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The Politician gave his weekly address, talking some more about the debt ceiling and fixing our fiscal problem. I'll present Obama's entire address here, with a few comments from me along the way.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
July 16, 2011
Today, there’s a debate going on in Washington over the best way to get America’s fiscal house in order and get our economy on a stronger footing going forward.
For a decade, America has been spending more money than we’ve taken in. For several decades, our debt has been rising. And let’s be honest – neither party in this town is blameless. Both have talked this problem to death without doing enough about it. That’s what drives people nuts about Washington. Too often, it’s a place more concerned with playing politics and serving special interests than resolving real problems or focusing on what you’re facing in your own lives.
But right now, we have a responsibility – and an opportunity – to reduce our deficit as much as possible and solve this problem in a real and comprehensive way.
So far, I couldn't agree more.
Simply put, it will take a balanced approach, shared sacrifice, and a willingness to make unpopular choices on all our parts. That means spending less on domestic programs. It means spending less on defense programs. It means reforming programs like Medicare to reduce costs and strengthen the program for future generations. And it means taking on the tax code, and cutting out certain tax breaks and deductions for the wealthiest Americans.
I'm all for removing tax breaks for Company A over Company B and that type of unfairness, and I'm for removing the subsidies of this industry and that industry. No problem there. I detest that discriminatory stuff, where the government picks winners and losers. That kind of catering to special interests encroaches on the liberty of us all...but I don't think Obama really believes what he's saying here. Will he remove subsidies for "green jobs", for instance ? I think not. Obama has subsidized any company he finds "favorable", and has proposed punsihing those he finds "unfavorable". I'd love to believe he has had a change of heart, but...very doubtful.
Now, some of these things don’t make folks in my party too happy. And I wouldn’t agree to some of these cuts if we were in a better fiscal situation, but we’re not. That’s why I’m willing to compromise. I’m willing to do what it takes to solve this problem, even if it’s not politically popular. And I expect leaders in Congress to show that same willingness to compromise.
Allow me to translate. Obama has run up federal spending, deficits, and debt at an all-time record pace. He was perfectly willing to raise the debt limit a couple months ago without any spending cuts whatsoever. But the Republicans are pushing for spending cuts in order to raise the debt limit. The debt limit has to pass the Republican-controlled House for Obama to get his debt limit ceiling raised. Thus, our President has made a political calculation, and is now pretending he was in favor of spending cuts and repairing our fiscal problem all along. He most definitely was not. In reality, he contributed greatly to the problem with his own policies.
The truth is, you can’t solve our deficit without cutting spending. But you also can’t solve it without asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share – or without taking on loopholes that give special interests and big corporations tax breaks that middle-class Americans don’t get.
Let's talk for a moment about who is paying their "fair share". These "wealthiest Americans" Obama is talking about already pay the highest tax rate, 35%, while nearly half the country pays nothing in income taxes. And the United States has the highest corporate income tax rates in the entire world. Our country has to remain competitive with the rest of the world in the private sector, or we will rue our stupidity. I wish our President would stop using words like "fair share", when what he is discussing has nothing to do with fairness. Obama should just come out and say, "I want to take more money from the people who already pay the most in taxes by far. I know that isn't fair in any way. I propose taking their money because I want it, and I feel they can afford it". That would at least be honest.
It’s pretty simple. I don’t think oil companies should keep getting special tax breaks when they’re making tens of billions in profits. I don’t think hedge fund managers should pay taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries. I don’t think it’s fair to ask nothing of someone like me when the average family has seen their income decline over the past decade – and when many of you are just trying to stretch every dollar as far it it’ll go.
Mr. President, you could have taken away those tax breaks for oil companies anytime in 2009-2010, when Democrats had complete control of the executive and legislative branches. You didn't, just like you didn't reverse the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy when you had the votes to do it. I think you just like having these things to raise as wedge issues.
We shouldn’t put the burden of deficit reduction on the backs of folks who’ve already borne the brunt of the recession. It’s not reasonable and it’s not right. If we’re going to ask seniors, or students, or middle-class Americans to sacrifice, then we have to ask corporations and the wealthiest Americans to share in that sacrifice. We have to ask everyone to play their part. Because we are all part of the same country. We are all in this together.
Most people suffered from the recession, and we are all in this together. But is raising corporate taxes a smart thing to do when unemployment is 9.2% and our corporate taxes are already high ??? The only thing you may be sacrificing by doing that is jobs, and that's what our middle class needs more than anything else right now. You may be "sacrificing" the very people you wish to help. It's a pity that Obama has never run a business. It shows.
So I’ve put things on the table that are important to me and to Democrats, and I expect Republican leaders to do the same. After all, we’ve worked together like that before. Ronald Reagan worked with Tip O’Neill and Democrats to cut spending, raise revenues, and reform Social Security. Bill Clinton worked with Newt Gingrich and Republicans to balance the budget and create surpluses. Nobody ever got everything they wanted. But they worked together. And they moved this country forward.
Interesting that President Obama would bring up Reagan and Tip O'Neill. Yes, Reagan raised revenue in order to save things like the Democrats ponzi scheme, Social Security, and he agreed to other revenue increases, though Reagan cut taxes overall. Obama failed to mention that little truth. What Obama also fails to mention is that the Democrats repeatedly broke their word to Reagan about cutting spending. The Democrats promised Reagan they would cut three dollars in spending for every dollar in revenue Reagan agreed to raise. The Democrats never followed through on those spending cuts, and today Democrats turn around and point at Reagan and say 'look at the deficits Reagan had !!", as if the Democrats weren't instrumental in making sure those deficits happened. Today, Obama has also claimed (among his various claims) that he will cut three dollars of spending for every dollar of tax increases. This time, we should make sure the alleged Democrat spending cuts happen FIRST. If we don't, they may never happen, just like with Reagan, and just like with Bush I. The reason the spending cuts happened during the Clinton years (which in reality was merely a slowing of the rate of spending increases), was because Republicans controlled Congress then and made them happen. They would not have happened had the Democrats been in control. After fighting tooth and nail against the Clinton era budget cuts, liberal Democrats now like to pretend they were the ones who balanced the budget then. Sometimes you just have to laugh. No Democrat-led Congress has balanced the budget since 1969. Following Clinton, the Republicans lost their collective minds during the Bush II years, and spending skyrocketed again. Losing the congressional majority and the White House, along with the Tea Party movement, seems to have made the GOP remember they are supposed to be conservatives. It's about time.
That kind of cooperation should be the least you expect from us – not the most you expect from us. You work hard, you do what’s right, and you expect leaders who do the same. You sent us to Washington to do the tough things. The right things. Not just for some of us, but for all of us. Not just what’s enough to get through the next election – but what’s right for the next generation.
Make no mistake. Even if the desired big debt limit deal Obama claims to want does happen, which it almost certainly will not, we won't be fixing anything "for the next generation". We'll still be on a path of major deficits, massive debt accumulation, and fiscal meltdown. This is not the end of fiscal discussions. It is only the beginning.
You expect us to get this right. To put America back on firm economic ground. To forge a healthy, growing economy. To create new jobs and rebuild the lives of the middle class. And that’s what I’m committed to doing.
And thank you, Mr. President. Once again, I didn't hear any concrete proposals from you other than your usual insignificant blather about tax breaks for oil companies. Being the leader of this country, It would be highly desirable if you came up with a, you know, ACTUAL PLAN you could present to the American people. But that carries political risk, and we have elections coming up next year.