As I write this President Obama is giving his address on debt and what to do about it. The first part can be summed up by “the Republicans started it.” The big time borrowing started in the 1980s (unspoken was “by Ronald Reagan”). We started getting responsible in the 1990s (unspoken was “during the Clinton administration”). Then trashed that idea again this past decade (unspoken was “by GW Bush and the Republican Congress”). Then Obama inherited an economy in the tank that required even more borrowing (unspoken was “just to keep us from becoming a third world country”).
He actually does a good job of telling it straight – all the stuff people are talking about is only 12% of our budget. We need to look at the other 88%. He basically said “we have to be honest, and the proposals out there are not honest.” They go after minimal costs that happen to be ideological red meat for the base…and ofttimes just mean. They focus on hurting average Americans and giving all the breaks to the people who least need them. In short, the middle class and the investments in the future are being sacrificed to give a tiny percentage of the most privileged Americans even more privilege. We need to invest in our future…China and others certainly are investing in theirs.
The vision for the future should be on investing in education and new technologies. Not on giving tax breaks to the wealthy. “They want people like me to get a $200,000 tax break and by asking 33 seniors to take a $6000 each tax increase. That is not the America we want.”
Now he is getting positive – America is a great nation. “This is the America I know. We don’t have to forfeit our future. We all have to make sacrifices, but we don’t have to sacrifice the America we all believe in. And as President I won’t let it happen.”
He adopts some of the provisions of the debt commission. “We will make the tough cuts we need to make, including some things that I would rather not. But we will not sacrifice our ability to meet the future, innovate, and create jobs.” He includes defense in the areas where cuts can be made, while maintaining the US as the best and most powerful military in the world. He includes continuing to look for ways to lower health care costs, but chastises the mean and ineffective plan put forth by the Republicans (the Ryan plan). He says “we will reform these programs, but we will not abandon the commitment we have made to ourselves.”
He refuses to extend the tax cuts to the wealthiest one percent again. “We can’t afford to give million dollar tax cuts to billionaires at the expense of the middle class.” He called for Congress to reform the tax code to simplify and make more efficient our taxes while protecting our investment for the future.
The goal is to cut the deficit by $4 trillion by 2023.
A good speech. He drew some bright lines with the Republicans, which should satisfy liberals who have been feeling he has given too much away to the GOP. As for the Republicans, they of course will find fault with Obama’s speech because, well, because it’s Obama’s speech. Overall, Obama presented an honest picture of what needs to be done and how we shouldn’t be fooled by the rhetoric that avoids taking any real responsibility and/or sacrifices the future and the middle class. “We can’t just think about ourselves, we have to think about our country and our people and our future.”
“We are in this together. I still believe we can take responsibility and can work together to keep America great.”
*all quotes are my paraphrasing as I don’t do dictation. But hey, they’re pretty close. 🙂