Now that the more breathless commentators have had their say, it's my turn.
As oratory, it was pretty good, though not great. "Competing for the future" doesn't have quite the same ring as "ask not what your country can do for you", or "we will send a man to the moon". In fact, there I didn't hear any stirring calls to action. Perhaps we're in a time of diminished expectations, which is not surprising considering that we are still struggling with the worst recession in 80 years. Even so, you could at least try . . ..
Obama made separate calls for corporate and individual tax reform. The Republicans immediately upped the ante, calling for both at the same time. But if we take a serious look at the situation, its most likely posturing on both sides. Why?
1. Rewriting the entire tax code is hard work -- especially for lobbyists!
2. Rewriting the entire tax code forces most of the states to at least consider rewriting their tax laws.
3. One man's loophole is another company's justified economic incentive for the public good.
In all the sturm und drang, it's easy to forget that even if the tax laws do occupy 75,000 pages of statue and regulation, the average individual taxpayer needs less than 100 of those pages to finish his 1040. If he doesn't itemize deductions, perhaps a quarter of that. An awful lot of those pages Congress complains about are there because Congress tried to plug up holes that corporations and high end individuals try to exploit.
Anyway, I guess we're looking at study groups and posturing for the next two years. Some small proposals (like repealing the new 1099 rules) might make it to a vote. Fo the most part, though, both sides are going to sit back, stake out positions for the 2012 elections, and make the tax reform debate a major issue in the election.
So keep your eyes and mind open, but your expectations low.