The SOTU: Steph Responds (Part II)

My reactions to Obama’s big speech continue below the cut.

Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn’t just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls. It’s about connecting every part of America to the digital age.

Yes – internet connectivity is important these days. That’s one of those things for which I’m willing to shell out some tax money. But when it comes to necessary things like establishing internet coverage or making road repairs, let’s make sure we do it in the most cost-efficient manner possible. No awarding projects to the teacher’s pets.

Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change.

So you’re going to end the tax breaks for green energy, low income housing, and domestic manufacturing? That’s going to upset a lot of your friends.

To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I’ve ordered a review of government regulations. When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. But I will not hesitate to create or enforce commonsense safeguards to protect the American people. That’s what we’ve done in this country for more than a century… It’s why last year, we put in place consumer protections against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies, and new rules to prevent another financial crisis.

And that’s why people are losing their free checking accounts. Don’t you just love unintended consequences?

Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law. So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you.

Ooh! Ooh! I have some ideas:

  • Get rid of costly mandates. Let people shop around for the coverage they need instead of forcing all companies to offer the same things.
  • Let people enroll in plans across state lines. That way, an individual can avoid the aforementioned state-imposed mandates.
  • Enact meaningful tort reform. We’re paying an arm and a leg for medical care in part because doctors have to pay sky-high malpractice insurance premiums.
  • Offer cheap, high-deductible plans to the young and healthy. There’s no reason your average 23-year-old needs to buy into a Cadillac plan. Let them pay for their medical incidentals out-of-pocket and use the insurance for genuine catastrophes.

Can you work with me here, Mr. President? Do these ideas sound doable?

(To be fair, the president does mention tort reform later. That’s one tally in the positive column — assuming, of course, that he keeps his promise.)

What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

Strangely enough, even in the bad old days, I was still able to find an insurance company who would take me on despite my pre-existing condition. Granted, my premiums are ghastly, but upon reflection, I’ve decided that this problem would be better solved with direct government subsidies than with mandated coverage. When you disallow PEC penalties outright, you end up raising everyone else’s rates.

So instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let’s fix what needs fixing and move forward.

Translation: I was lying before when I said I was willing to work with people. I’m only going to allow minor and ultimately meaningless tweaks to the healthcare law. ┌∩┐(◣_◢)┌∩┐

Now, the final step — a critical step — in winning the future is to make sure we aren’t buried under a mountain of debt.

We are living with a legacy of deficit-spending that began almost a decade ago.

Translation: It’s all Bush’s fault. Ignore the fact that Bush’s deficit spending was nothing compared to mine.

So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *wheeze* HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! What a joke. Basically, now that you and your Democrat friends have radically increased government spending, you want that spending to stay where it is. Brilliant!

I recognize that some in this Chamber have already proposed deeper cuts, and I’m willing to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without. But let’s make sure that we’re not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. And let’s make sure what we’re cutting is really excess weight.

Here is a list of some of the programs the Republicans want to cut — and a lot of those items really are excess weight. Mohair subsidies? Come on.

To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.

In other words, you don’t want to reform Social Security — at least, not in any genuine way. Here, you essentially pull every alternative but the status quo off the table.

And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.

Calling the wealthiest 2% “millionaires” is deliberately misleading. The low cut-off for the wealthiest 2% is $250,000, not a million. What you’re actually proposing is that the government confiscate more money from neurosurgeons, small business owners, and other Americans who got where they are through hard work and, often, years of deprivation. And regardless of your protestations to the contrary, that is punishing success.

The foreign affairs section of the speech shall be tackled in the next post. Stay tuned…

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2 thoughts on “The SOTU: Steph Responds (Part II)

  1. That list of programs the GOP wants to cut now requires me to go through each item and look up that program's information to decide whether I agree. I saw a few on that list that I think would be bad to cut…for example Beach Replenishment and Amtrak Rail Subsidies (we discussed public transit issues previously…but I think just cutting Amtrak would be bad in the short term…if you do that, I'll be payinf 500 dollars each way to get from NYC to DC)

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  2. Sure – there are probably things we'll want to keep on the Republicans' list. But the fact that they produced a list instead of making general promises to freeze spending shows that they are more serious when it comes to dealing with our debt.

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