Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. –H.L. Mencken
Politico posted the transcript of a speech, given by Barack Obama, that expresses his views on the upcoming sequestration. Now, I would love to run through the entire speech and tell you what a curmudgeon hears, but it would take forever, as politicians love the sound of their own voice a bit too much (and because it just makes me angry). Here are some of the most remarkable sections of the speech, with my comments:
Now, Congress, back in 2011, also passed a law saying that if both parties couldn’t agree on a plan to reach that $4 trillion goal, about a trillion dollars of additional, arbitrary budget cuts would start to take effect this year. And by the way, the whole design of these arbitrary cuts was to make them so unattractive and unappealing that Democrats and Republicans would actually get together and find a good compromise of sensible cuts as well as closing tax loopholes and so forth. And so this was all designed to say we can’t do these bad cuts; let’s do something smarter. That was the whole point of this so-called sequestration.
This is all factual information. Congress is a bunch of children who need the sword of Damocles held over them before they will work together (not that I like the idea of them working together – that might scare me even more than this detente). Also, Congress regularly makes laws they intend to avoid later.
Unfortunately, Congress didn’t compromise. They haven’t come together and done their jobs, and so as a consequence, we’ve got these automatic, brutal spending cuts that are poised to happen next Friday.
What makes the spending cuts particularly brutal? I am sure he will lay that out a little later in the speech.
Now, if Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness; it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research. It won’t consider whether we’re cutting some bloated program that has outlived its usefulness, or a vital service that Americans depend on every single day. It doesn’t make those distinctions.
I have yet to hear something that i do not like. Military readiness in jeopardy? OK. Cut investment in education and energy and medical research indoctrination, regulation, and research into new and better mind-altering drugs? OK. There are bloated programs that have outlived their usefulness? Agreed.
Emergency responders like the ones who are here today — their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded. Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country. Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care like flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.
Do you mean the good response like after Katrina, when they confiscated guns?
These sound like steps the government could take if it were to do something like – I don’t know – manufacture a crisis.
And already, the threat of these cuts has forced the Navy to delay an aircraft carrier that was supposed to deploy to the Persian Gulf. And as our military leaders have made clear, changes like this — not well thought through, not phased in properly — changes like this affect our ability to respond to threats in unstable parts of the world.
And that’s why Democrats, Republicans, business leaders, and economists, they’ve already said that these cuts, known here in Washington as sequestration, are a bad idea. They’re not good for our economy. They’re not how we should run our government.So these cuts are not smart. They are not fair. They will hurt our economy. They will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls. This is not an abstraction — people will lose their jobs. The unemployment rate might tick up again.
All of the liars, cheats, and frauds agree? Is that not enough to convince the public that this sequestration may be a good idea?
Oh dear, not the fake numbers you folks massage into something you think the American people will swallow – that would be too bad. Also, the stats should show that all government tax eaters would cost far less if they were on the unemployment rolls.
Now, for two years, I’ve offered a balanced approach to deficit reduction that would prevent these harmful cuts. I outlined it again last week at the State of the Union. I am willing to cut more spending that we don’t need, get rid of programs that aren’t working. I’ve laid out specific reforms to our entitlement programs that can achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms that were proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission. I’m willing to save hundreds of billions of dollars by enacting comprehensive tax reform that gets rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well off and well connected, without raising tax rates.
This is what I hear: “I have picked through and found some cuts that will not do much at all to reduce the deficit, but they will look good to my constituents. Also, I think we should tax the rich some more.” Mr. Obama, getting rid of loopholes IS raising taxes no matter the income level of the taxpayer.
I believe such a balanced approach that combines tax reform with some additional spending reforms, done in a smart, thoughtful way is the best way to finish the job of deficit reduction and avoid these cuts once and for all that could hurt our economy, slow our recovery, put people out of work. And most Americans agree with me.
Yeah, I bet they do. Do you mean because a bunch of the people who still waste their time voting endorsed every thought you could possibly have over the next four years just by casting that ballot?
And I know that Republicans have proposed some ideas, too. I have to say, though, that so far at least the ideas that the Republicans have proposed ask nothing of the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations, so the burden is all on first responders or seniors or middle-class families. They double down, in fact, on the harsh, harmful cuts that I’ve outlined. They slash Medicare and investments that create good, middle-class jobs. And so far at least what they’ve expressed is a preference where they’d rather have these cuts go into effect than close a single tax loophole for the wealthiest Americans. Not one.
Yup, taking something from the biggest corporations will not have any repercussions on the middle class. How about focusing on taking something from the institution that has incurred all the debt and will still spend more this year than last? And, for once, the Republicans might have the right idea. Raising taxes is increasing your thievery, all tax avoidance is a good thing.
So my door is open. I’ve put tough cuts and reforms on the table. I am willing to work with anybody to get this job done. None of us will get 100 percent of what we want. But nobody should want these cuts to go through, because the last thing our families can afford right now is pain imposed unnecessarily by partisan recklessness and ideological rigidity here in Washington.
Yup, my door is open – except last weekend when I really needed to go golfing with Tiger Woods.
As I said at the State of the Union, the American people have worked too hard, too long, rebuilding from one crisis to see their elected officials cause yet another one. And it seems like every three months around here there’s some manufactured crisis. We’ve got more work to do than to just try to dig ourselves out of these self-inflicted wounds.
That was sarcastic, right? Surely one cannot miss the irony in that statement.