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Editorial: Obama makes clear it’s time to tackle real crises, not manufacture them

US President Barack Obamdelivers annual State Uniaddress joint sessiUS Congress House Chamber Capitol Hill February 12 2012 WashingtDC. AFP PHOTO/Brendan

US President Barack Obama delivers the annual State of the Union address to a joint session of the US Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill February 12, 2012 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKIBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

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Updated: March 14, 2013 6:36AM

It is time, President Barack Obama said Tuesday, for Washington to stop bouncing from one “manufactured crisis” to the next.

It is time, he said, to end the “brinksmanship” and to get serious about striking a grand bargain on government spending cuts and revenue increases — a deal aimed at rebuilding America’s middle class.

Way past time, actually.

Washington knows all about manufactured crises. But in Chicago, we know about the real thing. We know about poverty and unemployment and a constant gunfire that is taking our children.

As the president spoke, we looked at the two people sitting to the right of Michelle Obama in the audience, Cleopatra and Nathaniel Pendleton. They are the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old Chicago girl who was shot dead in a South Side park two weeks ago.

The Pendletons were there specifically to show support for the president’s gun control proposals. But his larger agenda of rebuilding the middle class, creating greater opportunities for all, is essential if more Hadiyas are not to die.

“It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country — the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, what you look like or who you love,” the president said.

What America cannot do, the president rightly said, is “cut our way to prosperity.” A balanced approach is essential, one that includes investment in pre-schools, infrastructure, alternative energy and basic research.

The president proposed raising the minimum wage nationwide to $9 an hour — a far better idea than Gov. Pat Quinn’s proposal for Illinois to go it alone, raising the minimum wage here to at least $10 over four years. Illinois would be at a competitive disadvantage to its neighbors.

But let’s get real. The president promised his plan would add nothing to the deficit, even as he offered up a long liberal to-do list, such as putting people “to work fixing up distressed communities” and fixing 70,000 bridges.

Seriously? The president might want to focus a bit, zeroing in on a select number of priorities, such as investing in preschools and tackling global warming.

But on this we can agree: Enough with the manufactured crisis.

There is not a reason in the world to allow mandated across-the-board budget cuts to kick in on March 1 — the so-called sequester.

We have real crises to deal with.

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