Content of Obama's un-State of the Union

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by ddrueckhammer, Feb 25, 2009.

  1. ddrueckhammer macrumors 65816

    ddrueckhammer

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    #1
    Here are my thoughts on President Obama's speech last night. What are your thoughts on the content of the speech?

    I find President Obama to be an amazing speaker like most but I'm not sure how he is going to meet the goals he has set for himself/America and I'm even more unsure if they are the right goals.

    In the speech last night I heard 4 main points.

    1. We are going to be more fiscally responsible "from now on".

    Um, why then didn't he say anything about the mountain of pork in the recovery bill they just passed?

    2. We are going to improve education and ensure that every American has access to college.

    With what money? Also, if every American is College educated does that mean that companies will start requiring advanced degrees for basic jobs? So our children are going to spend even more of their lives getting prepared for the real world to find that they aren't prepared when they get there? Are we going to lower standards so that everyone can achieve their goal of a college education?

    3. We are going to socialize health care.

    Ok. Honestly, I don't know much about this one. It isn't right that average working American's can't afford insurance or are under-insured, but I'm afraid of the cost of insuring everyone (including illegal immigrants and vagrants). I watched Micheal Moore's Sicko and found the part about the UK's healthcare system interesting but in my experience, even with more preventative care I think there may be too much greed and corruption in this country for a government run health care system to work. (Look at the VA system).

    Also, from his campaign, I remember Mr. Obama saying that his plan would be an alternative system rather than a truely universal plan. So how would this work? If you can afford private insurance, I would assume you would opt for that over the government plan. So the plan is similar to Medicare? Again, how are we going to pay for this at this time?

    4. We are going to reduce consumption of foreign oil.

    I'm with President Obama 100% here. It is just a matter of time before we are back to $4 per gallon. I'm not sure how putting an market-cap on energy consumption for businesses would work but I'm afraid it won't be good for the economy. Also, is it even possible to replace foreign oil imports with wind and solar power? Somehow, as an engineer I doubt it. Without Nuclear, natural gas, and increased domestic drilling (at least in the transition period), I'm not sure if this goal is possible.

    If you've read this far you probably think I'm an evil Republican and are preparing your rebuttals. I actually think of myself as a Moderate as I agree with President Obama and the Democratic party on many social issues including: abortion (except 3rd trimester), gay marriage, the death penalty, stem cell research, infrastructure spending, etc. Maybe I am unpatriotic for being a skeptic but President Obama's goals are very big and also I have alot of worries about the changes he is planning to make in the areas I outlined above.

    One more thing... If the plan is to "cut corporate loopholes" and increase taxes on those making over $250,000 to pay for the goals Mr. Obama outlined, how will that work? Will small businesses and corporations just absorb the extra taxes as "the cost of doing business"? Or will they increase the prices of the goods and services they sell? If there is a punishment for those businesses that outsource overseas, will there be a reward for those that keep jobs here?
     
  2. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

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    #2
    State of the Union speeches are long sound bites, nothing more.

    When Bush and Obama came in, things were very touchy between the parties, so both spoke in generalities. Clinton was more straightforward and made some very bold statements he could not keep. But to his credit, Clinton resided over a fairly decent economy and had high approval ratings.

    These next four years will be the proof in the pudding. He is a better speaker than George W. Bush, but can he do any better as a President? If we are in the same dire economic state four years from now, his ratings will be as bad as W's if not worse. The President is really in the hot seat now.

    I hope the Obama Administration can work with the GOP and both can take credit for the next boom time, but there is absolutely no way to tell right now. Both sides have to work together since this is the worst recession in nearly 30 years in some respects and in other ways, the worst since the Great Depression.
     
  3. yojitani macrumors 68000

    yojitani

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    #3
    Where can I find a full breakdown of the bill? All I've heard are the odds and ends that news networks have used for talking points. None of those I had a problem with.. in fact, I resent the fact that these business types see spending on arts to be superfluous, but that's just me. Anyway, maybe I'm using the wrong search criteria, but I just come across all these 'news' talking points sort of things, but not the whole bill in all its glory.

    Good question about the money. I am hoping that Obama will divert more funds towards education generally. Universities are implementing hiring freezes all over the country (no, the world) right now, so I hope the money gets there sooner rather than later. But the other half of this is extremely cynical in my mind. So instead of raising the general level of education in the US, you'd rather it stay lower just in case companies require advanced degrees? That is just wrong. As for standards, they are already very low. Grade inflation is endemic here.

    Also, I hate to break it to you, but going to university is part of 'real life' too. I've never understood the point of making the distinction... oddly, it's a distinction that I rarely come across in non-English speaking countries.

    I would imagine that Obama is coming from the school of thought that sees the future of the economy in 'command structure' jobs rather than in blue collar/ manufacturing jobs. That would be a reason that he is going after university education. I'm not 100% convinced of this type of thinking myself, but some see it as forward thinking...
     
  4. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

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    #4
    Are you a masochist??

     
  5. ddrueckhammer thread starter macrumors 65816

    ddrueckhammer

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    #5
    Didn't President Obama say that you can get information on the plan at recovery.gov? I went there and didn't find the details of the bill but I did find some PR spin... I'm sure the bill is available somewhere online.

    In any case, I will agree not all spending should be considered "pork" but so far, it seems that even more liberally slanted news outlets have discussed the waste in the recovery bill. I agree that arts spending isn't necessarily wasteful but the aim of the bill should have been "economic recovery". If an item in the bill doesn't fit that goal then IMO, it should have been saved for a later bill.

    I think education is very important (I have a fair amount of it) but I don't see the point in spending 4 or more years getting prepared to work (educated) and then finding out that you use very little of what you learned in your job. If even more education is required in the future to get entry jobs, I'm not sure if that is good or not. Those same years in "higher" theoretical education might be better spent on "on the job" education for some.

    I'm not sure what the answer is, maybe an apprenticeship system, followed by a business funded higher education system for those who stand out?
     
  6. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #6
    I won't pretend to be an expert on the recovery plan, but based on what I know I'll add my 2 cents:

    As far as I can tell, the Republicans' assertion that the bill contains a mountain of pork is either a strong misrepresentation or an outright lie. I have not yet been given one example by the GOP of "pork" in the bill that has withstood any type of scrutiny. For example, the high-speed rail network project "goes from Vegas to Disneyland" according to the GOP, but it is a much broader project that , as far as I've heard, is not yet fixed on any one location - and the US needs more and better high-speed rail.

    But, like Rush limbaugh, I haven't read the bill myself. It can be downloaded here. EDIT: I can't get that download to work. This link has a version of the bill which I think may be the final version?

    This is going to sound very partisan, but the Bush administration didn't scruple much with throwing fantastically large amounts of money into the wars without giving a damn about how we'd pay for it all. So the GOP should not portray Obama as an irresponsible big spender, because they have set the worst possible example themselves.

    I think it's incorrect to assume that we need to spend more money to improve something - restructuring, moving existing funds around or shifting focus can go a long way by itself. Plus, by leaving Iraq we will presumably gradually free up additional funds to spend on domestic programs.

    That trend has already started. A generation ago a bachelor's was a luxury; even a two-year degree was something to talk about. Theses days a college education guarantees very little. Maybe it's because our system produces uncompetitive people, reducing the value of a degree? I cannot blame the Obama administration for that.

    On the contrary, I think the goal is to raise standards, both in the system and for students, so we produce more competitive individuals.

    Other countries have proved that it works. It isn't perfect. But it's better than what we have. Our system works well for the wealthy and upper-middle class. But it is failing everyone else miserably.

    Also, people (and I'm not referring to you or anyone else specifically here) need to stop being afraid of the word "socialism". The GOP is deathly afraid of "socialized" anything, and for no good reason. Just because we adopt elements of socialism in certain parts of out government does NOT mean we are communist, does NOT take away freedoms, and does NOT remove choice. It's a way to pool collective resources for the common good.

    I imagine the split system's intent is to allow people with money to buy their own more luxurious insurance packages, while the rest of us can save a lot of money and still get good coverage.

    I don't think anyone is advocating pulling the plug on oil/gas/nuclear in the short or even medium term. The argument is to push hard to develop alternative sources NOW (when we don't absolutely need them) so that when we DO need them they are ready. There is also the environmental angle. People who argue that global warming is a myth are grievously misinformed or willfully ignorant (d'ye hear, Glenn Beck?). I'm not a tree-hugger by a long shot, but the facts are there. Just because the sky isn't black yet doesn't mean we aren't placing ourselves in danger.

    There is nothing wrong with skepticism IMO. All I can say is, try and read the bill, listen to both sides' arguments and make the most informed decisions you can. (this is directed at myself too, I've been meaning to read at least parts of the bill and have put it off).

    To begin with, the Obama administration has never said that the revenue loss from the below $250k taxpayers would be made up by charging the over $250k taxpayers the difference.

    The thing that cracks me up is that the GOP always talks about tax cuts, yet they don't support Obama when he makes a big tax cuts. Let's say it was the other way around. Instead of cutting the taxes of the 95% lowest earning Americans, he cut the taxes for the richest 5%. I guess that means that middle and working class families would have to pick up the slack? In my mind, why should we burden those least able to pay? How can people making over $250k a year experience any kind of hardship over this? All they will be losing are luxuries, and they will remain wealthy. Nobody has ever suggested that they will be heavily taxed to make up the difference. The real issue here is that the GOP advocates cutting taxes for rich people and opposes ANY tax increase at all but especially a tax increase for rich people. It's based on a selfish notion that they don't want a penny of their wealth to go to people they feel don't deserve a "handout".

    The GOP has had the gall to come out and lament that America is "running out of rich people". My heart bleeds...Going from rich to somewhat less rich (or even from rich to upper middle class) is hardly as much of a tragedy as going from middle class to derelict or worse.
     
  7. Silencio macrumors 68020

    Silencio

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    #7
    True this. The biggest single line item by far in the stimulus plan is tax cuts, yet the Republicans spent all their time railing on about the "porculus" that comprised a tiny sliver of the overall package. It's as disingenuous as Bobby Jindal making a big show of turning down a couple hundred million in federal money for unemployment benefits, while quietly taking the other billion or more in the rest of the stimulus offered to his state.
     
  8. Primejimbo macrumors 68040

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    #8
    Yeah, because it works so well in Canada :rolleyes:
     
  9. ddrueckhammer thread starter macrumors 65816

    ddrueckhammer

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    #9

    It may be that the bill doesn't contain pork but somehow I doubt it is totally pork free. Personally, if it doesn't contribute to the goal of "economic recovery" then it is pork in my mind. I haven't read the bill but I will look over the link you posted. I don't like the idea that all spending is good spending in an economic crisis because the money to pay for the spending is just being printed. i.e. The money in our pockets is being devaluated. That said, the rest of the world is doing the same thing so it may all just balance out.

    I agree the Iraq was IMO a huge waste of money. The whole thing was a huge mistake. Personally, I think the choice to go to Iraq was made to intimidate Iran. In other words, if we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq then we would be able to pressure Iran to stop development Nuclear technologies. That said, if this is true, it wasn't right for it to be sold to the World as a humanitarian mission to stop a mad-dictator with WMDs. Saddam was evil for sure but the cost of ousting him was probably far greater than letting things go on as they were.

    But is this a good thing? The time young people spend in college isn't necessarily the most productive use of that time. Maybe Universities and businesses can collaborate more on curriculum...

    I agree that it can work, but in Europe the tax rate to my knowlege, is higher than here. IMO, a Private/Public solution is just asking for greed/corruption to take root. Hopefully, if it happens there will be massive oversight.

    I believe climate change is at least partially true although there may be some argument from the cyclical change crowd. There is no denying that it is in our best interest to move to a domestically produced source of Energy. That said, I'm not sure that solar/wind alone can ever power our cities and (hopefully) EV hybrid vehicles. Yes, these technologies need to be explored but personally I think there should be more emphasis placed on Nuclear/Natural gas technologies as they are proven and can produce huge amounts of energy needed to become totally self reliant.


    I understand this, but if we are going to get back to fiscal responsibility and reach all of the President's lofty goals the money has to come from somewhere.

    I find it wrong that companies that make billions many times don't give back to there communities or the employees who made them the money but I'm not sure we can force them to through closing tax laws. As I said earlier, they will just raise prices. Maybe there is a way to influence the culture of corporate leaders to one where treating employees well and giving back to the community will reap dividends? The Banker who President Obama introduced who gave his $60 million cash-out to his employees is a Patriot. I might have had to keep a few mill for myself, if it were me, but how many millions does one really need?

    It may not be right but these people are business owners and they don't have to lose any luxuries when they can just increase the cost of their goods/services or lay off an employee to make up the difference.
     
  10. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #10
    I haven't seen socialized medicine, mainly because I've always lived in the U.S. I have, however, been to some county hospitals that make me cringe at the idea of having a medical procedure done there.

    I have seen socialized housing and socialized welfare. Based on what I've seen, I don't want any part of socialized health care.
     
  11. ddrueckhammer thread starter macrumors 65816

    ddrueckhammer

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    #11
    In fairness to Canada, many of their best Doctors move to the U.S. for the higher pay. If they didn't have us next door they might not have as many problems with their system.

    Also, what about socialized schools, fire depts., police, public libraries etc. There are good examples of areas where programs are more successful when socialized. When my house is burning down I don't want to have to wait to sign a contract or make a payment before it can be put out.

    If Doctors are to be expected to take less pay and work for the gov't, then the gov't should front some/all of their outrageous education costs.

    This isn't what President Obama is talking about though. From what I can tell, he is talking about offering government insurance to those who can't afford private insurance. In some respects this is good, because Doctors/Hospitals will be able to charge someone (the government) for the cost of treating patients without private coverage, which may lead to lower healthcare costs.

    However, someone will have to pay for this. Probably the taxpayers. Also, what if Doctors/Hospitals continue to charge the same prices to those with private health care coverage plus take the money from the government from government insurance? Is this right?
     
  12. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #12
    I do tend to agree with the OP that there is essentially no evidence of which I'm aware that we can ever transition to an energy system using only solar / wind / hydroelectric energy (and even there we've already gone over the line of renewable energy sources that have no significant operative impact, as hydroelectric does draw environmental concerns).

    In the short term, oil, coal, and nuclear power are going to continue to be important. In the long term, a project would have to be massive in scale and extremely artful to replace our energy consumption with wind and solar, and if we did use up that much wind and solar energy in that way, I think there may actually be unforeseen environmental impacts related to redistribution of wind currents and/or changes in surface thermal distribution.

    There are other interesting technologies to produce natural gas. We probably have to move forward with our biodiesel implementation, too, and there is a lot of technology coming online to make biodiesel better and better. Finally, technologies to produce oil are also extremely interesting, although probably many years away from use at this point. But each of these technologies faces a mixed review from the pro-environment side -- the GMO aspect of producing new oil, the impact on global food availability of farming for energy instead of food, etc. But I don't know of any readily available solution today that makes everyone happy.
     
  13. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #13
    The Canadian healthcare system is superior to the American system.
     
  14. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

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    #14
    First off, let's make it clear that no bill that comes out of Washington will ever be totally free from pork. By demanding such a bill the GOP are setting an impossible standard that they themselves have never met, and never will. Obama has argued that this bill is, by Washington standards, a very clean bill. Republicans dispute that but, other than the aforementioned high speed rail thing (which is a misreading or misrepresentation by the GOP as far as I can tell), they have gien the American people no evidence to support their assertion.

    The point is that taxes will have to be raised to cover the cost of the plan, but it will ultimately allow everyone access to good healthcare they can afford.

    I have no doubt we will explore, develop and consume every source of non-renewable energy available to us, so have no fear there. But the fact of the matter is that renewable energy sources are the future for us, even if that future is 500 years away (and it's probably a LOT sooner than that). I don't completely share your skepticism about renewable energy, because one the thing the GOP never mentions is the need for us to change the way we live in order for our lifestyles to become more sustainable. Some day all that coal, natural gas and oil will be gone, and nobody really knows when that will be. Doesn't it make sense to be prepared for that future? And let's face it - the GOP takes the stance they do about energy because much of their personal wealth is based in selling oil, coal and natural gas. The last thing they would ever tell you is that you need to look for alternatives.


    True. Part of it will come from the sick amounts of money the wars are costing, part will come from tax revenues. You'll notice that a lot of the projects being mentioned in the news are designed to be investments in efficient infrastructure that will save money down the road - we shouldn't be so short sighted about spending as to become penny wise and pound foolish.

    At some point the people of the United States, through the agency of the government, must check the unbridled greed and selfishness of corporate America. It is not a slight to the freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution if we collectively restrain people who are hurting everyone else by protecting their large personal wealth to the detriment of persons less wealthy and influential than themselves. The GOP sees this as an invasion of personal freedoms, but I do not and I think it's less an invasion than the BS that the Patriot Act unleashed upon us - which, by the way, seems to be directed at middle or working class people and immigrants rather than powerful and wealthy white people.
     
  15. Prof. macrumors 601

    Prof.

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    #15
    You guys live longer than us too. So does the UK and they have Universal Healthcare too!
     
  16. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #16
    Living twice as many years as an English soul is anathema to our Yankee spirit. ;)

    Seriously, I'm part of the US healthcare world and I honestly do not think that government or single party payer systems are the disaster we make them out to be. On the other hand, few think those systems have a future in the US anyways, so I don't understand why Canada and the UK keep coming up in this debate. If anything, the people who are seriously talking about US universal healthcare coverage, as far as I know, always talk about a system like the ones in Germany or Australia.
     
  17. Silencio macrumors 68020

    Silencio

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    #17
    Exactly right, but Canada and the UK are the boogeymen the right wing keep bringing up when it comes to the pitfalls of healthcare reform.

    As I posted in another thread, being last to this party does have its advantages: we can really learn what works and doesn't work about other countries' approaches to their healthcare systems.

    A lot of the cost for the changes we make will, theoretically, be paid for by the money saved through greater efficiencies. Our system is hugely inefficient right now, with IIRC over one third of the money we pour into it being lost to administrative costs.
     
  18. synth3tik macrumors 68040

    synth3tik

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    #18
    So your just throwing judgment at the Obama Administration. All bill contain some pork, it's just a fact of life. I would think through that this bill would contain a lot less pork then say the Financial bailout.

    The problem is too, for Obama or anyone in the house or senate. Is it worth striking down a rather important bill because of a some pork, or do they just accept the extra spending. Obama does not have a line item veto like our MN governer does. So when it comes to Obama's desk it is all or nothing.
     
  19. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #19
    Yes, I think it's very true that there's a posturing issue here. Healthcare administration is pretty inefficient, although I'd argue that administrative costs play a pretty large role in at least the personnel cost basis of most other kinds of industries too -- administrative costs aren't necessarily useless.

    And even beyond those costs, talking not about the public but about healthcare professionals (across the board, but most prominently among direct patient care providers -- physicians, nurses, psychologists, etc) -- the agreement is quite strong that we have a system that has gone off track in the sense that rising healthcare costs in the US have stopped for some time delivering a lot of major improvements to patients. This is pretty clear when you look at what has happened to our mortality and health / wellness rates and how they compare to the other highly developed countries.
     
  20. ddrueckhammer thread starter macrumors 65816

    ddrueckhammer

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    #20
    All I'm saying is that ushering in a new era of fiscal responsibility this week after supporting a bill that may not have been as lean as possible last week doesn't look good. IMO, the rush to pass the bill was less about the economy and more about getting something passed since the idea was pretty unpopular in general. Unless one of us is a national economics expert, then I doubt we could say if some of the bill, all of the bill, or any of the bill is truely needed for economic recovery.
    I am tired (and I'm sure I'm not alone) of both parties introducing legislation full of extras that don't address the intent of the bill. It may be politics as usual but it is sneaky and wrong.
     
  21. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #21
    IIRC, there was a slim majority who supported the stimulus bill. It was only "pretty unpopular in general" among the far-right.
     
  22. mactastic macrumors 68040

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    #22
    Let's say you end up paying $2,500 more in taxes for government provided insurance, but you end up paying $5,000 less out of pocket to private health care providers. Would you still complain about the increase in taxes?
     
  23. NT1440 macrumors G4

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    #23
    The GOP would.
     
  24. Tomorrow macrumors 604

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    #24
    Why would I be willing to pay $2,500 for government provided insurance when I already have private insurance?

    The protest is because my $2,500 would go toward paying for other people's insurance, in addition to what I pay for my own.
     
  25. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #25
    Like its already been said a few times you can keep your private insurance if you so choose.
     

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