Author Topic: SOTU, 2011....what won't be discussed  (Read 743 times)

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sirs

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SOTU, 2011....what won't be discussed
« on: January 25, 2011, 02:16:29 PM »
The Washington Post reports that the President will not embrace his own deficit commission's recommendations to reform Social Security during his State of the Union Address this evening, presumably because he sees it as (1) a potential political vulnerability, (2) a threat to the Left's treasured dependency society, or (3) a bit of both.  Trying to do the right thing the hard way on a desperately needed Social Security overhaul didn't work out too well for his predecessor, so Obama is content to sit pat and stay mum on the subject.  Leadership:

President Obama has decided not to endorse his deficit commission's recommendation to raise the retirement age, and otherwise reduce Social Security benefits, in Tuesday's State of the Union address, cheering liberals and drawing a stark line between the White House and key Republicans in Congress.

Over the weekend, the White House informed Democratic lawmakers and advocates for seniors that Obama will emphasize the need to reduce record deficits in the speech, but that he will not call for reducing spending on Social Security - the single largest federal program - as part of that effort.

Liberals, who have been alarmed by Obama's recent to shift to the center and his effort to court the nation's business community, applauded the decision, arguing that Social Security cuts are neither necessary to reduce current deficits nor a wise move politically.


Sure, it may be an unwise political move right now (Americans from across the spectrum oppose Social Security cuts), but like it or not, those cuts are surely coming -- and sooner than we'd like to think.  If only we had a president who would proudly and courageously assure voters that when it comes to issues requiring leadership and responsibility, he'd rather be "a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president."  Such a bold, principled leader would undoubtedly stand up to his political base and imperil his own electoral fortunes in the name of undertaking the difficult task of addressing a looming crisis. 

Either that, or he'd be (once again) exposed as being all talk.

Commentary
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

sirs

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Re: SOTU, 2011....what won't be discussed
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2011, 11:54:29 PM »
I was playing tennis after work, so I missed the speech.  How was it?  Was it centrist enough?  I figured he had to do 3 things

1) Throw a bone to his base, in the form of needing to "invest more in education, infrastructure and to allow Cash for Croakers to really get croaking.  He can't bash Republicans because of #3

2) Hit hard the achievements (of whatever they were) militarily in Afghanistan, as well as other foreign policy "achievements"

3) Placate the middle, reach out to independents, and even republicans, in a notion of need to restrain Government spending, and Government growth in general.  If he were to try to bash Republicans, he'd come across as partisan and not looking to "reach across the isle", turning off those Independents he sorely needs in 2012

So, seriously, how'd he do?
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Christians4LessGvt

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Re: SOTU, 2011....what won't be discussed
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2011, 08:10:57 AM »
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"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" - Ronald Reagan - June 12, 1987

sirs

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Re: SOTU, 2011....what won't be discussed
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2011, 11:45:12 AM »
Seriously?  Wow, that's not going to get those Independents to come back into his fold.  Which I guess is good for the country.  2012 can't come fast enough.  And IIRC, there are far more Democrat Senate Seats up than GOP, come 2012 as well.
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Christians4LessGvt

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Re: SOTU, 2011....what won't be discussed
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2011, 12:10:22 PM »
oh....
and throw in a bunch of praise for Communist China as a shining example for what the US should be doing!
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" - Ronald Reagan - June 12, 1987

sirs

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Re: SOTU, 2011....what won't be discussed
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2011, 12:41:47 PM »
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The ledger did not appear to be adding up Tuesday night when President Barack Obama urged more spending on one hand and a spending freeze on the other.

Obama spoke ambitiously of putting money into roads, research, education, efficient cars, high-speed rail and other initiatives in his State of the Union speech. He pointed to the transportation and construction projects of the last two years and proposed "we redouble these efforts." He coupled this with a call to "freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years."

But Obama offered far more examples of where he would spend than where he would cut, and some of the areas he identified for savings are not certain to yield much if anything.

For example, he said he wants to eliminate "billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies." Yet he made a similar proposal last year that went nowhere. He sought $36.5 billion in tax increases on oil and gas companies over the next decade, but Congress largely ignored the request, even though Democrats were then in charge of both houses of Congress.

A look at some of Obama's statements Tuesday night and how they compare with the facts:

OBAMA: Tackling the deficit "means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit."

THE FACTS: The idea that Obama's health care law saves money for the government is based on some arguable assumptions.

To be sure, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the law will slightly reduce red ink over 10 years. But the office's analysis assumes that steep cuts in Medicare spending, as called for in the law, will actually take place. Others in the government have concluded it is unrealistic to expect such savings from Medicare.

In recent years, for example, Congress has repeatedly overridden a law that would save the treasury billions by cutting deeply into Medicare pay for doctors. Just last month, the government once again put off the scheduled cuts for another year, at a cost of $19 billion. That money is being taken out of the health care overhaul. Congress has shown itself sensitive to pressure from seniors and their doctors, and there's little reason to think that will change.

OBAMA: Vowed to veto any bills sent to him that include "earmarks," pet spending provisions pushed by individual lawmakers. "Both parties in Congress should know this: If a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it."

THE FACTS: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has promised that no bill with earmarks will be sent to Obama in the first place. Republicans have taken the lead in battling earmarks while Obama signed plenty of earmark-laden spending bills when Democrats controlled both houses.

It's a turnabout for the president; in early 2009, Obama sounded like an apologist for the practice: "Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that's why I've opposed their outright elimination," he said then.

OBAMA: "I'm willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits."

THE FACTS: Republicans may be forgiven if this offer makes them feel like Charlie Brown running up to kick the football, only to have it pulled away, again.

Obama has expressed openness before to this prominent Republican proposal, but it has not come to much. It was one of several GOP ideas that were dropped or diminished in the health care law after Obama endorsed them in a televised bipartisan meeting at the height of the debate.

Republicans want federal action to limit jury awards in medical malpractice cases; what Obama appears to be offering, by supporting state efforts, falls short of that. The president has said he agrees that fear of being sued leads to unnecessary tests and procedures that drive up health care costs. So far the administration has only wanted to pay for pilot programs and studies.

Trial lawyers, major political donors to Democratic candidates, are strongly opposed to caps on jury awards. But the administration has been reluctant to support other approaches, such as the creation of specialized courts where expert judges, not juries, would decide malpractice cases.

OBAMA: Praised the "important progress" made by the bipartisan fiscal commission he created last year.

THE FACTS: The panel's co-chairmen last month recommended a painful mix of spending cuts and tax increases, each of them unpopular with one constituency or another, including raising the Social Security retirement age, cutting future benefit increases, raising the gasoline tax and rolling back popular tax breaks like the mortgage interest deduction. But Obama has yet to sign on to any of the ideas, even though he promised when creating the panel that it would not be "one of those Washington gimmicks."

Obama missed another chance Tuesday night to embrace the tough medicine proposed by the commission for bringing down the deficit. For example, the president said he wanted to "strengthen Social Security for future generations" -- but ruled out slashing benefits or partially privatizing the program, and made no reference to raising the retirement age. That left listeners to guess how he plans to do anything to salvage the popular retirement program whose trust funds are expected to run out of money in 2037 without changes.

OBAMA: As testament to the fruits of his administration's diplomatic efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons, he said the Iranian government "faces tougher and tighter sanctions than ever before."

THE FACTS: That is true, and it reflects Obama's promise one year ago that Iran would face "growing consequences" if it failed to heed international demands to constrain its nuclear program. But what Obama didn't say was that U.S. diplomacy has failed to persuade Tehran to negotiate over U.N. demands that it take steps to prove it is not on the path toward a bomb. Preliminary talks with Iran earlier this month broke off after the Iranians demanded U.S. sanctions be lifted.


Fact check
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

sirs

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Re: SOTU, 2011....what won't be discussed
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2011, 05:12:51 PM »
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Obama's Plan Would Cost Another $20 Billion
Group says his proposals would lead to higher taxes

By Paul Bedard

Posted: January 26, 2011


President Obama's agenda spelled out in his well-received State of the Union address would boost spending an additional $20 billion and lead to higher taxes, according to a line-by-line analysis from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation. [See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.]

"President Obama's speech last night hinted at tax reform, and spending restraint, but also opened the door to tax increases and major spending initiatives," said NTUF Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady. "Americans heard encouraging words about more efficient government, but little in the way of specifics about spending priorities. This leaves taxpayers wondering not only whether the federal budget deficit is headed upward or downward, but also by how much." [See a slide show of 5 reasons Obama is the same as Bush, Clinton.]

In their report provided to Whispers, the foundation conceded that the $20 billion in additional spending was far less than the additional $70 billion in his last State of the Union where he also called for a budget spending freeze and earmark ban.

Here is the summary of the full report:

Study: Proposals in State of Union Speech Would Boost Spending over $20 Billion, but Lack of Detail Obscures True Price Tag

January 26, 2011
By Pete Sepp
By Douglas Kellogg

(Alexandria, VA) ? President Obama's statement in yesterday evening's State of the Union speech that "the rules have changed" will likely surprise many taxpayers hoping for more specifics on how much they'll save ? or pay ? due to his fiscal policy proposals. According to a line-by-line analysis of his State of the Union speech by the non-partisan National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), all the quantifiable items in President Obama's speech taken together would increase federal spending by more than $20 billion, but the large number of items whose impact is unclear could dramatically affect this total.

"President Obama's speech last night hinted at tax reform, and spending restraint, but also opened the door to tax increases and major spending initiatives," said NTUF Senior Policy Analyst Demian Brady. "Americans heard encouraging words about more efficient government, but little in the way of specifics about spending priorities. This leaves taxpayers wondering not only whether the federal budget deficit is headed upward or downward, but also by how much."

Among the findings of NTUF's analysis:

* President Obama outlined items whose enactment would increase federal expenditures by a net of $21.349 billion per year, compared to the $70.46 billion in higher annualized costs to taxpayers that he called for in his 2010 State of the Union speech.

* Obama outlined 15 proposals with a fiscal impact last night, five of which would boost spending, three of which would cut them, and seven of which had costs or savings that could not be ascertained from NTUF's accounting procedures. In 2010 NTUF concluded that about half of the spending-related items he discussed during that speech also had indeterminate fiscal consequences.

* The single largest item Obama mentioned was increased "investment" in transportation infrastructure, which according to available sources could amount to $50 billion in additional outlays. Other large initiatives included $1.35 billion in possible higher spending for the "Race to the Top" educational program.

* NTUF also identified several elements that could yield budgetary reductions for taxpayers. In 2010, Obama announced a three-year freeze on certain discretionary spending. He now proposes to extend that freeze for another two years, for net additional savings of $15 billion annually. Furthermore, he signaled support for medical tort reform, which could save $2.06 billion per year in Medicare and Medicaid spending.

* However, the most important fiscal policy aspects in Obama's speech are the number of blanks the President left behind for taxpayers. For example, his highly generalized call to "merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government" holds potential for large reductions in expenditures, but this is by no means guaranteed. Proponents for a Department of Homeland Security argued that consolidating programs under such an agency could help streamline bureaucracy, but there is little evidence of substantial savings to taxpayers from this venture.

* Since 1999, when NTUF began tracking Presidential addresses, the lowest recorded total was President George W. Bush's address in 2006, coming in at under $1 billion in new spending; the highest was President Clinton's 1999 speech, which proposed $305 billion in new outlays. Bush's first State of the Union speech, in 2002, racked up $106 billion in higher expenditures.

"State of the Union speeches can't possibly provide every detail on the future course of federal spending, but this year's speech contained a high degree of ambiguity that could be masking tens ? even hundreds ? of billions in new liabilities, or, perhaps some additional savings," Brady concluded. "This is why taxpayers may need to look beyond the words they heard last night and toward the numbers they'll see in coming weeks, when the White House releases its budget blueprint."

Since 1991, NTUF has tracked the fiscal impact of proposed legislation through BillTally, an accounting database that reports the "net annual agenda cost" for each Member of Congress based on sponsorships and cosponsorships of pending legislation. For this analysis, NTUF matched Obama's proposals with those in the BillTally system in White House documents and other third-party sources.

2nd term, still in the cards?  I'm thinking not
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

Xavier_Onassis

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Re: SOTU, 2011....what won't be discussed
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2011, 06:10:42 PM »
NTUF is a rightwing group headed by Grover Norquist
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Christians4LessGvt

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Re: SOTU, 2011....what won't be discussed
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2011, 06:24:44 PM »
got this in an e-mail....not sure if it is a joke
or it actually happened during an Obama SOTU?

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Falls Asleep During Obama State Of the Union Address


"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" - Ronald Reagan - June 12, 1987

sirs

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Re: SOTU, 2011....what won't be discussed
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2011, 06:30:02 PM »
NTUF is a rightwing group headed by Grover Norquist

And the NAACP is a LW Group.  As is NOW.  As is the NEA.  As is a whole host of other "non-partisan" groups.  Care to refute any of the facts being presented, or are you just going to keep slinging mud, in hopes that something sticks?
"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle

sirs

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Re: SOTU, 2011....what won't be discussed
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2011, 04:58:11 PM »
An Unserious Speech Misses the Mark
The audience found it tiresome. Here?s why it was irksome as well.
The Wall Street Journal: January 27, 2011


It is a strange and confounding thing about this White House that the moment you finally think they have their act together?the moment they get in the groove and start to demonstrate that they do have some understanding of our country?they take the very next opportunity to prove anew that they do not have their act together, and are not in the groove. It?s almost magical.

The State of the Union speech was not centrist, as it should have been, but merely mushy, and barely relevant. It wasted a perfectly good analogy?America is in a Sputnik moment?by following it with narrow, redundant and essentially meaningless initiatives. Rhetorically the speech lay there like a lox, as if the document itself knew it was dishonest, felt embarrassed, and wanted to curl up quietly in a corner of the podium and hide. But the president insisted on reading it.

Response in the chamber was so muted as to be almost Xanax-like. Did you see how bored and unengaged they looked? The applause was merely courteous. A senator called the mood on the floor ?flat.? This is the first time the press embargo on the speech was broken, by National Journal, which printed the text more than an hour before the president delivered it. Maybe members had already read it and knew what they were about to face.

The president will get a bump from the speech. Presidents always do. It will be called a success. But it will be evanescent. A real moment was missed. If the speech is remembered, it will be as the moment when the president actually slowed?or blocked?his own comeback.

The central elements of the missed opportunity:

? An inability to focus on what is important now. The speech was more than half over before the president got around to the spending crisis. He signaled no interest in making cuts, which suggested that he continues not to comprehend America?s central anxiety about government spending: that it will crush our children, constrict the economy in which they operate, make America poorer, lower its standing in the world, and do in the American dream. Americans are alarmed about this not because they?re cheap and selfish but because they care about the country they will leave behind when they are gone.

President Obama?s answer is to ?freeze? a small portion of government spending at current levels for five years. This is a reasonable part of a package, but it?s not a package and it?s not a cut. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who called it ?sad,? told a local radio station the savings offered ?won?t even pay the interest on the debt we?re about to accumulate? in the next two years. The president was trying to ?hoodwink? the American people, Mr. Coburn said: ?The federal government is twice the size it was 10 years ago. It?s 27% bigger than it was two years ago.? Cuts, not a freeze, are needed?it?s a matter of ?urgency.?

? Unresponsiveness to the political moment. Democrats hold the White House and Senate, Republicans the House, the crisis is real, and the next election is two years away. This is the time for the president to go on the line and demand Republicans do so, too. Instead, nothing. A freeze.

? An attitude that was small bore and off point. America is in a Sputnik moment, the world seems to be jumping ahead of us, our challenge is to make up the distance and emerge victorious. So we?ll change our tax code to make citizens feel less burdened and beset, we?ll rethink what government can and should give, can and should take, we?ll get our fiscal life in order, we?ll save our country. Right?

Nah. We?ll focus on ?greater Internet access,? ?renewable energy,? ?one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015,? ?wind and solar,? ?information technology.? ?Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail.? None of this is terrible, but none of it is an answer. The administration continues to struggle with the concept of priorities. They cannot see where the immediate emergency is. They are like people who?d say, ?Martha, the house is on fire and flames are licking down the stairs?let?s discuss what color to repaint the living room after we rebuild!? A better priority might be, ?Get the kids out and call the fire department.?

? Unbelievability. The president will limit the cost of government by whipping it into shape and removing redundant agencies. Really? He hasn?t shown much interest in that before. He has shown no general ideological sympathy for the idea of shrinking and streamlining government. He?s going to rationalize government? He wants to ?get rid of the loopholes? in our tax code. Really? That?s good, but it was a throwaway line, not a serious argument. And he was talking to 535 representatives and senators who live in the loopholes, who live by campaign contributions from industries and interest groups that pay protection money to not get dinged in the next tax bill.

On education, the president announced we?re lagging behind in our public schools. Who knew? In this age of ?Waiting for Superman? and ?The Lottery,? every adult in America admits that union rules are the biggest impediment to progress. ?Race to the Top? isn?t the answer. We all know this.

As for small things and grace notes, there is often about the president an air of delivering a sincere lecture in which he informs us of things that seem new to him but are old to everyone else. He has a tendency to present banalities as if they were discoveries. ?American innovation? is important. As many as ?a quarter of our students aren?t even finishing high school.? We?re falling behind in math and science: ?Think about it.?

?I?ve seen it in the shuttered windows of once booming factories. . . . I?ve heard it in the frustrations of Americans.? But our deterioration isn?t new information, it?s a shared predicate of at least 20 years? standing, it?s what we all know. When you talk this way, as if the audience is uninformed, they think you are uninformed. Leaders must know what?s in the national information bank.

He too often in making a case puts the focus on himself. George H.W. Bush, always afraid of sounding egotistical, took the I?s out of his speeches. We called his edits ?I-ectomies.? Mr. Obama always seems to put the I in. He does ?I implants.?

Humor, that leavening, subtle uniter, was insufficiently present. Humor is denigrated by serious people, but serious people often miss the obvious. The president made one humorous reference, to smoked salmon. It emerged as the biggest word in the NPR word cloud of responses. That?s because it was the most memorable thing in the speech. The president made a semi-humorous reference to TSA pat-downs, but his government is in charge of and insists on the invasive new procedures, to which the president has never been and will never be subjected. So it?s not funny coming from him. The audience sort of chuckled, but only because many are brutes who don?t understand that it is an unacceptable violation to have your genital areas patted against your will by strangers.

I actually hate writing this. I wanted to write ?A Serious Man Seizes the Center.? But he was not serious and he didn?t seize the center, he went straight for the mush. Maybe at the end of the day he thinks that?s what centrism is.


So much hope, but no change

"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle