Obama’s other big push was for a “spending freeze,” which critics have viewed as throwing ice cubes at a forest fire. The freeze would be a partial, 3-year cut in “discretionary spending” – less than 1 percent of the federal budget. This has received widespread criticism, such as that launched by Sen. Cathy McMorris-Rogers, (R-Wa.), who said that the focus of cutting spending was off-base.
“We need to get serious about entitlement reform, in addition to just balancing the budget,” she said.
One item that has garnered bipartisan support was increased bank regulations that he said would end the “too big to fail” phenomenon, reign in profits from financial institutions that have accepted federal bail out money, and increase the amount of information that consumers get from financial institutions. These regulations have largely been viewed favorably by the right and left.
Obama also dealt – in veiled references – to the blow Democrats had suffered after the special Massachusetts Senate election. Unfortunately, words cannot fix the terminal blow Scott Brown’s win dealt to the Democrats’ 60-vote supermajority.
"We have finished a difficult year. We have finished a difficult decade. But it's a new year. Let's start anew," he said.