State of the Union 2010

It is time once more for one of my favorite annual blog posts: the review of the State of the Union address and the opposition party’s rebuttal.

As always, I’ll include excerpts from the address that I found interesting or important followed by my thoughts. The Republican rebuttal will come tomorrow.

2010 State of the Union Address delivered by President Obama, Jan. 27, 2010

They’re [people who write letters, especially children] tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can’t afford it, not now.

If that is true, and it is, why are you seemingly one of the driving forces behind it? You can’t even begin to look at me and tell me the health care bill was the result of a bipartisan effort. Same with the stimulus. And yes, you could have made them bipartisan.

When I ran for president, I promised I wouldn’t just do what was popular, I would do what was necessary. And if we had allowed the meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today. More businesses would certainly have closed; more homes would have surely been lost.

Does “necessary” include an annual deficit equaling 10% of our entire national debt? And this year’s deficit is supposed to shatter that record….

So I supported the last administration’s efforts to create the financial rescue program. And when we took that program over, we made it more transparent and more accountable.

If there is one thing I’ve always admired about Obama, it is his respect for President Bush. I don’t pretend to think that Obama cares much about Bush, but he does respect him. At least he makes it look that way.

Oh, and the part about that transparency and accountability… hilarious. Fudged numbers, closed-door sessions… Yep, politics as usual.

We’ve recovered most of the money we spent on the banks.

Most, but not all. To recover the rest, I’ve proposed a fee on the biggest banks. Now, I know Wall Street isn’t keen on this idea, but if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.

I’m torn on this. I disagree that an institution that has kept the terms of the TARP agreement should be forced to pay a fee. In my opinion, this would be similar to me paying off my house and then having the mortgage company say, “Thank you. Now we’re going to levy a fee on you since we helped you buy that home in the first place.” The fee I pay for my home is the interest, same as those institutions paid for TARP.

Oh, and I don’t think the government should be involved with the bonuses. I think they are deplorable, but if that is how the business wants to run itself, I can always vote much more powerfully by taking my money elsewhere.

We cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families. We cut taxes for small businesses.

We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college.

And ran an annual deficit that shattered records…. It wasn’t worth it.

Now, because of the steps we took, there are about 2 million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed.

I’m not saying I doubt this number, but past evidence shows that the WH isn’t exactly great at counting numbers related to the stimulus…. Just sayin’. Oh, and the Fact Checker on CNN says the number is exaggerated.

I’m also proposing a new small-business tax credit, one that will go to over 1 million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages.

While we’re at it, let’s also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small-business investment and provide a tax incentive for all large businesses and all small businesses to invest in new plants and equipment.

That sounds like trickle-down economics to me and something the Republicans have been advancing for years…. Did I miss a party switch? 🙂

And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America.

Yes, I agree with this, but I worry about the overall effect. The US has a pretty aggressive corporate tax policy already, and location is really the only thing keeping many of them here anyway. Raising taxes on them…. Again, I agree, but I’m interested to see how it would all work and the effect it would have.

From the day I took office, I’ve been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious, such effort would be too contentious. I’ve been told that our political system is too gridlocked and that we should just put things on hold for a while.

For those who make these claims, I have one simple question: How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold?

Now this is definitely something I agree with, but I don’t think Obama and I agree with what needs to change and what that larger challenge is. In my opinion, the number one crisis facing this nation is our debt. Judging by Obama’s spending last year and proposed spending this year, I doubt we see eye-to-eye on that.

This year, I’m eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate.

What? There were bipartisan efforts in the Senate? Did I miss something? 🙂

And let’s tell another 1 million students that, when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years, and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college.

Sorry, but I disagree. College is not a right, it’s a privilege. It’s not something you just get. You earn it, you pay for it. Personally, I agree most strongly with Dave Ramsey who emphasizes personal responsibility for college. In particular, he points out that you need to get a degree in something that makes money and justifies the time and investment you are making in college.

If you spend $100,000 to get a masters in Polka Music and then whine that you can’t get a job, well… what did you expect? Why should that be forgiven after 20 years? Why should they get a government-funded Get Out of Jail Free card for making a stupid choice (no offense Polka fanatics)?

When it comes to the Democratic party, this is one of my biggest gripes. They seem to make everything a right. Not only that, but it’s a free right. No. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The rest is up to you under your own power.

It is precisely to relieve the burden on middle-class families that we still need health insurance reform.

Yes, we need health care reform, but this is not a Democratic initiative. It is ALL of us, and you and your party have left the rest of this nation out of the debate. Open those doors or lose that dream. Period.

It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses. Our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades.

Not according to the data I’ve seen. It’s simple math… the insurance companies do business the way they do because they ARE a business. You can’t insure people who will cost you money and stay in business. I’m not saying that’s right or ethical, I’m just saying that’s how a business works. The government plan is to pick up the slack and force those companies to pick up the slack. In other words, now they have to insure those very people who would break their businesses. Again, I’m not saying it’s ethical to not insure them, I’m just saying there is no mathematical way those businesses can survive without raising rates.

How do higher rates equal reduced premiums and reduced deficits?

And while we’re on that note, the deficit is not the debt. While reducing the deficit is nice, ANY deficit means we’re going deeper in debt.

But I also know this problem is not going away. By the time I’m finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small-business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether.

Hark, do I hear fear tactics? We’re not stupid, and I honestly doubt that millions will lose their insurance. And yes, our deficit will grow, but not necessarily because you didn’t pass health care. Again, open those doors and let everyone have a chair at that table and you’ll get your health care reform.

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.

Uh… Would it be too cliche for me to yell “You lie!” from the side?

I’m sorry, Mr. President, but I do not believe you. Nothing you have done in regards to the health care bill tells me you actually mean that. So… you lie!

By the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program.

On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door. [emphasis added]

Kettle, meet pot. How utterly hypocritical.

The vast majority of the increases last decade are thanks to President Obama in one year. President Bush’s record deficit was, I believe, around $350 BB. Disgusting, sure. But nowhere even close to the $1.4 TT Obama has inline for this year.

Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don’t. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will.

Ohhh… I’m starting to find myself getting mad. I just don’t believe him. I just don’t.

Here’s the deal: Put up or shut up. If you really do freeze government spending for three years and veto increased spending, I’ll take it all back. But I don’t even believe for a second that I’ll need to do that.

We will continue to go through the budget line by line, page by page, to eliminate programs that we can’t afford and don’t work. We’ve already identified $20 billion in savings for next year.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Great! Good job! You’ve identified $20 BB in savings. Now the deficit is only $1.398 TT for this year.  Wow… thanks! I feel so much better….

Hmmmm…. I’m going to take a 15 minute break and come back to this. I’m really getting annoyed.

[Break]

Okay, I’m back.

Now, yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission [fiscal commission]. So I’ll issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans.

Ah, that’s a good way to get me back in a good mood. Good job. Seriously. This commission has great potential simply because it has the power of law behind it. No one can add to or take away from their recommendations. It’s a straight yes or no vote. This is, in my opinion, the single best idea to come out of our government in the last year.

And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s.

Yes!!! Now, how are you going to pay down the debt?

But understand — understand, if we don’t take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery, all of which would have an even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes.

Uh, you said “could” damage. No, our debt will NOT damage this nation. It will ruin it.

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.

My honest first response? Blah, blah, blah.

Really? That’s your argument? It’s still Bush’s fault? That line is soooo tired and old. And it’s not “make  fewer investments in our people” that I’m hearing from the right. Talk about spinning the facts.

Let’s invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt.

For, I believe, the third time in this post: YOUR deficits, President Obama, accounted for a 10% increase in the ENTIRE national deficit last year and WILL account for an additional 10% increase this year. That’s 20% of the debt in our nation for the last 234 YEARS have or will happen on your watch. How do you account for that?

Stop blaming Bush and the Republicans (Democrats controlled both houses of congress these last three years, by the way), and take responsibility.

Geez! I might need another 15 minute break….

We face a deficit of trust, deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years.

You might call it that. But after this last single year, my distrust is more in you than those who came before. I wasn’t necessarily trustful then either, but this last year has been a sham.

I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests or, worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems.

I couldn’t even begin to confirm this, but I seem to recall that President Obama’s campaign was, in some measure, bankrolled by foreign donations.

If the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town, a supermajority, then the responsibility to govern is now yours, as well. Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it’s not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions.

Amen, but did you listen to your own thoughts? You just called both sides to a bipartisan round table that, up until now, you have done little to help establish. Pretty words with little action behind them. I beg you to follow them up with action.

Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions — our corporations, our media, and, yes, our government — still reflect these same values.

I should explain first. This quote comes after a long section where President Obama talked extensively about the values and dreams and great successes of this nation. I agree with it all. I’m passionate about this nation because I believe in her, in what she stands for. I believe this nation is ordained of God as a beacon, a city set on a hill.

And sadly, yes, I agree with President Obama that we have lost faith. But to the list you have there, sir, I’d add that we seem to have lost faith in ourselves. In each other. I no longer truly believe that my neighbor is as deeply interested in my growth and success as I am in theirs. I no longer believe that we accept the personal responsibility and ownership of our lives that made our past so strong. We are the me people now. Me first. Me now. Me forever and you be damned.

Aside from the deficit, this will certainly destroy us.

The only reason we are here is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard, to do what was needed even when success was uncertain, to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and their grandchildren.

We don’t quit. I don’t quit. Let’s seize this moment, to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more.

If only it may be so.

I obviously disagree with you on numerous points, but you have my full support here. I want you and this nation to succeed just as badly as I want me and my family to succeed. I’m no Rush who joys in your failures. I’m no frothing conservative who hates gays, liberals, non-Christians, and only thinks of myself.

I’m a human.

I’m a human who prays and cries just like you do. I’m a human who seeks happiness and joy in life through hard work, discipline, and control. I’m a human who seeks to bless the lives of those around me and lift those who hang down. I worry like you do. I hope like you do. I dream like you do.

And I think you, President Obama, are a human, too.

God bless you, sir. God give you wisdom and strength to accomplish all that is worthy and good in your life.

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2 Responses to State of the Union 2010

  1. Tom Degan says:

    The entire country is focusing it’s attention this morning on President Obama’s State of the Union address last night. I have nothing original to add to the discussion other than my view that it seems the prez is trying to jump start his faltering administration. A lot of “the experts” are at the moment dismissing this White House as dead in the water. If they had any concept of history they would know better. Many presidents in the past got off to a bad start. If George W. Bush were judged only on his first year in office, he would today be remembered as one of the worst Chiefs Executive in American history….

    Okay, maybe that’s not a good example. Let me try again….

    Jack Kennedy had a fairly shaky start in his first year (Remember the Bay of Pigs?) and yet he turned out to be pretty good at the job. A year from will find us at the half way point of Obama’s first (I hope) term. Let’s see what happens between now and then. NOTE TO LIBERALS: To abandon all faithin this president now would not only be foolish, it would be a half-step away from insanity. Chill!

    http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

    Tom Degan

  2. Dad says:

    Since I counsel students on how to get an education I think I will add a little spiel on debt. Just ignore the bills for 20 years and they will go away — so you have a free education. …And since you didn’t get a degree in a field with any job possibilities the government will also support you and yours for your whole life. Accountabilty??

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