Wed Feb 13, 2013, 06:27 PM
babylonsister (151,663 posts)
To Make What Difference We Can
To Make What Difference We Can
February 13, 2013
by James Schlarmann
“On Medicare, I’m prepared to enact reforms that will achieve the same amount of health care savings by the beginning of the next decade as the reforms proposed by the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission. …We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital – they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive. And I am open to additional reforms from both parties, so long as they don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement. Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep – but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.”
It’s statements like the one above, that rip the issue of entitlement reform away from the right-wing, that should worry the GOP most. Average Americans, moderates, would hear or read those words and understand that the president isn’t just looking to get a bunch of people hooked on free Medicare, as the Republican spin machine would have you believe. And what excerpts like the one above actually do, in offering that olive branch at the end to be open to new ideas as long as they don’t violate the promise of secure retirement, shows the country that Obama is open to new ideas, but not drastic and Draconian ones the likes of which give Paul Ryan massive erections. It’s as if Obama sees himself as having a huge flashlight and wherever he points it, he can expose how out of touch with the American people the Republicans really are.
The Republican ass kicking continued when Obama ignored the bleating of people like Joe Scarborough who have been complaining about the White House seeking additional revenues, even after they got most of the tax hikes they wanted in the Fiscal Cliff negotiation. Scarborough on his “Morning Joe” talk show on MSNBC has been trying to warn Democrats that if they keep asking for more revenues they’ll turn the American people off. But Obama deftly avoided that trap but speaking not to raising tax rates, but to closing loopholes, once again putting the ball in the Republicans’ court, reminding America that the right has been asking to close tax loopholes themselves for the last few weeks.
“To hit the rest of our deficit reduction target, we should do what leaders in both parties have already suggested, and save hundreds of billions of dollars by getting rid of tax loopholes and deductions for the well-off and well-connected. After all, why would we choose to make deeper cuts to education and Medicare just to protect special interest tax breaks? How is that fair? How does that promote growth?”
For me though, the highlight of the night, and perhaps the biggest tell that Obama’s not got any plans to back off his more progressive second term agenda, was the segment of the address dedicated to gun violence. Common sense dictates that after seeing the near epidemic of shooting sprees in our country that culminated in the heartbreaking tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, the time to try some new gun regulations has come. But the media and others on the Hill have been hinting that there’s just not enough political juice to get much more than universal background checks passed through our polarized and broken Congressional body.
Obama apparently isn’t willing to just concede the political momentum he has behind the gun control reforms that have been proposed. Sandy Hook for many of us was a turning point, a breaking point indeed. But something like universal background checks and the assault rifle bans aren’t just about spree shootings. They’re efforts targeted at scaling back gun violence over the long haul, and playing the long game is clearly what President Obama is best at. That being said, there was no denying the rousing of emotions that the president was able to engage in last night, as he delivered a passage that built up the emotion of those in attendance to a fever pitch, driving many to their feet, leaving all those seated to look like they just didn’t get it, another home run moment for the president, and I think I’ll let President Obama’s words close out this piece, since nothing I could come up with would be able to match or improve on the sentiments he imparted himself.
“Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress. If you want to vote no, that’s your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote. Because in the two months since Newtown, more than a thousand birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries have been stolen from our lives by a bullet from a gun.
One of those we lost was a young girl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was 15 years old. She loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends, they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house.
Hadiya’s parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote.
Gabby Giffords deserves a vote.
The families of Newtown deserve a vote.
The families of Aurora deserve a vote.
The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote.
Our actions will not prevent every senseless act of violence in this country. Indeed, no laws, no initiatives, no administrative acts will perfectly solve all the challenges I’ve outlined tonight. But we were never sent here to be perfect. We were sent here to make what difference we can, to secure this nation, expand opportunity, and uphold our ideals through the hard, often frustrating, but absolutely necessary work of self-government.”
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