January 26, 2011

Didn’t watch the State of the Union speech last night – I gave up watching these a long time ago, they’re so phoney and full of baloney. But I did read both President Obama’s speech and the Republican response by Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan. I’ll let their words stand for what they are and the message they are attempting to portray:

At stake right now is not who wins the next election -– after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It’s whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It’s whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but the light to the world.

We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again. But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children. That’s the project the American people want us to work on. Together

…We should have no illusions about the work ahead of us. Reforming our schools, changing the way we use energy, reducing our deficit –- none of this will be easy. All of it will take time. And it will be harder because we will argue about everything. The costs. The details. The letter of every law.

Of course, some countries don’t have this problem. If the central government wants a railroad, they build a railroad, no matter how many homes get bulldozed. If they don’t want a bad story in the newspaper, it doesn’t get written. And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn’t a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth.

We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution. We may have different opinions, but we believe in the same promise that says this is a place where you can make it if you try. We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything is possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from.

That dream is why I can stand here before you tonight. That dream is why a working-class kid from Scranton can sit behind me. That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father’s Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth. That dream -– that American Dream -– is what drove the Allen Brothers to reinvent their roofing company for a new era. It’s what drove those students at Forsyth Tech to learn a new skill and work towards the future.

…From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That’s how we win the future. We’re a nation that says, “I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company.” “I might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to get my degree.” “I might not know those people in trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try.” “I’m not sure how we’ll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we’ll get there. I know we will.”

We do big things.

The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our choice. And tonight, more than two centuries later, it’s because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.

Then this…

Our debt is the product of acts by many presidents and many Congresses over many years. No one person or party is responsible for it. There is no doubt the President came into office facing a severe fiscal and economic situation. Unfortunately, instead of restoring the fundamentals of economic growth, he engaged in a stimulus spending spree that not only failed to deliver on its promise to create jobs, but also plunged us even deeper into debt.

The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25% for domestic government agencies – an 84% increase when you include the failed stimulus. All of this new government spending was sold as “investment.” Yet after two years, the unemployment rate remains above 9% and government has added over $3 trillion to our debt. Then the President and his party made matters even worse, by creating a new open-ended health care entitlement.

What we already know about the President’s health care law is this: Costs are going up, premiums are rising, and millions of people will lose the coverage they currently have. Job creation is being stifled by all of its taxes, penalties, mandates and fees. Businesses and unions from around the country are asking the Obama Administration for waivers from the mandates. Washington should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. The President mentioned the need for regulatory reform to ease the burden on American businesses. We agree – and we think his health care law would be a great place to start. Last week, House Republicans voted for a full repeal of this law, as we pledged to do, and we will work to replace it with fiscally responsible, patient-centered reforms that actually reduce costs and expand coverage. Health care spending is driving the explosive growth of our debt. And the President’s law is accelerating our country toward bankruptcy.

Our debt is out of control. What was a fiscal challenge is now a fiscal crisis. We cannot deny it; instead we must, as Americans, confront it responsibly. Our nation is approaching a tipping point. We are at a moment, where if government’s growth is left unchecked and unchallenged, America’s best century will be considered our past century. This is a future in which we will transform our social safety net into a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency. Depending on bureaucracy to foster innovation, competitiveness, and wise consumer choices has never worked – and it won’t work now.

We need to chart a new course.

…Speaking candidly, as one citizen to another: We still have time… but not much time. If we continue down our current path, we know what our future will be. Just take a look at what’s happening to Greece, Ireland, the United Kingdom and other nations in Europe. They didn’t act soon enough; and now their governments have been forced to impose painful austerity measures: large benefit cuts to seniors and huge tax increases on everybody. Their day of reckoning has arrived. Ours is around the corner. That is why we must act now.

Some people will back away from this challenge. But I see this challenge as an opportunity to rebuild what Lincoln called the “central ideas” of the Republic. We believe a renewed commitment to limited government will unshackle our economy and create millions of new jobs and opportunities for all people, of every background, to succeed and prosper. Under this approach, the spirit of initiative – not political clout – determines who succeeds.

Millions of families have fallen on hard times not because of our ideals of free enterprise – but because our leaders failed to live up to those ideals; because of poor decisions made in Washington and Wall Street that caused a financial crisis, squandered our savings, broke our trust, and crippled our economy. Today, a similar kind of irresponsibility threatens not only our livelihoods but our way of life.­­

We need to reclaim our American system of limited government, low taxes, reasonable regulations, and sound money, which has blessed us with unprecedented prosperity. And it has done more to help the poor than any other economic system ever designed. That’s the real secret to job creation – not borrowing and spending more money in Washington.

Limited government and free enterprise have helped make America the greatest nation on earth.

Y’all can decide which one is most effective. My only comment is this: if your house is on fire and in danger of collapsing, or you’re hideously overdrawn at the bank and you can’t pay your bills, I’d rather have give me the hard truth with an honest portrayal of the situation. That’s why I hate the SOTU speeches: no matter who delivers them, Democrat or Republican, they’re all full of crap. I understand that’s the way it is and that’s the way Washington works – it thinks of itself as the center of everyone’s universe – but there is a new wind blowing out here in the heartlands, and the states are starting to take what belongs to them rightfully back.

The center of gravity in this country is shifting, which is why so little of what was said above means so little going forward if all they are are words.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 08:55 | Comments (2)
2 Comments »
  1. I suppose I’m a bit of a romantic. The SOTU should be a summary of where we are as a nation and a soaring vision of the future. I probably won’t make too many fans but I think rebuttals should be discontinued. The night should be about the President speaking directly to the American people. That’s all, nothing else.

    Comment by Rob — January 26, 2011 @ 9:55 am


  2. In some ways I agree with you. Rob – Democrat or Republican the Prez ought to have one night where it’s his (or her) time to simply articulate his (or her) vision of where we were, what we now are, and what the plans are for the next year.

    I wish we had politicians that would just tell the truth and stand by their principles, rightly or wrongly. I mean, Obama’s the president, show some damned leadership. I probably wouldn’t agree with little (or anything) that he might propose, but propose it and let Congress deal with it, up or down. And I mean specifically, not metaphorically. Hell, even I can do that.

    John Lennon was probably channeling my own SOTU speech sentiments when he sang:

    I’ve had enough of watching scenes
    Of schizophrenic, ego-centric, paranoiac, prima-donnas
    All I want is the truth now
    Just gimme some truth

    There will be some people who can’t, but most people can handle the truth when told to them. If a politician said, “look, we’ve spent ourselves in a ditch, either we cut spending and raise taxes we’re in big trouble.” But no one would believe them. Makes too much sense.

    So we’re screwed.

    Comment by The Great White Shank — January 26, 2011 @ 8:32 pm


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