First things first. I did not vote for Obama. I am not someone who toes the Party line - I am an independent voter, and I vote for whoever I think will do the job the best. I felt pretty hopeless with this past election, though. I think both McCain and Obama chose poor VP running mates. I felt like this election only gave us the choice of choose the least worst candidate, rather than the BEST candidate.
THAT being said... I tend to have conservative leanings. Not so far conservative that I am comfortable with everything the Republicans stand for, but also, not so liberal that I am at all comfortable with standing with the Democrats. There's never a good option for middle-grounders.
OK. So now you know where I lean politically. I would say that I am fiscally conservative, progressive thinking for creative issue resolution, and very patriotic, especially for being a transplant. Maybe even to the extent that I may be considered insulting to my Canadian roots. But I *get* this country, I understand the how and why behind the stereotypical American attitude (as perceived from the outside), and I identify with it.
Ok. Obama's speech. This is an article that Fox put out that brought up every point of Obama's speech I had concerns about.
Yeah, don't get me started on the media one way or another. That's a whole other debate. You can come to whatever conclusion about me that you want based on which network's analysis that I chose. :)
Here are my comments on some of the points brought up:
1. Obama talking about only helping the people who accidentally got into the housing crisis, rather than the ones knowingly making bad choices or overstating their income to qualify for financing they couldn't afford: "I think it's just simply impractical to try to do a forensic analysis of each and every one of these delinquent loans," Sheila Bair told National Public Radio.
Hmm. How about using tax returns as the "proof" that they meet or don't meet the criteria to recieve financial aid? It seems to me that the IRS has some pretty handy proof already available. No forensic analysis needed.
2. OBAMA: "And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it."
This is not as cut and dry an issue. Theoretically I don't think the big three should be bailed out. BUT, the trickle down effect of a total collapse of the domestic car industry probably would be catastrophic. HOWEVER, I don't agree with the current method of bailout. I used to work for a county's property tax supported children's services agency. The hoops and paperwork required of the agencies funded by us to keep their funding contracts was definitely bordering on a hardship at the worst, very time and budget consuming at best. However, because of public funding, there needed to be absolute accountability. Why is it that the government can freely throw around our money with almost no accountability, yet a poor struggling children's service provider with a $10K annual budget and a bunch of good-hearted volunteers barely make ends meet on a regular basis and we scream if they spend money on office supplies? I just don't get it.
The way I see it is if the Government (i.e. our representives, using our money!) is going to bail out your business, then you need to make your finances open and the bailout money cannot be used for pay raises, jets, new wallpaper, or any other non-crucial detail. Being bailed out is being given assistance to make necessary ends meet to stay afloat long enough to remain fiscally solvent long-term. Not a free ride on a spending spree to last another year before you bankrupt anyway, because you planned to and didn't save yourself. Grr.
3. OBAMA: "We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy. Yet we import more oil today than ever before."
OK. I know we need to make money, and that we sell our oil as part of doing that. But WHY WHY WHY when gas was almost $5 a gallon, did we not look at investing in our own refining capacity and use our own natural resources rather than exporting them to other nations, and maybe even re-importing them back (at who knows what prices) to use? I just don't get why if we have it, we don't use it here on US soil. What happened to Buy American?
But that's not the only issue. There are a finite number of barrels in our reserves and in the ground. I know that it's a LOT right now, but we are gonna run out someday. We need to smarten up and not only be more efficient with what we have, but develop other technologies. Everyone complains that none of the other technologies are efficient, that they are too expensive to do long term, yada yada yada. But why are we so focused on ONE technology at a time? Why can our "hybrid" cars make use of MULTIPLE technologies? Solar paint, regenerative braking, water/hydrogen, lithium batteries, gas, wind, etc.? Why *just* electric vs. gas? And why aren't we developing safer nuclear technology and thinking of ways to use the waste rather than storing it to be solved by our children?
Enough on that issue.
4. OBAMA: "We have already identified $2 trillion in savings over the next decade."
THE FACTS: Although 10-year projections are common in government, they don't mean much. And at times, they are a way for a president to pass on the most painful steps to his successor, by putting off big tax increases or spending cuts until someone else is in the White House.
Obama only has a real say on spending during the four years of his term. He may not be president after that and he certainly won't be 10 years from now.No comment needed - Obama is only good for 4 years right now. If he does well, he might get 4 more. If his policies do well and the budget gets balanced, maybe he will have effected real change. But there are a LOT of meaningless points brought up like the above about savings over a decade.
5. OBAMA: "Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn't afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day."
THE FACTS: This may be so, but it isn't only Republicans who pushed for deregulation of the financial industries. The Clinton administration championed an easing of banking regulations, including legislation that ended the barrier between regular banks and Wall Street banks. That led to a deregulation that kept regular banks under tight federal regulation but extended lax regulation of Wall Street banks. Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, later an economic adviser to candidate Obama, was in the forefront in pushing for this deregulation.WHY, regardless of deregulation, are these banks not being held accountable now? ESPECIALLY the ones being bailed out? What's so bad about accountability?
6. OBAMA: "In this budget, we will end education programs that don't work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don't need them. We'll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq, and reform our defense budget so that we're not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don't use. We will root out the waste, fraud and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn't make our seniors any healthier, and we will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas."
We'll see. Sounds good-intentioned, but we'll see. GO OBAMA. :P
7. OBAMA: "Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation's supply of renewable energy in the next three years."
THIS, I'd like to see. It's a nice idea, but I can't see it, unless it's mandated.
8. OBAMA: "Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs."
Can this actually be measured? I'd like to see his metrics. And I find it interesting that even though the economy's issues are all interrelated, a lot of people don't make that leap. The bad economy was caused by the housing crash... people's ARM and balloon payments came due, they couldn't afford them, they started losing their homes. Then because they couldn't buy things, like new cars, the industry started to suffer. Then retail started to suffer. Because the spending economy was suffering, the job market began to suffer - no sales means no money for payroll, so people get laid off. This whole economic thing is a HUGE issue, but I don't know exactly how much I think the government should be involved in the minutae. There is a risk of the government getting too big for it's britches, too - and regulating our lives.
I am not a Darwinist.... but why is it that we as a society can't let the people who are DELIBERATELY STUPID flounder around? We've created a must-have culture, people who don't know how to sacrifice or scrimp and save to get what they need/want. We have a culture of waste and greed, and now we're paying for it. It offends me that I must daily make choices to sacrifice things that are important to be fiscally responsible, while other's who don't *want* to be fiscally responsible can easily open credit cards, spend to oblivion, and then declare bankruptcy over and over and over again, with no REAL effect that changes their behavior. And we, the responsible ones, are bailing them out, over and over again. It's gotta stop.
I'm really getting sick of giving the government so much of our money to mismanage and pass out like bonuses to the irresponsible.
Please keep in mind my rant is directed to the willfully irresponsible - not the victims of the labor market conditions that are now making some of the most difficult choices of their lives. We are living about one or two paychecks away from homelessness ourselves. Our retirement funds have all but disappeared. We are managing, but we are not well off enough to be able to spend money without being concerned about where we're spending it. Health insurance is a HUGE concern to us. Our sky-high rates go up almost 20% annually. That's really REALLY hard to take. We are fortunate to be blessed with Ian having a wonderful job that provides enough for us to pay for our expenses, and hope that he can keep his employment.
I should probably end this incomplete rant before I blow a gasket. I don't know how to fix our problems and I don't think anyone has the answer. All we can do at this point is hope that Ian's job lasts through this economy and try to make good choices for our present and future, and prepare for the tight times.