Well here it is: The speech of the century. The new Sermon on the Mount.
Not many surprises, really. America is in trouble. Americans are in financial peril. We've failed to defeat al-Qaeda. Republicans have left everyone "on their own." (Nice steal from HRC, by the way ... and say, when did our trillion-dollar-plus social safety net suddenly disappear? I must have missed that one.) And of course, everything is George W. Bush's fault. But in Barack America, things will be different.
Here is what Barack Obama promised to accomplish as president, if he is elected; with commentary, of course.
I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.
Vague. What kind of tax breaks? I remember learning four years ago that the H. J. Heinz company (provider of the wealth that Tereza Heinz and John Kerry enjoy) had 57 of its 79 manufacturing facilities located overseas; this revelation came at a very inconvenient moment, when John Kerry was also pushing the stale Democrat theme of punishing companies who profit from sending jobs overseas. A web page sympathetic to the Heinz-Kerrys says the following: " ... sixty percent of the sales of the company are overseas and that the foreign plants allow them to serve local customers with fresher ingredients. In other words, their foreign operations are for the purpose of doing business on foreign land, which is not the same, for example, as an American factory firing its workers and having the same work done in another country by cheaper labor." Exactly. So, how will the Obama Administration distinguish companies that "ship jobs overseas" as opposed to companies that do business overseas and therefore need overseas operations. And what about businesses HQ'd in foreign countries that employ hundreds or thousands of Americans?
I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.
I guess that means that if you are a "large business" you are SOL. I also wonder what kind of crystal ball Obama will be using to divine which companies "will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow?" Tech start-ups during the late 90's paid their employees obscenely high wages ($85k for an entry-level network tech, etc.) and they did this because they were flush with venture capital. Yet they eventually pissed away billions, with most of them never showing a profit. I hope that Obama has a better set of criteria for judging start-ups than the Clinton administration.
I will cut taxes for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.
The last thing we should do now is raise taxes on anyone, period. And Obama doesn't mention his proposed capital gains tax hike, a tax that will be paid by anyone who sells property or securities that have increased in value since they were purchased, regardless of how much other income they earn. Over half of Americans now own investment portfolios including stocks and bonds. Far more than that own real property. A capital gains tax hike will affect all those people, not just some elusive "top 5%" of households.
I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less -- because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.
I'll believe that when I see it. Any government program that pays or subsidizes the salaries of workers belonging to the American Federal Government Employees union or the AFSCME "works." Trust me on this.
I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.
What does that mean? No Middle Eastern oil at all? 75% of what we now use? 50%? 10%? What? There are going to be a lot of unhappy Arabs who will do everything they can to prevent that from happening. If poverty inspires terrorism, how will eliminating a major chunk of the oil money of Middle Eastern nations affect the potential for unrest and violence in the region?
As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power.
But no more new oil wells - EVER! Actually I'm glad to see nuclear mentioned, but good luck getting that past the enviro-nuts.
I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars.
Um ... so does this mean that government will take over the car industry? Does this mean that government will design the cars, pay auto manufacturers to build the cars, and then subsidize the cost of those cars to consumers? Sounds like a prescription for a nation driving the equivalent of Yugos and Trabants. No thanks.
I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy -- wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced.
I guess it takes a lot of workers to scrape bird guts off those giant propellers. Seriously -- large-scale power generation via wind and solar systems has been the wet dream of bureaucrats for over thirty years, probably because they continually fantasize about drawing up the massive government regulations for those industries and imbuing them with a kind of progressive feel-good moral character that the eeeeevil "Big Oil" industry never possessed. But don't be fooled; wind and solar are still pipe dreams -- unreliable, grossly expensive -- and nobody wants the panels or windmills in their own back yard.
I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability.
We keep doing this stuff. We invest and invest and invest, to the point that some districts spend over $10,000 per child each year, and yet things don't seem to be getting any better. Sure, the government could set aside a massive chunk of money to subsidize teacher salaries, but how exactly can the government give teachers moral and emotional support? And if you think you're going to get the NEA to change criteria to make it easier to dismiss poor teachers, even those who sexually abuse students, then you've got another thing coming.
And we will keep our promise to every young American -- if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.
We already do this; it's one of the evil ploys used to seduce poor, ignorant, innocent young men and women and turn them into cold-blooded killers in the US military, or so says the anti-war Left. Democrats, do you really want more of this? We already have Americorps, VISTA, the Peace Corps, etc. This is just a meaningless promise made for the benefit of those who don't know any better.
If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.
Wow, that's a biggie. Is he going to subsidize insurance premiums, or enact a Federally-mandated set of price caps on medical procedures, to which all insurers and providers will be forced to to adhere? And how is forcing insurance companies to "stop discriminating" (in other words, pay every claim without question) going to lower premiums? I see private health care going only to the young and healthy, with everyone else being gradually squeezed out as "high risk," into a bloated, inefficient government supervised and subsidized program. When that happens, I doubt that John Q. Public be afforded the kind of first-class medical treatment that Ted Kennedy is receiving right now.
Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.
Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for future generations.
And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.
Whew, another set of big promises and another set of vague platitudes.
I thought Bill Clinton fixed the family leave crisis.
How will Obama "protect Social Security?" After the stink that Democrats raised when President Bush wanted to place Social Security in the arena of the free market, we can be sure that there will be no private investment of Social Security monies and no attempt to make it into a true pension plan. Instead, there will be massive payroll tax increases; only on "the rich" for now, but once that precedent has been established, it will not be difficult to keep expanding taxes in the future.
And now "equal pay" again. Argh. We have equal pay laws out the wazoo already. And when you compare apples to apples -- young single men/women just out of college with identical degree/GPA applying for the same entry-level jobs -- pay scales are pretty much identical. There are dozens of different factors that go into setting employee salary levels (previous experience, married/single, number of children, single or double income in the household, career goals, better negotiating skills etc.) and we are never going to have perfect equality of outcome. Never. Even if we start with a level playing field, it will be pretty torn up at the end of the day.
As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.
Yup, and I can't wait to see the first round of massive military budget cuts that a Democrat congress and a Democrat president will pass. And since Obama obviously wasn't paying attention five years ago, we did go into Iraq with a clear mission: to forcibly remove Saddam Hussein from power, and to establish a free government with democratically-elected officials, equal justice for all, and a free market economy. Overall, we have been enormously successful at achieving those goals. Speaking of "clear missions" (har!) get a load of this next promise:
I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan ... When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell -- but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.
Hoo-wee, I'd love to see Obama's "clear mission" for sending special forces carrying excessive firepower (perhaps tactical nukes) into disputed regions of Afghanistan, or across the border into Pakistan, a nation not only with nukes, but a government that is currently very unstable. Please, describe that "clear mission," including a complete set of contingencies for everything that might go wrong.
But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.
Look, diplomacy is great, but what do you do when it doesn't work? Jimmy Carter couldn't come up with an answer that question, and it probably cost him the Presidency. And here, at last, is the great moral equivalency statement of tonight's speech. It seems that in Obama's view, the likes of Russia, North Korea, Iran, etc. won't work with us unless we cop to causing climate change, promoting poverty, and encouraging nuclear proliferation, and subsequently beg for their forgiveness. Again, we tried this approach to foreign policy 30 years ago and the results were disastrous. And ten years ago, Bill Clinton sent Al Gore to suck up to the international Convention on Climate Change, yet he sat by helplessly as the Kyoto Treaty was rejected resoundingly by the US Senate. It just doesn't seem like this is the direction that the majority of Americans want to take.
Well, there you have it: Barack Obama's vision for a better America. Next week we'll be able to compare it to the vision that John McCain outlines.