News Release

SOTU Analysis: * Empire * Energy * Economy


Obama stated that fighting in Iraq “made the United States safer and more respected around the world.” Ford, who is executive editor of, took issue with this in an interview with The Real News last night: “Obama Pledges to Maintain the Empire.”

WENONAH HAUTER, via Darcey Rakestraw, drakestraw at
Executive director of Food & Water Watch, Hauter said today: “The president’s energy vision is troubling for our water resources. His speech touted the development of so-called ‘clean energy,’ but it may as well have been written by the oil and gas industry. His plan to open up more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources and to support shale gas development trades clean water for energy.

“President Obama should not confuse offshore oil and onshore shale gas development for clean energy. Although gas companies should absolutely be made to disclose the chemicals they use, simply disclosing chemicals does not prevent shale gas development from harming our essential water resources. To keep water safe and rural communities strong, we should ban fracking.

“Furthermore, the oil and gas industry’s job claims for shale gas development are grossly overestimated due to methodological flaws and reliance on economic modeling, rather than looking at the actual number of jobs created in communities with fracking. The only certainty about the expansion of the destructive oil and gas fracking is that it will bring profits to the multinational oil and gas companies. President Obama should look at the facts on how many jobs the oil and gas industry creates rather than writing federal energy policy based on the claims of the industry.

“When it comes to food, the President claimed he will not back down from making sure that our food is safe. But recent actions by his administration make that claim hard to believe. Just last week, the USDA announced its plan to deregulate the poultry industry by eliminating government inspectors and shifting to privatized inspection in many poultry plants. This is the opposite of making sure consumers are protected from unsafe food.”

MARK McLEOD, via Bob Keener, bobkeener at,
McLeod is executive director of the Sustainable Business Alliance of Oakland/Berkeley and steering committee member of the American Sustainable Business Council. He said today: “I welcome the President’s effort to have wealthier Americans pay higher taxes. The last time in our nation’s history when there was such extreme disparity between the income and wealth of the 1% and the 99% was in 1928, just prior to the beginning of the Great Depression. That such wealth concentrated in the hands of a tiny minority of the population is not taxed more highly is both obscene and self-destructive. Our nation needs more revenue to invest in education, healthcare, renewable energy and other infrastructure in order to succeed in the very tough world we live in.”

THOMAS FERGUSON, thomas.ferguson at
Ferguson is professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and a senior fellow of the Roosevelt Institute. He said today: “Some of the President’s proposals are intriguing, but without details they are hard to assess — the mortgage refinancing program above all. What is clear is only sometimes reassuring. It is fine to talk exports and jobs, but the heart of those programs are mostly special subsidies to businesses. It would be far better for all of us if the president abandoned his fixation on the deficit for the next few years and focused on sustaining total demand in the economy instead of myriads of special subsidies. Nor do I see any reason why the Attorney General needs to be assisted by state attorneys general in investigating mortgage fraud. The latter have spearheaded all serious efforts to rein in the banks; this new federal/state initiative looks like an effort by the Feds to curb the more vigorous state efforts. The proposals on political money are weak indeed; the President is really punting on that issue, especially the role of secret funds. And there is a deep contradiction between the President’s emphasis on education and the actual conditions of the states. Most education funding from the federal government gets channeled through states and localities. But they are broke. And while it’s fine to cut interest rates on student loans, the real problem is that students are assuming way too much debt. A useful federal government initiative on public higher education has to address that as well as promoting accountability in the colleges and universities.”

Ferguson just appeared on The Real News: “On Obama SOTU: New Financial Fraud Commission Could Actually Slow Down Investigations.”

Ferguson’s “The Devil and Rick Santorum: Dilemmas of a Holy Owned Subsidiary,” appeared recently on Alternet.

His recent studies of Congress and money have appeared in the Financial Times and the Washington Spectator.