I haven't done one of these in a while
And this is largely personal with a smattering of professional (we don't watch the US in great detail).
Haven't been keeping track in great detail his policies, so I'll rely on these sources:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/25/us/politics/state-of-the-union-2012.html?pagewanted=allhttp://useconomy.about.com/od/Politics/p/Obama-State-Of-The-Union-Address-2012-Summary.htmhttp://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/01/24/remarks-president-state-union-address
His ideas for changing the tax code to be more inwardly focussed, as in attracting and retaining businesses to the US, is clearly a winner. My question would be has it come too late? Will it be enough to entice companies that have offshored to come back to the US, and is the macroeconomy configured in the correct manner elsewhere (industrial relations, infrastructure etc) in order to bring them back/keep them. I think people-wise, its a no-brainer, but on the infrastructure front there is alot that needs to be done - you've been far too focussed on building the empire that you've let Rome burn, as it were.
A large scale investment program in public infrastructure, similar to what happened following the Depression, could be a good short-term and long-term policy for the US. There's no doubt that you've got the ability, capacity and wherewithall to do it, so just do it.
Re: exports, well duh, you've debased your currency to the point where its much cheaper than it used to be for everyone to buy your stuff. Can't take full credit for that.
Teaching and learning: great policies. There's no detail in his speech, but increasing education and training will practically never harm the economy over the medium-to-long term (unless you rely heavily on cheap unskilled labour, which I don't think the US does). However, the money has to be spent smart, not just thrown at schools/other institutions.
Small business/innovation: See above, don't just thrown money around.
Gas: no brainer. The less reliance on global energy markets, which will become crowded as China, India, Brazil et al develop won't put any downward pressure on global energy prices. I'm reading a book called The Growth Map (probably a good one for the inward-looking yanks to read
) that expounds this view quite well and its easily digestable.
Expanding current tax cuts: Probably a good move in light of what I've said previously on the US recovery. But you can't do it forever, and at some point taxes will have to rise to cut the deficit and repay debt - the key is timing. Tax cuts today are just deferred tax increases tomorrow (assuming spending doesn't fall).
Buffet Rule: Why not? Capital gains taxation should be at step rates that work in a similar way to income tax (the higher the gain, the greater the marginal tax rate), with tough regulation so you can't split gains into various companies or entities etc.
Hopefully thats a good summary. Ofcourse, this is predominately rhetoric, isn't it? But its good rhetoric, sensible rhetoric and really does thrown dow the gauntlet to Republicans to support. I can't think of any policy in particular here that is inherently bad for the economy...although as I said reduced taxes today mean increased taxes tomorrow assuming spending remains constant, and there wasn't any real "plan" per se to bring the deficit under control.
Ofcourse, this should happen naturally as the economy improves, but I have a sneaking suspiscion that US budget settings are a bit like an old man in need of a chiro appointment - sure, he can get around with his walking stick, but wouldn't it be so much better if someone got in there and ironed out the issues forcing him to use the walking stick?