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What Should Obama Say?

I wouldn’t really wanna be in charge of the late drafts of Pres. Obama’s State of the Union message for tomorrow evening. Other than the blandly hortatorical, almost every idea I have for a sentence to discuss where we are, where we have been and where Pres. Obama thinks we should go next seems like a two-edged sword. I did think his “I would rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president” remark to Diane Sawyer last night struck a good tone.

We’re told he’ll be proposing a freeze on a small portion of the budget to signal that he’s serious about the deficit/debt stuff. And that he’ll propose an expanded tax credit for middle-class parents (which sorta signals the opposite). He’ll have to say something about health care, and it certainly won’t be that he’s giving up. And banks (financial regulation), and jobs, and Afghanistan, and, of course, Brett Favre.

I hope, but don’t assume, he’ll say something about government (or non-government) by filibuster. I do assume that he’ll tell Republicans that he still wants to find a way to work with them.  And, whether directly or indirectly, he’ll try to say something to shore up the declining prospects of Democrats heading into the midterms.

Anyway, all I have in mind at the moment is an open thread to ask you, what do you expect or hope or want or need him to say?

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by John E Iacono on 01/26/2010 - 11:15 am.

    What I’d LIKE him to say might be:

    >I realize it was a mistake to throw health care to the triumphalists in the House and Senate. I should have met separately with congressional dems and repubs, and drafted a bill both sides could support rather than one that might be forced through just because we had majorities. And I should then have put my full backing on the bill I proposed and resisted any attempts to festoon it with deals. I intend to scrap the current back room deal ridden bill and start fresh in the way I should have done it. It will likely be smaller than the current bills, but it will make a difference and set us on the right path for health care reform in steps.

    >I understand that when people need bread it makes no sense to offer them pie in the sky. I remember the soup lines of the thirties, and am aware of the food shelves today. I want the free economy to generate new jobs faster than it has ever done so that people can find meaningful work, and to that end I will do what is necessary to free up financing, particularly for small businesses.

    >I will consider strategic tax cuts for small businesses to encourage them to build, invest, and hire.

    >I will back 4% mortgages and ban variable rate mortgages and 100% of appraised value equity linesso that those caught in the variable rate mortgage fiasco can escape if they can afford a 30 year fixed mortgage if they have a job. I will temporarily subsidize the monthly mortgage payment of those out of work until they get a job.

    >I understand that the construction industry is hurting more that most other sectors, and I will propose massive construction spending as was done in the WPA years, so that when this is over we Americans will have monuments left from this crisis that will benefit us all for years to come.

    >I understand that “cap and trade” will cause most people’s and business’s energy costs to go up significantly, and will abandon this effort to help the environment until a better solution can be found, to remove this source of anxiety while we dig out from the recession.

    >I understand that “in your face” fighting with any who disagree with us is a futile effort which the people do not support, and I will return to the position I took in my election campaign, applying my bully pulpit to challenge dems as well as republicans in congress to again socialize with one another. I will fiercely oppose publicly any efforts to resist me, no matter the side of the guilty parties. A cat-fighting disfunctional congress is not what the people want.

    Of course, I do not EXPECT him to say any of these things.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/26/2010 - 11:51 am.

    Unfortunately I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what he says, I can expect no meaningful follow through. I’ll be reading a good book instead. Had he stood up and fought for any of the agendas he talked about in his campaign over the last year I might still be paying attention.

  3. Submitted by Brian Simon on 01/26/2010 - 12:47 pm.

    “Unfortunately I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what he says, I can expect no meaningful follow through.”

    What a ridiculous thing to say. Compared to where we were a year ago, we’ve made enormous progress & have seen significant efforts & accomplishments in both domestic & foreign policy. The administration’s record certainly isn’t flawless. And the to-do list for the first year isn’t entirely checked off. But when you look at what didn’t happen, I’m pretty happy with the administration’s progress. Like: we didn’t sink into a full-blown recession. We didn’t attack Iran. We didn’t suffer terrorist attack (Capt Underpants notwithstanding). Of course the impatient critics will complain that we didn’t leave Afghanistan, or we didn’t escalate soon enough. They’ll complain that jobs haven’t rebounded, ignoring a three-decade long cycle of economic growth based on personal, corporate and governmental borrowing. They’ll complain that health care reform hasn’t happened, or has taken over too much Congressional time, heaping the blame on the administration, rather than on our congresspeople who still seem to be beholden to corporate campaign contributors and/or partisan angling than actually solving problems for the people.

    What I would like to hear from the President is that the days of something-for-nothing promises are over. That we can’t expect the same level of benefits while revenue continues to fall short of expenses. I’d like to hear him remind us that we have to work together to solve common problems. I’d like to hear him say that we’re not out of the woods yet, and that it may take some sacrifice to get there; and that, yes, some of that sacrifice may include tax increases for people who make a comfortable living. I’d like to hear him explain how he’s going to convince Congress to work on behalf of the people, rather than their corporate benefactors. Thinking out loud, maybe that last item is how he should spend the bulk of his time: naming names in the crowd & their largest donors, using a little public admonishment to remind the voters that the state of our union is one where money talks & the rest of us get left behind.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/26/2010 - 01:19 pm.

    //But when you look at what didn’t happen, I’m pretty happy with the administration’s progress.

    You define “progress” by what “doesn’t” happen? Interesting. Look how far we’ve come, the earth wasn’t hit by giant asteroid! We didn’t invade Sweden! Texas didn’t declare independence!

    You set a high bar indeed Mr. Simon.

  5. Submitted by dan buechler on 01/26/2010 - 02:07 pm.

    Some interesting comments. With a tip to Gary Wills I (who am not necessarily a peacenik) am thinking the Afghanistan war is becoming a sham. With drug dollars prevalent anywhere, petro dollars and Yemon, Somalia and other failed states I don’t think we can put enuf boots on the ground esp. at the cost of $1 million per soldier in all related costs. It truly seems to me the war is really about a trans afghanistan pipeline to India and providing some control in that large area.
    I would push for more stimulus and some of it targeted differently than last time, still work on physical infrastructure. This politics is going to be very messy and I wish all the power that heavan will allow to aid him for the future.

  6. Submitted by Brian Simon on 01/26/2010 - 02:22 pm.

    “You define “progress” by what “doesn’t” happen?”

    When there’s a global economic crisis & we don’t slide into a Depression, yes, I count that as a positive outcome. Don’t you?

    When the naysayers claim our President is incapable of keeping us safe & he does, yes, I count that as a positive outcome. Don’t you?

    Personally, I am frustrated with the people who seem to think that three decades of fiscal mismanagement can be fixed in a year, or that electing a new President will solve all problems of partisan nastiness in Washington. While our system of checks and balances is designed to build consensus around political progress, that system can likewise be abused to halt progress. I don’t blame the President for that.

  7. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 01/26/2010 - 02:51 pm.

    He (in my dreams) would say: “I apologize most sincerely to those who support a single-payer health care plan. It was wrong of me, which is apparent when I look at the Senate bill and its obvious kowtowing to corporate interests instead of to the needs of ordinary people. Its costs, like the MassPlan on which it is modeled, are completely unsustainable, and it does not achieve universality.

    “Tomorrow, my staff and I will meet with senators Sanders, Boxer and Feinstein and perhaps others, representatives Conyers, Kucinich, Wiener and Ellison and perhaps others, and the leadership of Physicians for a National Health Plan to help get HR-676 on its way to passage.”

  8. Submitted by dan buechler on 01/26/2010 - 03:16 pm.

    Just read the latest Glenn Greenwald piece on all that the pentagon etc. costs us. I for one think the coverage of the wars for the general public has been very poor outside of 60 minutes. Locally its mostly rally around the troops and I understand that having a Dad who lives in outstate and all. I think Pawlenty has not been good as he uses war as a political prop without ever divulging its terrible cost.
    I certainly don’t have the answers but the coverage of the latest if it bleeds it leads hasn’t helped either. If only there were a more direct way to get at some of the questions/answers. Eric or any minnpost writer help out here if you can. Sorry if I am off topic.

  9. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 01/26/2010 - 06:23 pm.

    // Personally, I am frustrated with the people who seem to think that three decades of fiscal mismanagement

    What? I get so frustrated with all this negativity. Think of all the awful things that didn’t happen over the last three decades! There was no world war, no assassinations, no great depression, no plague, and no guerilla attacks across the Canadian border! And half the people in the country didn’t die for lack of health care! (it was a much smaller number) Clearly we’ve had nothing but fantastic presidents ever since Nixon resigned. Why don’t people just stop all their complaining and realize this was the best we could’ve done?

    It’s not a question of if, but when this country is going to collapse under the weight of it’s own mediocrity.

  10. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 01/26/2010 - 08:30 pm.

    Yes he’s an improvement over the past eight years .

    What I’d LIKE him to say is:
    Trying to find policies acceptable to 41 Republicans and 2 Dinos has been a disaster; I’m going to return to what the 56% of the voters who elected me (and the Congress) want.
    That includes returning income taxes to where they were eight years ago before we got into this mess.

    What he appears to be doing is more of the same — a spending freeze that will in turn freeze the economy solid.
    As Paul Krugman points out, that is returning to Andrew Mellon (Hoover’s Treasury Secretary) who advocating “liquidate the workers ….”).

  11. Submitted by Richard Schulze on 01/27/2010 - 10:21 am.

    I would like to see President Obama address aid to the states. The Obama administration committed a major error by devoting one third of its $870 billion stimulus program to tax cuts, which in this environment, will get saved, not spent. The tax cuts were the price for GOP support of the stimulus. The TARP money, while succeeding in rescuing the financial system, only ended up in Treasury Bills and never made it to Main Street.

    The best way to revive the economy is to give money to the states directly, which, unable to run deficits, can only cut spending and raise taxes. This will create a $350 billion drag on the economy during 2010-2011, in effect an “anti stimulus” that cancels out a third of the federal government’s reflationary efforts.

  12. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 01/27/2010 - 11:15 am.

    Mr. Obama should say what has been clear to all of us…”I have failed.”

  13. Submitted by Beryl John-Knudson on 01/27/2010 - 01:50 pm.

    What Obama could say:

    “For those who expected nothing from me…tell me about it.”

    For the politically-challenged who expected little from me, consider your credibility vindicated but violated at the same time.”…Go figure.

    “For those who expected so much more from me…I apologize.”

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