President Obama – You need to enjoy a cup of Tea
Well, here we are – two years into the Obama administration and I am starting to realize that President Obama is not the same person as the Senator Obama who ran for President.
He sure knew all the hot buttons to press to get the votes – including mine. His church affiliation did not concern me – neither did his comment about the price of Arugula at Whole Foods. The comment he made about guns and God was blown way out of proportion and it really was simply a diversion from the real issues of the day. Initially, I was thrilled when he won the election. Unfortunately, the “thrill” is beginning to wane almost daily.
Now, I feel he sold us a bill of goods.
His goals were ambitious to say the least – especially considering the budget crisis and wars that he inherited. I am not saying the wars were Republican wars – I am just saying that the budget and the wars existed prior to start of his presidency.
To me, he chose to work on his list one item at a time and, at least to me, no President can be single-threaded and have a successful administration. In addition to his own list, he was trying to merge his list of goals in with ongoing issues and the onslaught of issues that seemed to pop up every day.
There are many sites that continually track his campaign promises – I found one reputable site that is currently tracking 525 promises that are in various stages of progress – some completed, some in progress, and others still on the back burner.
Two of the promises he chose to first tackle dealt with banking issues and the auto industry. I do not fault him for choosing those issues first. I figured jobs would be addressed very soon, just like health care reform. It appears that the auto bailout was a winner but the jury is still out on the banking bailout.
The previous Administration’s banking bailout, called TARP, was originally a one page document, Obama’s financial bailout was considerably more pages, but it still lacked teeth to insure that banks who received these monies would be required to make loans to small businesses to help jump start the economy and reduce unemployment. Instead, these financial institutions chose to buy out other banks or to invest the money in an effort to simply make more money. Sure, the banks prospered but they did not help small businesses expand and create jobs.
Health care reform was next. It started out as a major overhaul to get a handle on health care costs, force health care providers to serve their patients more humanely, like accepting patients with preexisting conditions, and to increase competition in an effort to reduce costs. Terms like “single payer” and for states to “opt-out” or “opt-in”, and “public option” were thrown around with reckless abandon – many of which never came to fruition. In the end, in order to get the bill passed, it had to be watered down so much it left many Americans wondering what happened to the original list of requirements.
Closing Guatanamo (Gitmo) within his first year was another campaign promise that never got addressed. There have been excuses – some quite lame – but a promise is a promise. The Republicans kept saying that the prisoners should not be moved to mainland prisons because no one wanted these terrorists in their “back yard”. They also said that civilian trials would be too costly and dangerous. The bottom line is that all of these arguments were smokescreens – the prison at Guatanamo was carefully chosen to isolate these enemy combatants from reporters, lawyers, and anyone else who could find out what really happened and how and why they were individually captured. It was also chosen because questionable torture techniques could be implemented without being scrutinized. Many of these “enemy combatants” have been released – most of which should never have been captured or arrested in the first place. Gitmo is still open, a whole year after Obama promised it would be closed – and you know what, it will still be open at the start of the next administration, whether Obama is reelected or not.
The soon to expire “ten-year Bush tax cuts” is the latest issue and it is turning out to be Obama’s biggest challenge. For two years Obama has said that we cannot afford the existing tax cuts for the top 1 percent of Americans – i.e., those Americans earning over $250,000. He said, on many occasions, that he did not and would not support continuing these tax cuts for the very rich. He also said that the economy has failed to prosper because of these cuts. I wrote an earlier blog where I proposed that tax cuts for all Americans earning less than $1,000,000 be continued into 2011, while rolling back the tax rate for all Americans earning over that amount to pre-2001 levels. That sounded reasonable to me. The $1,000,000 number would protect literally all small businesses. The savings could be used to spur the economy – by means of jobs programs or investment in small businesses. If the Small Business Administration offered low interest loans to small businesses it might encourage banks to do the same – sort of a win-win situation for banking and small businesses.
Instead, it seems like Obama simply caved to Republican pressure – almost as though he planned on doing so from the beginning. The current loose agreement being considered, if passed, will extend the tax cuts for all Americans, including the top one percent for two additional years. In a recent speech, he promised to fight this issue again in two years. The only problem is that he did not fight this issue at all this time. He creatively chooses to speak passionately about future battles but when the future arrives, passion is thrown to the wind. It appears he is simply kicking the can down the proverbial road. There are a few concessions the Republicans are offering to have Obama extend the cuts but because the extended tax cuts are unfunded, this solution is proving way too costly.
Obama says that the Republicans are holding out-of-work Americans hostage and will only consent to extending unemployment benefits if the rich get richer – much richer. I am not going to address the 5 – 6 other smaller features of the proposed bill here because they are relatively insignificant in relation to the cost of extending tax cuts to the very rich. These could have been addressed separately in another bill.
Many Dems have spoken out and appear to be quite upset with the President regarding this matter. I am not sure if these objections are real or something they can use in their reelection bids. Obama hints that this is the best offer on the table because after the lame duck session, the Republicans will be in charge. Also, he says, that he wants it done now to help the 2 million Americans out of work.
I do not know why Obama is so negative about the upcoming political makeup of the House of Representatives starting in January 2011. Republicans gained over 60 seats in the House this election and roughly 70 candidates were helped in one way or another by the Tea Party.
The Tea Party has stated that is in favor of trimming the budget and eliminating pork. They do not want anything passed that is not funded – that is to insure that the U. S. deficit will not grow exponentially.
That said, then why would ANY elected Tea Party U. S. Representative or Senator, whether affiliated with the Republican Party or not, go along with extending the tax cuts for the very rich? If any of the Tea Party elected Congressmen vote to extend these unfunded tax cuts, they would, in effect, have lied to their constituents who elected them into office.
I am sure there are enough Democrats, Independents, and Tea Party Republicans who would vote to extend tax cuts to those Americans making less than $250,000, while reverting all those making more to roll back to their tax rate prior to 2001. To get the bill passed they could raise the cutoff to either $500,000 or $1,000,000 to insure that all small businesses are included.
Originally, because the Republicans sided with many Tea Party candidates, I thought the whole Tea Party movement was just a ploy to replace Democrats in Congress, but during the primaries and the general election I listened to many of their candidates who came across as wanting to really effect change – even if it meant battling with their Republican “cousins”.
Well, it is time to put the pedal to the metal so to speak – time for the Tea Party members of Congress to stand up and show their colors. If they simply stick to the current set of Republican principles, then so be it. However, if any or all of them choose to stand up against unbudgeted reckless spending and do what it takes to get Congress under control then they will vote against extending the unfunded tax cuts for the rich. If this issue is not resolved in the lame duck session, it might mean that all Americans will lose these tax cuts temporarily until the beginning of the year, but I am okay with that. After the new Congress is sworn in and Dems, with Tea Party members and any Republicans and Independents who want to join in, can pass a sound bill to extend the cuts only for Americans and small businesses making up to $250,000 and possibly a $1,000,000. If President Obama really wants to keep the deficit in check he will gladly sign the bill.
Because Obama caved in so easily, without a fight, it hints that he was never for ending the tax cuts for the rich at all. If that is the case, he obviously misled Americans into believing he was going to roll back tax cuts for the rich. He also caved on pushing for a much stronger Health Care bill, and also for not strongly supporting Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and closing Guatanamo within his first year of office.
I know we cannot have a special election to recall the President for broken promises or for him not strongly pursuing his platform, but we can all write him to tell him that he is losing his constituency and that he will lose either in the next primary, lose in the General, or not be nominated to run at all.
We can also choose to write our elected officials and have them pursue impeachment proceedings based on Obama’s failed promises and his choosing to not pursue proceedings against Bush and Cheney and Gonzales regarding the Iraq war, and the U. S. Attorney scandal. I believe the latter would fall under “High Crimes and Misdemeanors”.
We no longer need a sheep in wolf’s clothing in the White House. He originally came across as a fighter – one who would put teeth into his efforts versus simply waving a surrender flag all along the way. He now comes across as a sheep talking to Americans – grinding his teeth occasionally to show remnants of passion, and then quietly tip toeing off the stage.
In the next election, we would not have to vote for Republican or Democratic candidates, we could choose to vote for Independents, Green Party candidates, Libertarian Party candidates, or Tea Party candidates. Eventually, the House and the Senate will increase representation of alternative party candidates – it might take 2 or 3 election cycles, but when enough are elected, this two party debacle will come to an end and maybe, just maybe, the children will learn to play nice together.