Sunday, January 30, 2011


2006 - 2011
Look at that gray hair. What a difference 5
years make.
"...over the next 10 years, with so many baby boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science and technology and engineering and math," the President continued. "And this year, I ask Congress to go further, and make permanent our tuition tax credit -- worth $10,000 for four years of college. It's the right thing to do." (Applause.)
Again, college education, both under graduate and grad school, should be part of the commons, meaning being treated as part of the nation's infrastructure, like the highway system and bridges. Like the work done by the police and fire department (unless they already been privatized by the Republicans). Educated students who continue to live and work in the United States invariably enrich the nation as a whole, and everyone in it. A $10,000 tax credit for four years of college is nice, but when the average cost of a four-year college is a little less than $9,000 per year for tuition and fees, and private four-year colleges cost $35,000 or more yearly in tuition and fees (even with financial aid for a full-time undergraduate student being approximately $11,500, including more than $6,000 in grants that don't have to be repaid), plus the costs for food, books, booze, and housing, $10,000 is minor percentage of the total cost, and nowhere near being free.
Obama made a pitch for the Dream Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) that the Senate shot down last December. The Act would allow the children of illegal aliens who have lived in the US for five years or more, and who have attended college, or served in the armed forces at least two years, a permanent resident status. Implementation of the Act would of course help to keep those college educated students who are not citizens yet, in the United States where that education and talent could be utilized for the good of the whole country, rather than deporting these individuals back to their country of origen to use that education and talent there. Makes sense to me, and already should be law.
"The third step in winning the future [the first two being innovation and education] is rebuilding America. To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information -- from high-speed rail to high-speed Internet. (Applause.)
Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail... Within the next five years, we'll make it possible for businesses to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98 percent of all Americans."
Again, sounds good to me. Continued spending by the federal government to refurbish our highways and bridges would be great as well. It would certainly help the economy by putting people to work immediately, and kind of insure that our bridges don't fall down as we're driving over them, as has happened recently in the past (as one who walks over the 6th St. Bridge here in L.A. quite frequently this subject is of particular interest to me).
But how does one reconcile these ambitious goals while at the same time, in the same speech, call for a five year spending freeze on domestic spending? Obama wants it both ways, or at least he trying to sound like he's like he's able to appease everyone, the Republicans who want to control spending (they really couldn't care less about controlling spending, as their history demonstrates, but they have to campaign on something, and spending happens to be it this year, spending to curb the national debt, which of course was created by George W. Bush. Please take note, even though the Republicans, and their Tea Bagger contingent won the House with promises to stop spending by the federal government, since they've been in office they haven't broached the subject even once, preferring to work on the fantasy tasks of repealing the health care laws, or restricting abortion even further than it already is, or redefining rape to suit their own political purposes, rather than doing the work of the people. Despite constant claims to be "doing the will of the American people," they have no idea what that means, as they never have the well being of the majority of Americans included in their agenda), and the progressives who want to curb big business, improve education and the country's infrastructure, among many other things. You can't. At least I can't. President Obama is talking out of both sides of his mouth, and this is turning into another "switch grass" address full of empty promises.
Wow, he wants to lower corporate tax rates without increasing the deficit by simplifying the tax system and getting rid of loopholes. Sounds good to me as well. I'm not anti-business, just anti-corporatocracy. But I don't know how you decrease revenue without increasing debt, which is what Obama is suggesting. Magic maybe.
He has already weakened Social Security by lowering the Social Security payroll tax by 2% this year, which allows suspect media sources like the Associated Press to erroneously report that the SS (Social Security, not the Schutzstaffel) trust fund will be drained by 2037, which helps to increase fears for the nation's young people that they are paying for something they will never get a chance to use themselves, and adding fuel to the fire for Republicans who would like to pillage the over two trillion dollars currently in the fund by privatizing it. This is just wrong. The 2037 estimate has been around for years, but is only true if the economy remains at its current sluggish levels, which over the long run is highly unlikely. Still, if nothing is done and the economy stays exactly like it is, Social Security will still be able to pay 78% of projected benefits, which are higher than today's. So in that poor-case scenario, if nothing is done, recipients will face a cut of 22%. AP, you should be ashamed of yourselves.
"To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014 -- because the more we export, the more jobs we create here at home."
Okay, but how does setting a goal help sell our goods? Maybe magic.
Obama announced in the SOTU and previously that he has ordered a review of federal regulations "To reduce barriers to growth and investment," in regards to business interests. In the same paragraph he also says, "But I will not hesitate to create or enforce common-sense safeguards to protect the American people." Again, both sides of his mouth. Dear President Obama, the American people have not forgotten that it was deregulation that got us into a recession (almost a depression) to begin with. You really want to cut regulations further? No, you don't. We know you want to get reelected, but the people put you into office, not Goldman Sachs and Citibank.
And please, please, get the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection up and running, and help it combat inevitable attacks from Republicans in Congress, and make Elizabeth Warren it's head. Immediately, if not sooner. In other words, quit dicking around.
We'll continue with what President Obama said about health care, the "wars," in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Republican response to what he said when we conclude this piece.

To be continued:

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