at a time when the 2016 presidential campaign is being driven by populist messages of economic decline and aversion to globalization. Running briefly through a list typical of SOUs, the president noted job growth including in manufacturing, developments in clean and conventional energy, educational improvements including rising high school graduation rates and student loan relief, improved medical insurance coverage, and the recent bipartisan agreement on No Child Left Behind among his achievements. Indeed, with unemployment at 5 percent and growth at around 2.5 percent backed by highly accommodative monetary policy, the president had a good macroeconomic story to tell, while acknowledging that a great deal more had to be done to boost middle class incomes and improve economic security.
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