President Obama delivered a major speech on the current state of budgetary affairs yesterday. Normally, this topic is a bit of a snoozer but the House GOP has made quite a bit of hay over cutting spending and they have chosen some interesting targets for their knife.
After a brief but noisy battle over a temporary spending measure to keep the government open and running, where funding for Planned Parenthood had the GOP’s leadership on the edge of hysteria, the real budgetary battle begins. The President laid out his position for the coming skirmish; where he will make his stand. It was an eloquent and inspirational speech, something we haven’t heard much of from this gifted orator of late. He painted a picture of an America of opportunity, of self reliance yes, but also of support for each other, and one with an eye on the future. He made references to the precedent set by Presidents before him of government’s role in doing the things that no individual could do alone.
He made it clear that he would not extend the Bush Tax cuts again, which just added an interesting dimension to the 2012 Presidential Debates as that is when these Tax Cuts are set to expire. He drew a clear distinction with the Republican Party, that seemingly finds it immoral to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but feels no such tug at their moral compass when dispatching seniors into the private health insurance market with a voucher where they once had Medicare. More than once he stated plainly that this will not happen as long as he is President.
It was a powerful presentation of ideas, but that is not where this President has been lacking. Time after time he has shown himself willing to capitulate to the other side almost without hesitation, and then to concede even more. He will need to follow through on the essence of this speech through what will be bruising conflicts with a stubborn and ideological foe. A foe consumed with a hatred of abortion, of the Theory of Evolution, of anything that even remotely resembles government involvement in the progress of society. The GOP is not about to go along with increasing taxes on the wealthy and closing loopholes that allow corporations to earn billions and pay no taxes. They will never see government’s role in investing in science and research, in infrastructure spending and education, as money well spent. Their vision is one of self reliance, of a dog eat dog society where every man, woman, child and homeless person can fend for themselves. This is who the President is negotiating with, if one can call what he has done thus far “negotiating.”
Mr. Obama has told the American people he will seek another term as President. Based on the competition emerging from the GOP to date, he stands a very good chance of getting his wish. What he does differently in the coming years of this first term will show us what we can expect from a likely second term.