Healthcare: Nevertheless, about 45 minutes into President Obama’s speech, he pivoted back to Healthcare and more specifically “health insurance reform.” Even though the public has overwhelmingly decided the Dems version of Healthcare reform is not for them, Obama urged the citizens to “take another look” at their current proposals. He worked hard to keep the discussion directed towards Americans, referencing the uninsured and small businesses multiple times. It was also a good tactic to use a self-deprecating attitude and personalization in regards to individuals being denied insurance and pending financial ruin due to medical bills. He went as far as saying that he takes some of the blame in not fully explaining the plan and reiterated some of his previous claims. Claims that you will be allowed to keep your current doctor, that all preventative care would be paid for and that the CBO believes it will not raise the deficit in 20 years. I believe all of these “claims” have been debunked and was incredibly surprised that he would still be behind a bill that 2/3 of Americans are against.
His last few paragraphs about Health Insurance Reform were the most absurd. After he told the public to take another look at the 2,000 page Democratic proposal he added, “But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. Let me know. Let me know. I’m eager to see it.” This can be taken in two ways; It’s either a 180 degree about-face as Repubs have been effectively shut out of the discussion regarding healthcare reform, or an outright lie. There has been many Republicans desperately trying to weigh in on healthcare, with some putting forth proposals to do just as he asked. Congressman Paul Ryan was one of them. In Tuesday’s Wall St Journal he posted this op-ed which highlighted some of his proposals. In the end, Healthcare is still Obama’s baby, and he still wants his unpopular bill passed…onward non-denominational soldiers I suppose.
Spending Freeze: President Obama then outlined his already much maligned promise of a partial spending freeze of discretionary spending for 3 years. Most see this amount, approximately 15 billion as a drop in the bucket compared to the trillions already spent, like taking 5 steps forward and 2 steps back.
His idea is noble as government spending should clearly be curbed, but the tactic and wording he used was disingenuous and petty. He blamed Bush for much of the current debt we are in, and harped on “two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program.” We can argue Bush’s Prescription Drug Program is expensive and inefficient, and even that validity of the current military conflicts we are engaged in, but we cannot demonize Bush for his tax cuts. I’ve already debunked the administration’s attempt at tax revenue extrapolation, and if Bush hadn’t passed those, we’d be in even worse shape as the initial hit taken for large scale federal tax bracket decreases has already been absorbed. He also scrutinized oil companies again as well as the so-called rich, “To help working families, we’ll extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and for those making over $250,000 a year. We just can’t afford it.” Meaning – We will continue the BUSH tax cuts for the lower tax brackets, but will raise taxes for people making over 250k, possibly on investments, and most likely for corporations. These ideas coincide completely with leftist ideology and not with economic history. Tax incentives for investments including lowering capital gains taxes have spurred investment and brought more money into the treasury.
In further regard to spending, he did propose two things that I would welcome: Pay-Go and a bipartisan Fiscal Commission. Whether or not this will come to fruition and realistic models will actually be used to decide program costs has yet to be seen. Let’s hope so.
Discredit and Mischaracterize: Without so much as two minutes of good ideas, Obama chose next to blame Bush and discredit everyone from Republicans to the Supreme Court. He started off with this, “From some on the right, I expect we’ll hear a different argument, that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts, including those for the wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away. The problem is that’s what we did for eight years.” Make fewer investments in our people? Are you kidding me? Who has said this? This also may be a way for him to sneak in that he will let ALL the Bush Income Tax cuts to go back to Clinton era rates, typically about 5% higher for EVERYONE.
“Let’s try common sense, a novel concept,” Obama uttered next, but then went on to make claims totally void of all common sense. He spoke of excluding lobbyists from policy making positions and imposing strict limits on lobbyist contributions to candidates. The truth is he already hired many lobbyists and they already fall under the same candidate donation limits as every other American. He called to Congress to continue earmark reform even though it was a campaign promise last year and he subsequently passed multiple bills including thousands of said earmarks. He even called out the Supreme Court in front of the entire world for their recent decision that allowed Corporations unlimited ability to contribute to political parties’ campaigns. The AP says Obama blatantly mischaracterized the Court’s position. I don’t know too much about this decision and my reaction is somewhat mixed, I just felt it was hugely inappropriate and a clear abuse of power considering the Court had to sit and take it while the Dems cheered raucously behind them.
He even reminded his Democratic cohorts that they still have the Congressional majorities, and tried to push the anti-Republican mantra that they are the “Party of No”. Obviously the Republicans have a lot of ideas regarding healthcare, national security, government reform, etc. Not to mention most of the stimulus’ tax cuts were theirs, it’s just unfortunate that a lie told enough times will begin to stick. The good from this portion of the speech was in another call for transparency and accountability. An attempt to post legislation earmarks online as well as extending a hand to lessen partisan divisions is a good thing, and again would mean an about-face from the President’s first year. Still hopin’ though.
National Security: It took Obama over an hour to delve into the touchy subject of National Security, and it took just seconds before his hand was played. Aside from saying he wasn’t interested in “re-litigating the past,” he said, “Let’s reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values. Let’s leave behind the fear and division and do what it takes to defend our nation…” That statement spells out the carefully worded liberal mindset that Bush was a torturer and we lost our values as a nation under him. That couldn’t be further from the truth and it’s actually just the opposite. Plus, much of the animosity the President has been facing is due to growing concerns about him and his irrational lobbyist Attorney General Eric Holder, and his illogical stances and decisions regarding our national security and terrorist interrogations.
Obama said that since taking office, “we renewed our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation. . . prohibited torture and strengthened partnerships from the Pacific to South Asia to the Arabian Peninsula.” A new focus on specifically al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is important, but claims to prohibit so-called “torture” that provided quantifiable intel that saved lives is a stretch. Not to mention his #1 goal of closing Guantanamo proved to be a leftist fantasy that he completely overlooked. It also overlooks the actions he took that seem to Americans as appeasement and apologizing, as well as isolating some of our greatest allies, Poland, Czech Republic, Israel and Honduras. He even said he’d captured or killed more al-Qaeda fighters and affiliates this year than in 2008, a claim the AP says is impossible to substantiate. If this is true given the step up in unmanned drone attacks on targets in Pakistan and elsewhere, that’s a good thing.
While purposely overlooking Guantanamo, the unpopular terrorist trials in New York, the underwear bomber, the Fort Hood massacre, and the alleged Osama Bin Laden tape from the other day, President Obama did a good job in outlining his plans for Afghanistan and Iraq. Sore spots for all of us, he let everyone know we will be out of Iraq soon(combat troops out by end of August), and if things go well in Afghanistan, troop withdrawals will be coming soon as well. A final winning point for him regarding National Security was his investments in our military veterans. Aside from money to update the Veterans Administration, he pledged to further support military families with a new committee headed by Jill Biden and Michelle Obama, all good causes.
Nuclear Proliferation: Again after making such demonstrable statements, he comes back to his liberal agenda, this time referring to his vision of a world without nuclear weapons. This is a noble sentiment that must be fostered, but it’s a mere fantasy in today’s world. There is a Nuclear Security Summit this April in Washington D.C. that will most likely pave the way for Obama’s real aspirations about Nuclear Weapons. Although he’s uttered these ideas before in front of the world stage, and promised stricter sanctions against Iran and N. Korea should they not commit. I remain pessimistic to its outcome.
Conclusion: The rest of the address basically consisted of populist pep talk, backhanded Bush jabs, and more liberal ideology defined. He gave credit to those who helped in Haiti, said we have had a tough decade, and told us that he would continue to aid developing nations in fighting AIDS. His attempts at bridging partisan divides and giving credence to helping programs was greatly outweighed by the bevy of liberal policies he outlined at the end of his speech.
Make no mistake, our President is a hard-line left-wing ideologue, and the bones he threw to his base really showed. They included:
- We have gone from a bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change.
- We find unity in our incredible diversity. . . if you adhere to our common values, you should be treated no different from anyone else.
- a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination.
- We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate.
- I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of their sexual orientation.
- We’re going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws, so that women get equal pay for an equal day’s work.
- In the end, it’s our ideals, our values that built America, values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants
Whether or not you agree with all these plays is up to you, as each of these can be columns unto themselves. But I can assure you every one of these ideas is complicated and will have lasting ramifications should they all be adopted without lengthy discussion and research.
In President Obama I believe we have an inexperienced, supremely charismatic, overly confident Statist. Simply put, one who values the idea of multiculturalism, large and benevolent government, and a Constitution that is living and growing with the changing winds of progressive ideologies. Though I was shocked that he would double down on his past years failed initiatives, it further supports my worry that our country is at a crossroads. In 2010, with partisan divides widening, foreign threats multiplying, and our economy teetering, we must all be vigilant in finding the facts, reviewing history, learning from our mistakes, and searching for moral clarity in an increasingly immoral world. Our future depends on it. Good Luck.