PHOTO INDEX: PRESIDENT OBAMA.
THE WAY IT IS
The Presidential address to the joint session of Congress on Tuesday night was the first one I had actually watched since 911. It was interesting once more to have a beverage in hand, my dog on the oppposite sofa and to hear what the leader of our country had to say. To quote that Saturday Night Live comic, with President Bush 43, when it came to watching him talk about anything, it was "couldn't watch", "couldn't do it". For the first time in years we had a President who told it like it is. He was honest and forthcoming in his remarks, told us things would be hard for a little while but reaffirmed what we all knew, "This was America, we were Americans and things would get better". America can come back but those who will bring it back are those who have been the most abused the last eight years: the Middle class. A lot of things are ours to blame. Buying stuff we didn't really need, trying to keep up with the neighbors and rejecting two good men of superior intelligence, Al Gore and John Kerry just because we thought George Bush was a better guy to have a beer with. However, after bad choices come redemption. That said, President Obama recognizes that the Middle Class needs help. And needs it fast to undo the drunken spending spree we were on the last few years. Look at the program he set forth:
1. Obama says Americans who have lost their jobs will be able to receive extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage.
2. The president says his administration's housing rescue plan "will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and refinance their mortgages." He says the plan won't help speculators "or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford." The average family who re-finances today can save nearly $2,000.
3. Obama says he wants to restore confidence in the nation's hard-hit financial instutions and get them lending again. He announced the creation of a new lending fund to help provide auto, college and small-business loans to the consumers and entrepreneurs. He says banks that accept government bailout money will be held "fully accountable" for how they use it. He must keep an eye on the thieves of Wall Street.
4. Obama says the skyrocketing cost of health care is causing "a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds" and by the end of the year could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. He says his economic recovery plan will invest in electronic health records, launch a new effort to conquer cancer, and concentrate heavily on preventive care.
5. On the economy the president says the "day of reckoning has arrived" for Americans after an era of extravagant buying, gutted regulations and little or no long-term financial planning.
He offered a sober assessment of the last decade or so and says the time to take charge of the future is now. "Though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before."
6. Obama has vowed to halve the deficit by the end of his first term. He says his administration has started to go line-by-line through current expenditures and identified $2 trillion in costs that can be cut over the next decade. Among them: cutting direct payments to large agribusinesses that don't need them; eliminating no-bid contracts in Iraq; rooting our fraud in Medicare; and ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.
7. Obama says he will eliminate no-bid contracts that "have wasted billions" in Iraq. He is expected to lay out details this week of his plans to withdraw most U.S. troops from Iraq by August 2010, 19 months after he took office.
8. The president promised to forge a new and comprehensive strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat extremists. He did not mention Hillary Clinton's name in any discussion of foreign policy.
Look at the eight points listed here, none of them are for rich, overfed, overpaid special interests groups that got obscenely rich under the Bush administration. The President called out everyone in a paradoxical indictment of everybody, he said, "Too many everyday Americans bought homes they could not afford and did not think about their next mortgage payments. Too many banks handed out loans to people who could not pay. Politicians allowed the surplus to disappear with tax cuts for the rich. Regulations were gutted to help companies make a quick profit." What we got from this President was a dose of reality and some straight talk sans the Express. Obama laid out the facts and his plan. While the Bush administration made the poor, the immigrants and the middle class the bad guys for not being able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps,(and how the hell do you do that when you are constantly overtaxed and underpaid?) maybe the Obama regime can not put up whipping boys to hide whatever shortcomings that may happen along the way. (There has been a shift in blame anyway, ask anyone on the street what they think of rich people and I'm sure you'll get a colorful answer.) The change Obama talked about in the campaign has come to fruition. Not everyone is going to like it, (especially the rich bastards who have been using and abusing the Middle class and the poor in this country) but the time has come and like it or not, we are in for a change that will rock this country's world. How do I know that? Because after 8 years of lying and incompentence, I had a President who told me so. Told me like it is. Refreshing and so very American.